The Rainbow Harp makes learning the harp accessible to all, wherever they sit on the spectrum of neurodiversity.

30/09/2021

As a teenager with dyslexia, Morwenna Louttit-Vermaat struggled to read sheet music. She came up with a novel idea that enabled her to follow her passion and become a skilled, professional, harper.

As a teenager with dyslexia, Morwenna Louttit-Vermaat struggled to read sheet music. She was desperate to play the beautiful music she had heard others play on the harp, but the squiggles and dots on the page just looked like a foreign language.

She came up with a novel idea. She added colour. She would colour in the dots on the page and put coloured stickers next to the strings on her harp. This enabled her to follow her passion and become a skilled, professional, harper. She wondered if this technique could be developed to make it possible for even more people to be inspired by beautiful harp music.

Fast forward 20 years, and Morwenna and her husband Creag have developed the Rainbow Harp. With rainbow-coloured strings and rainbow-coloured sheet music, it breaks down the most common barrier to would-be musicians.

In those years in between, Morwenna worked in various SEN settings and sat in as a TA on many music therapy sessions. She was inspired by what she saw, and the beneficial effect of music on students who were unable to access mainstream education was beautiful to see. However, she noticed that students don't necessarily need music therapy at 2 pm on a Monday when it's in their timetable, but could need it at any other time in their week.

Morwenna worked in a class with students with severe PMLD, and would wear a motorbike jacket to defend against biting and scratching by students in times of distress. One day she took her harp to work with her, and put it in a cupboard in case she needed it. When tensions rose in the classroom, instead of reaching for her armoured jacket, Morwenna got her harp out and played. She was amazed at how quickly tensions were soothed. From then on, the class teacher was eager for Morwenna to have the harp in the cupboard every day.

It is now our dream to train up teaching staff, carers and parents, whatever their prior musical knowledge, to use this instrument in settings when it can bring joy and calm. The great thing about the harp is that, as long as it's in tune, you can't play a duff note. With a bit of training, even a complete non-musician can make beautiful, soothing sounds on a harp, and share that music with the people around them.

Come by stand 206 and get a free harp lesson at Tes SEN show 2021, and check out www.rainbowharp.co.uk to find out more.

Author: Hands on Harps