Friday: Secrets of the Stars Supershow

Start your weekend with a bang at Friday Extra Retreat Day!  Each conference presenter performs a piece and teaches a 3- minute gem on learning, practice, or memorization.  There’s lots of laughter, and you’ll see which presenters you most resonate with so you can choose your best classes.  No harp needed.  All levels.  Companions welcome.   

“Friday Extra Retreat Day” participants only


sarajane williams

saturday and sunday:

joanna mell

sharon thormahlen

Life With a Tablet

How would you like to stop carrying a stack of music and books, and have it all on your Android or any non-Apple tablet?  [iPad users, we hope to have a course for you next year.]  How would you like to be able to transfer your sheet music onto the tablet, and then write in your fingerings, or scribble on your music?  How would you like to easily arrange your music into a set list for any gig?

Would you like to share your own compositions or arrangements with the others in your harp circle, directly for their tablets too?  

Would you like know how to distribute music and/or audio recordings of your playing to others easily online with “DropBox”? 

Come join Kim Johnson of the SC Three Rivers Harp Ring as she introduces you to the basics of digital music reader apps for Android or non-Apple based tablets, use of DropBox, and any questions you might have about digital aids.   

For this class, you need to bring your tablet with the application “MobileSheets” so you can learn hands-on.  This app is available through Amazon for $9.  

You can also audit this class with no tablet in hand, to see whether music on a tablet might work for you. Bring tablet with MobileSheets application downloaded. This course is for non-Apple devices. No harp needed.  All levels.  Companions welcome.



Dave Thormahlen will be available to regulate harps throughout the weekend. Come to the Thormahlen Harps booth to set this up.  Email Dave to let him know that you want a regulation so he can find out what levers or issues you have.  Then he needs a tool for some unusual lever, he'll bring it.  Email

A Latin Christmas!

Spice up your Christmas repertoire!  Nicolas Carter has put a new twist on beloved North American traditional Christmas pieces so you can wake up your listeners with joyful rhythms and a delightful surprise to the ear.  

Nicolas makes all his workshops FUN, and when he was here in 2013 people emerged from each workshop grinning ear to ear, with amazing kudos on our evaluation forms.  In this workshop you will learn to play "Joy to the World” as a Colombian Cumbia, a very popular Latin Dance style music, that will truly bring joy to the song!  Bring harp.  Early Intermediate to Advanced.


Storytelling and the Harp

The harp is the magical instrument of the heart, that brings warmth to any intimate gathering… and a powerful tool to enhance the mood and ambience of live storytelling.  Nicolas has worked as an educator and storyteller for years and is the perfect harpist to teach this unique class.  His passion will bring a new dimension to your “harp life.”

Imagine using the harp, telling stories to your children or grandchildren, making memories to warm their hearts through the joyful moments and challenges in their future lives. 

Or using the harp to make storytelling come alive at schools, in home gatherings, at bookstores, or simply as an introduction to a tune before you play anywhere.

With Nicolas’s warm, affirming guidance, you will surprise yourself by improvising melodies and creating sounds with your harp to accompany a story.  This is a  workshop to relax and simply enjoy what your hands can create.  It's a workshop about connecting with others with a text, and opening up creativity with yourself.  Bring Harp and a brief story to share. Experienced Beginner to Advanced.  


“La Paloma” (the Dove)

This beloved Cuban tune, along with "Yesterday" by the Beatles, is one of the most recorded songs in the history of music.

When you play tunes people already love, you have them in the palm of your hand!   La Paloma makes people feel romantic; a good tune to play for anyone.  This tune can be easily adapted to small harp, so you can take it with you anywhere. 

In addition to teaching harp, Nicolas is a university theatre professor teaching acting, clowning, stage combat, and puppetry to adult theatre students.  No wonder he’s fun.  Come learn a tune you’ll play again and again.  Harps tuned in C.   Early intermediate to advanced. 




If Joan Baez, Jackson Browne, Pete Seeger, Jose Feliciano, Jimmy Buffet, and a zillion other recording artists have played this great tune, maybe you can bring smiles to your friends by playing it, too!  Include Guantanamera in your repertoire, with a real Latin flair, a song loved all over the world.  

With Nicolas’ delightful teaching style, you will learn the bass pattern for the Cha Cha and practice playing along a rhythmic groove.  After getting a feel of the relationship between the melody and bass pattern the group will explore ways to improvise and tag on decorative motifs.  You are encouraged to bring a recording device.   Bring harp.

Experienced beginners to intermediate.  


Latin American Rhythms

Here’s some hands-on fun that will open your harp vision.  Latin American rhythms are a wonderful blend of European, African and Indigenous music.  This is an introductory workshop for you to learn basic bass rhythmic patterns and combine them with a simple melody.   

Nicolas will introduce the Paraguayan Polca, Guarania, the Andean Huayno, The Venezuelan Joropo, The Mexican Jarocho , and the Colombian Cumbia.  

It’s an “aha” feeling when you “get” these bass patterns, and once you do, they are easy because they repeat.   It is recommended that you bring some form of recording device either video or audio as a reference for future practice.   

Early intermediate to Advanced.  Bring Harp.


Improvising with Latin American Rhythms 

Free your soul with the art of improvisation!  Nicolas will quickly have you playing Latin American rhythms and chord progressions. 

Based on the interest of the group he’ll also cover popular Caribbean rhythms like cha cha, cumbia, rumba or some of the traditional harp folk styles like joropo from Venezuela, jarocho from Mexico,  Paraguayan polca and guarania.   You are invited to bring a recording device, as it helps to hear these rhythms when you get home too.  

You will practice playing along a percussion loop and be divided in small groups to create your own melodies.... lots of fun!  This workshop is for any type of harp.  As serious as this workshop might seem, these rhythms invite you to relax and dance.  You can’t help but smile.  Early intermediate to advanced. Bring harp.

Nicolas is also teaching a limited-size all-day class Thursday October 22

Harp-Style Blues Jumpstart

Experience the rhythm and harmony of the Blues with Deborah! Try the use-it-anywhere “Slap Bass” technique (you’ll use shades of this in various genres music over the years).  Learn how to create bass lines, riffs and comping. And best of all, you’ll start PLAYING the Blues!  Deborah really delivers in these high-energy workshops. No need to take this workshop if you are taking Deborah’s all-day Blues workshop Tuesday. Bring harp.  All levels except Newbies, but they might benefit in their own way and are invited to audit.


DHC's “Funky” Vamp for Improv

Did you ever wonder what a "vamp" is and why people think they're so cool and useful? You'll find out in this workshop, when DHC shows you one of her favorite “funky” vamps and how you can create a whole arrangement around it. You’ll learn to play a “slap bass,” create a jazzy foundation, and how to create a melodic improv, including a very cool string bend. And if you’re the singing type, you’ll be singing the harmony while you do it all!

"Deborah is an extraordinary person, a wonderful presenter, and an amazingly unique harpist. And she makes it all seem so "possible" for the rest of us." – kudos from 2014

Bring harp. Early Intermediate to Advanced (Beginner level auditors welcome – not for hands on, but to sing along)


Create Your Own Vamps for Improv For anything - even therapeutic playing!

In this workshop you’ll learn to create "vamps" yourself by finding a simple repeated pattern that can become the foundation for improvisation in any style. You can use these patterns as fillers, or as the foundation for extended improvisations in styles of all genres, from jazz music to meditative music, so they're great for therapeutic situations.

You'll also learn how you can take the same vamp and “style” it differently to use it in a different context - like at a bedside - and how to easily shift it from major to minor so you can chain two similar vamps together. Once you learn to vamp, you'll never have to worry about how to fill an awkward silence again! Each of DHC's Vamps workshops is a stand-alone in which you'll learn different things. You can take either separately - or take both if you really want to immerse yourself in the world of Vamps! Bring harp. Early Intermediate to Advanced.


Baroque Flamenco

Do wish you had a piece that showed the world just how powerful, dramatic and cool the harp can be? Deborah Henson-Conant's powerhouse harp showpiece "Baroque Flamenco" landed her a Grammy Nomination and countless standing ovations - and now YOU can learn the fundamentals of the piece to play at your own level right now -- and then enjoy years developing and embellishing it.

You'll learn to strum the introduction like an Flamenco guitar, to add a soundboard-slapping cadenza, and a dramatic bring-'em-to-their-feet ending. You also learn the gracious Baroque melody and foot-stomping Flamenco rhythm of the variations -- and when you put it all together you have your very own rendition of this powerpiece.

But wait .... there's more! This piece didn't start out as a showstopper! It was originally an almost meditative composition that Deborah used to help learn to improvise -- and she’ll show you the secret of playing it in it's original form, which is perfect for background, hospice, weddings and just to enjoy for yourself. Bring harp. Early Intermediate to Advanced


Arrange Yourself!

Wish you could sit down with a melody, and chords, and create a whole arrangement? Come to one of the most dynamic workshops of the weekend!

You’ll learn a basic 5-part arrangement form you can use over and over again, the three musical roles you have to play (and how to play them with two hands), and Deborah’s favorite left hand bass pattern with her favorite trick for enhancing melodies. We got super evaluations on this workshop last year... here is a typical one:

“Arrange Yourself was a life changing experience for me. I was doing things I never thought I'd be able to do. My fellow students and I just looked at each other, in astonishment at what we were doing. FANTASTIC! Clear class with no mention of music theory terms - and we each ‘got it.’  Fun, funny, inspiring, experiential, and enjoyable. Nice handout. Thank you Deborah.”

Bring Harp. Early Intermediate to Advanced

Deborah is also teaching an all-day class Tuesday October 27

nicolas carter

kim robertson

ray pool

mike williams

deborah henson conant

lorinda jones


“Southeastern Harp Weekend was the first conference I’ve attended where I felt at home.  I LOVED every moment

Many harp conferences I have attended were for the concert harpists and for the perfectionists.  For too many years I was a pedal harpist trying to be perfect and hating to play the harp.  

This conference helped me find the joy in playing the harp.  Everyone was so accepting and it was safe to try new things.  I LOVED your conference and I’m adamant about returning!!”

Thanks so much, Virginia Baner


kim johnson

Ear Magic  

How would you like to be able to hear a melody, then sit at the harp and pick it out it with accuracy?  In this workshop, you’ll learn to hear sounds numerically and translate those into your fingers at the harp.

Ray makes this a secure and accessible learning experience for all; you will “sight-sing” melodies you already know, in incremental stages. They are tunes of three, five, six, eight notes and carefully planned for “melodic development” as they expand in range. You will learn his specific method for taking it to new levels. 

The feeling of empowerment comes when you hear a melody (or hear it in your head) and can get it to come out of your fingers with accuracy.  This takes time to learn at home after the workshop, and is exciting while you develop. You’ll take home specific step-by-step tools, and the vendor hall has a book by Ray to help you further the effect of this training.  

Companions are welcome to come with their own instrument.  All exercises will be in C major, so no need for levers.  No music reading skills needed.  Bring Harp. All levels.


Instant Accompaniment

Simple left hand chording with

“Enhanced Lead Sheets”

In this hands-on workshop, you will learn simple left hand chording.  You’ll play with a Fake Book (melody-line-only-notation) that includes Ray’s method of “Enhanced Lead Sheets.” This new method solves the question of how to provide an accompaniment.  You can apply it to hymns, spirituals, Christmas, pop tunes, folk tunes, lullabies and any other repertoire.

It’s nice when a course can continue once you get home, and  Ray’s Anthology book is a rich resource for the things you learn in this course.  This book is used by several harp therapy trainings.  During your workshop, nearly all tunes will be in C major.  Only about 10 minutes are tunes in G major, so harps with no levers are fine for most of the class.  Bring harp.  Experienced Beginners to Early Intermediate.


Lush Hymns

Want to get a big, full sound out of your harp to make hymns movingly rich?  In this course, Ray masterfully teaches you to create six-note harmonies combining 3-note chords in both left and right hands.  

Instead of a thin single-note melody line in the right hand and arpeggios in the left hand, you will be creating a full chordal sound on every single note.  You can do this using just a lead sheet (melody line notation), so you’ll have a huge “almost-instant” repertoire once you get this down pat. 

Ray has a brilliant book “Hymns and Harmony” with lead sheets of 100 hymns from 6 denominations, from simple to advanced with increased level of complexity clearly indicated in the book.   We’ll have it in the vendor hall.  If you have fake books of hymns or any other genres of music at home, you can use what you learn in this course with those, too.  

If you already use lush six-note chords this way, you may not need this class.  But for the rest of us:  Learn how to inspire listeners with a rich rendition of any hymn or other tune!  Bring Harp. Early Intermediate to Advanced. 


Fun Chord Theory for Beginners

Beginners, a chord is only three notes, but it is the foundation of what makes harp music beautiful!  Those 3 notes can be in any order, and each pattern makes a new “voicing” which evokes a unique harmonious sound. 

Come let Ray Pool take you on a user-friendly exploration of the major scale and chords.  You’ll learn about building harmony with the left hand, and creating gorgeous sounds with “inversions.” You can play with one hand in this workshop if you aren’t ready for both hands. No levers needed.  Recording this workshop will help you refresh your learning as you grow in your abilities.  Bring harp. Newbies and Early Beginners. 


3’s A Chord!

Simplify playing the harp and “make sense” of your music! Ray will lead you in a user-friendly journey of major and minor triads, diminished chords, the major scale and chromatic scale and intervals, and all inversions.  If that sounds overwhelming, don't worry.  Ray uses analogies from everyday life to make the knowledge "stick."  All you need to attend this course is to be able to read lines and spaces.  

You’ll understand your tunes so much more clearly when you know what the roles are for the Tonic, Sub-dominant, and Dominant chords, too.

Experienced beginners to Early Intermediate players- this is a bedrock class for you. Or for those of us who play the harp well technically but have holes in our knowledge of chord theory, this is for us too.

The “world record” for people gleefully repeating this popular course is a woman who plays very well and has been eagerly sitting in the front row 6 different years. She says she gets some new revelation every time. So, as Ray says, “Repeat offenders welcome!”

Bring harp.  Experienced Beginner to Early Intermediate, or anyone of any playing ability who wants to fill in the gaps in their knowledge of chord theory.


Harmony Building

Ahh, the beauty of sevenths!  They evoke a feeling unlike any other harmony chords… relaxed, rich, expensive, timeless, snazzy, inspiring, and soothing at the same time.  In this course, Ray will teach you to build four note chords, “seventh chords,” on each note of the scale, using the root position and inversions of the seventh chord. This continues into a discussion of chord tones of the 9th, 11th and 13th.

Wait until you use your new knowledge to play Danny Boy this way… oh, oh, ohhhh!  And Shenandoah… you can make these really luscious… and so, so, so many other tunes. 

Ray's Clever Levers book is an adjunct to this course (I always thought that book was about using levers, but it’s about harmony-building on lever harps).  

For this course, you need to know enough notation-reading to read a melody line (lead sheet).  Bring a harp with levers for the full hands-on experience, but if you flew to the conference and rented a non-levered harp tuned in C will still get a lot out of this workshop and can apply the rest when you get home.  Bring harp. 

Experienced Intermediate to Advanced.

Ray is also teaching an all-day class Thursday October 22

Modal Musings:
A bigger box of crayons

Imagine having a basic box of Crayola crayons, and thinking that was all you could use. But when you discover a deluxe multicolored 24 crayon box, you can do so much more!

Most of us are using the little box of crayons. If you have been limiting yourself to the major and minor scales, it’s time to enlarge your musical palette. In this workshop, Joanna will guide you into the contemporary modal scales, each with their unique intervals.

This will help you in composing, evoking a sonic atmosphere, and playing therapeutically. Music will make sense to you in a new way.

This is part ear-training, part demonstration, and part hands-on exploration. If you have learned about modes in another training, this workshop may help you more deeply “get” what modes are about.

Bring harp, music stand, recording device if desired, and pencils/pens. Experienced Beginner to Advanced.


River of Life Sequences

Want to turn your harp into a sound spa? Here, Joanna Mell shares a series of flowing, enhanced arpeggios and musical phrases she created for all to enjoy. They are excellent springboards for arranging and opening the door to your creativity. They are useful for meditation, improvisation, yoga, and healing applications. And these sequences are wonderful for therapeutic harpers who want to easily break the ice when meeting patients.

Experienced Intermediate harpers up to Advanced will learn hands-on. [Less experienced harpers are welcome to audit and record, but please don’t ask questions or try to do hands-on until after the class]. Bring harp, music stand, recording device if desired, pens/pencils. Experienced Intermediate to Advanced.


Classical music for lever harp: Making levers easy!

If you have been afraid to play classical music on the lever harp, this class will be like opening the door to an endless treasure trove of musical choices! Classical music has stood the test of time... the tunes are so beautiful that people still love them after hundreds of years.

Joanna will teach you how to edit classical music for lever harp, decluttering notes without omitting any sections of the tune. You’ll learn the secret of showcasing the melody and capturing the harmony on an instrument where the ringing strings should do much of the work.

You’ll also learn a way to float your arm to make lever flipping seamless. Joanna will show you how to plan your lever changes to make them easier. You’ll see that the lever-flip is just another beat in your music, like plucking a string. With new know-how, you’ll finally be comfortable with levers!

Lots of hand-outs and in-class exercises. Bring harp, music stand, recording device if desired, pens, pencils. Music reading required. Experienced Beginner through Advanced.


Arthritis Solutions and More 

for “Friday Extra Retreat Day” participants

A 30-minute talk Friday morning 10:00 a.m.

Joanna Mell has extraordinarily prevailed over arthritis and other physical challenges during her 30-year career as a professional harpist. Her breakthroughs have been primarily from nutritionist / naturopathic doctor / homeopathic practitioner Dr. Ria Gilday. 

In this invaluable 30-minute session, Joanna will share the multi-faceted approach she has taken to keep herself in great physical condition, including discoveries from her own research. 

Topics included: nutritional solutions, use of supplements, chiropractic care, and benefits of massage therapy.  You’ll also get good body alignment and practice tips.  No harp needed.  All levels.  For “Friday Extra Retreat Day” partipants only.

How to Play in a Nursing Home 

Nursing homes are great places to volunteer as a musician, but it can be intimidating to play in a setting that doesn’t always provide immediate feedback.

But you CAN engage seniors, and be of great service.  It is something you can do without Music Therapy or Practitioner training, so this opens up a wonderful service avenue for many of us.  

In this workshop you’ll learn how best to address the needs in different levels of care.  You’ll get a sample plan, along with music.  You’ll learn how to work with the Activity Director of the facility, and Lorinda will talk about appropriate repertoire. 

Lorinda Jones is perfect to teach this workshop.  Although she is a Music Therapist (4 year college degree, different from CMP) and has herself played in many skilled care facilities, she also has helped non-therapists to play in them.  Come learn her “template” so you can avoid the trial-and-error factor and have confidence in sharing your music!  Bring harp.  Early Intermediate to Advanced.


A Therapy Experience

Be prepared to open your mind!  This dual purpose workshop will help clarify certification programs for music in health settings, and it will also introduce you to Music Therapy, a profession that requires a college degree.  For those who wish to use music in healing, this will help in choosing the route best suited for your goals. Lorinda Jones is a board-certified Music Therapist with twenty years experience.  

You will actually experience a music therapy session, bringing the benefit of self-reflection and insight.  With Lorinda as a skilled guide, you’ll explore and learn the benefits of music therapy.  Participation is through listening, playing the harp or other instruments supplied for the session, drawing to music, and muscle relaxation.  

This session is open to all levels of harp players, even those wanting to just experience the therapy session.  Companions welcome.


Circle of Fifths

The circle of fifths is a liberating theory concept that all harpers should know.  This is an eye-opening experience to conquer your fear of levers and understand the circle of fifths at the same time.  If you tune your harp in E flat, this workshop can show you all the keys you have accessible, and learn how this directly relates to the circle of fifths. 

A song will be taught and played in all keys around the circle of fifths beginning with three flats and going around the circle to three sharps. The tune will be taught with primarily the melody in the right hand.  More experienced players can add the left hand.  You will approach the Circle of Fifths from a lever harp point of view, rather than typical C…and around.  

This knowledge can open up a whole new world in learning how the keys are related and how you can smoothly move from one to the next. You'll know what levers to raise to get in any key. This is open to all harpists that tune in E flat and want to understand and utilize the Circle of Fifths in playing and arranging. 

Bring fully levered harp tuned in E flat (E, A, and B flat).  However, if your harp is not levered, and is tuned in C, you can still come listen and learn. Experienced Beginner to Advanced.


Textured Ensembles

As beautiful as the harp is, your audience’s ear gets tired if your ensemble music is only harp. Here, you’ll learn how to select tunes that include flute, bowed psaltry, Irish whistle, lap dulcimer, accordion or other melody instruments for more texture. Take advantage of ensemble members who play other instruments! It’s an effective way to add layers of sound for an eye-popping and ear stunning performance.  

These exciting tips and techniques are offered in part with Lorinda's Heartland Harp Ensemble. Bring your harp or any melody instrument and play along with some ensemble selections, and listen to live examples as you learn to arrange for various instrumental combinations. 

Beginning harpers can learn by listening.  Intermediate and Advanced folks can play harps. Or bring a melody instrument you can already play!   Companions welcome.


Pairing Tunes

As you develop a repertoire of Celtic dance tunes, you will start to pair tunes together. This tune-pairing can be used in other genres of music, too.  For instance, if you play an American folk tune, then swirl seamlessly into a classical tune or an Irish tune, then flow back into the folk tune, it creates a magic for the ear.

This workshop will show you how to pair tunes in part by using knowledge of the key signatures of the minor and major modes to help you find compatible songs. 

You will also learn how to use these modes and scales in improvisation and arranging. This will enable you to extend your tunes, or bridge your pieces.  

This workshop is not about learning repertoire; but we’ll play examples of tunes in different modes and keys.  Use right hand only if you don’t sightread well, or two hands if you are comfortable with sight reading.

Come learn how the modes can liberate you to do something fresh in your music, in arranging and with tune-pairing!  Bring Harp.  Intermediate and up.


Celtic Christmas Combos

After playing a Midwinter Feast Renaissance dinner for 15 years and a “Celtic Christmas” show for the past 5 years, Lorinda has created arrangements that pair old English and other tunes from the Celtic lands with traditional Christmas songs and tunes reflecting winter themes.  

Expand your repertoire with these beautiful combinations and put new joy in your listeners’ hearts!  Basic sight reading skills helpful.  Early Intermediate and up.

Lorinda is also teaching a limited-size all-day class Thursday October 22 devoted totally to BEGINNERS

Technique and Injury Prevention

“I wish somebody had told me that!”

How would you like to create the MOST beautiful sounds?  How would you like to play with more ease?  And would you like to prevent and correct pain and injury?  In this class, Emily will start with basics that aid all of these things.  You’ll see how to sit correctly at the harp and how to have the best ratio of position between shoulders to forearms to elbows.  Not only will you look and sound better, but you won’t get as tired at the harp.  

Then she will teach you how to keep the plucking action in the first joint of your finger, and how to develop strength in that part of your finger.  Doing the exercises she shares, you will feel the difference in as little as a week. 

If you use your hand, forearm, or upper arm instead of that joint, you’ll create tension and can injure yourself.  Developing that first joint of each finger is not hard, and makes playing easier; your fingers don’t slip off the strings, and you get gorgeous tone. 

This session is a great way for a total newcomer to get started, and an invaluable resource for those up to Early Intermediate level, or anyone who wants to go back to the basics to correct problems.  This is one of the most important topics because it will create the best foundation of all of your playing, forever!  Bring Harp.  Oriented to Newbies to Early Intermediates, but helpful for anyone who needs to go back to the basics.


The Measure of Progress

There is nothing more discouraging than to practice and practice, but with little or no improvement.  But a little practice done correctly is more productive than hours of unfocused repetition which can bring on boredom and eventually no practice.   Emily will launch you on a path to efficient learning, comprehension and demonstration (how you practice at home). 

Through group and individual participation, this workshop will teach you how to learn the entire piece without the tell-tale pitfalls of unevenness and insecurity.  

This class is for all levels of skill and reading ability.  We will divide up into groups of beginner, intermediate and advanced levels.  Come join Emily Mitchell, one of the most highly credentialed harpists in the world, and start making the progress you desire!  Harps can be tuned in C.    All levels.


Tone and Ease for Intermediate and Advanced

In this class Emily will show you how to create cross-overs and cross-unders that flow with ease (and prevent fingers 2 and 3 from popping up).  You’ll learn how to strengthen your fourth finger so that it moves accurately and you don’t slip off strings – you’ll feel your finger engaging with the string instead of brushing it. And you’ll learn the perfect action of the thumb including the “bounce.” With this, you create a gorgeous “round” tone and relax your hand.

You’ll learn how to balance tone production within a hand (we’ve all been frustrated with a note that “sticks out” as too loud or too soft.)  Emily will also show you how to balance sound quality between the two hands.  It’s these basic, finer points that allow us to get more soul-satisfaction from the harp.

You’ll go home with guidance on some exercises to do from the famous Grossi Method book (sold at Michigan Harp Center at the conference, or you can purchase ahead of time through Melody’s Music  We’ll have a translation handout available from the original Italian to English as well, for free, posted on line.  Bring Harp.  Experienced Intermediates to Advanced.


Studies and Etudes, Seriously?  Level One

Do you hate exercises and etudes?  When you approach them the right way, you'll have great satisfaction as you joyously conquer technical problems.  If you try to work out a technical challenge by isolating a tricky section of a piece and making an exercise out of it, that’s ok, but you risk training your brain to signal “This is a problem area!” whenever you play it in the future.

So Emily believes that to maintain your technique, it’s best to use etudes that are intended for this purpose.   She will assign certain easy and progressive studies from the famous Grossi Method for Harp.   It's brilliance is that it will take you from “easy" to "more skillful" in tiny increments so that you continually get positive reinforcement instead of getting frustrated.  You can bring the book or purchase it afterwards from Michigan Harp Center at the conference, or through Melody’s Music  We’ll have a translation handout available from the original Italian to English as well, for free, posted on line. 

These etudes increase your ability to sight-read, too, and Emily will show you why!   Bring Harp.  Newbies to Early Intermediates. 



Studies and Etudes, Seriously?  Level Two

How would you like the personal satisfaction of sitting down and playing through a tune without anything giving you trouble?  Would you like to avoid buzzing the strings, and to play faster?  A world can open up to you through this class.  

Emily will use the Grossi Method book, and you can bring it, or purchase it afterwards from Michigan Harp Center at the conference, or through Melody’s Music at  The brilliance of this book is in the way it takes you from A to Z in such small increments that you hardly notice the exercises are developing advanced skills for you. 

These exercises can be very comforting to play, kind of mesmerizing, and they will help your sight-reading as well.  Emily will really motivate you, so hopefully you’ll graduate from any outdated beliefs on etudes, and start to feel the joy of steady progress and obstacle-free playing.  

Develop a real difference in your playing!  Bring Harp.  Experienced Intermediate to Advanced.


Make a Joyful Noise!

Prepared Harp Ensemble

With Music You Get to Learn Ahead 

How would you like to experience the FUN or a harp ensemble with music given out two months ahead?  Yes, you’ll have a chance to learn it at home, instead of feeling like you can’t keep up with those superman-sight readers in a class.  This class has parts for all levels of players, too.

It’s exhilarating to make a joyful noise (well, seriously, clean music) with a roomful of others and feel yourself swept away with a sound larger than life!  You will be able to use the music for an ensemble experience with your local harp friends back home, as well.  Parts will be provided on the Southeastern Harp Weekend website two months ahead, for different levels of playing. Be prepared for some great fun!  Bring harp.  All levels

Emily is also teaching a limited-size all-day class Monday October 26

Size Doesn't Matter

Before there were minivans, itinerant harpers carried small harps on their backs or traveled by horseback. The rich history of the small harp continues today, with a new generation of modern lap harps, therapy harps, and travel harps.  

With Kim as your guide, you’ll learn to create arrangements that show the cool advantages of the smaller harp. You can also adapt other writer’s arrangements easily to small harp.  

Using various left hand patterns, strategic chord voicings and cross-hand techniques, you’ll discover why bigger isn't always better.  Reading ability is not required, but sample tunes will be on lead sheets, in C tuning.


Bring small harp if you can.  Bigger harps are fine too, just sit farther back.  Experienced Beginner to Intermediate.


Syncopation Simplified

Think “bounce.”  Think “delightful!”  Think “Incredibly fun to play!”  Don’t be scared by the word “syncopation”– it’s not all about complicated jazz or Latin rhythms.  

To "syncopate" simply means to change the pulse in music by making strong beats softer and vice versa.  And it is gloriously fun once you “get it!”  In this workshop, Kim will teach syncopated patterns that are not hard to play and will breathe life into any piece, from slow airs to up-tempo tunes.  

Exercises will help you break down the rhythm and feel it internally, rather than mentally, and will also cover shortcuts for coordinating the right hand melody with a syncopated left hand pattern.  

The trick is learning to line up the correct accents, and once you get it, it's like riding a bicycle:  it's really quite simple, and a joy to have under your fingers.  Early Intermediate auditors welcome, but please don’t slow the class down; you can just listen. 

Bring Harp.  Experienced Intermediate up to Advanced 


Speed, the Final Frontier

One of the most common questions from experienced players is "How can I play faster?"  In this skills class, Kim will show you secrets for increasing velocity without sacrificing tone or rhythm. Exercises include shortcuts for improving finger dexterity, achieving even tone and unlocking the exciting dynamic range of your harp. Giddy-up!  Bring Harp. Onlookers welcome, but this class is for  Advanced.


Musical Sandwiches & Cookie Cutters:  For emerging harpers

People loved this class so much in 2013 that we’re going to have Kim teach it again in two versions, so you can take the one that matches your skill level. 

This one for beginners and early intermediates is an introduction to one and two-hand patterns that are fun & easy to play. But you’ll be the great illusionist, because the tricks make you appear advanced.  (“Sounds hard but is easy” is a great mantra for a harpist.)  

This bag of goodies is gentle on the hands and the brain.  Kim's "Musical Sandwiches" are a fun way to create a kaleidoscope of sound, and there's no pressure to know whether it's a suspended 6th or a dominant 7th, or if the notes 'belong' in the chord.

Musical sandwiches allow you to get away from the mind and play by ear, creating your own beautiful patterns.  Bring harp.  Basic 2-hand skills are all you need for this class.  Experieced Beginner to Early Intermediate.


Musical Sandwiches & Cookie Cutters: For the seasoned palette

As we said earlier, this is one of the coolest concepts Kim teaches.  But instead of slowing down the class to try to make it work for all levels, we asked Kim to do one this one for experienced-intermediate-and-up folks.   

Kim will lead you through "sandwich-etudes" that vary in tempo from misty swirly elegant sounds to rhythmically energetic motifs. 

You can use these patterns in arranging tunes, for intros or interludes, and they are ideal for improvising.  Some of them sound ornate and intricate, while others sound more primal or ethnic in rhythm, with built-in syncopation, using only one or two fingers. Bring harp.  Experienced Intermediate and Advanced.


International Lullabies

(New ones not taught in 2013)

Lullabies are found all over the world, a universal expression of love from a parent to the child, to bring comfort and peace.  Kim will teach you some lovely French, Breton, Russian, Chinese, Czech, Basque, Dutch & Aboriginal melodies in various modes, and explore simple and effective accompaniment patterns. The secret is to create a soothing pulse in the music and let the resonance of the harp sing through.   What a great addition to your repertoire! Bring harp. Early Intermediate to Experienced Intermediate.

Kim is also teaching a limited-size all-day class Monday October 26

Melody Writing

If you’re a composer – or you’ve not yet dared – here’s a “toolbox” of techniques to write compelling melodies.  You’ll gain new perspective from gifted guitarist/songwriter Mike Williams; hIs positive energy and knowledge opens up your world so you can write gorgeous melodies for harp or voice. 


You’ll discover how your melody can create a groove in your listeners’ minds with “runs” and “jumps.”   You’ll learn about Long/Short Phrasing, Off-beat/On-beat melody lines, and Repetition Motifs with ways to vary them.  Then hear why you should delay your highest note until the third line of the melody - and when to break this rule. 

Mike will show you how to perk up your listener with melodic tension-and-release, how to reinvigorate your melody with a “bridge,” how to weave one melody over and through another, and how to grab your listener’s attention with a “Delightful Surprise.”


You’ll even jump-start your creativity by turning phone numbers into melodies! (Beginners love this.)   There is so much for everyone:  When Mike taught here before, a few seasoned professionals attended and exclaimed that their eyes were opened. 

Mike is a charismatic and lovable presenter who will leave you feeling fabulous. Harp optional.  All levels. Companions welcome.


Famous Melodies -

What Makes Them Great?

If you have taken Mike’s Melody Writing course (this year or before), now you can dive deeper in your understanding of the “toolbox” as we take apart some famous melodies.

With group participation, you will learn how to “hunt” for the “toolbox tools” in tunes like Paul McCartney’s “Yesterday” and “Michelle.” You’ll discover the internal workings of Cole Porter’s “Begin the Beguine.” We’ll see why “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” has lasted the test of time.  If you wish, you can bring a favorite melody everyone will recognize, and if there is time Mike can help you dismantle it and discover the ingredients that make it magic.  (Come to the all-day class Tuesday for more of this.)

Coming to both weekend workshops will give you a firm grasp of super-useful tricks you can use.  Harp optional.  All levels, Beginner to Professional.  Companions welcome.  Make sure you have already taken Melody Writing (this year or in a previous year).


Perfecting YOUR Melody 

Limited to 3 participants

From a pro that For experienced intermediates to professional performers:  If you attended Mike’s Melody Writing workshop, now delve into improving a melody that you’re writing.  You’ll get Mike’s one-on-one help to open up your melody toolbox and sculpt your song. 

This is a limited class (3 students).  With note-by-note discovery, you’ll gain a firmer grasp of melody-writing techniques to improve every melody you write. 

Bring one of your pieces that needs that last 10% of WOW.  Don’t worry about flawless playing or polished melodies. This is a roll-up-your-sleeves class for getting specific, practical help from a pro. Bring harp.  You need to have attended Mike’s Melody Writing workshop first please. Experienced intermediates to Professional recording artists and performers.

máire ní chathasaigh

Authentic O’Carolan,

for Experienced Beginners & Early Intermediates

Very few of us have had a chance to experience authentic Chinese food in China, versus the “Americanized” Chinese fare we get here.  The same with the quintessential Irish composer O’Carolan: Unfortunately we only are exposed to “homogenized” arrangements.  Here is your chance to get to the real heart of O’Carolan tunes.

Turlough O'Carolan expressed himself musically in several styles. He composed some music with Baroque influence.  He composed Irish court harp music, and tunes in the style of traditional Irish songs and dance music.

Each needs a different approach. You wouldn't play a slow air that sounded baroque, or a baroque piece that sounded like a slow air.  Máire will teach you snippets of some tunes in their specific authentic styles to help you experience and hear the differences. Your arranging of O’Carolan will never be the same. Music reading preferable, but not essential. You’ll get sheet music for a complete tune to take away with you. Recording devices welcome.  Bring Harp.  Experienced Beginners to Early Intermediates.


Authentic O’Carolan,

for Experienced Intermediates to Advanced and professionals

Same topic as above, but there will be skills utilized for a more experienced level.  By separating the classes, we can keep this class going at a good pace.  

In 2006 Maire taught at SEHW, and when she performed O’Carolan tunes, you could almost hear people’s breath being taken away.  We are so fortunate to be able to learn directly from such an Irish master, Máire Ní Chathasaigh.

Máire will teach you snippets of some tunes in their specific authentic styles to help you experience and hear the differences. Your arranging of O’Carolan will never be the same. Music reading advised.  You’ll get sheet music for a complete tune to take away with you. Recording devices welcome.  Bring Harp.  Experienced Intermediates to Advanced, and professionals.


Authentic Style & Ornamentation in Irish Dance Music - for Experienced Beginners and Early Intermediate

Máire Ní Chathasaigh was the first person in Ireland (or the world) to take the rhythms and ornamentations of traditional Irish music played on on pipe and fiddle, and create these sounds on the harp.  This opened up a new realm of music that has spread worldwide.  

Not all dance music is fast and some of it has very little ornamentation, so don’t be scared!  This session is specifically paced for experienced beginners and early intermediates.

For instance, one of the most important embellishments in Irish music is not really that difficult: a “cut” is taught by many-a-harp-teacher.  But it is often unknowingly butchered even by experienced players.  Máire says doing a “cut” wrong can spoil a whole piece.  But you’ll learn how to do the real thing, and what a joy it is when you feel it in your hand.  

Explore the dance music of Ireland with Máire, try out its special phrasing and learn easy (but pretty!) melodies and accompaniment ideas. Feel free to bring recording device. No music reading required. A handout will be available at the end of the class. Bring harp.  Experienced Beginner to Early Intermediate.


Authentic Style, Arranging & Ornamentation in Irish Dance Music - for Experienced Intermediate to Advanced

Here is a more advanced version of the course above.  Before Máire, the harp in Ireland was not played for jigs and reels. It was used with chords and arpeggiated chords for singing. But Máire was born into a family steeped in traditional Irish music since the 18th century, and as a curious teen she was convinced that the ornaments from other instruments could be reproduced on the harp.  She experimented several years before perfecting these sounds.

Here's a chance to learn from Máire, how to achieve gorgeous ornaments that make your music authentic.  You’ll learn the finer points of “cuts,” you’ll see a new fingering for Irish triplets that gives a specific variation of attack on the strings, and learn ornaments that sound authentically like those of the Uilleann pipes and fiddle.  

This class will help you with the rhythm, variation, and authentic treatment of melody. And you’ll “get” the phrasing and some great accompaniment ideas… while learning a pretty tune! Feel free to bring recording device. No music reading required. A handout will be available at the end of the class. Bring harp.  Experienced Intermediates to Advanced.


How to Play Slow Pieces & Slow Airs

For Beginners and Early Intermediates

The “slow air” is probably the oldest type of music in the Irish tradition and is particularly associated with the harp.  Máire will gently draw you into a very special sonic world and show you pathways to developing the mental and physical skills you need to play these airs’ and slow pieces in general, in a breathtaking way, causing your listener to hang on as you suspend them in magical silence from time to time. 

You’ll learn how to listen with your “inner ear.”  You’ll learn about getting to the soul of a tune, phrasing, and melodic line.   You’ll learn the relationship of relaxation with tone and ways to relax. And concentration and thinking ahead; musical “giving” and the power of heartfelt performance. And you’ll learn a simple tune (or two)! Bring harp. Experienced Beginners to Early Intermediates.


How to Play Slow Pieces & Slow Airs

For Experienced Intermediate to Advanced

Same as above, but the tune taught will be more advanced and you’ll learn how to ornament it appropriately! Bring harp. Experienced Intermed. to Advanced.

Máire is also teaching a limited-size all-day class Monday October 26

Click here

for the six “Experience Levels”

This will help you choose the right


The Magical Metronome

Do you find yourself playing a tune with faltering stops and starts? Maybe you have found yourself piddling around on a tune for years and still not getting it polished.  If you make the same mistakes over and over and you would like a way to play smoother and faster, this workshop can help you.  You’ll learn when not to use a metronome, too.

The metronome can empower you to finish a tune that has floundered for years.  It can empower you to smoothly develop speed of a passage without making mistakes.  And you can learn the tune faster.  

If you want to keep your music grounded, keep your listeners mesmerized, and play smoothly, the metronome will be your saving grace, and fun to use.  

Join Sharon to experience it; get going with the metronome and be amazed at the results!  Bring harp, no metronome is needed.  All levels.


Fun for Beginners

You’re excited – you just got a harp.  You want to make beautiful sounds, but you’re wondering how to get started.   The good news is you can have fun AND create pleasing music with your harp even as a newbie.

Sharon will take you on a tour of your harp – and talk about what to do with your fingers.  You’ll learn a couple of simple patterns, and then discover how to make them musical.  And she  will talk about how to enjoy the weekend and stay out of overwhelm.  A super preparation if you are a true beginner!  Limited to 6 harpers, so you’ll get individual attention.  Bring Harp. Level:  Newbies or Early beginners.

emily mitchell

How to Build a High Quality Wood Lever Harp from a Kit

Glenn and Laurie Hill of Cambria Harps will show you in a 30 minute lecture format workshop (probably at lunch Sunday when you’ll have time) the options for building a high-quality lever harp:

1- With an almost finished harp that needs just a little completion that a novice can do... then just play!

3-  With a partially assembled kit

2- With a kit that allows you to choose your own wood (for woodworkers)

4- With blueprints only

(for experienced woodworkers)

You can try out a completed Cambria harp at the conference.  Building is a great way to feel more involved with your harp.  Or to love your husband who got involved with your harp.  Or to save a lot of money!     All levels.  Companions welcome.

glenn hill