The Rainbow Harp was born from Morwenna’s struggles with dyslexia, which she overcame with her determined love for music.
Whilst learning the harp at school Morwenna adored playing the harp but struggled immensely with the theory and written music. Determined to not let sheet music get the better of her, Morwenna devised a way of colour-coding the notes on the page. She found that by colouring the sheet music it made each note easier to identify quickly.
The harp already traditionally uses colour to mark it’s C and F notes. Colouring the other strings seemed like the next logical step and it just so happened that the colours of the rainbow fitted with the existing markings already used on the harp.
When she became a harp teacher Morwenna reflected on this and extended it by putting coloured dots on the soundboard for some of her students to use with sheet music that had been coloured in by hand. She found that many students who had previously been unable to read music were now able to.
That’s where things stayed for a couple of years until Morwenna met and hired fellow harp teacher Ellie. Ellie had the technical and musical knowledge to create coloured sheet music with software rather than by hand. She also had the artistic eye to, with a bit of help from her graphic designer boyfriend Sam, create an entire book to teach the basics of sheet music.
The team experimented with dyeing strings until they found the colours that they liked. We made a batch of 4 Rainbow Harps to test and gave them to our testing team: Django, Tilly, Amber and Leonora. Ranging from 3-22 and with a wide range of capabilities, the testing team set about enthusiastically putting the Rainbow Harp through it’s paces.
We called some SEN music teachers in the local area to tell them what we were working on. Teachers who we told about the Rainbow Harp were excited by it and wanted to know more. We managed to get 3 teachers to come to a pre-launch event and 3 more to come and meet us at another time.
Having made just 12 phone calls we had convinced 6 people to meet us. Anyone who has ever tried cold calling will know that this is an unheard of strike rate!
We took on board the feedback, keen to draw on the experience of others, and finalised the harp and book ready for launch.
With these ready, harp teachers set about teaching students on the Rainbow Harp. One of these is Fay Weatherburn, in Norfolk. She has 8 of our harps, 4 of which are Rainbow Harps, and gave us this feedback.
She’s putting students through their grades, and all of the students on Rainbow Harps have received distinctions so far.