(Updated February, 2016)
Beginning Autoharp - -
This is a beginning level workshop which I frequently do at music stores. It is about 90 minutes long and I usually do it in two sections of 40 minutes each. It covers basic harp maintenance and a little bit about different kinds of harps along with some basic elements of both melody rhythm work. Some handout material available.
Melodies - -
Covers advanced melody picking and the use of special chords to obtain a full chromatic scale on the chromatic autoharp. Handout material provided. This workshop is similar to my Chromatic Autoharp workshop but focuses on lead playing.
Improvisation - -
This workshop gives students an opportunity to improvise on a few simple themes, providing a safe and fun environment in which "there are no mistakes, only unexpected results". Some basic attitudes and skills about improvisation will be presented, such as the skill of relying on feelings and emotions rather than on one's thinking process. Solid skills and practice which enable creative improvisation are presented, while laughter and musical playfulness in class are encouraged! Handouts are provided, but the emphasis is on playing.
The Chromatic Autoharp - -
This workshop covers the chromatic autoharp and how to take advantage of its unique properties. Topics include basic differences, both in potential repertoire and in playing style, between the diatonic and chromatic autoharps, as well as some music theory, using diminished chords and chord layout. The class will practice and play together a couple of simple tunes which take advantage of the chromatic instrument. Handouts will be provided.
Rhythms on the autoharp - -
Explores the use of the autoharp as a rhythm instrument accompanying other instruments and voices. This workshop develops a stong and flexible technique for playing various tempos and rhythms on the autoharp using damping techniques on the buttons. This workshop is actually appropriate for any stringed instrument used for rhythm accompaniment and has been successfully used with groups containing guitar and mandolin players as well as autoharpists.
Diminished Chords - -
Concentrates on the use of diminished chords to take advantage of the full range of the chromatic autoharp. Also teaches a bit about making your own special chords from scratch. Handout material provided.
Jamming ... What It's All About - -
This workshop will center around a group discussion in which participants will share experiences jamming with other musicians in various situations, and in various genres of music - folk, bluegrass, blues, jazz, traditional, etc. We'll also give some attention to sitting in with a group during a performance. We'll discuss different kinds of jams and the "rules" and etiquette around these jams, how to understand what's going on and how best to fit in with it. This workshop isn't a "how to jam" workshop and won't cover musical techniques, such as how to read a guitarist's hand positions. It's assumed that you are, or will be reasonably familiar with your instrument, as well as with the genre of music at hand. We'll cover something of the amazing variety of forms in which people who may otherwise be strangers can meet and play music together, agreeing on how to play together, and how you, as an autoharpist, can join in and have fun.
Autoharp Maintenance - -
Strings, felts and tuning. No handout material available but lots of hands on work in class. Students will bring their harps and the instructor or presenter will provide simple tools with which they will take the covers or chord retainers from their instruments and explore their construction. The instructor will demonstrate refelting and possibly rechording a chord bar and help students who are interested to do the same. Everyone will change a string (extra strings provided by instructor). Tuning meters and their use will be demonstrated and discussed.
Diatonic Possiblities - -
Setup and modification of the Diatonic Autoharp. Covers creation of a diatonic autoharp from a standard OS model as well as the creation and use of complex chord bars such as augmented, major 7, major 6 and other complex chords on the diatonic autoharp. Handout will be available with advance notice for preparation.
Playing with a Band - -
Techniques are taught for lead and backup playing and for using musical dynamics. Skills of listening and blending with other musicians will be covered. Emphasis will be on folk and country music ensemble styles. This is a two session workshop. The first session will consist of instruction and discussion. In the second session, each student will arrange and play a single piece of his or her chosing with a small ensemble of other musicians. Class and instructor will critique. Presenter must supply a band, which may consist of other musicians who are performers or patrons with diverse musical skills. Some time in the schedule should be allowed between sessions (overnight, lunch break, a free session) for students to prepare for the 2nd session. based on the material covered in the 1st.
Performance Skills - -
An overview of skills required to perform before an audience with special emphasis on the autoharp. This is, ideally, a two session workshop. The first session (or first half, if only one session) is to be devoted to discussion and the second session (or second half) devoted to performances by each student which will be critiqued by the instructor and the class. Covers stage presence, tuning, microphone technique, singing and playing, performance dynamics, stage fright and other topics which the students may bring up. If presented as a two session workshop, some time in the schedule should be allowed between sessions (overnight, lunch break, a free session) for students to prepare for the 2nd session.
Miking and Recording the Autoharp - -
Getting a good sound out of the autoharp in a recording studio or on stage using sound reinforcement. Techniques for microphone and pickup use - overdubbing - dynamics - solutions to problems which may arise working as a support musician on the autoharp. If equipment is available, some recording will be done in class.
Playing by Ear - -
This is a fast-paced workshop with a lot of playing and not a lot of talk. Everyone is given a printed copy of a well-known song and together we work through it from beginning to end, listening for chord changes and playing with alternatives for these changes until we come up with a good rendition. The focus is on playing the song, being willing to make mistakes and exploring until a satisfactory result is reached.
Non-Folk Tunes on the Autoharp - -
This workshop explores the use of the autoharp with songs outside the "standard" repertoire of the 'harp. After a short discussion of the problems and opportunities presented by a variety of musical genres, the class will work through several tunes, as time permits, from the rock, jazz and popular repertoires. Published descriptions of this workshop should note that it requires the use of a chromatic autoharp, preferably with 21 or more chords. The recommended skill level is intermediate to advanced.
All these workshops are "hands on" workshops. Participants are encouraged to bring their harps since many group exercises are included in all the technique workshops. The workshops dealing with melody and chords are oriented toward the use of the 21 chord chromatic autoharp.