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  • 25 Feb 2018 5:39 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    ~ relieve tension and find freedom at the harp ~

    As harpists and musicians, many of us have had experiences of tension, unnatural breathing, or pain in our playing, and long for more freedom, lightness, and fun while making music. Almost everyone struggles with problems such as these at some point along the way - fortunately there is help!

    The Alexander Technique offers simple but profound learnings in balance, easeful body use, and mindful breathing and movement. Thousands of musicians (and others) worldwide have found help in regaining the natural ease that is within us.

    The Harp Society of New Zealand is sponsoring a visit from Lucy Reeves to Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch in May 2018.

    Lucy Reeves is a professional harpist and a qualified Alexander Technique teacher residing in Brisbane, Australia. Her experience with both disciplines gives her a unique understanding of the stresses we harpists put on our bodies every day, and how we can find a path towards more fluency and relaxation in playing the harp.

    Lucy writes, "My Alexander Technique lessons at the Royal College of Music were transformative, a glimpse of another way of living life. They were a 30 minute haven each week where I could go and just Be, a space free of expectation and judgement where I decompressed and emerged with lightness of body and spirit. I would return to my instrument after an Alexander lesson and be able to easily play a tricky passage I'd been struggling with all week. That really got me hooked - - if I could learn and apply a technique to open up my body and become this free of self created tension and limitation all the time, how much better could my music making be? Over the years, living the Technique and later training as a teacher, the fun question to play with has now become, how much more enjoyable can life be?!?"

    If you haven't heard of the Alexander Technique, or you are wondering what it can do for you, below are comments from two New Zealand harpists who have worked with Lucy:

    "While in Brisbane last year, I took the opportunity to book an Alexander Technique (AT) session with Lucy Reeves. At the end of my hour long session, the sense of release and relief I felt was so strong that memories came flooding back about how I felt at the end of each AT appointment I attended some 30 years before. I was introduced to AT while at university and suffering significant back pain. My regular appointments provided relief from pain and meant I could maintain my daily routine. In the intervening years, I'd forgotten what this felt like. At the end of my time with Lucy, she gave me a sheet setting out the balanced resting state procedure (a 10-15 minute floor based exercise I now frequently do) which helps me to think about my posture and breathing and gradually release accumulated tension in my body. Depending on the time of the day I do this, I'm either ready for a peaceful night's sleep or invigorated for the day ahead!"

    "I only had one short session with Lucy which covered AT theory and some application of that to the harp. She was very interesting and helpful about sitting position at the harp. Her experience as a harpist meant that she really knew how the AT fit with my instrument and she gave very personalised advice to help me avoid strain at the harp."

    Below are excerpts from the wonderful book, The Alexander Technique for Musicians by Judith Kleinman and Peter Buckoke.

    Frederick Matthias Alexander, the creator of the Alexander Technique, came to a clear understanding of some basic truths about being human. He found a way to help us to choose how we react to whatever happens in our lives, consciously rather than automatically.

    A few questions Alexander Technique encourages us to ask are:

    • Do you have a habit of mental chatter, while you are practising?
    • Is your habit an obsession with the results rather than the way to achieve the results?
    • Is your habit to screen out your body's feedback?
    • Do you have a habit of thinking that getting things wrong is a failure, rather than a path of learning?

    When considering instrumental technique it is very useful to "body map" the the moving parts. To get a sound out of any musical instrument you need to move your body. We are designed to move at joints. What joints are involved in playing your instrument? When you have a clear and accurate perception of where your body is and how it is designed to move, your movements will be fluent and your coordination reliable ... Mapping how the forearm bones move when you play is very influential ... If you think you do not use your legs when you play your instrument, think again.

    Whether you are standing or sitting, your legs will contribute to your upper body support. Clear ideas of where your hip joints and sitting bones are ... will improve your chances of playing with your whole body as a coordinated unit.

    Particular instrumental issues [for harpists]:

    The legs are often rather tense with restricted movement ... The hand shapes are often held in tension when the fingers should be releasing. There is a tendency for... losing connection with the back's natural support.

    Selected quotes from music students:

    • I got used to my faulty habits and they soon became normal and "right" to me ... I now know in a profoundly organic, physical way as well as an intellectual way that I simply cannot trust my own sensory awareness and I do need... guidance
    • It took me almost an hour to rediscover the joints on my hands and it felt so enlightening...I can avoid exerting tension on them and prevent recurring injuries
    • Today, I became aware for the first time that when I play, I tilt my head quite far backwards. I have learnt now that this can only hinder my playing by causing the the muscles in my neck to contract

    Further information about Alexander Technique can be found at the following websites:

    Means Whereby - Lucy and John Reeves based in Brisbane, Australia

    Alexander Now - The Alexander Technique for Musicians - Judith Kleinman and Peter Buckoke 

    Alexander Technique NZ - AT Teachers in New Zealand

    Alexander Technique Workshops in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch

    Lucy will conduct workshops in New Zealand in May 2018. The workshop, lasting approximately 2.5 hours, will provide an introduction to Alexander Technique followed by principles of Alexander Technique at the harp. 

    Each workshop will run for approximately 2.5 hours and dates are:

    Auckland - Saturday, 19 May 2018
    Wellington - Tuesday, 22 May 2018
    Christchurch - Saturday, 26 May 2018
    ** Location and start times will be advised soon

    The price for the workshop is $95 for Harp Society members and $105 for non-members.

    Lucy will also be available for private lessons during her time in each city. 

    Half hour lesson - $45
    45 minute lesson - $67.5
    One hour lesson - $90

    Click on the link below to complete registration for the workshop nearest you and indicate your interest in booking a private lesson.

  • 25 Feb 2018 1:36 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    I've just received word that Esther Swift was trapped in Golden Bay by the road closures following Cyclone Gita and has not yet made it back to the north island. Monday night at Whangateau hall has unfortunately been canceled.

  • 09 Feb 2018 5:58 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Unfortunately the weather is not cooperating for music in the parks, and the Te Anahera Performance has been canceled.

  • 05 Feb 2018 9:40 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Esther will perform at the Horowhenua Scottish Society Hall, cnr. Bartholomew Road and Middlesex Street, Levin. (The Hall's actual address is
    155 Bartholomew Road, Levin)

  • 05 Dec 2017 2:09 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Toru, a trio with Karen Batten (flute)Sophia Acheson (viola), and Ingrid Bauer (harp) will be touring NZ in May!  Looks like a great programme see for all the details and purchasing of tickets.

  • 30 Nov 2017 9:41 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Thanks to a very talented Warren Lawson of Auckland who is a graphic designer, multi-instrumentalist, composer and recording engineer the harp society has a new logo!

    We also have decided to offer our members a chance to have either bags or t-shirts with the logo and have worked with to create them!

    To take a look/place an order go to:  

    There are two bags available:

    •  a messenger bag that is very light weight cotton so isn't intended to carry too much; or 
    •  a very sturdy carry bag, which is quite spacious.  
    You can customize either to add your name or a catchy phrase so that when you are gathering with other harpists you don't have to wonder which is yours!   I ordered a test carry bag and put my name on it  (on the back side).  It can take a moment for things to load when you choose to customize, so be a little patient and give the system time to present the fonts et. al. to you.

    We've also allowed for customization of the t-shirts, or just straight up ordering of them.   

    On offer without customization are white and black logos on a wide variety of shirts. The sizes are listed in the description, be sure to check the size (there are 3 tabs, one where you choose the colour/size, a description and a sizing chart)!

    For those who want to be adventurous and customize : 

    • You can change the colour of the logo (after you hit customize button there will be an image of the logo on the right with a tiny box with the current colour, you click on that and can change the colour).  You can also change size and position of logo or add a catchy phrase should you desire.
    • You can add a catchy phrase to front or back if you want.  Again wait for the fonts to load before starting!

    To take a look/place an order go to:  

  • 03 Oct 2017 9:12 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Hello all,

    I have attached my full tour schedule for this coming january and am getting very excited about the prospect of coming to New Zealand for a month.  I would love to meet as many harpists as possible along the way!

    Please forward the poster to anyone whom you think might be interested!

    Many thanks and hope to meet you,


    Fri 26th Jan - Mon 29th Jan  Auckland Folk Festival

    Wed 31st Jan  Café One2One, Auckland

    Thursday 1st Feb, House Concert, Katikati

    Fri 2nd Feb, Eggsentric Café, Cooks Beach

    Sat 3rd Feb, Nivara Lounge, Hamilton

    Sun 4th Feb, The Rogue Stage, Rotorua

    Mon 5th Feb, The Bunker, Devonport Folk Club

    Thur 8th Feb, Studio 64, Inglewood, New Plymouth, Taranaki

    Fri 9th Feb,  Horowhenua Scottish Society Hall, cnr. Bartholomew Road and Middlesex Street, Levin. (The Hall's actual address is 155 Bartholomew Road, Levin)

    Sat 10th Feb, The Third Eye, Tuatara Temple of Taste, Wellington

    Sun 11th Feb, Fairfield House, Nelson

    Wed 14th Feb Grainstore Gallery, South Hill

    Fri 16th Feb, Sherwood, Queenstown, Frankton

    Sat 17th Feb The Nook, Wanaka

    Sun 18th Feb   New Edinburgh Folk Club, Dunedin

    Tues 20th Feb  The Mussel Inn

    Thurs 22nd Feb  House concert, Napier

    Fri 23rd Feb - 24th Feb  Aongatete festival

    Mon 26th Feb   Whangateau Hall Concerts

    For more information see

  • 17 Sep 2017 2:22 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Nominations are being taken for the 2017/2018 Harp Society Committee please email us if you would like to volunteer.

    The Annual AGM Meeting will start at 11 a.m. in Southgate, Wellington (for specific address please see prior journal or email  for directions..

    Following the AGM will be a Harp Tuning Workshop (see below for details).

    All members are welcome, either in person or via skype.   If you wish to attend via skype please email Carolyn and let her know ahead of time and include your skype name in the email.


    Wish you had more confidence in tuning your harp?

    Do you avoid doing it because it seems too hard?

    Feeling like you need better tuning skills but not sure how to improve?

    ~Tuning Workshop~

    Come along to the HSNZ AGM on Sunday, 8 October, and learn some great tips and strategic skills for tuning your harp confidently and happily, using an electronic tuner and also your own ears.

    Led by Carolyn Mills, who has been tuning harps (with and without electronic help) for 45 years.

    Work will be with both pedal harps and lever harps, as per individual requests. And feel free to bring your own harp if you wish.

    The Tuning Workshop and cups of tea will begin following  the short AGM.   

  • 20 Aug 2017 5:03 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dear Harp Society of New Zealand,

    I am writing to you on behalf of the DHF World Harp Competition, a bold new format of international harp competition set to take place alongside the 5th Dutch Harp Festival next year. Applications for the competition are now open, and the deadline is approaching on September 15th. We are hoping to provide information about the competition to everyone who may be interested in participating, which is why I am contacting your harp society. Would you mind sharing this information with your members, either through your website, newsletter, social media, or other communications?

    You can check out the competition preview video ( which explains how the competition works and read further details on our website:

    Best wishes,

    Elizabeth Jaxon

    Dutch Harp Festival 2018 | Competition Director


  • 13 Aug 2017 10:49 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Harp Write - arranging music for the harp

    All the details (and resources) are up on the webpage

    Open to harpists and non harpists alike - just check the entry details!! 

    Any questions - please ask!!!

    Regards, Anna

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