In Search Of Inspiration

Posted In: How To Play

  • Inactive
    Anonymous on #193919

    Hello there,

    I made an account of here years ago and just now reactivated it. I’ve been playing the celtic harp for about ten years and would consider myself more on the advanced side. I felt the need to reactivate my account because lately I feel burnt out on my harp. I don’t dream of ever quitting this wonderful instrument, but lately, I’m just neglecting practice.

    I spend without a doubt two to four hours practicing violin everyday. Now there was a six month period a few years ago that I put my violin in the case for good and even considered selling it. Then something happenend…inspiration struck. I feel like I’ve put more into my violin in the last two years than I did the last twelve years of playing it altogether. I’m so glad I didn’t give up on violin and I know I can’t give up on harp.

    What it took for me to pick up my violin again was something new and different to try…something fresh! I need something like that to happen for the harp. I’m no way advanced at playing the instrument…. I’m sure I have much to learn, I’m just stuck and get bored while playing. I go on YouTube and look at other performers but it dawns on me that I don’t even know that many harpists to even look up. Four that I know of is Loreena Mckennitt, Lisa Lynn, Kim Robertson and Alizbar. I really don’t know that many celtic harpists whereas I can name a number of favorite violinists.

    I figured I can find inspiration but learning and listening to other Celtic harpists like I did for the violin. I’m determined to get out of this rut but I was hoping I might receive help here.

    I know every musician must go through this. To start with, do you know of any Celtic music/harpists I could look up and possibly be inspired by? If you have any tips (anything!) I’m ready to listen. I want to love playing my harp again!

    Biagio on #193921

    Hello there back,

    Sure I can mention some of my favorites: Harper Tasche, Loreena McKennitt, Patrick Ball, Chris Caswell, David Michael, Marta Cook for a start. But as good or better idea I think would be to connect or re-connect with that very large and diverse community. For instance, join the International Society of Folk Harpers and Craftsmen, the Yahoo! groups Virtual Harp Circle and HarpList (which have a lot of harp lovers of all persuasions). Perhaps attend conferences and gatherings – Somerset and the South East Harp Weekend.

    Best wishes and see you around,


    Andelin on #193922

    I have been there. 🙂 I have a few ideas.

    I find inspiration by just talking with others who also love what I love. Do you know any other celtic harpists you could get together with for an afternoon of comparing repertoire? Or “meet” via skype, if meeting in person isn’t possible. It doesn’t even have to be a harpist. You can find duets for your harp and any other instrument. My harp playing was accelerated by forming a little trio last year, a harp and two violins. I find it so fulfilling to play music together.

    Do you/did you have a teacher? Can you contact him/her and ask for some song suggestions? Or perhaps have a lesson with a teacher you’ve never met with before. You might be able to find one who will give you just one or two lessons, if that’s all you need. Accountability is a good motivator.

    I also usually find motivation by buying a new piece/book of music to play. How long has it been since you bought new harp music?

    It’s ok that you are focusing on violin right now. If that’s where your passion lies, that is where you will find joy. Your passion for harp is still inside somewhere, and it will surface at the perfect time for you.

    Do you have any recording equipment? I think it’s awesome when people play ‘duets’ with themselves by playing both parts. :). I have no idea what you would need to record and put both parts together…. You can, at the very least, record something on one instrument to play along with on the other, using most any device. 🙂

    You mentioned playing celtic music. Perhaps try playing a style you have never tried before. For example, I was recently introduced to “pistache” by Bernard Andres. It is very different from anything else I have ever played. I would have immediately dismissed this piece if I had discovered it on my own, but after hearing someone else play it, and after trying it a bit, I am having a lot of fun with it. (It is playable on lever harp, no accidentals or key changes.) Or maybe try your hand at improvising/composing/arranging, if you’ve never done that before.

    I think that’s all I have. I hope you found something useful. Good luck!

    Allison Stevick on #193923

    Hi and welcome back!
    I agree with Biagio’s suggestions, and would just add a few more of my favorites– Gráinne Hambly, William Jackson, and Maeve Gilchrist.
    “Music from Ireland and Scotland” (Hambly and Jackson) is one of my favorite albums–not just of harp music, or even Celtic music, but of any genre. And I could listen to Maeve Gilchrist play and sing for days.
    I hope you find your joy in playing again. 🙂 Best wishes,

    Edit: Oops, cross posted this with Andelin’s. Great suggestions there, too!

    Biagio on #193925

    Oh, thought: we’ve mostly mentioned artists in the Celtic style but there’s plenty of other music that goes great on the lever harp. Two personal favorites are shape note songs and Spanish/latin. You can most often pick the tune out by ear, but sheet music is also often available. Here are two from those genera: Adio Querida and Beach Spring:

    Adio Querida is Ladino in a harmonic minor (sharp your melody octave fifth), Beach Spring is pentatonic.

    If you would like a brush up specifically on Celtic styles it would be well worth buying Laurie Riley’s DVD “Secrets of the Celtic Style.”


    Angela Biggs on #193931

    Have you considered trying something completely different, just to cleanse your palette? DHC teaches an online “Blues, Harp-Style” class a couple of times a year. I took the pilot course a few years ago and it was incredibly fun.

    patricia-jaeger on #193941

    Many harp players are beginning to be aware of the very gifted French-born Breton and jazz playing folk harpist Tristan Le Govic. Type his name into You Tube to see and hear him play. He will be touring in the U.S. this summer and my area is trying to have him play here and give workshops in mid August; we have already secured the hall with good acoustics. We can all receive inspiration from live music.

    erin-wood on #193989

    I am a big fan of Cormac Debarra.

    I recently purchased Marie ni CHathasaigh’s Irish Harper books and I really like them. Lots of great tunes and stylistic arrangements.

    Elizabeth Volpé Bligh on #194121

    I like Nikolas Cadoret very much.
    I also love Irish harper Maire ni Chathasaigh and Scottish harper Catriona McKay. These people should really inspire you!

Viewing 9 posts - 1 through 9 (of 9 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.