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Workshops & Masterclasses


Janet Harbison has travelled widely throughout the world presenting workshops and masterclasses; motivating, facilitating and inspiring harp players to progress their harping skills and enjoyment of music.

From very first steps with adult beginners to stagecraft and repertoire consulting with professional performers, Janet's experience both as performer and producer offers valuable direction to players at all stages in their music development.

Janet can also advise on the organisation of workshops offering different options and levels of study intensity. Janet will work to the abilities of the group leaving no-one under or over challenged.  For further info on organising events and fees etc. contact us!

Here are some workshop samples that groups have chosen:

From Bones and Drones to Big and Beautiful
This workshop explores the process of ‘building the music’ from basic melodies to epic orchestrations and applies the process to a range of tunes. This the core and creative musical activity is presented in an organic, step by step process relevant to all levels of player.

The Ultimate Titanic Céilí
Irish dance music is totally accessible for all harp standards – truly!  It has to do with the number of notes you play, not how fast you can play all of them. This is an ‘organic’ training. Beginners start from the ‘big notes’ and the more expert players fill the gaps and decorate the tune with ornamentation and variation, rhythm and accompaniment.  Music ‘grows’ with you – and you are an essential part of the performance at every level of proficiency. Janet’s passion is to ‘make music fun and fullfilling’ with mixed ability groups so everybody participates, sparks creatively off each other constructively and positively.  This is achieved in this workshop with some familiar polkas and slides….

Ornamentation and Variation, Marmalade and Jam!
Ornamentation and Variation is the magic dust in Irish music. It has often held aloft as the be-all and end-all of difficult stuff for harp players – but this workshop will de-mystify the subject, work systematically through the different ornaments and variation options, and show you the how, what and where to do it, from the easiest to the most impressive of performances.

Carolan, the creative!
Ireland’s most famous historic harper, Turlough O Carolan, is often titled as our ‘National Composer’ and a testament to his greatness is the extraordinary repertoire of his music still in common usage.  This workshop introduces some known and lesser known wonderful Carolan tunes for all standards of harper.

6 Steps to dressing a tune – the Art of Arrangement
Arrangement is neither anarchy (where anything goes) nor the 3 chord trick (the harmony limit).  There are logical steps in ‘dressing’ a tune and this workshop invites you to an Irish ‘dress-up’ party.

‘Chordscapes’ – The Accompaniment Training
Starting from ‘close-position chording’, Janet has brought the Art of Accompaniment to an accessible, positive, constructive and ultimately creative place where the skills, steps and devices she teaches lead to effortless, spontaneous and creative accompaniment. This workshop offers a sound foundation to all formal and informal collaborative music-making – relevant to all kinds of music. 

Tradition and Innovation
Taking a standard tune – O’Keefe’s Slide – and ‘getting funky’ with it. This workshop is not for the feeble or conservative.

Sally Gardens meets Pachelbel
This workshop takes a piece from the Irish Harp Orchestra’s repertoire and invites all to participate in a beautiful arrangement.

Improvisation made Immediate
Even those who think themselves to be totally uncreative will loosen up here.  Music is a language, and our decisions about the words we use to communicate are spontaneous – exactly as the decisions we make about what notes to play next in the improv.  Janet leads an exercise that is in itself a relaxation and creativity therapy for the audience as well as the players that could last 15-20 minutes at a time. So relax, enjoy and improvise with ease and fluency.

Learning by Ear – the most natural way
So many musicians who have learned by eye don’t think that they could ever learn ‘by ear’ – but the fact is that it is a far more natural and this workshop will enhance your aural abilities at whatever age you are.  Your hearing is the most powerful of your senses.  It is the first of your senses to come alive in the womb, and the last to die – and by sharpening up your aural sensitivity, it not only improves your music but also your communication skills and emotion articulation.  Its role in managing mental health is well attested; but it is also plays an essential role in community cohesion.

Holistic Harping
This workshop explores how the total experience of music-making impacts on the player, their purpose, health and happiness.   A number of group improvisations are undertaken – that can last up to 20 minutes each.  Janet’s expert and sensitive leading expands all participant’s experience and shows how people can create their own therapeutic musical journeys.

Healthy Harping
This workshop is a technique clinic and can be run either as a general ‘solving of common issues’ or a masterclass where harpers may present themselves and can seek assistance with finding solutions for their issues – with technique / stance / body use / confidence / stage performance / mental discipline / learning challenges / ear training / stumbling blocks / performing nerves – The Harp Doctor is In!