Held at the spectacular Sanctum Retreat Center, the Canadian International Summer Harp Institute provides a unique place for harpists of all ages and levels to immerse themselves in a week of intensive training on their instrument with world-renowned teachers and to enjoy the camaraderie of similarly motivated students.

Now in its 8th year, CISHI has quickly gained a reputation for its high quality of instruction, individually-tailored programming, fun, supportive and spontaneous atmosphere. Because all participants and faculty reside at Sanctum, enjoying fabulous healthy meals and off-schedule moments from exploring the 160-acre grounds to firepit singalongs and spontaneous jam sessions or a quiet chat in the Chapel, CISHI provides a rare opportunity to share life experiences and get to know each other on an intimate level. Students and faculty alike come for the course and return for the community!

Program Details

Dates: July 20 – 27, 2019

Harp Instructors: Gianetta Baril, Judy Loman, Julia Kay Jamieson, Ellen Gibling

The CISHI program includes private lessons, workshops and ensembles and any other classes that may be added depending on the needs and number of registered students. Registration also includes ticket to the Faculty Recital.

Separate from their private bedrooms, all students also have individual rooms for practicing and private lessons. Participants move their harps to workshop/ensemble sessions.

Participants cover individual cost of transportation to Caroline, Alberta. If travelling to Calgary Airport (YYC), CISHI Administration will endeavour to assist with organizing a ride-share with a local participant.

For information regarding participation of students under 18 years of age, please contact CISHI administration at info@cishi.ca.

2018 Course Package

  • $1700 CDN (approx. $1380 U.S.)  – includes Private Lessons, Ensembles, Workshops, Faculty concert, Room and Board (Early bird rate of $1600 available until March 1st!)

Attention: Course package specifics are subject to change. Registered students will be notified of any important changes via email. CISHI will only run with a minimum of 15 students. Should this number not be met by May 1st, all registrations will be fully refunded. 


Private Lessons

Participants will receive multiple private lessons from a variety of faculty throughout the week. Students may bring solos they are currently working on or polishing, as well as something new to start. Orchestral excerpts and technical exercises may also be studied, based on student needs. Students are also encouraged to bring their own arrangements, compositions, or improvisation ideas for feedback. Depending on the number of attendees, it may be possible to book extra private lessons with faculty for an additional fee.


A variety of workshops will be offered throughout the week. All participants are welcome to attend.

2018 topics will be chosen from:

Theory 101 – not sure what makes a scale, chord, leading tone or why they matter? Or need a refresher? Why do some notes just “feel” like they have to go somewhere? Here’s a workshop to build a foundation that you can put into practical use to help you make sense of what you’re playing and why.

7th chords – theory, ear training, improv, and technique – Learn the basics of a 7th chord from all angles! Listen for the quality of the 7th chord (minor, major, dominant, diminished, augmented) and understand the intervals that give 7th chords their quality. Invent warm-ups and technical exercises with 7th chord shapes. Improvise a melody on top of a 7th chord or two.

Playing from a lead sheet 101 – You can play anything on the harp! With a lead sheet, play whatever music you like, at a level just right for you.  Learn how to play from a lead sheet and get tips on how to give it your own personal style and expression.

Healthy Harping – form, flow, finding the voice in your fingers – we’ll look at our bodies to help understand how a beautiful and healthy sound is formed and explore concepts and exercises from Pilates and Alexander technique to see how they can inform your relationship to your instrument

Modal improv – A great introduction to the world of improv, this workshop will give plenty of ideas how to bring improvisation into your daily harp routine. Expression is the priority but rhythm, technique, and a touch of theory sneak into the equation. In addition to being a great way to wind down at the end of your day, modal improv is useful in background music settings as well as bedside harping.

Shaping a solo – improv for the brave! – Take solos from lead sheets in this jam session-feel workshop. We will work on giving your improvised solos direction, expression and intrigue!

Pedal Power – whether you’re starting on the pedal harp, or just want to try it out, come slip on your heels for this boot camp designed to kick your feet into high gear

What’s the Buzz and other “fun” FAQs – a little “how to” on keeping our beloved partners in top working condition and some troubleshooting hints


Each participant will have the opportunity to work in an ensemble with two or more harpists. One piece will be assigned prior to CISHI. Faculty will coach your ensemble on that piece. Participants may choose to perform this piece in a student recital or just play it for fun. Students should also feel free to bring their own ensemble music to CISHI; there will be free time where groups may form for an impromptu harp jam!

There will also be a couple GIANT ensemble sessions. All harpists come together and jam!


How can I help you? Tips from THE Master- All students have the opportunity to play their latest solo for the inimitable Judy Loman and receive her wise, gentle and encouraging feedback on how to take your playing to the next level.

How are you feeling? Are you having any discomfort playing, trouble seeing your music, tired back or neck? Did you know that everything from the length of torso vs legs, seat height, kind of glasses you wear etc all have a huge impact on how you experience sitting behind the harp? Come play and let Gianetta check out your body and see what might help your playing time be freer and even more enjoyable.

the ANYTHING BUT CLASSICAL masterclass! Rock, jazz, Celtic, religious, rap, or anything else – bring it to this class and play or ask away!  It may be completely learned, or still in the “dream” phase. Whatever state it is in, Julia will use her expertise in arranging and mastery of a variety of playing styles to help you make your music shine.

Practice time

Students have separate practice rooms and free time throughout the day to practice. CISHI is a great space to really focus on your harp without the usual distractions.

Faculty Recital

Relax and enjoy a recital given by CISHI’s amazing faculty! Following the recital, faculty will sit as a panel and answer any questions from the audience on performance prep, concert day routines, performing, musical careers etc.

Student Recital

At the end of the week, participants may play a solo or ensemble piece during a very informal recital. This is a great way to gain performance experience!

Morning Stretch

Recognizing the importance of a healthy and supple body, stretch and movement sessions are an integral part of the daily schedule.

Other Details:

Rental Harps:

A limited number of rentals harps (lever and pedal) will be available with the fee to be covered by the participant. Availability and cost is calculated based on number of participants requiring rental instruments. It is possible that instruments would need to be shared. For this reason, it is highly recommended that participants bring their own instruments if possible.