For 2021 I am offering classes which focus on developing a traditional Irish harp playing style and repertory, through studying well-known, and less-known, tunes from the tradition.

Over the last couple of years, I have been working through Edward Bunting’s live transcriptions from the harp tradition-bearers in 1792 and 1796, preserved in IRLN-Bu MS 4.29. I am happy to work through some of them with you to show you my process: 

– How to distinguish between the initial live transcriptions from harpers, the tunes copied by Bunting from other books and manuscripts, and Bunting’s classical piano ‘improvements’
– How to understand Bunting’s transcription process
– How to analyse the ‘dots’ to come to an understanding of what the harper played while Bunting was listening

I am following Sylvia Crawford’s new method of playing, using the fingering systems given in Bunting’s 1840 book, which allow an easy and fluent expression of the tune without needing to look at the strings.

I have also been thinking about traditional style and idiom, both from the harp transcriptions and also from other traditional music (e.g. pipes, fiddle, song)

We could discuss:

– The music of Carolan
– Learning traditional harp tunes by ear, from listening to archive recordings of singers, fiddlers or pipers
– Looking for traditional Irish harp tunes, style and idiom in Bunting’s manuscripts
– New ideas on bass and ornamentation
– Finger-tip playing styles (without long fingernails), like the majority of the old Irish harpers in the 1790s
– Tuning, stringing, technical aspects related to harp setup

I’m also very happy to consider any personalised requests you may have of particular things to study. Email me at to discuss your requirements.

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