Follow Your Harp!


Ready, Steady, Go!

Right now there are three different levels of START HARP 12 week online courses running with over 30 harp students working away in them, all over the world. It is invigorating and inspiring to see the dedication and progress of all these harpists and I am so very proud!

Over the 12 weeks, we all support each other, use the highly structured weekly learning and practice videos, work one-to-one via the homework videos, chat live in Q & A sessions and connect in the START HARP closed Facebook.

When I originally envisioned the course it was for the complete novice to learn the basics, to open the doors to this incredible instrument and to give students the opportunity to learn from the very beginning foundation techniques, playing by ear, reading sheet music and improvising. I was particularly keen that the courses should work using lap/knee harps to make sure that a really expensive instrument wasn’t imperative to start learning (I even had one lady complete the first two levels on a 12 string harp, she is now the proud owner of a bigger harp and currently completing level 3!).

After completing writing and launching LEVEL 1 I got VERY excited about online teaching, I am not talking about the occasional one to one Skype lesson, this has become weekly tuition with a vast content, sheet music downloads, theory, technique, learning to perform, learning to teach yourself, learning to play ‘by ear’, with music and improvise. I can pass on so much more information this way than I have EVER been able to seeing a student one-to-one for one hour a week. I discovered that I was taking students way beyond the beginning of learning, to extended techniques, modulating, preparing to perform and even at the very end a group performance project bringing harpists together from all over the world playing together in a video!




Harp School on laptop computer

START HARP became so much more, an ever growing online school in fact! New in 2018 I am introducing one off START HARP IMMERSION sessions as well as the full 12 week courses!

So the course need new titles, it is not simply START HARP LEVEL 1, 2 and 3, it is a whole journey of harp exploration, from the beginning right through a level where you can REALLY play lovely pieces, improvise, approach new music with confidence and have truly rounded practical musicianship skills.





So, drum roll please, here are the titles:


Your journey begins…

The START HARP BEGINS – LEVEL 1 course works on the foundations and building blocks required to help you take the first steps towards becoming a proficient harpist.  This is aimed at the complete beginner or those wishing to re-discover foundation techniques.


Expand your horizons…

In START HARP EXPANDS – LEVEL 2, we expand our harpist horizons! We build on the foundation techniques and skills you have worked on previously (in other lesson or in START HARP level 1) and learn 10 new tunes to build repertoire.


Advance your dreams…

In START HARP ADVANCES (Level 3) students learn more advanced techniques and theory including harmonics and slides, modulating, how to change key with pedals or levers, using the circle of 5ths and much more.



START HARP flyer showing Shelley Fairplay with her harpSTART HARP is an easy to follow, flexible and affordable online course that will take you on a musical journey from the comfort of your own home!

‘The fact that the course covers learning by ear and improvisation as well as reading music from the page means that you can start to play recognisable tunes from the beginning. I’ve loved every minute of the course – even the homework!’ Kate Adams, START HARP Student

Interested? Details and sign up information available >>HERE<<.

Not sure which level to take? Spend a few minutes taking the Harp quiz to help you find out!

Want to find out more? Visit

START HARP: The online harp school offering courses with individual support for beginner to intermediate harpists, ‘Start Harp’ ( The three 12 week courses offer tuition on technique, note reading, improvisation and playing by ear taught via teaching videos, play-a-longs, sheet music, live online Q&A’s and one to one support in video homework submissions with personalised feedback. The courses teach students across the world including in the UK, mainland Europe, Canada, Australia and the US.

Dynamic Harps “Starter Ensemble”

Join us this May for the first ever Dynamic Harps ‘Starter’ ensemble sessions!

5 years ago 7 trembling harpists arrived in a small church hall outside Cardiff, unsure what to expect, who they would meet or what they would do. It was the first ever meeting for Dynamic Harps, and yes I was the tutor, one of the 7 tremblers!

Fast forward in time to 2018, and it’s time to expand, I am opening a new ensemble for fledgling students, the Dynamic Harps Starter Ensemble.

Dynamic Harps Advanced ensemble have performed throughout South Wales, with up to 24 performers in total, we travelled to perform at the Harpes Au Maxes international harp festival in France where we were the backing band for a Grammy nominated recording artist! We have been invited to perform a lunchtime concert in Caernarfon International Harp Festival this Easter.

We also have guest tutors come in to teach and have learned so much from the likes of Robin Huw Bowen, Meinir Heulyn, Deborah Henson-Conant, Ellie Evans and Ben Creighton Griffiths.

The ensemble has advanced so far and become bigger and better than I could have ever imagined, thank you to all involved!

It’s been such an incredible experience I now know I must open the doors further, as the power of learning and playing in an ensemble is so strong, we make friends, become better at sight reading, improve our rhythm, our technique, are inspired by others and of course simply enjoy the joy of music making together.

On Monday 14th May I am opening up the new class, the Dynamic Harps Starter Ensemble, this is for elementary to intermediate students. Not only am I sure we will have an amazing time, this group will give you the experience and training needed to join Dynamic Harps Advanced ensemble one day!

Are you trembling? Come and join us! I promise it will be worth it!


Adult group: 2.45pm-3.45pm Monday afternoons

Student group: 4.15-5.15pm Monday afternoons

Usually terms will run in 10 week blocks 3 times a year. For the first-term we will have just 6 sessions culminating with an ensemble performance at the National Botanic Garden of Wales Family Harp Weekend – 30th June (adults) and 1st July 2018 (students).


I am delighted to announce that the Dynamic Harps Starter Ensemble will be taking place at Telynau Vining Wales – Cymru Shop in North Cardiff. This gives us the amazing opportunity to use the harps in the shop rather than bring your own, making this a really easy way ‘in’ to attending harp ensemble sessions!

What do you need to join?

You need to already read music a little as we will be working from sheet music. You can be any level up to grade 4 and Shelley will write parts to suit your ability so rest assured you will be able to play and enjoy the sessions whatever your level.

You will need to have your own harp at home to practice on between sessions and ideally be taking one-to-one lessons in addition to the sessions.


The cost for the 6 sessions is £60

How to apply?

To apply for either ensemble, drop me an email on and I will send you over further details!

Please note Shelley Fairplay is not currently taking on one-to-one students.

Dreams to Reality – START HARP!

Two years ago I had a dream, a burning desire, a passion to make something that I had long imagined calling START HARP.

I wanted to make harp accessible for those living in remote areas, for people with hectic schedules, for those on a budget not able to go for an expensive harp, for people who (like me) are not great in one-to-one lesson situations.

I wanted to make learning the harp more sociable, create a group of supportive learners all working together with similar goals, to laugh together, commiserate over the tricky parts of learning and performing, fill the empty void of weeks of solo practicing and try to minimise the frustration and isolation that can sometimes be felt when learning on your own.

I wanted to make practicing as informative and joyful as possible, to create play-along practice videos so people would know exactly what was important to work on week by week, where students could play duets with me all week long, to make that lovely feeling of being part of a bigger sound as students jump into the incredible adventure of harp study and playing.

I wanted to create learning from the beginning that focused on true foundations of key skills we want to be able to use as musicians; playing from the score, playing by ear and learning to improvise, all from the very first moment a student sits at the harp.  All with a very strong foundation in harp technique, to really enable students achieve their hopes and dreams with their playing.

In 2016 I launched my first online START HARP course and took the first steps in making this a reality. START HARP has gone on to teach harpists from all round the globe, including Wales, UK, mainland Europe, Canada, America, New Zealand, Australia and Tasmania!

Now, as I sit here writing this, I have completed filming of my online harp school START HARP! There are three courses totaling 36 weeks of tuition taking students from never playing the harp to around grade 4 level. I think it has taken me over 1,000 hours to create (not counting all the thinking time in the middle of the night of course!).

Oh, did I mention I fell pregnant as soon as I started recording the classes?! So I now have the online school START HARP and the most INCREDIBLE daughter I could ever have imagined, I am totally blessed. As I look back I see that the last two years has really seen some epic creation in my life!

Thank You!

Thank you so much to all the BETA testers, thank you all the proof readers, those who have had their ears bent while I talked through ideas, thank you all who have inspired me as a harpist and harp teacher, thank you Deborah Henson-Conant for your mentorship, thank you to my husband and mother for EVERYTHING!

So, what am I going to do in 2018?

I started by sharing the completed version of START HARP with the world by launching FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER, all three completed courses, LEVEL 1, 2 and 3 at the same time in January. The next session of all three courses will begin on the 22nd April 2018.

Shelley Fairplay’s next sessions of START HARP begin 22 April 2018. Registration is now open!  There is an early bird discount available if you book on or before 15 April 2018.

Come and try the harp for the first time! January and February 11th 2018

Harp Taster Session in Cardiff – 11th January and February 2018

Have you always wanted to try the harp?

Come along to a “Harp Taster” session on the National Instrument of Wales at Telynau Vining Harps with Harpist Shelley Fairplay. Or book your family/friends on as a Christmas gift this year!

During the workshop you will be introduced  to a variety of different harps including Celtic, Concert Pedal and Lap harps. You will be allocated a Celtic harp to use throughout the session and be guided through your very first stages of learning the harp; how to sit, basic harp technique and of course how to create beautiful sounds! By the end of the session you will have learnt how to find all the notes on your harp, played an accompaniment along with Shelley and also be able to play a tune on your own! No guarantees, but we should also warn you that you may well totally fall for this incredible instrument and awaken your inner harpist!

You will be allocated your very own Celtic harp to play on during the session!

If you have any hopes and dreams of once day renting or even owning your very own harp, Elen from Telynau Vining Harps will be available during the sessions to answer any questions you might have, including prices and information on Camac harps for sale and details regarding their harp rental scheme which starts from just £50 a month.
The workshop runs from 6.45pm to 8.30pm and includes a short tea break. The sessions are open to all ages and require no previous musical knowledge. Please note under 18″s must be accompanied  by an adult.


Two workshops are available:

Cost: £30

Thursday 11th January 2018 – 6.45pm to 8.30pm

Sunday 11th February 2018 2.45pm  – 4.30pm

Venue: Telynau Vining Harps, 116B Pantbach Road, Birchgrove, Cardiff, CF14 1UE. For directions please click here.

Booking: Booking is essential, please contact Elen Vining on or 02920 620900 to reserve your space, book early to avoid disappointment as spaces are very limited. You can also book online >>HERE<<.