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 (4 p.m.) – July 27 (1 p.m.) 2019 with optional early arrival night July 19.

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.

2019 Course Package

  • $1700 CAD (approx. $1380 U.S.)  – includes Private Lessons, Ensembles, Workshops, Faculty concert, Room and Board (Early bird rate of $1600 available until March 1st!)
  • $125 CAD – optional early arrival night (July 19th)

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 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.

Drop-in with Ellen

Students can drop by to get some help from Ellen about what they’re learning, fingerings, other technique issues, ensemble questions…


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

2019 topics will be chosen from:

Traditional Irish tunes –Learn a traditional Irish jig by ear and try accompaniment, ornamentation, and variation ideas that encourage you to join in and make the tune your own!

Comping for Traditional Dance Tunes – The harp has lots of exciting potential in the rhythm section of traditional sessions and ensembles. This workshop will look at chord voicings, rhythmic patterns, and percussive techniques to support the groove of dance tunes and bring out their character.

Jam Sessions! In small groups, learn valuable ensemble skills while exploring different styles of music and approaches to expression. Groups will experiment with free improv and quick arranging.  No preparation is necessary.

Technique Tips from THE Master – Judy shares her gentle wisdom on technical challenges – how to play a scale, rolled chords, arpeggios and anything else that needs some special attention. Feel free to bring music and specific technical questions.

All about Sound – this interactive class will cover everything from tuning and ear training to string quality and tips on producing a warm, full sound

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.

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


Each participant will 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 an come together for some impromptu harp fun!

There will also be a couple of GIANT ensemble sessions where all harpists come to play together.


Smart Practice – Set yourself up for successful practice sessions; learn ways to be mindful and efficient in reaching your goals. Brainstorm ways of keeping your pieces fresh and inspiring. Learn some tricks for warming up, memorizing pieces, and learning tricky passages.  Bring questions for discussion and feel free to bring a short excerpt.

How can I help you? All students have the opportunity to play their latest solo for the inimitable Judy Loman and receive her wise and encouraging feedback to help find their musical voice.

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 (Pedal Harp – $275, Lever harp – $125) to be covered by the participant. For this reason, it is highly recommended that participants bring their own instruments, especially pedal harps, if possible.