The harp is an ancient part of the Celtic and Gaelic music tradition. Although a relative newcomer to the shores of Cape Breton, it is beginning to be heard more often as a small but growing community of harpers enters the Island’s musical culture. These courses are designed to help harpers of all levels experience the joy of a Cape Breton tune on their own instrument. Participants will develop their harping abilities by learning some of the music of Cape Breton. All levels will work on technique, melody accompaniment (for solo and session play) and capturing dance rhythms by working with tunes from the Cape Breton tradition. All material will be presented by ear, although written music will be available after each class as well.
Equipment Note: There is a very limited number of harps available to use at the College. Students are strongly encouraged to bring their own instruments whenever possible. Please contact the Gaelic College for further details.
This level provides an introduction to the instrument for those who have never played the harp before. This course covers everything a new beginner needs to start making music on the harp, including hand position, posture, and tone production. Prerequisite: No previous experience required.
This course is intended to build confidence for new players and those who don’t yet feel comfortable with their playing, help those who play with RH only to add a simple LH accompaniment to their melodies, encourage those who already play RH melody with simple LH accompaniment to add more in the LH part, all while learning a Cape Breton tune; introduce some “social harping” skills, that is how to play together with others; explore chords: what they are, how they are made, and how to play them when accompanying other instruments or in a traditional music session. Prerequisite: Knowledge of basic hand position, posture; playing with both hands on melody or RH with one or two note accompaniment in LH; starting to play with hands together; basic music-reading skills.
This course is intended to encourage those who may have hit a plateau after their first energies and successes of learning have slowed a bit; introduce the main forms of traditional Cape Breton instrumental music: jig, strathspey, reel, march, slow air; teach jig and slow air tunes by ear; introduce “social harping” skills: the basics of accompanying other traditional instruments or playing along in a session, finding the key, possible rhythm patterns for different types of melody (jig, reel etc.) and playing with a group of harpers. Prerequisite: Comfortable playing with each hand alone and hands together; familiar with basics of chords (how to make and play them), playing feels more fluid than halting beginner. Developing proficiency and confidence reading music.
This course is for harpers interested in learning about traditional Cape Breton instrumental music and how to choose, adapt and interpret it on the harp. Prerequisite: Comfortable playing with both hands together; have tried playing a variety of different types of music, comfortable learning by ear and reading music.