Chinese students tune in via webcam for harp lessons
AN Irish harpist is reaching out across the timezones and cultural divides to teach Chinese students via the internet.
From the comfort of her music school in Lanesboro, Co Longford, musician Edel Loftus is using a webcam to help students in Ireland and further afield get to grips with the traditional instrument.
The harpist and her daughter Alida (17), along with some of her young students, sparked an interest in the stringed instrument last October when they visited a major cultural centre in Shanghai.
Ms Loftus said they received a "fantastic" reception during their recitals in China -- where her newfound students are just celebrating the Year of the Rabbit.
"They loved the harp and were very interested in learning the Irish harp," she said. "A lot of people came from universities and other areas as well. They asked me could they study with me. The webcam means international students from all over the world can study on a one-to-one basis. It saves a lot of travel for them.
"Some were doing masters studies in other instruments. There were children of all ages and adults as well. We also sourced harps for them."
The teacher said the aim would be to bring some of her burgeoning class of Chinese students to Ireland to play with her Irish ensemble and to offer her young Irish musicians the chance to travel to Asia.
Around 18 harpists study at her Windsong Music School in Lanesborough, Co Longford, which offers lessons in a variety of instruments.
There are also plans to open study centres in Radisson Blu Hotel in Letterkenny, Co Donegal and the Manor Hotel in Abbeyleix, Co Laois.