Your fingers move effortlessly over the strings of your small harp as you stroll leisurely across the warm sand before stepping into the gentle surf. The sea lightly swirling and flowing around your ankles; you feel a soft breeze on your skin as the breathtaking colors of the setting sun become deeper and even more brilliant.
In this perfect moment of inspiration a new song is born as sand, sea, sky and spirit become one. You notice that others near you on the beach are mesmerized by the simple beauty of the pure tones of each string… your spirit soars, your heart is filled with gratitude for this gift of music.
Designed to give rise to heightened creative, musical and improvisational skills as you navigate the small harp with ease and artistry – all while revealing a deeper, more imaginative and inspired you!
There is a beautiful place, where Terra Firma meets the rolling blue expanse of the mighty Pacific Ocean; a place that is the portal to your innately creative self…
Here, you can see, hear and literally feel the power and beauty of the Pacific Ocean —walking along golden sands stretching in front of you for miles, while crashing waves and breathtaking sunsets gift you a magnificent display each evening.
Just a stone’s throw away, in the lush wetlands that are home to an amazingly diverse array of native and migratory birds, you delight in the magical music of birdsong as their graceful flights inspire you to new heights of creativity and connection.
Turning your face to the sun, you relish the abundance of sunshine, the ocean and the warm, dry desert climate. This is an absolutely perfect place to delight in playing your harp outdoors, opening yourself to incredible inspirations born of this wondrous setting!
Punta Carnero is the PERFECT place to spend 6 delightful days of discovery...
In the companionable company of a select gathering of the most enthusiastic, like-minded harp players you could ever dream to meet...
...exploring your bountiful creativity and heart-centered artistry, creating in-the-moment music that fills you with joy.
...learning the art and science of improvisation as you discover the imagination-invoking prowess of the small harp.
(Plus: acquiring a whole toolkit of practical techniques, methods and strategies you can apply to playing any size harp).
...And discovering a fabulous, newfound sense of joy, freedom and flair in your playing!
There is something in the magical energy of this lovely location that will inspire you and give rise to your own, unique artistry - and getting away from your usual music practice space - taking your music outdoors, to the labyrinth, to the beach - will have you relaxed and inspired and ready to be open to your own creative potential.
❊ Revealed your dynamic musical artistry
❊ Attained priceless “tools” and techniques that will catalyze your creativity
❊ Discovered the amazing versatility and musically creative power of the small harp
We’ll spend seven fabulous nights in the charming comfort of Casas Pacíficos. Cozy and comfy, you’ll feel like you’ve found a new home-away-from-home.
Dancing palm trees, captivating cactus, and fragrant flowers in bloom create a beguiling, relaxed ambiance at Casas Pacíficos... lovingly renovated by harpist Kate Kunkel and husband Lynn Barry, who moved to Ecuador from Toronto two years ago, to fulfill their dream of creating a beautiful retreat center for musicians and artists in pursuit of creative aspirations.
This jewel of a retreat center is unique in that it has a special Casa de Música - filled with harps and other musical instruments - where friends and travelers gather, sharing music, learning and camaraderie.
Enchanting casitas, inviting reading/relaxing areas, a beautiful pool and bar, plus a lovely labyrinth are yours to enjoy. The Pacific Ocean and a three kilometer stretch of sandy beach is a minute’s walk away.
There is nothing Kate and Lynn delight in more, as our guides, than sharing their love of the people, culture and the magic of this beautiful region of this South American country.
This gorgeous, tranquil setting is the perfect place to bring your mind, body and spirit into perfect alignment to experience your profoundly uplifting musical transformation.
Ecuadorian food is - simply put - delicious! From fresh and tangy seafood ceviche to yummy fried green plantains, from tasty chicken and rice to mouthwatering chicken empanadas to decadent pescado encocado (fish cooked in coconut milk - yum!).
Ecuador abounds with a wide variety of fresh vegetables and fruits such as pineapples, mangoes, bananas, and passion fruits. And fragrant, aromatic spices make the flavors of Ecuador delightful and diverse.
The scrumptious meals at Casas Pacíficos are made fresh each day, with fish, chicken and produce from the local “Mercado”.
Our hostess Kate is vegetarian and is happy to offer vegetarian meals, but please note that diets such a vegan, gluten-free and other restricted diet options simply are not available in the smaller towns of Ecuador and may not be possible to accommodate.
Relish delectable “muchines” (a delicious yucca flour delicacy with cheese), encebollado, pollo asado, rice and menestra, deliciously fresh cucumber salads famous in Ecuador, and many fresh seafood dishes.
Are you hungry yet?!
We’ll have a blast on our excursions, enjoying the natural wonders and local color of the region. During our visit to the mercado in La Libertad, we will enjoy a delicious “almuerzo” or lunch.
Afterward, we’ll have the opportunity to browse the market and acquire the ingredients for our evening meal. The Casas Pacíficos staff will guide us in preparing a delectable Ecuadorian dinner using these the fresh ingredients we’ve chosen.
On our final night together we will delight in a Farewell Dinner as we gather at a favorite local restaurant, featuring yummy regional dishes prepared with just-harvested local produce, fresh seafood and other mouthwatering delicacies.
No retreat is complete without a blissful, luxuriant massage therapy session that leaves you feeling relaxed and fully receptive to the call of your Muse.
Together we’ll experience wonderful excursions to enjoy the natural, historical and cultural places and sights of the region, with Kate as our guide.
An afternoon at the local artisans market will be a colorful and delightful experience, with lots of time for exploring, shopping and absorbing the vibrant culture. (The affordability of items makes this an ideal place to do your holiday shopping, delighting your family and friends with unique gifts from Ecuador!)
Enjoying poolside gatherings with your new kindred spirits, with a glassa or cuppa, laughter ringing through the air, sharing newfound insights, inspirations and the excitement sparked by our creativity and artistry sessions that have set your imagination on fire.
Savoring the irresistible aroma of our delicious Ecuadorian dinner wafting through the evening air as you wend you way peacefully through the magical labyrinth at Casas Pacificos.
Dining on scrumptious fresh, local cuisine morning, noon and night - gosh, that’s going to be tough - lol!
Taking your harp out onto the long stretch of gorgeous Pacific Coast beach, wandering at your own contemplative pace as another glorious day comes to its end in an intoxicatingly spectacular sunset.
Tapping into your newly-discovered creative voice, you celebrate your artistry by creating in-the-moment music that mesmerizes all within earshot and fills you with joy. (As the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz said, “Oh, joy! Oh, rapture!”)
“Life isn’t about finding yourself, Life is about creating yourself!” - Unknown
Drawing on experience and knowledge gained through enlightening self-discovery explorations, terrific teaching experiences and remarkable harp journeys, Martha shares her creative expertise, harp mastery and total delight in playing the harp with a select gathering of harpers and harpists in beautiful Ecuador.
During this retreat she will lead you in exploring your artistic spirit and unlocking the expansive creative potential of the small harp, while delighting in the beauty and wonders of the Salinas Peninsula on the Pacific Coast of Ecuador.
Harps, music, inspiration, cozy casitas, beautiful surroundings, delicious cuisine, long stretches of beaches, vibrant markets, marvelous shopping - and the camaraderie of new harp friends together will fill this illuminating adventure!
❊ What if you received all the help you needed to discover, recognize, embrace and celebrate your vibrant artistry and inspired spirit?
❊ And what if you had access to expert assistance in learning the art and science of improvisation?
❊ How would it feel to be given the keys to unlocking the “Superpowers of the Small Harp” and releasing the music within this small-but-mighty musical instrument?
❊ And on top of that, what would it mean to you if you were given the secrets to being able to play with freedom and flair? (A skill that will fill you with joy for all the years to come!)
Would THAT be worth coming to Ecuador for?
Seriously? You Bet It Is!
PLUS: You’ll get to begin your journey of discovery before you even step on the plane!
Yes - to make sure you’re fully prepared and ready to squeeze every last drop of goodness out of this amazing experience, we’ll gather on a group call BEFORE the retreat, to share with you specifics as to how to get the absolute most out of this experience - and that’s priceless!
Please keep in mind: This is an IMPLEMENTATION RETREAT - and that means Martha will not be lecturing, but rather, we will be actively creating, participating and joyously “making beautiful music together.”
This is your opportunity to work interactively with Martha ONE-ON-ONE, addressing your EXACT areas of concern, and helping you identify blind spots and solve creative challenges as you flower fully into your creative potential.
“I am not a teacher, but an awakener!” - Robert Frost
Martha will guide you through learning skills and techniques with reliable, repeatable, proven methods that illuminate the expansive musical possibilities of the small harp. And as you assimilate and start to use these methods you will be opening up to the realization of your own creative potential.
“To travel is to take a journey into yourself.” - Danny Kaye
TRAVEL ❊ EXPERIENCE ❊ CREATE
Small, lightweight and travel-friendly, the unpretentious small* harp is an amazingly powerful instrument, tool and conduit for learning, creating and accessing one’s creative spirit. The seeming musical limitations of a lesser number of strings is actually a potent essential that can spark the expansion of:
• creative thinking
• artistic expression
• comprehension of chord structure
• understanding melody line flow
• improvisation skills
• music creation
* “Small harp,” as used here, refers to a harp with 30 strings or less. Ideally, it is also lightweight enough to be comfortable to stand and play, using a strap to hold it
Allowing yourself time to absorb new ideas, while having diverse experiences
in new, distinctive and inspiring surroundings, with the presence and
support of an uplifting, knowledgable retreat leader/teacher,
is a recipe for your genuine enjoyment and success.
Just as the small harp has it’s unique benefits from being small, so does this retreat - as in small numbers. Our retreat will be a gathering of a select, small number of players, allowing for plenty of time, energy and space for each person to receive personal attention during our group activities. No one need feel rushed or frustrated for any reason. This will be a time of patience and joy.
“I loved the fact that this retreat focused on our wholeness as harpists. Oh, and all the laughter!”
“Great music, food, location, discussions, laughter, spirituality; kindred spirits!”
“The time was generous for the unfolding, getting to know one another."
“It was helpful to have personal time between scheduled things.”
“I loved the mix of music, nature and all the various ways to open our creativity and relax - lots of great harp time, yummy food, small group, personal time, beautiful location...”
“The camaraderie was terrific!”
“Loved all the hands-on harps time but it wasn’t too much, so it kept a great “retreat” feeling and not a “workshop” feeling.”
This retreat experience is for you if...
You’re harp playing experience level is Advanced Beginner to Advanced Intermediate.
You’re excited to gather with a select group of enthusiastic harp players who, like you, love and long to continue to grow musically and creatively.
You’re looking forward to learning reliable ways and strategies for finding the musical and creative potential that lies hidden within you!
You want proven approaches for expanding creative thinking and playing that you can continue to build on long after you’ve returned home from this transformational retreat.
Your love of travel and understanding of how new environments and routines can jumpstart your imagination… powerfully override your usual homebody inclinations.
You’re ready and open to allowing music to simply flow through your fingers without sheet music to direct your inspiration or hinder your artistry!
You’re excited to unlock the mysteries of making more music… with less strings, less effort and an abundance of spontaneous joy!
You’re yearning to free your Muse, cutting loose your creativity through improvisation.
This journey is not for you if:
You are unwilling to leave your attachment to sheet music behind.
You are content being stuck where you are in your creative process.
If you don’t like magical adventures and beautiful places.
You don’t care to connect and form friendships with other harp players.
What can I say? Wow! One of the most biodiverse countries in the world - think Amazon Rainforest to Galapagos to the Andes, Ecuador boasts over 100 different types of hummingbirds and thousands of orchid varieties. And miles of beautiful beaches!
Ecuador has an incredibly diverse population, with the majority being Mestizos; peoples of mixed Spanish and Amerindian (indigenous) descent.
Spanish is Ecuador’s official language but Quichua (an Inca language) is spoken by much of the indigenous population. Tourism brings the English language into the mix, so not to worry if you don’t speak Spanish.
Plus our host and guide, Kate, speaks Spanish with ease and will there to assist with communications during our excursions.
Ecuador is a developing country – this means things may not be as straightforward as you may be used to at home. Understanding this is helpful as you travel here. Terrorism risk is very low and the region we are in is considered very safe. All our transport to/from the airport as well as for our excursions will be prearranged with operators used regularly by Kate and Lynn for the comfort and safety of their guests. As when traveling anywhere, including perhaps even your own town, commonsense safety and savvy are recommended in regards to flashing cash, credit cards and bling, walking alone in unknown areas, etc.
The vendors and merchants in the mercados take only cash and having small bills is recommended, as they cannot make change for large denominations. Larger shops can take credit cards. Prices are exceedingly reasonable, so carrying large sums of money is not necessary - unless, of course, you are intending to redecorate your entire home with items from Ecuador!
There are several small harps available for use at Casa Musica. However I highly recommend that you plan to bring your own harp, as sharing harps during group sessions will make it difficult for everyone to have ample opportunity to play and absorb the material as it is being presented.
Unless you have a flight case for your harp or wish to buy a seat for it (check your airlines policies), it will have to fit in the overhead compartment of the plane. Most major airlines have carry-on luggage dimensions posted on their website, so be sure to read this and comply. It is possible, on occasion, to be allowed to have a carry-on that is a little larger than the posted dimensions, ie guitars, but you still should be prepared to have this item go into baggage if overhead bin space is full or tight!
I fly with the Marini 22-string Travel Harp; a harp that Alex Marini designed especially to fit into an overhead compartment, using multiple major airline luggage dimensions as his guide. I highly recommend this as a traveling harp option (I receive no compensation or consideration for this recommendation, I just know it’s a great choice for traveling with, having flown with it domestically and internationally).
Please be aware that we will be playing harp outdoors much of the time, weather conditions permitting. We will not be outside in any weather conditions that would compromise the instrument. We will also spend time walking (as you are able) while we are playing, so having a strap to hold the harp while standing and walking is important.
Please feel free to email me if you do not have a harp suitable for this adventure or have questions about traveling with your harp.
Delightful daily group sessions with Martha, filled with exciting improvisation explorations, brilliant creativity-liberating activities, marvelous music-building moments - all formed on solid strategies and skills aligned with inspirations.
A special one-on-one session with Martha to pinpoint challenges and delights of your creative harp journey.
A content-rich-yet-relaxed schedule of group, one-on-one and personal time, allowing you ample time to learn, absorb, explore, experience, discuss and delight in an abundance of new perspectives, developing skills and emerging artistry.
Transformational experiences of playing and creating music in imagination- energizing settings such as; playing your harp while walking in the labyrinth, strolling in the surf, and other settings that will reset and revitalize your imaginative spirits. (Walking while playing the harp is soooooo much easier than walking and chewing gum at the same time!)
Divine daily meditation/movement sessions designed to help you open and access your creative channels. (Nothing strenuous; you decide what you wish to do).
Meditative Labyrinth Walks - complete with live harp music - Heavenly!
Learning, creating, dining, relaxing and playing harp with a fantastic group of like-minded souls creating the perfect conditions for forming lifelong bonds of friendship.
Illuminating session with local artist, using visual arts to assist in accessing your artistic spirit and the creative process through painting, diffuse thinking and having a ball! (Laughter is required!)
Two delightful half-day trips out and about; dining, shopping and exploring the famous malecon and mercado, La Libertad, La Chocolatera and La Loberia, on the westernmost point of Ecuador, and lively Salinas.
A fun and delicious evening creating a scrumptious Ecuadorian dinner with the native-born folks in the kitchen at Casas Pacificos, using local produce, fresh seafood and other regional delicacies we find on our visit to the mercado. BTW - Most items, from food to clothing to souvenirs, are incredibly affordable, so it’s a great time to take care of your holiday shopping!
A special Farewell Dinner at Kate’s favorite restaurant in Punta Carneros that features delicious regional cuisine using fresh local ingredients.
Arrive into the José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport, Guayaquil (GYE) on Nov. 2 before 5 pm, if possible. It is recommended you depart Nov. 9 after breakfast. Our transport to/from airport will be prearranged with operaters used regularly by Kat & Lynn for the comfort and saftey of their guests.
A joyful “inspirista,” Martha Gallagher is founder of Small Harp Adventures Retreats and creator of Seasons of the Harp Virtual Retreats. A renowned singer, harper, performer, songwriter, recording artist and retreat leader, she has worked with hundreds of spirited harp players across the US and Canada, helping them to cultivate their creativity and elevate their artistry.
For nearly 40 years she has been enjoying her own harp journey, exploring, discovering and developing her signature sound and “joie de vivre” style of playing. Her renewed love affair with the small harp has brought forth for her a wealth of creative explorations and music creation - and lots of new friends that she has met while playing harp in unusual settings.
A life-long student in the school of experiential learning, Martha has created a series of uncomplicated yet reliable strategies for learning how to improvise, jumpstart creativity and discover/develop artistry. She generously shares the many skills, methods, motivations and revelations that fuel imagination and expression - maintaining that the joy of playing the harp is a talent and skill to be refined, relished and celebrated always.
A singer, folk guitarist and classically trained flautist, Martha discovered a newfound musical freedom when she began playing the harp just as she finished college. A self-taught harper, she started by by playing trad. Celtic (performed nationally with the Chieftains), moved into folk, blues and jazz (national tours, radio features, 7 indie recordings).
The evolution of her original music, eclectic playing style and her freedom through improvisation has attracted harp players of all levels and music styles, who seek her out (harp festivals galore, guest artist at Berklee), to learn how they can create their own "harp voice” and gain freedom of expression on the harp. Martha developed specific methods to teach “those lovely intangibles” - creativity, improvisation, and expressive artistry. And thus, Small Harp Adventures is born.
Martha loves being a grandma and currently finds being with her 19 month old grandson to be more fun than a barrel of monkeys. He loves singing, dancing and plucking away on the harp! She loves playing on the floor, making silly noises, and splashing water all over the bathroom at bath time - his, not hers...
Please feel free to email Martha with any questions you may have.