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Harp Secrets


The course consists of Five Lessons or Modules each containing 4 or 5 Activities. 


You will have access to:


• 24 video instructions with Cheryl Ann


• Plus 25 pages of musical examples and exercises


• And over 40 pages of text that you can download and print out


The Activities include:


• Lectures, such as an in depth look at the anatomy used in playing the harp


• Lessons where Cheryl Ann teaches and demonstrates the techniques on several different kinds of harps


• Plus a Special Guest and a Meditation

Lecture topics include:


• Tools and Images for Improving Your Practice 

• Anatomy Related to Playing the Harp 

• How to Position your Harp to Your Body

• The Origins of the Touch & Tone Technique 

• How do YOU Play a Whole Note on the Harp? 


The Harp Secrets Touch & Tone Techniques

taught in the instructional lessons include:

• The Swirl 

• Press not Pull 

• The Gather & Release

• The Wave 


See these techniques demonstrated on lever, pedal, medieval and triple harps. 


Learn about Modal Cadences, playing exercises in the medieval modes, and the Harp Secret for playing I-V-I chord patterns by feel.  


Special guest Chiropractor Douglas Ross talks about Simple Biomechanics for the Harpist. 


Experience a Meditation to discover the “Gates” in your shoulders, elbows and wrists.


Here is what you will find in each Lesson/Module:

Lesson/Module 1: Getting Started

Activity 1/Lecture - Welcome and Introduction  


Before starting the course you will identify 1-3 core challenges or frustrations you have in playing the harp: 

• Are you starting from the very beginning?

• Are you having trouble getting a comfortable playing position? 

• Do you have problems with repetitive stress injuries? 

• Do you feel blocked or clumsy?

• Is your tone not as full, rich, or varied as you would like? 

• Are you desiring a deeper connection with the music you play on your harp? 


As you take the course you will focus on how the techniques and exercises can be applied to your particular current challenges.  


• Learn the Touch & Tone Tools & Images for Improving Your Practice

Activity 2/Lecture - Anatomy Related to Playing the Harp


• A look at the basic anatomy which is most relevant to our harp playing.  It is essential to understand how all the physical parts of our bodies are designed to work together in harmony in order for us to use our bodies in healthy ways, especially when engaged in repetitive motions, as well as to facilitate the flow of our chi or resonant breath to participate in the creation of the tone and the musical expression we are seeking.

Activity 3/ Lesson - Positioning the Harp to Your Body


• How to position our harps to our bodies.

• How to determine the correct angle for the harp in relation to your body.  

• Learn a good habit for making sure your shoulder is not reaching for harp!

• How to determine a comfortable position for your arm and hand in the upper registers.

• How to get comfortable with harps of many sizes and shapes. 

Activity 4/Lecture - How do YOU play a whole note on the harp?


• How do you play with "breath" on the harp?

• Consider how to play a whole note on three categories of instruments: wind, bowed strings, and plucked strings.

• What is resonant breath?

• Learn how the harp can be played in such a way where the combined resonance of the harp and the resonance of the harpist truly merge to create the desired musical expression.  

Activity 5/Lesson - To Press or to Pull?


• How do we activate the vibrating length of a harp string?

• Consider how a bow and arrow are used.

• Consider pressing the string rather than pulling. 

• Playing the harp strings from a place of motion.


• Remember you are playing the harp not just the strings.  Sense how you are playing the wood of the harp.  The strings vibrate the soundboard which resonates the body of the harp and the vibrations carry through the whole instrument and even through the wood to the body of the harpist.  You are vibrating the molecules of the wood and making them dance!  

Lesson/Module 2: The Swirl

Activity 1/Lecture - Review and Introduction to The Swirl


• Learn the Harp Secret called The Swirl.  The Swirl is a lovely movement physically and energetically and is also a wonderful way to establish good hand position.

Activity 2/Lesson - The Swirl and Hand Position 


• Create a good, individualized hand position using The Swirl.  


• Learn all the benefits of the The Swirl.

Activity 3/Lesson - Playing the Swirl on the Harp


• Learn how to play Swirls on your index, middle, and ring fingers.  

Activity 4/Lesson - The Swirl on Various Harps


• Observe how to play Swirls on a lever harp, lap harp, double-action pedal harp, Welsh Triple Harp, and Italian Arpa Doppia.


• Whatever size and shape harp you have, the Swirl can help you relax and find an optimal hand position and orientation for you on your harp as well as enhance your flow of resonant breath through your body and arms to your living touch on the harp strings.

Activity 5 - Special Guest - Simple Biomechanics for the Harpist 

with Douglas Ross, Chiropractor


• In this special Harp Secrets activity Dr. Ross explains simple ergonomics for harpists and some things you can do for yourself to help prolong your career and hopefully illuminate and help prevent some of the aches and pains that come with being a harpist or musician in general.

Lesson/Module 3: The Gather & Release

Activity 1 - Review and Introduction to The Gather & Release


• Review points from the anatomy lesson.


• Check in with how your hand position is improving and how well you are delivering your hands to the strings.


• Begin to feel how the strings can be played while in motion, not just from a standstill, by using a press and release engagement. 


• Learn how to use the flexion and extension of your wrists along with your energetic flow of musical resonance (chi) in a masterful yet relaxed way.


• Develop a relaxing release after every effort you make.

Activity 2 - The Gather & Release Explained


• Learn The Gather & Release Harp Secret and how to use the flexion and extension of your wrists with your energetic flow of musical resonance (chi) in a masterful yet relaxed way. 

Activity 3 - Playing the Gather & Release on the Harp


• Create a physical habit that results in getting a relax/release for every effort you make.  


• Play with intention and energy, not tension.


• Learn Release and Replace into the next placement. Develop this skill so you can improve your confidence and ability.


• Enjoy the leaps and jetés that are required to dance on the harp!

Activity 4 - Exercises


• Learn over a dozen patterns for single fingers, pairs of fingers, three fingers and four fingers to practice the Gather & Release.

Activity 5 - Modal Cadence Patterns and I-V-I Chord Progressions


• Learn some special Harp Secrets patterns you can use to practice the Gather & Release: a set of exercises based on medieval modal cadence patterns and a set of exercises based on functional harmony showing the Harp Secrets method for easily playing the tonic-dominant-tonic chord progression on the harp by feel.

Lesson/Module 4: The Wave

Activity 1/Lecture - Review and Introduction to The Wave


• Learn the origins of The Wave technique.


• Learn about playing with “horizontal” gravity on the harp.


• Learn how The Wave allows you to play your fingers in precise yet nuanced relationships to each other to create an endless variety of articulation patterns for sophisticated, deeply musical phrasing.  


• Learn the secret to getting both genuine legato phrasing as well as duple articulation on the the harp. 


• Learn how to use The Wave in combination with strong yet gentle finger exertion and movement in which your fingers are moved in relationship to your whole body and with energy flowing from your core.   

Activity 2/Lesson - Thumb & Fingers


• Learn the two basic physical movements needed to play The Wave.


• Learn the musical application for these movements. 


• If you have experience with tai chi, QiGong, or any of the martial arts and know how to move your chi, what in Touch & Tone is called your "musical resonance," use it right from the beginning of learning The Wave.  

Activity 3/Lesson - Fingers & Fingers 


• Learn The Wave, as it applies to the use of your second-index, third-middle, and fourth-ring fingers. 


• Learn the basic anatomy that makes independent movement of the third and fourth fingers challenging.


• Learn how to achieve great skill and independence for all of your fingers.

Activity 4/Lesson - Exercises


• Learn a dozen musical and fun exercises using The Wave.

Activity 5 - The Touch & Tone “Gates” Meditation


• The Gates Meditation can be used as an imaginative aid to give you information about the state of your joints and how they feel to you.  Also great for family and friends!


Lesson/Module 5: The Foundations of the

Touch & Tone Technique

Activity 1/Lecture - Check-in and Review of The Swirl


• Review The Swirl and how to use soft focus while playing swirls.


• Whenever you feel a little stuck and things are not sounding as fluid and flowing as you want them to, stop and do some swirls!  And use Swirls to warm up before a performance. 

Activity 2 /Lesson - Review of The Gather & Release


• Review The Gather & Release, remembering to Press not Pull.


• Apply the marionette image to feel your fingers being “pulled” by strings though your wrists.


• Review "Press, Gather & Release" and "Press, Gather & Release to the next placement" using the image of a falcon landing to feel fully confident landing onto the harp strings.

Activity 3/Lesson - Review of The Wave


• Learn how The Wave helps to create fluid placement.


• Learn fingerings for 5 note scales and how to play with “stepping stone” connection.


• Learn a short modal etude that combines fingerings of a fifth with The Wave and the Gather & Release, and also allows for some easy improvisation.

Activity 4/Lecture - Reflections and Encouragement


• Reflect on how the basic movements you have learned and their application to making music on the harp can continue to evolve and deepen for you for as long as you play the harp.


• Using a basic Press-and-Release approach is the first step to getting better tone and musical phrasing on the harp. The Gather & Release adds breath and precision to your touch on the harp strings. Adding The Wave allows you to put your fingers in precise relationships to each other to create an endless variety of articulation patterns for nuanced, sophisticated, deeply musical phrasing.  


• Think back on the questions you asked yourself at the beginning of the course and check in with the improvements you have made.


• Choosing to play the harp with conscious connection to your "resonant breath" or chi energy, and learning and practicing a technique that brings this alive in your body, can enrich your life and the lives of the people who hear you play.  


• Advice for next steps in your harp journey!

The Foundationsof the
Touch & Tone Technique


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