My main focus is working towards filling the gaps between the lost oral transmission of the old Irish wire strung harp and present day performance. I am particularly interested in playing techniques and fingering that connect to past traditions. My approach and way of playing has been strongly influenced by my study of the eighteenth-century Armagh harper, Patrick Quin, as well as by my background in Irish traditional music. Edward Bunting collected from Patrick Quin the three first tunes traditionally taught to harpers. Bunting also published a table of fingerings collected from harpers in the old tradition. Over the past few years I have been working to interpret and understand these core elements of old Irish harp technique by marrying them together, and applying them to the wider Irish harp repertory.

Bunting played an important role in collecting and documenting the music of the harpers, but he was outside the tradition. I believe his work needs to be interpreted to bring it back into the world of traditional music and oral tradition. My aim is to create a sound that is consistent with wider Irish traditional style, using playing techniques that are characteristic of oral music traditions – named motifs, recurring patterns, tactile fingering, etc. I am also interested in strategies for moving around the harp without having to look at the strings.

My classes are primarily focused on teaching a tune by rote and by ear, learning by doing as a method for teaching fingering principles. But other possible class topics could include working through the table of fingerings published by Bunting in 1840, or the process of reconstructing a playable version of a particular tune from one of Bunting's field transcriptions, and the questions that can arise out of this process.

I’d be very happy to share my thoughts with you and introduce you to my approach. If you would like to arrange an online session with me, please get in touch in advance so I can prepare content and materials to meet your specific needs. My email address is sylvia.crawford71@gmail.com

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