Day 7 in Bogotá: Teaching the harp (maybe applies more broadly)

I slept all night for the first time, woke up and went for a walk. There is a park nearby with walking and jogging paths, exercise machines, and many Bogatanos taking advantage.The high altitude here (8600 feet) has kept me feeling weak till just now.

Hildo and I had further conversations about teaching the harp. He said that a couple of pedal harpists visited here at Academia Llano y Joropo (ALJ), to see how he works. They found it surprising to see one teacher serving the needs of several students at the same time. The visitors were somehow involved in the idea of establishing pedal harp instruction in Villavicencio, a lowland center of the regional harp tradition (arpa llanera).

Hildo recommended that they establish groups of at least three students at the same time. As described elsewhere, the teacher would go from one student to another, allowing each to attempt whatever move was on the program. They might be at the same or different skill levels. Furthermore, they should not be just once a week. That is not enough to sustain motivation. Students at ALJ are encouraged to come five days a week, or even six (but not Sunday). They seem welcome to drop in whenever they can.

Three at a time makes it more economically feasible for teacher and student. A teacher can work up to a larger number. Hildo says he likes to work with ten at a time.

I'm wondering, what do harp teachers on this list think of this idea? I confess my ignorance; is anyone doing anything like this?

In my limited experience, this sort of coaching takes place to some degree at harp conference events and workshops. However, the idea of ALJ is that it should be a sustained practice, not just occasionally, but daily.

Saturdays are special at ALJ, I discovered yesterday. There is a sort of community celebration or gathering. Two adult students appeared; their obligations do not allow the 5-day routine. And there were several sets of parents bringing their younger children who do not manage to appear five days a week. Still, the routine consists of a circuit of teaching, involving Hildo and his son Sergio, and also other more advanced students.

Saturday is also special because there are refreshments, provided in turn by the families or by the students themselves.

Academia Llano y Joropo is an institution the like of which I have never seen or imagined. But I am becoming a believer. (In Venezuela I did see the kind of group teaching that I describe here, but not so fully institutionalized.)

Latin American harp styles, techniques and repertoire are "trending," in the sense of that word as now used. This is a coming phenomenon, I feel certain. I am gathering the names of Latin American harpists in the US, who might be called upon for your local harp event. On my list now are just a handful - Pedro Gaona, Silvio Solis, Abel Rocha, Rene Devia, Enki Bello, Nicolas Castañeda, Nicolas Carter, Daniel Rojas, Vidal Garzon. And of course, Alfredo Rolando Ortiz, but he is already well established. 

Again, Harping for Harmony Foundation will offer financial support for the promotion of such events, wherever you may be, with these or other qualified Latin American harpists. What's more, I will do my best to attend your event, wherever you may be; I would not want to miss it!

From Bogotá, best regards,