Best known as a harpist, I am a teacher and multi-instrumentalist with a passion for roots music out of the Celtic, Nordic, and North American traditions.

Coming from a musical family in Sonoma County, California, music has always been a keystone of my life. My grandfather was a beloved elementary school music teacher, and both my parents sing and play. For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated with the world’s diversity of instruments and musical traditions.

At age six, I started studying piano, my first formal instrument, and laid the groundwork for a solid understanding of theory. As a preteen, I found my artistic home in the wider Scottish music community and began studies with the late, great Celtic harp revivalist, Chris Caswell. Chris shaped my musicianship immensely and I aspire – in my own way – to fit into his shoes as a teacher and a sharer of music.

Over the years, I have been lucky enough to share the stage with some incredible musicians as well as to showcase my own music to gracious audiences. I love playing dances. My favorite setting may simply be background music for events: parties, graduations, weddings, school events, spiritual happenings, and more. I love to feel part of something bigger, and people tell me my artistry adds a great deal.

As a teacher, I have experience both in private lessons and group workshops. I love teaching: few things are more gratifying than seeing my students make a breakthrough. I am open to all ages and skill levels, and my diverse student base includes those learning harp, Scottish/Cape Breton/Irish piano, and clawhammer banjo.

I teach by ear, which I consider the best way to keep the traditions live and healthy, but I am happy to delve into music theory and basic notation for the interested student. I am a patient and empathetic teacher; as a result of my own struggles with artistic self-doubt, I still identify deeply with the vulnerable process of learning and improvement.

I believe art is what humans do to make life worth it. I feel a high calling to share my own and to help others develop theirs.

-Brendan Swift

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