Porto!

I’m back! Freshly tanned and totally refreshed from ten days staying in Porto with some of my lovely friends. So I thought I’d post about it and let you know what we got up to (and make you just a little jealous).

As you can see from the photo at the top of this post, Porto is beautiful. Not only that, the food is amazing and the people are super friendly.

We sampled the local delicacy known as the Francesinha – basically shove as much meat as you can into a sandwich – sausages, steak etc, top with a fried egg, cover the whole thing in cheese, drown it in a sauce – the main ingredient of which is booze, then add fries.

Yea, don’t eat these every day:

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We drank a lot of red wine, and a lot of port – it’s rude not to, right? We took a tour of the Cockburn’s port cellars and tasted some of their port afterwards.

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Everything is so cheap out there. In a supermarket you can get a lovely bottle of wine for €2.50, a bottle of nice port for €8 – and a proper meal out in a restaurant can be between €5 and €10. It’s ridiculous! Apparently in England we just get ripped off when we buy anything.

We had a day trip to see a Medieval Festival, which was fabulous.

Lunch: 1 rabbit.

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Wine: 1 Euro.

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I got the chance to read some books that I’ve been meaning to get round to for ages.

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I (finally) finished Stephen King’s Needful Things  – very creepy. Then I read Life of Pi which was fantastic, one of those books that you just can’t stop thinking about after finishing. I then started Solar by Ian McEwan, which is very good so far. I intend to keep reading as much as I can now that I am back. I so enjoyed not having my phone at all for those ten days, and only sporadic internet access to check for emergency emails. It meant that the group spending time together meant conversation, playing cards, cooking, and just enjoying each other’s company as you can clearly see here:

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We played the card version of Monopoly – Monopoly Deal – for hours and hours. It is so addictive and well worth checking out if you haven’t seen or heard of it.

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I also finally learned how to play poker! With Monopoly money of course…

So all in all, a fantastic trip. Big thank-you to Artur Pereira for hosting us so generously – we love you! Here’s to the next time 🙂

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The Summer so far…

It’s been a busy summer so far. I can’t remember when my last free weekend was  – which is very good news for a harpist. Since getting back from Denmark I’ve had at least one gig every single week. Usually weddings.

I’ve also received some lovely feedback from the happy couples and their families to let me know they appreciate my playing – I love getting reviews like this! You can check them out on my lastminutemusicians.com profile here.

I’ve realised that there are benefits to arriving at wedding gigs early: Sunbathing.

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I’ve had the opportunity to go and play in my old stomping ground – the RNCM and its new concert hall – my harp looks so small from up at the back:

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I also had a concert alongside the choir that I sing with – the choir of St. Ann’s Church in Manchester city centre. This was of course followed by the usual trip to the pub, where some of us stayed out way too late – I won’t mention names at this point:

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As well as the frequent gigs, I’ve managed to find some time here and there to chill. Marten’s birthday was lovely, we went for a long walk around the Edale Valley – it was so nice to see some green and get some fresh air!

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There are lots of changes happening at the moment, lots of new ideas in the pipeline. I will keep you updated of course! But in the meantime, you can always subscribe to get my posts in your inbox – I recently changed website hosts, so if you are used to getting emails from me you may have to re-subscribe – sorry about that!

You can also follow me on twitter and instagram @harpistangelina for updates on my adventures. Send me a message and say hi! I love hearing from you.

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The Weekend.

One of the things I love about playing for weddings is that it usually doesn’t take all day – I can be home for dinner. Last Saturday’s wedding at Hilltop Country House in Prestbury was no different. I was only playing for the Ceremony itself, plus a little background beforehand, so I was done in just over an hour.

It may now be officially summer, but there was lots of rain, luckily, the venue was prepared:

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However, the rain did mean that the ceremony had to be inside, and due to the number of guests, the harp wouldn’t fit in the ceremony room itself and I was positioned in the next room in the hope that the music would ‘waft through’. I’m assuming it did.

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I was back home in time to catch a film with some friends – Jurassic World – I’d highly recommend it. Very entertaining if slightly predictable (hey, it’s the fourth Jurassic film, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it etc.) It did make me feel old to think that I remember the first film coming out over twenty years ago and I found the references to the original Jurassic Park completely adorable (who remembers the awesome night-vision goggles?)

After the film we visited HOME before going home.

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HOME is a new development in Manchester, involving a cinema, a cafe, a bar and probably lots of other things I haven’t had the chance to explore yet. It’s lovely though. There are deckchairs outside for sunny days. We stopped for a quick drink before heading back.

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On Sunday morning I was singing with choir, as usual. Then in the afternoon I was invited to a barbecue at my teacher’s house. It was so good to see her (hi Eira!), and the current harp class of RNCM (a little worse for wear after the previous night’s Summer Ball). But nevertheless we ate lovely food (thanks Steve!) and drank a few glasses of Prosecco and sat outside until it got too cold and we decided to make a tactical retreat to the living room.

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I was also introduced to the concept of putting Pringles on a barbecue and eating them with melted camembert (also from the barbie) – delicious! Try it! Thanks for the fabulous idea Bec Mills.

I don’t think the North of England has quite realised that it’s supposed to be summer now. The weather at the moment is definitely not what we ordered, send it back.

So all in all a pretty good weekend, lots of good food and good wine with good friends. I hope the summer brings many more like this (only sunnier).

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Sounds of the Cosmos II

On Tuesday 9th June I had a gig in Sheffield, playing with Sheffield’s Rep Orchestra conducted by a good friend of mine – George Morton.

The ‘rep’ we were playing was Gustav Holst’s The Planets as part of Sheffield’s ‘DocFest’ or Documentary Festival.

The concert was in Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre, which was exciting in itself – we used to take school trips there to see plays from time to time. Í’ve played The Planets in Sheffield so many times in the past few years, but this was definitely a special gig.

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Behind the orchestra was a big screen, showing visualisations and photographs of outer space, the planets, and different types of star. It was completely fascinating. This visualisation in particular just blew me away.

As is becoming my habit, I arrived in Sheffield an hour and a half early so I grabbed a quick coffee and a pain au chocolat in the nearby cafe Marmadukes – it’s a small but lovely place just around the corner from the theatre. The staff were great and talked me through their extensive choice of coffees. I sat for a while and caught up on some reading (Needful Things by Stephen King) before heading back to the theatre to set up and tune.

We rehearsed for just over an hour then had some time to get ready for the 8.30pm concert. Quite a late start but I heard there were over five hundred people there. There are two harp parts for the Holst and the other harpist was the lovely Alley York:

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The performance went really well, we even got a little standing ovation, but as it was a late start it was well after midnight when I finally got home to Manchester. Long day but so worth it.

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Copenhagen

It’s taken me a long time to write this post, I’ve done plenty to try and procrastinate and put it off – yoga, watching Gossip Girl, eating what must be millions of calories in galaxy bars – but now it is time to put on my big-girl-shoes and tell you what happened in Denmark.

I was offered an orchestral audition in Copenhagen. It might be unfair to publicly broadcast who it was for but nevertheless it was an incredible opportunity, here was my actual dream job, all I had to do was nail the audition and I might just maybe possibly be in with a shot! Hell yeah I’d move to Copenhagen! Learning Danish? Just tell me when to start. Seriously, I felt like I would do anything to get that job.

So I booked five days in Copenhagen with my wonderful Mum who offered to keep me company. Here we are having one of many meals out along the way.

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I had been very busy learning two pieces for the different audition rounds: the Debussy Danses Sacrée et Profane and Fantasie by Spohr. The Spohr was the first round so I knew the panel would definitely hear that. Debussy would be on day two, but if I got that far then obviously I still had to do my best.

About a month before the audition I received a list of the orchestral excerpts I needed to prepare. All 143 pages of them. Thirty-one excerpts in total. Everything was there, from the cadenzas all aspiring orchestral harpists need under their fingers (Tchaikovsky, Berlioz, Verdi) to excerpts I knew to be extremely difficult and/or had never even heard of (the ever-present Wagner, Elliott Carter, Albeniz). I had one month to learn all of them, that’s one a day.

I’m not going to lie, that month was not fun. It was not fun at all. I all but stopped socialising, I almost injured myself by practising until my arms hurt, taking a break, then starting again. But you know what? I pretty much got them ready, and regardless of what happened, that stands me in good stead for the future.

So off we went, we were staying with a lovely couple we met through AirBnB – Anne & Jakob – their flat was fab and very close to the metro and the concert hall where the audition was due to take place.

The audition was on the first full day we had in Denmark, first thing in the morning. It was a blind audition, which I am totally in favour of. Basically the panel sit behind a screen and the idea is they have no clue who you are, they just pick the best players, rather than the ones they know, or teach, for example.

They actually stopped me during the Spohr, which I’ve always been told is a good sign – they’ve heard what they need to hear – if you’re terrible then the panel is obliged to hear until the end, perhaps something went wrong and you’ll fix it before the end, it would be unfair to stop you. So I was happy with that, then I just had to play the cadenza from Waltz of the Flowers, which I learnt about ten years ago so I was really confident with that.

After I played I was told to pack up and wait upstairs, which we dutifully did. We waited for about ten minutes and then I found out I hadn’t been chosen ‘Sorry’.

Talk about brutal.

So mum and I got out of there as soon as we could and I started to think about all the work I had put in. All the money we had spent to get there. All for twenty minutes on a Saturday morning. I just couldn’t believe it. No feedback, no interview, just ‘See ya!’ and we were on our way.

Looking back on it now, I’m so glad this was on the first morning of our trip. This meant we had another five whole days to explore Copenhagen! It’s a truly beautiful city with a wonderful, chilled out vibe. The food is also to die for.

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We explored as many art galleries and museums as we could – there is a lot to do!

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This picture above was taken at Helsingør – the setting of Shakespeare’s Hamlet – so it was absolutely fascinating to have a look around. It’s pretty cold and windy up there too!

So yes, lots of lessons learnt, I worked so hard for the audition and I’m proud of that. I also got the chance to visit a new city, which was wonderful.

I’m going to keep striving for the orchestral jobs – that is what I want to do. But, I have to be comfortable with the fact that this may never happen for me. I may just stay in my little world in the North of England, teaching, working with my fabulous CLOUDS Harp Quartet, playing for weddings and small orchestras, and that’s OK too. I know I can be happy either way and for now I’m just enjoying the journey.

As ever, thanks for reading – and please do share your experiences of auditions! I’d love to hear from you.

Thank you.

x

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Edinburgh International Harp Festival 2015

I’m spending four days up in Scotland this week to take part in Edinburgh’s International Harp Festival 2015 with my harp quartet CLOUDS. Today is Sunday, day one.

I took the train up from Manchester. So I’m here, with no car, and no harp – totally at the mercy of my fellow CLOUDS members to look after me – they’re doing a brilliant job so far I must say.

It was awesome having some alone time on the train, time to read my book, time to stare out of the window, time to get very annoyed by the drunk hen party trying to get us all to do shots at 2pm.

I arrived in Edinburgh and shared a lift to the festival with Bec and we had some snacks and quickly got to rehearsing for our concert on Tuesday.

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Great thing about a harp festival – you can go shopping and you know it’s all useful stuff. Ergonomic tuning key for a fiver? We’ll take as many as we can thanks!

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There are so many harp-related things/music/t-shirts/postcards/jewellry/CDs/mugs/aprons! I need to remember not to spend too much money while I’m here.

Speaking of dilemmas, here’s one:

I have so much practice to do – seriously – I have a very  important audition next month and sooo many notes to learn. So what do I do? Experience the festival properly by going to everything – knowing that I have all the more work to do when I get home – or hide myself away and try to practice? Maybe I’ll try and find a happy medium tomorrow.

But for now, I’ve eaten a lovely dinner thanks to Esther’s mum and am now tucked up in bed – let’s see what tomorrow brings.

Monday – Day Two

Today has been a long one. We arrived at the festival just after 10am, my fellow CLOUDS were booked in for a masterclass with the lovely Eleanor Turner but I:

a) wasn’t organised enough to get a ticket

b) actually quite wanted to just hang out at the festival, see the exhibitions, go shopping etc.

So until lunchtime I visited the showroom and looked at lots of new harps & harp accessories (my weakness!) I bought some awesome tape that has manuscript on it so if you want to re-write something enharmonically you just tape over it! What a find! I also bought some nice arrangements of wedding music that’s bound to come in handy. I think that’s all I bought today (not including food – oops).

I also went for a little walk down to the village of Colinton, about 15 minutes walk from the festival – I saw a couple of very nice looking restaurants that I’d love to try if I was staying for longer.

Anyway, we all met up for lunch – it’s so nice to see lots of RNCM harpists here  – then CLOUDS went along to the class Esther was teaching to demonstrate some of the improvisation we do in our music. The class were so lovely and appreciative!

I’m ashamed to say that after the class, more shopping took place. We were shown some amazing carbon fibre lever harps (try saying that out loud – it’s hard!) which are unbelievably light and seemingly impossible to damage. These harps are the future! You can lift it with one hand easily, which we did, several times:

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There is so much to see. Listing all the stands would take forever! There’s harp makers, harp music, harp cases, harp insurance, harp amplification, jazz harp, baroque harp, harp jewellry, greeting cards, stools, stands, tuning keys, bags, tuners, the list goes on and on and we want all of it!

Oh and there seem to be pots of Haribo everywhere too – what’s going on?!

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I managed to squeeze in about half an hour of practice (shameful but better than nothing!) before CLOUDS began our last big rehearsal before our concert tomorrow night. We are borrowing beautiful, brand new harps from Holywell so we’re a bit nervous about doing all our usual extended techniques in case we break them! But we do it to our own harps all the time and I’m sure the lovely folks at Holywell trust us completely (cough).

At around 7.30pm we called it a day and headed back to Esther’s place in Peebles, lovely Peebles! I wish I was here for longer to spend some time just walking around and take in the breath-taking scenery – but we’re at the festival all day and when we get back we just have dinner and crash.

Tomorrow is concert day! Yayyy!

Tuesday – Day Three

For most of Tuesday morning/afternoon we took it quite easy to save our energy for the evening concert. We rehearsed for about an hour but for the rest of the time we mainly ate and chilled out. Bec and I found a lovely pub called the Spylaw Tavern so we thought we should take the opportunity and eat while we still had time. All the harps were moved for us by David from Holywell – which was brilliant.

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The concert itself went really well. We had a great time and the hall was almost completely full. We got lots of lovely feedback too. After the interval we helped ourselves to a celebratory glass of wine and watched the second half of the concert – Eleanor Turner – who was fantastic, we are all in awe of her amazing playing!

Immediately after the concert the festival had laid on some wine and snacks for us. All my favourite foods were there: goats cheese, houmous, coleslaw, it was brilliant!

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We then decided to carry on the party in Edinburgh at The Jazz Bar, where we stayed and danced to live jazz until just after 3am. Some of the current RNCM harpists came too and we had a really good catch up on all things harp/life related. I am slightly worried that we were a little rowdy when we got back to our rooms, we did our best to be quiet! Kind of…

Wednesday – Day Four

All of this brings us to Wednesday, day four. We knew we would need breakfast this morning but they only serve food until 9am – so this means we got around four hours of sleep. All we could do this morning was eat, pack, check-out of our rooms, and get to the city centre ready for my train.

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So here I am at the Waterstones cafe on Princes Street, Edinburgh. My train is in a couple of hours and then I’ll be back in Manchester and it will be time to get back to work!

This has turned into a mammoth post – but these past few days have been great: lovely people, inspiring music and performances, great setting.

Harpists, if you are debating whether to go to this harp festival, I strongly urge you to go! There is something for everyone, whatever standard you are. If you like the harp, you’ll fit right in, trust me!

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fitbit one

I bought myself a fitbit one at the end of last year and a few people have been asking me about it so I thought I’d put my thoughts into a post for you all to peruse at your leisure. My parents have both had one for a couple of years and they love them and use them every day, so I decided I needed to get in on the action and begin logging my activity with fitbit. It’s pretty easy to be sedentary these days – especially those of us with sedentary jobs. For me, I sit down to practice and I’m at a desk when I’m doing other admin things – then before you know it it’s dark outside and I’ve barely moved. The fitbit one clips discreetly into your pocket or bra and counts your steps, plus distance, calories burned and floors climbed. It has an automated goal of 10,000 steps per day but you can change this goal if you like. I’ve kept mine at 10,000 as that’s what we’re told we should be aiming for (10,000 steps is around five miles). The first few weeks I had mine I’m sure I became a total fitbit-bore to all around me. Parking miles away from where I wanted to be or just leaving the car at home altogether. Going out dancing and being thrilled to have done 14,000 steps before even going to sleep. Going out of my way to find the stairs rather than take the lift (not possible with harp by the way). Now that the initial novelty of the fitbit one has worn off, I’m still using it every day. Why? Because it encourages you to move more. My friend Katherina has one and she joked that it plays on all the negative emotions we have – the guilt of not moving enough, the thrill of achieving more than your friends, ick… but still I use it and like to be towards the top of the leaderboard of my fitbit ‘friends’. The fitbit one itself is really small… IMAG0090 But it comes with a handy silicone clip: IMAG0089 You can also get it in burgundy. I thought about it but I’m the only one who ever sees it really so there was no point paying an extra £10 for a different colour, right? So I just clip this to my bra first thing in the morning and forget about it – it comes with a tiny dongle to plug into the computer so whenever I’m a few feet away from the computer it’ll sync to my online fitbit account. I’ve also set my phone up to do this but you don’t have to. It emails you when it needs charging, which is only about once every 10 days, and it charges in about an hour. The button at the top lets you scroll through all the information – and you can tailor the information you want to see online – so you can see the time, steps that day, floors climbed and calories burned. There’s also a cute flower that grows if you’ve been active recently: IMAG0088 If you reach a milestone such as 50 total miles or 100 floors climbed you’ll get an email and a ‘badge’ – it’s quite nice to know I’ve climbed enough floors to be at the same height as a helicopter but, I’ll admit, not overly useful. What is really handy is that you can connect your fitbit account with myfitnesspal – so fitbit logs your steps, myfitnesspal logs your food, and theoretically, you will lose weight if you burn more calories than you eat (although there are lots of different opinions on this so let’s move on swiftly!) I’ve been logging my food for almost 100 days, and I think 100 days is enough, once I’ve got my 100th day of food logging I’ll probably stop doing it so religiously and just focus on eating whole, healthy foods (and maybe drinking fewer glasses of rose wine). I’ve lost 6 pounds since I’ve had mine. So I don’t know whether that’s from moving more or eating less – it’s almost definitely a mixture of both. I haven’t been trying to lose weight very quickly but I am aware that I want to lose a bit. No rush though – I’m not going on holiday for another eighteen weeks. Something else you can use the fitbit one for is tracking your sleep – this is a bit much for me, I tend to know if I’ve slept well or not! Also, I wasn’t keen on the wristband that came with the fitbit. The velco was weird and was already losing its grip after a few nights. I loved the silent vibrating alarm though, it wakes you up without disturbing your significant other. But it wasn’t worth it for me to wear the uncomfortable wristband unfortunately. I’d love to know your thoughts on the fitbit if you have one? What do you think?

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Running vs Practice

Last November I turned 25. As a result, I decided it was time to look after myself, and my health. So on December 1st 2013 I restarted my running. I ran over 40km that month and am on course to beat that in January. I’m working my way through a Couch-10K app for anyone who is interested.

The regular practice of running has led me to ponder the similarities between running and music.

Firstly, I am not a gifted runner. Anyone who went to school with me can testify to that. BUT, having been working at it for a number of weeks I’m a lot fitter than I used to be. So if someone who is naturally gifted at running never trains, could they still beat the less talented but conscientious trainer? I’m not so sure.

You can apply this analogy to music. I admit that from an early age, teachers seemed to think I had an aptitude for the harp, and this, coupled with years of practice has allowed me to get to where I am now. But, had I not practiced and just trusted my ‘gift’, I wouldn’t have got anywhere.

This comes back to the whole nature/nurture debate. When people tell me how lucky I am to have such a talent (implying that I was somehow born being able to put on a full evening recital), I want to tell them actually no it’s not luck – I worked damn hard to be able to do this (I don’t actually say that, it comes across as rude for some reason). I feel that putting achievements down to talent alone is inaccurate and insulting to those who work hard every day to be able to do what they do.

The same with running, right now there is no way I could run a marathon (or even a half), but with training and regular practice, who knows how far I could go (pun intended). Maybe what we are born with is the potential, what we do with it is up to us.

Another similarity between the two disciplines. You can practice for years and it never feels any easier. What was hard for me in the first week of December I now do regularly, but now I am working on more challenging things. When practising, you are always pushing yourself to be better, to achieve more, to go faster, to improve technique. As a result, practising will always feel hard. It is about finding your own weak spots and putting them under a microscope. It’s a search and destroy mission to remove weaknesses in performance. It is mentally and physically draining, and if you aren’t passionately committed to it, it will be very unpleasant.

Still, it’s a voyage of discovery. It’s satisfying to be able to do things you were previously unable to do. A future post will be talking about how to practice effectively (musically speaking). Proficiency in any discipline is very satisfying, not to mention absolutely vital if you are attempting to make a career of it.

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Happy New Year!

I’d like to start by wishing all those who visit this page and read my blog a very happy and healthy new year.

I brought the new year in by playing with the British Concert Philharmonic Orchestra in a New Year’s Eve Gala in Buxton Opera House. The gigs I do with this orchestra tend to involve getting the music on the day and spending the rehearsal sightreading, then practising like mad in the breaks and hoping for the best in the gig. NYE was no different. The first half felt like back-to-back harp solos. O Mio Babbino Caro, The Pearl Fishers Duet, Meditation from Thais, it was never ending! These are pieces that I learnt the part for years ago – while at school – for ‘the future’. Well, I’m glad I did but even so the rehearsal was rather stressful. I spent the time between the rehearsal and the concert drinking coffee and note-bashing.

Weirdly enough, the gig itself went really well. Must have been that sneaky practice I did before. Part of me loves these gigs where you turn up and sightread, it means you can’t get stressed before the day because you don’t know the programme yet. On the other hand, I can’t hang a sign on my harp that says ‘I’m sightreading!’ just so the audience (and the players) will forgive my mistakes. Having the chance to fully prepare is obviously preferable.

The concert finished at around 12.30am at which point it was time to drive back to Manchester for a few chilled out New Year drinks (lemonade only as I was driving).

I’ve made a few New Year’s Resolutions, firstly, be less messy, secondly, carry on running three times a week (which I successfully achieved in December – woo!), thirdly, wear dresses more often, and finally, stick to working hours during the day (see my previous post on keeping schedules).

In fact, on the subject of running, here’s a photo from my run on the moor near my parents’ house. It was a gorgeously crisp morning, a little icy, but beautiful none the less:

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Escape

I’ve been thinking recently about the idea of escape.

Practice is, for me, often an escape.  I go running three times a week in the mornings to clear my head and yes, escape.  People do many different things, some may dance or draw, some go walking in the countryside, some do yoga, but a lot of the time they feel like it is an escape.  Obviously there are ways of escaping some people use that are not good for them, excessive drinking, drug abuse, or other destructive habits.  But maybe their reasoning is the same?  Maybe they want to escape to a place where current problems are no longer at the forefront of their minds.

If I’m upset about something, practice is a chance to – as my teacher says – leave all those little niggling things in your mind in a box by the door.  You can’t practice effectively while worrying about your bank balance, nor can you practice well while wondering what he or she meant when they said whatever they said.  It is a chance to focus the mind and it is a retreat from that voice in your head that tells you you’re inadequate (we all have that, right?)

Practising is like putting yourself in an entirely different mental state, a more creative state – whilst also being on the lookout for what can be improved, enhanced or changed for the better.  I never feel like I should be doing anything else while I’m practising, it’s when I’m doing other things that I feel I should be practising.  It’s nice to tell that voice to quiet down a bit, too.

Surroundings can matter a lot during practice – I’m not sure why – I cannot practice in a messy room, I just can’t, sorry.  The act of tidying the space around me somehow clears my head and makes me ready to sit down and work.  If I’m at the harp and all I can see is mess, it plays on my mind til I tidy it away anyway.  De-cluttering the space around me de-clutters my mind in a lot of ways.  Maybe that’s another escape?

I’m about to embark on week six of a fourteen week running plan with the aim of being able to run for an hour at the end of the plan.  I have an amazing app on my phone that tells me exactly when to run and when to walk, and I can listen to my music at the same time (usually cheesy upbeat dance music circa 2003).  It’s called 10K runner: couch to 10K in 14 weeks or something like that.  Definitely worth buying if you’re into that sort of thing, or indeed, you are looking to get into it.  I’ve been using it for five weeks and I love it, running three mornings a week is becoming a habit and one I intend to keep for a long time.

Anyway, I digress, running for me is a complete escape from normal life, at school I was fair to rubbish at sports, and was always near last at the dreaded cross-country races we had to do.  But now that I can set the pace and I’m not against anybody, I can just see it as a chance to stretch my legs and get out in the fresh air, I can feel myself getting fitter already and with each run it gets a bit easier to go just that little bit further.  It is a complete change in my routine – not that my usual days have much routine to them…

Maybe it’s not escape I’m after, I’m perfectly happy where I am right now, why would I want to escape?  I’m doing what I love for a living, I have my health and a lovely family and great friends.  Believe me I count my blessings every day.  Maybe it’s a change.  A change is as good as a rest, or so they say.  Changing what we’re doing refreshes the mind and invigorates us with new energy.  The last thing any of us need is to sink into indifference, lethargy and mediocrity.  Maybe the way to stay on top of things is to keep moving, keep doing new things and pushing ourselves to be the absolute best we can be, and to use our little escapes as stepping stones along the way…

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