Workshops by The Masters of the Celtic Harp

William Jackson Workshops

William has been doing workshops and classes throughout the United States and Scotland for more than a decade. He does a number of week-long summer schools, like Swannanoa, each year besides teaching at harp conferences like the Somerset Folk Harp Festival and in private settings.

Besides teaching traditional Scottish music on the harp, he also does workshops in composing and arranging. Another area of interest for some groups would be his expertise in music therapy—a workshop he can tailor to medical professional as well as harp players (see more information below on this). All music workshops are taught in the traditional style, “by ear”, although written music can be provided at the end of the workshops. Participants are encouraged to bring recording devices.

Length: 1½ -2 hours

Ancient Harp of Scotland: Nowadays, Scottish harpers are just as likely to play jigs and reels as the fiddlers and pipers are, but in the "old" days this wasn't the case. Learn about the "old" harp repertoire and the harpers who played it. Take advantage of William Jackson's expertise in interpreting and arranging his music. The music will be taught by ear but sheet music is provided at the end of the workshop.

Ancient Prayers and Blessings from the Hebrides: By day he was a tax collector and the rest of the time Alexander Carmichael collected a vast amount of lore and traditions in the Scottish Highlands and Outer Hebrides where he lived from 1864 and 1882. His compendium Carmina Gadelica (The Hymns of the Gael), published in 1900, cast a light on “Celtic” spirituality. In this creative workshop you and William Jackson will choose one of the blessings and incantations from the collection and create a melody and arrangement to one of the English translations. How do you fit somebody else’s words to your new melody? Be guided through the creative process.

Arranging Pipe and Fiddle Tunes for Harp: Get some useful ideas on how to expand your Scottish repertoire and how to select tunes from non-harp instrumental collections. Learn how to develop creative arrangements and perform them by using devices such as intros, bridges and "outros"!

Blind Harpers: who was Rory Dall? A look at the music attributed to the 17th century blind harpers Rory Dall Morrison of Scotland and Rory Dall O'Catháin (Roger O'Keane ) of Ireland, and the confusion over the authorship of their compositions. Their music is very different than that of O'Carolan, probably the best-known, today, of the blind harpers.

Accompanying Other Instruments: The modes used in Scottish and Irish traditional music will be discussed. Some approaches to accompanying other instruments and ideas for playing in sessions by improvising chord patterns will be covered.

Composing in a Traditional Style: What makes a new composition sound traditional? This is a comprehensive look at the structure of traditional music and the modes and rhythms used from Gaelic song, strathspeys to jigs and reels. Learn how to use a simple chord progression as the basis for developing melodic ideas and then expand these melodic ideas into a larger work.

Pipe Up! Pipe tunes are such an integral part of traditional Irish and Scottish music. You'll get some useful ideas on how to expand your Scottish repertoire and how to select tunes from non-harp instrumental collections from William, who not only plays harp but the pipes as well. Learn how to develop creative arrangements and perform them by using devices such as intros, bridges and "outros". Tunes will be taught by ear. Bring a recording device (or just use your cellphone!)

Scottish Ornamentation: Learn about the different types of ornamentation used in Scottish music and how to add appropriate ornamentation to strathspeys and Gaelic airs.

Using the Small Harp in Music Therapy

Workshop presentation, including video of active music therapy situations

Length: 1½ -2 hours

  • Identifying who can benefit from music therapy
  • Working in a psychiatric setting
  • Promoting and developing communication & social skills through music therapy in special needs populations like autism and cerebral palsy
  • How to structure a music therapy session; using the small harp as well as other instruments

This workshop can be geared to educate medical professionals (doctors, nurses, physical and occupational therapists) on how music therapy may be used with their patients or toward harp players who may be interested in this field and want to see how harp may be used in music therapy. It’s an open interactive session using William’s own video as well as his demonstrating his talking points using his harp and other instruments. Unlike the music workshops above, this is not a hands-on workshop. Attendees do not need to bring a harp.

Masters of the Celtic Harp

As an adjunct to their concert appearances, we try to arrange workshops with Gráinne and William with the local harp community. Fees are usually arranged on a per student basis and we ask groups to have students pre-register and pay in advance for classes to ensure a basic minimum attendance.

Gráinne Hambly's workshops

Musical expression therapeutic
for children with illnesses

Mission Hospitals' newsletter article on William Jackson.

Music Therapy Credentials:
-Postgraduate degree in Music Therapy at the Guildhall School of Music in London
-State registered Arts Therapist in music (SRAsT) in Great Britain
-Member of the Assn of Professional Music Therapists in Britain
-Member of the American Music Therapy Assn
-Currently practicing music therapy in County Sligo, Ireland.






See also: Gráinne Hambly's workshops

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