2023 Big Sky Harp Society Harp Retreat- Featuring Rhett Barnwell: Sept 29-Oct 1, 2023

Workshops included:

"Playing Harp without Fear"

"Compleat Harpist"

"Anything Goes"

"Playing for Church Without Losing Religion"

2022 Big Sky Harp Society Harp Retreat:In-person retreat: Carol Kappus

Workshops included:

“Intro to Magic Hands: What it is and what it can do for me”

“Magic Hands: How to do it and how to apply to new tunes”

“Magic Hands: Learn to play faster and with more flow and to improvise"

2021 Big Sky Harp Society Harp Retreat:In person retreat: Verlene Schermer

Workshops included:

"Playing on the White Strings" 

“Getting In the Groove-The Beat Goes On” 

“When’s It Going to Get Fun? ” 

“How To Participate in a Jam Session ” 

"Singing With Your Harp"

2020 ONLINE Big Sky Harp Retreat Featured:  Lisa Lynn & Aryeh Frankfurter

Workshops Included:

"Play Along with Lisa Lynne – Some of her Favorites" 

"Swedish Music: 101" Aryeh Frankfurter 

2019 Big Sky Retreat Featured: Kim Robertson

Most of the chapter were able to meet in person, but the weather posed a challenge to members in the Northern part of the state.  Those who couldn't travel to the retreat experienced our first attempt at an "online" option (we've improved since then!).  Some who made it to the retreat location were snowed-in an extra day or two!

Workshops Included:

"Love Songs, Lullabies & Laments"

"Beauty Tunes"

"Introduction to Improvisation"

"Cool Left-Hand Patterns"

2018 Big Sky Retreat Featured: Beth Kollé  & Tudy McLain

Workshops Included:

 “Playing From the Heart”

 “Scandinavian Music for Lever Harp”

"Classical Technique for Folk Harp”

2017 Big Sky Retreat Featured: Sunita Staneslow and Mary Stevens

Workshops included:

Art of the Arpeggio

In this workshop, Sunita teaches fun and creative ways to play arpeggios, breaking away from the standard patterns to add variety and interest to your playing.

Bass Lines: going up & going down

Simplify your left hand and create the illusion of complex harmonies. Less is more especially on the harp. Sunita will show you how to harmonize songs using a simple descending and ascending bass lines. This can become a foolproof way to improvise over your left hand that will sound beautiful even if you are just starting to learn the harp. Understanding a simple bass line will pave your way to improvising between songs and is especially useful in therapeutic environments.

Short Topic:  Professionals Toolbox, Working Well With Others

How do professionals put together arrangements? How do you find new music for an unusual ensemble? What should you look for in another musician? What do others expect from a harp player? Sunita will offer advice and tips on rehearsing and practicing with different combinations of instruments. The harp works well with almost any other instrument. Embolden yourself to create a new sound! 

Mary Stevens

Memorization Ease--Take it by Degrees!

Learning to play by scale degrees rather than by notes simplifies improvisation and makes transposition simple. This workshop will demonstrate how.

Improve Your Improvisation

Almost any tune can be played in any style from soothing to energetic. This workshop will take a tune and demonstrate how to change its feel by playing in different styles.

2016 Montana Harp Retreat  Featured Frank Voltz

2015 Montana Harp Retreat at the Best Western Grant Creek Inn, Missoula September 25-27, 2015

Around 25 harpers and harpists from Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, and Washington convened in Missoula in late September for our 2015 Montana Harp Retreat. We had an absolutely fantastic time learning about music therapy, Celtic ornamentation, improvisation, and composition, and much more from Scottish harper William (Billy) Jackson, making connections, renewing friendships, playing new and old songs together, and talking everything harp.  It was refreshment for the soul! Thanks to all of you who came, and be sure to check for updates on future retreats and nearby events!

2014 Montana Harp Retreat, Grant Creek Best Western Inn, Missoula, Sept 12-14, 2014

2013 Montana Harp Retreat, C'mon Inn, Bozeman, Sept 27-29, 2013

The Big Sky Harp Society held their second retreat in September at the lodge-style C'mon Inn in Bozeman, MT.  The small size of the group provided a perfect atmosphere of intimacy in which to encourage new harpers and challenge more experienced harpists.  The entire group participated in a Skype session with Marta Cook focusing on playing musically.  A lullaby provided a perfect example, teaching harpers to consider where the phrasing of the tune leads listeners.  Two members shared their experiences in playing as Hospice volunteers, Laura Welker gave a workshop that completely demystified improvisation, and Angela Espinosa taught stress-free string changing and knot tying with many laughs.

As part of the Big Sky Harp Society's' mission to encourage interest in the harp and to encourage harpists to share their music with others, the entire group enjoyed offering a free public concert on September 28th where harpists performed solo pieces and played several tunes together.  The audience was, as always, appreciative and usually stayed afterward to ask questions about the instruments (which varied from small lap harps to pedal harps).  

2012 Montana Harp Retreat, Boulder Hot Springs, Boulder, Sept 14-16, 2012

The Big Sky Harp Society started with a weekend to remember!  The photos below speak of the joy and fun we had getting to know and playing with each other.  

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