Teaching

My teaching hours are some of the happiest moments of my week.
Making blues, jazz and improvisation on the harp accessible to all is my specialty.

Principles

As a teacher, I am committed and caring, firm and flexible. I make sure to constantly challenge and enrich my teaching philosophy, skills and methods. My aim is to treat every student with respect, and gear to their individual goals and learning personalities. 

Location

I teach at my home studio in London, at pupil’s homes in select West London areas, and on ZOOM. With European travel opening up again, occasional live lessons in The Netherlands are returning as well. I can travel to workshop locations worldwide or virtually.

Brenda is an outstanding harp teacher... I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend her as a teacher, particularly if you want to foster a genuine love of music in your child.

Lesson types

General info

  • Weekly, bi-weekly, or occasional
  • In-person, online, or ‘hybrid’
  • Optional music exam preparation
  • £37 (60min), £30 (45min), £23 (30min), excl. travel

Important topics & approaches

  • Structure & chords
    Learning about musical structure and chords can greatly improve your practising and provide insight in your pieces, in any genre, at any level. 
  • Posture & technique
    Good posture and a solid yet refined enough technique keep you happy at the harp and improve your sound. 
  • Listen & improve
    Developing an attentive ear will further enhance your playing and provide your ability to keep
    improving for the rest of your musical life!
  • Essential & additional skills
    Special attention can be given to ensemble playing, improvisation, aural training, sight-reading, and musical knowledge – especially for those taking exams – in a fun and practical way.

General info

  • Graded music exam preparation for Trinity, ABRSM, or LCM
  • All of my students who went in for exams have passed, mostly with merit or distinction. 
  • I have had the honour of contributing to the new 2020-2023 Trinity syllabus,
    both by advising on jazz-related repertoire and with a blues composition of my own (grade 6 lever harp).

General info

  • Weekly, bi-weekly, or occasional
  • In-person, online, or ‘hybrid’
  • £37 (60min), £30 (45min), £23 (30min), excl. travel

Suggested routes

  • Blues Lover
    Specialised Blues for Harp lessons. Explore styles, bass lines, comping patterns, melody, band playing. Special attention to articulation, damping, bend and slide techniques, to find a real blues sound.
  • Jazz Explorer
    Jazz harp training for professional and advanced harp players. Covers elementary jazz harmony and improvisation skills, and provides jazz & improv tools for teaching practice, preparation for further jazz training elsewhere, etc.
  • On The Side
    Low-frequency lessons in jazz, blues and improvisation skills, as an addition to regular harp lessons with your own harp teacher.
  • Early improviser
    For beginners wanting to develop chord playing and improvisation skills straight away (rather than the traditional classical approach), along with solid harp technique.

General info

  • For children aged appr. 9-13, mixed abilities
  • London based 
  • 3-weekly rehearsals in term time
  • £80 / term, based on 4 x 2hr sessions

Setup

Jointly led with fellow harp teacher Susannah Evans. We welcome both our own students and those who receive lessons elsewhere.

The emphasis is on interaction between players, and learning while having fun together. In our sociable sessions, we mix rehearsing swinging ensemble music with musical games, improvisation, and an informal ‘performance club’ during cake break;)

  • Focus on blues, jazz, improvisation
  • Solo or in tandem with a colleague (tandem recommended)
  • In-person or online
  • Rates vary

Previous workshops included:

  • Blues for Harp
  • Blues/Jazz by Numbers
  • Intro to Blues, Jazz & Improv for harp
  • How to teach initial blues/jazz/chord playing and improvisation on the harp

Tandem teaching

Most of my early workshop teaching has been conducted in collaboration with Sabine Meijers, for the Jazz Harp Foundation which we founded together.
Later on in the UK I have on occasion joined forces with Steph West for beginner as well as teacher workshops, in connection with the Wild Strings festival and the UK Harp Association.

Benefits of ‘tandem teaching’ include:

  • a combination of teaching personalities and energy to suit the diversity of the learners
  • a mix of teaching methods and approaches to look at the material from multiple angles
  • the possibility to give personal attention during group work to ensure all participants get enough out of it, according to their abilities
  • the possibility to split groups, offer support accompaniment, etc.

General info

  • Online peer group meetings (4-6 participants per group)
  • Regular weekly, bi-weekly or twice weekly sessions
  • £8 per participant / 30min session (monthly minimum number of sessions charged depending on frequency)

How does it work?

  • Join as a group or list interest for newly formed groups. Sometimes it is possible to to join an existing group.
  • The aim is to share knowledge and experiences, to motivate, support and inspire each other. A fun way to get a sense of achievement, the satisfaction of a good practice session, and to hold oneself accountable through a shared rather than solitary effort.
  • Activities include group playing of tunes/pieces/exercises, discussing theory & techniques, presenting individual progress (however small), sharing of struggles & successes, etc.
  • Tools include ‘the mute button’ (all muted & 1 unmuted works surprisingly well), as well as more sophisticated apps that can be shared over zoom, like iRealPro, Random Roots, and more.
  • My role is to facilitate rather than teach, though I may offer ideas, material, or advice where desired and appropriate, taking care not to disrupt any participant’s own trajectories with their regular teachers if they have them.

Resources

Video tutorials and examples

Check out my playlist with grade pieces:

How to tie the Harp String Knot:

Downloadables

Grade exam practice sheets examples & blank:

Brenda is an outstanding harp teacher. She has been teaching our daughter for the past four years and our daughter has made great progress during this time, passing all of the grade exams she has taken. More importantly though, she really looks forward to the lessons with Brenda – this is because Brenda puts a lot of thought into how to make every lesson fun and engaging, including helping her to learn to play songs that she likes and is familiar with. Brenda has recently encouraged our daughter to start composing her own harp music using an online program, and has also supported her in entering harp competitions/recitals. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Brenda as a teacher, particularly if you want to foster a genuine love of music in your child.

HF

Brenda is patient and easy-going and she has helped me to learn loads

Rosa, 12

I really appreciate the way Brenda took the time to get to know my daughter and to come up with creative ways to motivate, inspire and support her.

Tania

Brenda is a good teacher, she knows how to teach and nurture, and truly passes on her knowledge not only on technique but on the music as well. I was able to overcome certain obstacles with her teaching, and I enjoy her insight on music.

Joan, adult student

Bookings/ Contact

For bookings, lessons or any other enquiries, please use the form, or get in touch through:

+44 (0) 7501 596 806
brenda@dorgroot.com