Portballintrae, Sept-Oct 2019
In September 2019, ten women and girls gathered together in Portballintrae Village Hall to learn the Irish harp. After only 3 lessons together we have learned to play the traditional air, ‘The South Wind’ and a polka known as ‘Johnny Leary’s’. Each week we focus on good hand position and playing technique as well as learning tunes from the traditional Irish harp repertoire. We learn tunes using the aural method and commit them to memory, rather than reading from musical notation. Each lesson is followed up with a recording of the tune and each pupil has their own harp to practise on throughout the week. I am absolutely delighted at the progress everyone has made in such a short period of time!
At the end of the 6 week course, many of the participants have signed up to take part in a Build a Harp Workshop, hosted by Causeway Harp School and Turmennan Learner Harps, during which they will build their very own 26 string harp under the expert guidance of Mervyn and Brian Waugh of Turmennan Harps and Turmennan Learner Harps.
I am so delighted to have the opportunity to make learning this beautiful instrument more accessible to people in this community. There was once a time when every great house on the North coast of Antrim had it’s harper and it’s traditional music repertoire and I’m so excited to bring something of this great tradition back into the homes and communities in this area.