The HARBISON HARP METHOD is Janet Harbison's oral training system for traditional Irish harpers that has evolved over a lifetime’s playing and teaching experience.  The method embraces the total challenge of Irish harping today and aims to help restore the internationally acclaimed standards of excellence for which Ireland has been famous for over a millennium.  

The System is Presented in 3 Phases:

Phase 1  involves 4 Levels to ‘compentency’ (with each level achievable by an average student starting at the age of 12 years and having regular weekly lessons through the school year) and 2 further 'access' or 'introductory' Levels for Junior Beginners (students from age 7 - 11) or Adult Learners (with a broader music repertoire including some American folk music and light classical).  The 'introductory Levels) are supported with 3 'Preliminary Level' examination options. All Levels are accompanied by Tutor Books, each with supplementary tune books for friends and family members to participate in communal music-making. 

Phase 2  involves a further 4 ‘Advanced Levels’ in the 'Arts of Harping' taking the student from ‘Competency’ to ‘Mastery’. 

The 'Arts of Harping' represent the 9 Repertoires:

1 Story Music: Goltraí, Geantraí, Suantraí (Improvisation to accompany poetry and storytelling) 
2 Historical Repertoire (17th and 18th Centuries, including Carolan)
3 Lamentations and Slow Airs
4 The Romantic & Folk Repertoire (19th and 20th Centuries)
5 The ‘New Irish’ (or Formal Modern Composition) Repertoire
6 Dance Music Repertoire
7 Song and Harp Accompaniment
8 Sacred and Ceremonial Music
9 Music for Health and Well-being (Palliative improvisation)

and the 3 Skills:

10 Arrangement
11 Accompaniment
12 Composition.

Each of these 'Arts' represent aspects of the harp repertoire that are offered to the student in which to specialise.  The student is invited to choose 2 'Arts' from the 12 for particular study over the 4 Levels.   On Graduating at Level 8, harpers will be offered the option of creating their own choice of 'concert programme' or to continue with a final choice of 'Arts'.

Phase 3: focuses on the 5 Professions:

Stage and Studio Performance
Background entertainment
Ceremonial harp (wedding ceremonies etc)
Palliative Harp Care

This training system is unique in that it maintains the oral and creative nature of our ancient tradition ensuring that every performer is fully equipped to participate in all artistic, social and professional aspects of the tradition with the expertise and integrity we have come to expect from exponents of our national emblem.  It also teaches literacy after fluency is established - so creativity can be spontaneous and intuitive - and musicality is as natural as nature.


LEARNING PRIORITIES of the HARBISON HARP METHOD are that every student:Camera 10 Mar 2010 029 SMALL