For the Harbison Harp College with Dr Janet Harbison

Whether for an introduction to 'teaching music by ear' or an 'in-depth study of oral music training' Janet's infectious passion and entertaining presentation style ensures a purposeful and effective learning experience for students and teachers alike.  

There are a number of training courses available from an 'Introduction to Oral Music Training'  weekend course (see course descriptive *1) to undertaking the IHC Levels Training (*2) toward becoming a certified and registered teacher of the Harbison Harp College.

The Training Courses combine theoretical and practical learning in the Harbison Harp Method with Certification examinations at the conclusion of each Level allowing graduate teachers to be listed and to network their practises under the banner of the Harp College.    The Teacher Support Services facilitate ongoing training support (with Refresher Courses recommended at the end of the 2nd, 4th and 6th year of teaching practise).  The TSS also advises on insurance and professional protocol, networking, apprenticeships and apprentice hosting, referrals, collaborative trips, tours and exchanges, summer-schools and summer-school facilitation.  Also on examining for other practises.

The Teacher’s Training Courses in the Irish Harp College training system comprise of between 3 and 5½ days of training for each of the Phase 1 Levels (Prelim Juniors; Prelim Adults, Levels 1- 4) with a certification examination at the conclusion (either immediately or at the end of another course).    Part of the exam is observed 'teaching practice’ where a range of student scenarios are presented.  The papers may be taken remotely from an examination centre (and completed by email).  Examiner training is normally a one day course but examiners will have been teaching the system for at least 4 years.  

Each course involves:

  • Course preparation
  • Taught presentation modules
  • Teaching observation
  • Teaching practise

Each examination comprises 5 segments:

  • Written papers (normally 2 x 2hours)
  • A quickfire questionnaire (½ hour)
  • Teaching observation
  • Viva (interview)
    (If not taken immediately after the Teacher's Course, examinations may be taken remotely by Skype or by email)


Graduation gives you:

  • Teacher Certification  at each Level from the Harbison Harp College (HHC)
  • AHHC (Associate) Teacher's Diploma on completion of Level 4
  • Access to Examiner Training and Certification
  • Listing on the Harbison Harp College Recommended Teacher Register (on the website)
  • Access to all Teacher Support programmes
  • Refresher Course Weekends


The Courses

Introduction to Oral Music Training - Weekend (1½ days)
Starting on Saturday morning at 10am (residents arrive Friday evening) and completing on Sunday at 1pm (with private tuition available on Sunday afternoon), this course is a 'discovery of the oral method' through experience and observation on how it works and what are the skills needed to be an effective oral teacher.  The course also explores the benefits, particularly in relation to dyslexic or other special needs teaching. While the music involved in the course is Irish music, the method applies to all music genres and is fundamentally rooted in the universal language of music.  This course is relevant to teachers, either already in practise or aspiring to it, from all music genres and from all levels of seniority.  The Adult's Preliminary Tutor is used on this course.
Junior Beginner's Teacher Training - 3 days
The Junior Beginner's course is designed for children beginning between the ages of 8 and 11 years of age. It is orientated to both group and individual student training and is heavily focused on the delivery method of oral entrainment.

Adult Beginner's Teacher Training - 4 days
This course is more specific to the prescribed course-work of Adult Beginner's. Teachers may start with either Preliminary (Junior's and/or Adult's) or Level 1 and the following levels must be taken sequentially.  (If teachers start with Level 1, the Preliminary Levels can be taken at any stage thereafter).

Special Needs Supplementary Course - 1 day
Further to the standard Beginners' courses, this 1 day workshop focuses on what teachers need to address with Special students.  Further training will be advised for in-depth work in this area.

Teachers may start with either Preliminary Level (Adult's or Junior's) or Level 1 and the following levels must be taken sequentially.  (If teachers start with Level 1, the Preliminary Levels can be taken at any stage thereafter).

Induction Course to the Irish Harp College Levels - 2 days
This course must be undertaken prior to the Basic Levels 1 - 4 to Phase One Graduation.  It is not essential for teachers of the Preliminary (Adults or Juniors) Levels.

Level Courses Phase 1

Level 1    Novice (after the Induction Course) - 3 days        
Level 1    Examiner certification - 1 day

Level 2    Elementary - 4 days        
Level 2    Examiner certification  - 1 day

Level 3    Transitional - 5 days        
Level 3    Examiner certification - 1 day

Level 4    Graduation Phase 1 - 5½ days    
Level 4    Examiner certification  - 1½ days


Level Courses Phase 2  Advanced Level 'Arts of Harping'

For each of the advanced 'Arts of Harping', courses comprise an exploration of the repertoire, appropriate style of presentation, arrangement, history and general knowledge appropriate to each.  Teachers are required to sit the exam before taking the 1 day course on teaching the 'Art'.

Level 5-7 (Advanced) 'Arts of Harping'  - 1day each 'Art' 

  1. Story music: Goltraí, Geantraí, Suantraí
     (The art of improvisation for the accompaniment of poetry and storytelling) 
  2. Historical (or Classic Irish) Repertoire (17th and 18th Centuries)
  3. Lamentations and Slow Airs
  4. The Romantic (or Folk) Repertoire (19th and 20th Centuries)
  5. The ‘New Irish’ (or Formal Modern Composition) Repertoire
  6. Dance Music
  7. Song and Harp
  8. Sacred and Ceremonial 
  9. Health and Well-being (Improvisation for impact on body rhythm and function)
  10. Composition
  11. Arrangement
  12. Accompaniment

Examiner certification - after at least one sitting of the Art examination itself, Level 5 - 7, suffices. (There are 2 'Arts' or double the repertoire of one 'Art' required for each of the Levels 5 - 7).

Level 8 - Performance programme planning and criteria of excellence. Optional course - 2 days

  • Any Advanced Examiner may adjudicate Level 8 candidates.  The adjudication is shared with a panel of peers at a public (preferably) or privately arranged performance.


Preparation for the Teacher Courses
Each of the Levels 1 - 4 will require the teacher trainee to undertake some preparation modules before attending the actual course.  The preparation modules require the teacher to be familiar with the course repertoire as a student would be when presenting for the examination.  For teachers who did not already sit the examination, they are required to do this in advance of the course.  It may be taken by Skype or arranged for the evening before the start of the course.

On registration, the teacher will be sent the most up-to-date Tutor Book for the Level of the course, and particularly if it is some years since the teacher first took the course, it is advised that they refresh themselves with the total prescribed repertoire (in the way it is presented in the coursework complete with fingerings, prescribed variations etc) and undertake the written 'Level quizzes' to ensure clarity on how vocabulary is used, the construction and format of the tunes, rhythms, modes, history etc.

A normal 'day' on a teaching training course comprises:

10 - 11.15am - Session 1    
11.30 - 12.45pm  - Session 2         
2 - 3.15 pm - Session 3
3.30 - 4.45 pm - Session 4        
8 - 9.15pm - Session 5


Organising Teacher Training Courses for Other Centres    

All formats of courses may be arranged for other venues.  Let us know your interest and we will try to arrange a course for you provided there are sufficient numbers of participants. A minimum of 4 teachers are normally required to run a course.  At some point, a range of harp students at the appropriate level (and age) are required for 'demonstration' and 'teaching practise' and a screen (or wall) and projector for a Power-point presentation.
Dr Harbison is happy to travel to present any of the above courses.  She will expect her host to cover flight and accommodation expenses - and normally also catering. She is also happy to work a public or private concert or lecture-recital into her programme.