Improvisation

Boy with ballGive me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown

Improvisation is something that can be quite daunting at first. How do you start? What should you do? The simple answer is anything you feel like, but this isn’t terribly helpful. In truth¬†we need to be shown how to improvise and learn the ropes before we find our wings.

Listen to
Two of our team were teaching a KS2 group in Hove last week. It was the children’s¬†first lesson of the Spring term. The first HA teacher started a simple chug, or riff,¬†on his 10 hole harmonica, while the second HA teacher punctuated this pattern with two¬†simple chords, or vamps. One by one the children were invited to step up and play anything they liked over the top, and most rose to the challenge quite readily. When we came to Jack however, he was holding his chair so tightly, his knuckles had turned white and his eyes were wider¬†than saucers. Continue reading

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Sheet Music

Sheet Music 4Down the road someone is practising scales,
The notes like little fishes vanish with a wink of their tails Louis MacNeice

Children joining Harp Academy receive a Tuff zip bag for their equipment, which includes a Music Diary and Music Book. Once early key skills are mastered however, and the first music book is finished, we move on to sheet music and Folders 6harp tabs. Harp tabs are usually issued by our teachers, but they can also be downloaded and printed off at home using the link on each of our Music Library pages. This system affords our teachers the flexibility they need to inspire each group, and freedom to choose fun, topical items for seasonal performances.

It can also mean that as term progresses, children build up a collection of musical paperwork. With this in mind, we would ask parents to help our harmonauts assemble their paperwork in a simple folder; one that will slip readily into their Tuff Folders 3zip bag. A clear-pocket folder is the simplest solution. This will help us dedicate more time to music-making, and spend less time paper-chasing.

As¬†children move through the key stages, old¬†papers can be kept at home and replaced with¬†current material.¬†Sheet music and¬†harmonica tabs will inevitably remain part of the way we operate.¬†So, on behalf of your Harp Academy teacher, thank you for helping us¬†maximise¬†children’s music-making time!

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Små Grodorna (Sweden)

Here's a fun song about small frogs that Swedish families and friends sing at Christmas (Jul), when they dance around the Christmas Tree. They also sing it at mid-summer when they dance around the maypole. Subscriber username and password required.

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Gaudete (Finland)

In 1973 an electric folk group called Steeleye Span had a hit with a song from the Elizabethan times. It was originally compiled and published in a Finland and is sung in Latin. Subscriber username and password required.

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Tom Hark (Kwela)

In the same way that blues music emerged in the early 1900's from the hardships experienced by black communities in America, so kwela rose from the slums of the South African mining districts around Johannesburg. What makes kwela especially interesting for harmonica players is, just as our instrument is synonymous with blues, so another wind instrument found prominence through kwela. Subscriber username and password required.

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Cock O’ The North (Jig)

The melody to Cock O' the North has been traced back over three centuries, but it's real origin is unclear. It may actually have stemmed from a traditional English folk song mentioned by Samuel Pepys. Either way, the result is a rousing jig with two distinct sections. Subscriber username and password required.

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The Sand Dance (Egypt)

Here's a fun tune to learn on the 4 or 10 hole harmonica. It only uses three holes, but the sequence of notes creates a great Arabian mood. We're also using the harmonica in cross harp. This means starting and finishing on a draw note. Come with us to the Kasbah..! Subscriber username and password required.

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Wimoweh (South Africa) – Part 2

Welcome back to our African extravaganza! In Part 1 we learned about the Zulu word Mbube, and Solomon Linda who first reecorded the tune Wimoweh in South Africa. Now let's look at the main melody.

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Wimoweh (South Africa) – Part 1

Welcome to our African extravaganza! The word Wimoweh comes from the Zulu word Mbube, meaning Lion. Let’s see how a group of harmonica players can build a performance around this highly infectious song. In Part 1 we’ll work on the underlying chord sequence and rhythms. Subscriber username and password required.

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Au Clair De La Lune (France)

Here's a french folk song from the 1700s, which has become a popular lullaby. Welcome to the world of cross harp and positional playing on the diatonic harmonica. Subscriber username and password required.

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