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Session Details

Therapeutic Use of the Harp - Basic Playing Technique and Improvisational Skills
(Event: 2017 AMTA Conference - A Mindful Approach to Music Therapy)

Nov 15, 2017 07:15 pm - Nov 15, 2017 10:15 pm
Session Type: Special Training
Track: .


Become familiar with the use of the harp as an improvisational instrument in music therapy.  Music therapists are commonly taught basic keyboard and guitar skills as well as utilizing a variety of percussive instruments, but the harp can also provide an infinite means of emotional expression as well as structure within the music therapy environment.  This is not intended to be a workshop on "harp therapy" but rather on the use of the harp as an improvisational instrument in music therapy and to familiarize music therapists with its use and potential.

Workshop participants will become familiar with the basic position and technique of harp playing. They will learn 2 simple, contrasting tunes and 2 accompaniment patterns which they can then use to build upon with other accompaniment patterns (written material) that will be provided for further practice. Participants will have the opportunity to work on these tunes/accompaniment patterns within the session. Several harps will be provided with a small group of participants sharing each harp, questions addressed by several harpists who will be providing assistance as participants get hands on experience.

Information will be provided regarding scales/modes and melodic/accompaniment ideas for individual and group. Once again, participants will break into small groups to explore these new ideas with assistance from the harpists.


Learner Objectives:

1. Gain an understanding of how to tune the harp, how the levers as used, basic hand position, rudiments of playing and several special techniques. (CBMT IV.A.6.)

2. Experiment with tunings which provide immediate success in expressing emotional ideas and work in combination with other instruments. (CBMT II.A. 5.c,x,z)

3. Learn 2 melodies and 2 accompaniment patterns. (CBMT IV.A.6.)


Therapeutic Use of the Harp – Basic Playing Technique and Improvisational Skills

I.  Getting familiar with the harp:

a. Tuning, Positioning the harp and positioning the hands (15 minutes)

b. Placing the fingers and playing melody lines (30 minutes)

c. Adding harmony: chord inversions, the most effective combination of notes within a chord and baselines (30 minutes)

d. Special techniques used on the harp (10 minutes)

Break for 10 minutes

II. Simple ensemble pieces (15 minutes)

III. Improvisation:

a. Blues (15 minutes)

b. Middle Eastern scales (10 minutes)

c. Pentatonic (10 minutes)

d. Storytelling drones and Song accompaniment (10 minutes)

IV. A discussion of populations and use of the harp, what to consider (15 minutes)                                         Course Evaluations (10 minutes)


Total: 170 minutes – 3 credits



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