Thursday, February 17, 2011

Harp this winter

-I'm playing each week at Studio Bliss:
Mondays for the 8:15 p.m. restorative/yogatherapeutics course with Carina Raisman
Tuesdays for the 6:30 p.m. Yin Yoga course with Audray Kingsley

-I'll be playing for a Sunday night mantra night at Yoga Sangha in March or April.

-Also in March or April, a happy hour show is in the works at Café l'Escalier, a delicious vegetarian café near the Berri-UQÀM metro station with home-brewed kombucha and a great beer selection. I am planning to bring my mountain dulcimer and my wonderful husband and his guitar - we have some original arrangements and reworkings of Appalachian tunes I grew up hearing my mother play and sing on the dulcimer that I know people will enjoy.

-I'm playing for workshops and meditations on angels, dreams and other spiritual topics at Ange Neige, a beautiful angel boutique that is the only one of its kind in Montreal. Franceen, like me, is a busy lady and does not always have the time to update her blog, so a good way to keep up with the dates I play there (and elsewhere) is via my Facebook page.

Southeastern Harp Conference

I could not believe it when I looked at the last post and it was dated July. This is in large part due to the wonderful work I've been doing with my harp, as well as much learning with my teacher and at the Southeastern Harp Conference. This lovely conference was conveniently located near my 93-year-old grandmother's house, so I got to enjoy spending some time with her, and bask in the glory of my native North Carolina Appalachian Mountains.
I got to study with some amazing harpists, including Maeve Gilchrist, Frank Voltz and Rhett Barnwell. I took a great class on Baroque music with Rhett, and it was a tremendous experience to learn from such a talented multi-instrumentalist and arranger. His favourite composer is Bach (as is mine!) and although the harp was used for barroom entertainment rather than court music during the Baroque era, pioneers like Rhett and Deborah Friou are making arrangements that we folk harp players can use. I am excited to be able to work towards using Baroque and Classical music as a healing modality with their arrangements. (Did you know Baroque music is used by doctors during heart surgery, as the steady rhythm helps the human heart to entrain to its beat? Not to mention its benefits to your mood and brain...)
A real highlight was getting to take four classes with my dear friend Stella Benson, author of "The Healing Musician" and founder of the International Musicians' Healing Program. I also got to spend lots of time outside the classroom with this warm, wonderful woman, a pioneer and authority on using the harp for bedside work. She has done all the therapeutic music programs currently offered in the United States and she is a fountain of information.
You don't have to play the harp to enjoy her peaceful harp music - you can order the CDs from Stella's Web site:
Click on the New Grail link:
Stella is simply amazing, and the next instrument she is learning is one from my own childhood, the Appalachian mountain dulcimer. My mother plays and taught me as a teen and again as an adult, and I just love singing and playing it. She gave my husband a dulcimer one Christmas and he plays it very creatively with it using his guitar background. Stella sees how the dulcimer's versatility, modal capacity, and ease of learning (you don't have to read music to play) would make it a wonderful bedside instrument. When played traditionally, there is a drone effect that is also deeply calming. Stella and I made plans for some Skype sharing this Christmas so she can see how my mother and husband play.
Finally, a session with harpist and Alexander Technique specialist Laury Christie was tremendously enlightening. I wish she could be at the Northern Lights Fest too, and perhaps someday she will - her partner is a big fan of French Canadian folk music!