Nick Penny has had an interesting and varied career in music. After university he trained as a guitar maker with John Bailey in London. He then set up on his own making guitars, lutes, and harps. After many years absorbed in his workshop he eventually felt the need to get out into the world and do more performing. He still makes all the instruments used in his recordings and workshops.
His passionate interest in stringed instruments from around the world led naturally into his World of Strings workshops for children, as well as giving musical talks to adults. He’s worked in over 2000 primary schools, performing and making junk instruments with children, and is a founder member and designer of the Utterly Butterly Ukulele Project. He also presented a schools’ TV programme on the science of sound for Channel 4.
Nick first heard the Paraguayan Harp in the 1970s and immediately fell in love with the sound. In the late 1980s he went to Paraguay to have some lessons with Lorenzo Leguizamon. He discovered the therapeutic effect harp music has on people, and began to create a distinctive musical sound using harp and guitar together in new ways.
Since composing and recording his first Harp CD, Out of the Woods, he has brought out five more, including Night and Day which features music accompanying his recordings of nightingales. He has also made recordings of windharps and four CDs of birdsong
He has written a Making musical Instruments from Junk and contributed musical poems to an anthology which was shortlisted for a Blue Peter book award.
He is currently creating workshops for older people in Care Homes and those with dementia, and has designed a small therapeutic harp to use with the elderly.
He is also eagerly awaiting the delivery of a handpan – an entirely new instrument for which he can see and hear many possibilities!