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Harpist captures young minds

Jeff Stockton's journey into harpistry started 20 years ago when his students turned the tables on the then teacher.
Jeff Stockton.
Jeff Stockton.

Jeff Stockton's journey into harpistry started 20 years ago when his students turned the tables on the then teacher.

Teaching in Bragg Creek at the time, he had been asking his students what they had always dreamed of doing with their lives and in turn wanted to know what he had always wanted to pursue.

“I had fallen in love with the sound of the harp in my early 20s and I always said to myself that I would have loved to have learned to have played that instrument, ” Stockton said he told his students.

Inquiring minds in the class wanted to know why he didn't play the instrument.

“And I didn't have a good answer, ” he said.

That was in 1996, and now nearly two decades later, Stockton combines playing the harp with storytelling and is in high demand - performing concerts and giving workshops.

But why combine the two? Stockton described the harp as bringing to life the mood, tempo and the atmosphere of a story.

“It's quite a combination, the spoken word and the sound of that instrument at the same time, ” he added.

In this digital age most kids are growing up in, Stockton said it is important to focus on one's own imagination and the power that being able to tell a story has.

“I love that aspect of things where you have this really low tech thing - one guy playing the harp and talking, but it absolutely captures and mesmerizes kids who live in a very media-rich world. I love watching that happen, that complete silence that falls in the room when they get caught up in the story, ” he said.

And Stockton has also brought that ‘low-tech thing' to the recording world with several albums, and plans to release his second storytelling album later this year.

Although Stockton said he does tell traditional stories, this album will feature stories that he has written himself. Stockton said he has always loved adventure stories set long ago with characters encountering adventurous situations, but is always sure to have threads running through that are connected to what he has experienced as his life has unfolded.

You can catch Stockton performing at the Water Valley Church and Events Centre Jan. 31. Tickets are $15 in advanced and $20 at the door.




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