I’ve been playing music since I was 3, playing harp since I was 11, and teaching informally since I was 14, when my Mom used to let me off the washing-up if I’d help my little brother and sister do their music practice. I did an undergraduate music degree in UCC (harp nerd alert: I wrote my dissertation on harp pedagogy) and a postgrad in music education in UL (second harp nerd alert: I did a special option in harp arrangement).
The visionary Katharine MacMághnuis founded Athenry Music School in 2007 and asked me to teach for her, starting with 2 students. As I gained more and more students, I felt the need for specialist harp teacher-training. In 2010 I did an audition of classical music on Irish harp, and met the requirements of the Suzuki Association of the Americas to to be allowed on a Suzuki harp teacher-training course. So I’m the first, and so far the only, Irish harpist to have been awarded a Suzuki harp teaching qualification. Now at 58 students, Athenry Music School has become one of the biggest harp departments in the country.
My students have performed in Switzerland (inaugural European Suzuki Harp Convention), Derry (with the wonderful people of Ballinascreen Comhaltas and Cláirseoirí Ruairí Dall), Ireland’s premier harp festival and the Albert Hall, London. My older teenagers have gained distinctions in the examinations of the Royal Irish Academy of Music, and won prizes for harp performance at national level.
Harp has brought me personally…
- all over Ireland, Europe, North America and the Middle East performing and teaching. Most interesting gig so far? Probably being private harpist for a multi-millionaire in the Lebanon
- Bonn Óir 2017 and prizes at the All-Ireland Fleadh, O’Carolan Harp Festival, Oireachtas na Gaeilge, Nobber Harp Festival, and Granard Harp Festival
- the honour of performing on stage with Grammy-winner Bobby McFerrin, MacArthur ‘Genius’ fellow Anthony Braxton, and BBC World Music Awards nominee Tamara Obrovac
- a commission from the World Harp Congress, and the privilege of having a piece published by Cairde na Cruite.
And it’s nothing to do with harp, but…I really like raspberries and walnuts.