Causeway U3A Irish Harp Classes

Causeway U3A Traditional Harp Class in Portballintrae Village Hall

On Monday mornings it is my pleasure to teach two Traditional Irish Harp Classes as part of the Causeway U3A activity programme. The Causeway U3A has a wealth of activities and groups on offer and there is sure to be something to appeal to everyone!

Playing tunes in ensemble during our second lesson together

The harp is such a beautiful instrument to learn because it sounds gorgeous from the very beginning! There is no music reading required in this course as we learn tunes using the traditional aural method. This is a very enjoyable and musical way to learn an instrument as we get to play tunes together from day one, rather than spending many months learning to read from notation. It is also very good memory training as we commit tunes to memory, eventually being able to play a repertoire of tunes without any notation.

Learning correct finger placing and technique

Small class sizes mean I can get around each individual to help with technique and finger placing. I have found that small group teaching is ideal: learning in isolation is definitely not as much fun and as rewarding as learning in a group. Playing together as ensemble adds a whole other dimension of learning as you learn to listen and play together with the group as a whole. This develops a good sense of fluency, tempo and rhythm. The sound of many harps playing together too is a lovely experience in itself and it is very rewarding to be a part of that!

View from Portballintrae Village Hall car park

And look at that view! I can’t think of a nicer place to be on a Monday morning than playing harps by the sea in Portballintrae; even in the wild weather we had this week!

Turmennan Harp made by Mervyn Waugh in County Down, N Ireland

This is my beautiful Irish harp made by Northern Irish harpmaker, Mervyn Waugh of Turmennan Harps. My pupils play Derwent Adventurer 20 harps during lessons. Pupils also rent out these small harps for the duration of the beginners’ course to enable them to practise what they have learned at home. I am absolutely delighted at the progress of my pupils so far and I’m very excited of what they will achieve! Many of my pupils who have recently completed the 6 week beginner course have went on to purchase their own Irish harps and some are now aiming to achieve their first exams in Irish Traditional Harp through the London College of Music in June 2020. It is such a pleasure and privilege to lead others in their musical journeys with the Irish harp. It really is a very special instrument!

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