There’s a certain mystique to the harp — an instrument that seems to be depicted more in folklore and paintings than seen in real life.
And while part of the instrument’s appeal for Josh Layne is the mystique of it, he’s also spent the last seven years making the sounds, music and technique of the harp more accessible to people all over the world through YouTube.
The solo harpist and prolific YouTube creator will be performing at TOSH on Sunday, Sept. 24.
His interest in the instrument began at age 13 after listening to a lot of Celtic music, he said. At that time, a student might be able to find VHS tape on basic harp technique, and if very lucky, to find a teacher nearby.
Layne managed to source a second-hand harp and a teacher, and quickly fell in love with the instrument, eventually getting wrapped up in classical music.
Since then, Layne has travelled the world performing, enjoying Europe, Brazil, the United States and various parts of Canada, including TOSH.
Despite favouring an instrument whose origins can be traced back to 3,500 BC, Layne says he has an interest in technology, and was aware of the online power of YouTube when he started his channel.
“Now you can find out how to do anything on YouTube,” he said. “There are these great tutorials… of course learning an instrument, there is really no substitute for having an actual teacher, but there is the possibility of Skype lessons now. In smaller communities they might not have a harp teacher, and now there is that possibility of doing some sort of distance learning.”
Feeling like he could contribute something different to what was available online, Layne began his own channel in 2010, and recently published episode 114 of his Harp Tuesday series on Sept. 12.
“I just wanted to share my enthusiasm for the harp, and share some of my thoughts on different pieces or on techniques,” Layne said of starting the channel, which now has reached more than 800,000 views.
He added the process of explaining his own thoughts to others, who may not have a grounding in the harp, has served to sharpen his own understanding.
And though performing live and creating videos are very different experiences, Layne’s motivations for doing both are not that dissimilar.
“It’s just sharing the music that I love,” he said.
While his YouTube work can have more of an education piece to it, his live performances also serve to show more people that the harp is a great solo instrument, he said.
Performing live confers a special energy, he said, but a big motivator in his video-making is the ability to help others from around the world.
In trying to describe the unique sound of the harp, he said, “there’s a real magic to the sound quality… I think it reaches out and grabs a lot of people.”
It certainly did that for him, and Layne is providing more opportunities for the sound of the harp to do that to others.
Layne will be performing at TOSH on Sunday, Sept. 24, from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Admission is $18, with reservations recommended.
Contact 250-752-6133 or go to www.theoldschoolhouse.org for more information.