2015 Resolution Update

Hello all!

This week’s post is a round up of the New Year’s Resolutions I made for this year, and how they are doing now, almost a month later.

The first resolution was to make this month alcohol free. Yep. Dry January, who else was doing this? How did you find it? For me, it has been mainly quite uneventful. I did have a night off last Sunday so I could have a wee dram to celebrate Burns Night…

Burns Night

…but apart from that I’ve been good. I don’t even miss drinking in pubs – I like saving the money and just drinking loads of water – but it’s hard not having a glass of wine with dinner, or when friends come round with a bottle of wine to share and I’m stuck with Asda Price Low Calorie Ginger Ale (other brands are available). I haven’t really been a huge drinker since my days as a student (honest!) but I’ll enter February with a new appreciation of a glass of wine to relax in the evening.

My second resolution was to have a ‘mid-week weekend’ on Tuesday and Wednesday as I’m usually gigging on the weekend. Well, I’m not too sure about this one. I tried it for a few weeks and dutifully had my days off Tuesday and Wednesday, then the weekend came round, and I didn’t want to work then either! There’s definitely a different vibe on a Saturday and Sunday, treating them like working days just feels wrong to me. So I can’t have Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday off! I’ll have to stick with the regular weekend. I’m working on practising more in general, so having Saturday and Sunday off practice still creates a distinction. Crikey I love my schedules don’t I? Maybe my 2016 resolution will be to stop being so OCD about everything…

So just a short one for you this week. Next week I’ll be telling you about the little gadget I bought myself for Christmas last year – my fitbit one.

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Happy New Year 2015

So here we are, 2015, can you believe it?

This is the third Happy New Year post I’ve done – time flies – so I’ll try and make this one a little different (check out 2013 and 2014).

It’s natural at this time to assess the previous year and to look forward to what we want to achieve in the future. Last year I moved in with my boyfriend so that has been the biggest change. We are absolutely loving having our own space just to relax and spend time together. He probably does 90% of all the cooking, which leads to me eating far too much of his delicious food (carbonara is my favourite – I may steal the recipe for a future blog post, leave a comment below if you’d be interested in this).

Work-wise, things still seem to be ticking along nicely. I’m making enough to stay afloat, woohoo! I’ve started saving 20% of everything I earn, which comes in really handy at this time of year when my tax bill is due.

I haven’t been running quite so much as I used to and have joined a gym instead. I wanted to work more on strength but also I wanted the variety of being able to do things like Yoga, Body Pump and Spinning, then be able to swim and have a jacuzzi/sauna afterwards. I also like doing classes as once they are in your diary you treat them like appointments, so emails, phone calls etc. just have to wait until you get back. End of story. I can’t help it. I just love prioritising ‘me time’. Having already done two classes this week I can’t believe how much busier the gym is! So many people on their New Year’s Resolutions. I miss the old days before Christmas with Yoga classes of six and spinning classes of two!

So now for some resolutions, I don’t want to commit to too much and then fall off the wagon later, but here goes:

1. Dry January

No booze in January. I’m tweaking this ever so slightly and doing January 5th to February 5th to allow for a large family party last weekend. I’m doing it to stretch my self-control, and possibly save a bit of money. In addition to that, I’m trying to lose a bit of weight and I’m interested to see if quitting the drink for 31 days will help give me a headstart.

2. Have a ‘weekend’ during the week

Ok this is an odd one but bear with me, I nearly always have gigs at the weekends, so I’m trialling a system of making Tuesday and Wednesday my weekend – and treating Saturday and Sunday like normal working days. Normal working day means getting up at a reasonable time, and either practising, doing admin, going to gigs or something useful during the working day. Weekends mean sleep in, practise if I want to, go to the gym, go for walks, maybe cook a nice meal and generally potter about. I’ll be reporting back on this after a few weeks. Obviously it won’t be completely clear cut – I have pupils who can really only do Tuesday for example. But we’ll see how it goes. I may just end up binge-watching Sex and the City on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Let’s hope not.

I’m also aiming to publish a blog post once a week (on a Thursday, just in case you’re interested). So watch this space for more musings during 2015. It’s good to be back!

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Writing 101 – Day One

I’ve signed up to a month-long writing course on wordpress – Writing 101 – building a blogging habit. The assignment for day one is to write for twenty minutes about anything. A sort of stream of consciousness type thing.

I’m kind of scared of doing this. I’m a harpist, not a writer. Doing a month-long writing course is like admitting to the world that I do actually want to write. The truth is, I love writing my blog and I would jump at the chance to do more and improve my writing, so here I am. Every weekday this month there will be a writing assignment – I still want to write my posts about gigs and my career – this is in addition to that. So if you are a regular reader of my blog, firstly, thank you! secondly, feel free to ignore these posts as they probably won’t be about the harp or gigs. It’ll just be me – expressing the innermost workings of my mind.

I have always written – I still have my first journals, from back when I was about 10. I would write every evening before bed about what had happened that day – I loved having the record of my thoughts and feelings, I also loved being able to look back one, two, three years down the line to see what I was up to, to laugh at how immature I sounded and to realise how much I’d learnt in the meantime. I even took my journal on holiday, I would keep tickets, programmes and leaflets from places we visited and write about what we did, where we ate, what the weather was like. I just loved it.

I probably got into it through a book I read as a kid. I was pretty much obsessed with ‘Harriet the Spy’ and loved that she would just snoop on her family and write about it in secret. At the risk of sounding old – when I was growing up, none of my siblings lived with me and the internet wasn’t around yet, so when I wasn’t practising either the harp, piano or cello (how did I have any spare time?!) I would write, draw, or read.

So I pretty much need to write. I would love to write for a publication. Being paid to write would be an absolute dream. Not instead of music, but as well as music. Ahh, the joys of freelancing.

I may be experimenting with writing some fiction this month too. I haven’t done a lot of this but I would love to try. Writing a ‘stream of consciousness’ post on a public blog is rather daunting. Plus, every time I think of a stream of consciousness I’m reminded of the novel ‘Catcher in the Rye’ by J. D. Salinger. I studied this book for my english literature GCSE and really enjoyed it. I loved the idea of seeing reality through someone else’s perspective and realising that what you’re ‘seeing’ may be very different from ‘reality’ – ‘The Wasp Factory’ springs to mind here too.

So that’s my twenty minutes of free writing done! Any feedback or comments, please do let me know.

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March 2014

I’m writing this from Victoria Hall Methodist Church in Sheffield. Today I’m playing in a concert production of Bizet’s Carmen. Wonderful music.

Anyone who knows me or who reads this blog will gather that I seem to get into scrapes whenever I have a gig in Sheffield. What is it about this city? Why are its streets so confusing for sat-navs and AA route planners alike? Well, I made it to the rehearsal (just) and am now waiting for the concert.

In times gone by this would be an excellent pub opportunity. But, in the spirit of frugality I’ve brought my own dinner (salad wraps of course), my ipad to play on, and a book to read. The only other people to have this brilliant idea are at least fifty years older than me – oh dear. Also, I don’t drink that much anymore – my wallet can’t afford it and my brain can’t handle it as well as it could when I was a student.

Yesterday I was in Leeds playing Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms, an absolutely brilliant piece, incredibly uplifting. I mean uplifting in a very literal sense here – we had to heave two harps onto one of the risers in Leeds Town Hall. Once we were there though, we had an excellent view and I would guess that the sound of the harps would carry much better from our raised vantage point. This was a ‘pub and meal between rehearsal and concert’ gig, mainly because some college friends were there and I also couldn’t resist the siren-call of Thai Green Curry.

So that’s this weekend. Next weekend I’m over in Scunthorpe playing Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius. Long drive, but good music.

The legal dispute I alluded to in my last post has still not been resolved, and just to warn you, there will be a big rant coming when it’s over.

There’s nothing else to report at this point. I’m seeing that as a good thing. I’m booked every weekend for at least one gig until the end of May, I have a big thick pile of music to be practising, and my private teaching in between. Things seem to be ticking along very nicely. This makes for a slightly dull blog post but in real life it’s great. On days with no gigs I can practise in the morning, do emails and admin in the afternoon and spend the evening cooking dinner and relaxing, it’s lovely.

There are exciting summer plans this year for my harp quartet CLOUDS. That’s coming up in the next post.

Until then, wishing you all the best,

Angelina x

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Freelancers’ Guilt, and what we can do about it.

This week’s post is addressing something I think a lot of freelancers feel.  That is the guilty feeling hanging over us, telling us we’re not doing enough, should do more.  

I hate the word should, I should get up earlier, I should be doing this or that, I shouldn’t go out because I should be being productive, eugh, it’s awful.  It SHOULD be banned from our internal monologue (I know we all have one).  

I have some theories as to why we feel this (I’m assuming I’m not the only one).  Here they are:

  • We often work from home, so there is little work/home separation.
  • There are no immediate negative consequences for getting up late/having an unproductive day.

Obviously long term there are consequences for lack of productivity – but there is a time delay – we pay for laziness later in ways we often can’t predict.

  • There is never a point that we can say ‘I have finished everything I have to do!’  There is an infinite amount to be done, freelancers are never finished, sometimes it can feel like a huge mountain to climb each day.
  • If there is nothing set in the diary, it’s easy to feel we can start later and before we know it, the day has gone.
  • With constant interruptions from phone calls/emails/technology/social media – it’s very easy to get distracted and not realise how much time is passing.  

What can we do about this?  Now I’m no expert, I only graduated a couple of years ago but I’m learning a few tricks that help my productivity immensely.  This is obviously written from the perspective of a musician.  These tips may work for you or they may not, but when it’s really important that I get as much as I can done, here’s what I do:

  • Write a schedule for the day, the night before.  Begin by listing everything that needs doing (I include things like ‘pay electicity bill’ and ‘laundry’ as well as ’emails’, and ‘admin’).  Decide when to get up and what is going to be done each hour.  For musicians – don’t just write ‘Practice’ actually write what is going to be practised, be specific.  This helps because if you have scheduled 3 hours for practice, it doesn’t seem to matter so much if you miss one.  But, if each session has a specific purpose, you’re more likely to get it done, as it might be the only chance you get that day to look at that certain piece/section/excerpt.
  • Set an alarm and put it far away from your bed!  This helps so much I’d actually say it’s the most effective way to increase productivity.  When the alarm is right next to the bed, it is too easy to snooze, then before you know it hours have passed and you’re still in bed.  Great.  This has another advantage as well, for most of us, our smartphone is our alarm – by placing it on the other side of the room it means we don’t google/facebook/tweet away half the night and can actually get to sleep a lot quicker.  I am a real sleepaholic (sleepophile?) so this one is difficult for me but it is so worth it!
  • Actually stick to your schedule.  Hopefully you’ve made it realistic and given yourself plenty of time to do what you wanted to.  Tick things off as you do them, and if you get ahead of schedule – great!  Time to chill later.  I generally do mine in hour blocks but half an hour can work too.
  • (This may be controversial) Keep your phone on ‘Do Not Disturb’ during working hours and set a time in your schedule to ring/text people back or listen to voicemails (put your email address in your voicemail greeting so people have another way of contacting you).  This also has the added bonus of stopping your phone going off every time something happens on Facebook – a potentially huge time-sap.  If you need to – schedule an hour at the end of the day purely for social media – particularly for freelancers who are trying to build an online presence.  
  • Try and get up at the same time each weekday.  For those of us who work from home (can be a blessing or a curse) it’s good to have a routine.  For example, you could get up at 8am every weekday, 9am on Saturdays and whenever you fancy on a Sunday… that way the weekend still feels like the weekend rather than each day feeling exactly the same.
  • If you can work somewhere else, do.  It is one of my dreams to have a separate bedroom, office and music room.  Three rooms.  Or maybe even an out-house where I can go specifically to do admin or practice.  Unfortunately this is the real world and I live in a small flat.  My bedroom has my harp and all my music in one corner and my desk and laptop in another.  It takes self-discipline to go to one zone and not get distracted when everything is just there – being all distracting.  You just sit down to practice but oh! laundry needs doing, ooh so does this morning’s washing up – ahh while I’m here I may as well tidy the kitchen… you can lose days like this so we must be strong and do one thing at a time.  Schedule a time for housework and do it later.

*My mum will be reading this and realise that I am in fact, turning into my father – I’m so sorry*

So these are the things I try to do, but I also try and remember the following:

  • Nobody is perfect.  We’re all just trying to make a living.  Let’s all just do the best we can, get stuff done then get on with enjoying ourselves.  None of this ‘should’ nonsense.  No more guilt.  You Only Live Once.
  • Mealtimes are rest times – no emails/phone calls during mealtimes.  It seems like ages but I always try to give myself an hour for each meal – it spreads the day out and gives time to prepare something vaguely healthy.
  • All hail wondrous coffee – there’s nothing like it to regain focus if you’re flagging mid-afternoon – or just struggling to wake up mid-morning.  I bought my first coffee machine a few weeks ago and have been more or less wired ever since.

So there we have it – freelancers, how do you increase/maintain productivity?  Please share tips & tricks in the comments!  

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The show(s) must go on.

I am writing this from my home for the week in Newcastle.  This week I’m playing for the Newcastle Musical Theatre Company’s production of Sound of Music in Newcastle’s Theatre Royal.  The first performance is tonight, which is very exciting!  Here’s my harp in the pit:

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I left my pillar cover on just to be on the safe side… the ceiling is really low!  This is probably the easiest pit I’ve been in recently.  This month I’ve also been playing with the National Festival Orchestra for the International Gilbert & Sullivan Festival in Buxton Opera House, which is beautiful:

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The technical team in Buxton move harps all the time (or so they told me) and thought it best to lower my harp down into the pit from the stage.  Oh my.  It was crazy – but actually – if you have enough people helping it’s not too bad.  Here’s my view from the pit once I was in:

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I was there to play in Franz Lehar’s Merry Widow.  What a fun operetta!  It’s still going round in my head most of the time.  The performances were separated by a day, and instead of being able to leave my harp in the pit I had to heave it out to go up to Scarborough to take part in a concert organised by the lovely Christine Cox, playing alongside Simon Lindley, Keith Swallow and Phillip McCann.  It was lovely to do some solo performing:

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After Buxton, Merry Widow was also performed in Harrogate’s Royal Hall – the pit was even more tricky than Buxton!  The harp had to be lifted over a waist-level rail before being lowered into the pit – thankfully again I had loads of people helping me (by helping me I actually mean doing it all themselves while I try not to freak out too much).  And I couldn’t even leave the harp there because in between performances I had to drive up to Newcastle for the first Sound of Music bandcall!  Yes this week has been mental.  I enjoy playing for shows so much though it’s worth all the driving, no question.

So here I am, in Newcastle for the week.  I thought I was being sensible by buying lots of healthy food to cook for myself (I’m staying in university halls of residence) but I didn’t realise that the kitchen is devoid of any pans/pots/cutlery!  I think some band members are donating stuff to me for the week, but tonight I’m afraid I’m having garlic bread and pizza, shove in the oven and eat.  As simple as you can get!

So that pretty much brings us up to date.  As ever, thanks for reading!  Lots of exciting projects coming up in the near future!  I can’t wait to tell you all about them.

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Lovely CLOUDS review

As part of the CLOUDS tour that happened a few weeks ago, we did a concert in Eastgate Theatre in Peebles.  This concert received a wonderful review and we are all really proud.  I wanted to share this with you…

‘CLOUDS ARE STARS!

A feeling of expectation fills the darkened room, lit by tiny flickering candle flames. A young woman floats in, the candle in her cupped hands lighting the folds of her many coloured silks. She asks us to go with the stars to the furthest cosmos and, like a butterfly, flutters down behind one of four huge harps, where her fingers pluck out a tinkling ostinato. She is joined by three more beautiful silk butterflies and the four harps blend the magical sounds of ‘Interstellar Clouds’, transporting us all to stars beyond imagination.

It is two years since I heard a concert by Clouds Harp Quartet. Then their music delighted, intrigued and moved me. I looked forward to hearing more. The four harpists, Elfair Dyer, Rebecca Mills, Esther Swift and Angelina Warburton, have grown up and developed with their music. They have been together for four years and have built a strong ensemble in which the chemistry between then is almost visible. They give more than a concert. It is a complete performance, the music enhanced by subtle lighting, costumes, props and seamless introductions with charm to draw us into the magical musical world of Clouds. These four lovely girls still look absurdly young, which belies their assured adult musicianship – for it is not simple music that they play.

Peebles’ own Esther Swift has composed much of the music, which makes use of the many voices of the concert harp – not all of them familiar or traditional. The extended technique uses plucking strings with fingers, finger tips or nails; glissandos; harmonics; sliding and striking the strings; tapping or banging the soundboard; even slipping card or metal inserts behind the strings. One harp creeps in with an insistent ostinato, which grows until all four harps play as one, the give and take of rhythm building sound and mood. The regularity of the ostinato lulls us into a false sense of security to be shattered by a sudden intense volume of sound – hands urgently slapping strings and soundboard. It is exciting, strong and dramatic. Esther’s music is not just pretty tinkling harp strings – from tiny, almost inaudible
sounds to huge crescendos; lilting folky rhythms to jagged syncopation – she makes the 188 harp strings speak and sing… 

‘Interstellar Clouds’ was composed by Esther and it was excellent to have another chance to hear her ‘Clouds’ inspired by a walk up the Sware and her father’s poem about the clouds.

And whose mother would not be delighted with a Mothers’ Day gift of an original composition – a song for voice and harp?  Deeply moving.

The main work performed was Esther’s latest composition ‘Water’, which took us from
the single raindrop that starts a river, through a delicate snowstorm to the ocean. From the rippling burn to the strong river currents the music really sounded wet, climaxing in the strong and aggressive pull of the moon on the high tide.  Finally, as earth and water come together, all four players left their harps to sing softly in harmony close to their rapt audience. It was an unforgettable musical journey full of colour, drama and mood swings.

Throughout the concert we shared the fun and joy that the players obviously get from their wonderful instruments. A quartet of concert harps is unusual (and must be a logistical challenge!) but this girl band really is something special, as many will discover on this tour.’

Claire Garnett – thank you so much for this wonderful review!

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CLOUDS and beyond

So I ended the previous post saying I was going to be driving up to Edinburgh after the final Les Mis show a week last Saturday.  What I hadn’t bargained on was the weather.  After glorious sunshine for what felt like ages, that Saturday afternoon the rain started.  While packing for the CLOUDS tour I even wondered if I should bother packing jeans or just stick to summer dresses as I had been doing.  So glad I packed jeans!

Elfair and I left Runcorn at around 11pm for Edinburgh.  The rain was constant and very heavy – we arrived sometime around 5.30am.  I have little memory of actually arriving, the concentration required for driving in the pouring rain had completely drained me.  But we had a sleep in the following day to recharge our batteries.  That evening we had a concert in Canongate Kirk in Edinburgh.  

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It was such a beautiful space, really blue!  They keep the front pew roped off as that’s where the Queen sits when she visits (sadly she decided not to attend our concert).  The following lunchtime we played in Edinburgh’s St. Giles Cathedral.  We love playing here, there were so many tourists coming in and out all the time but lots of them sat down to listen to us (we also sold lots of CDs!)

After St. Giles it was time to drive down to Peebles in the Scottish Borders for an evening concert the following day at the Eastgate Theatre.  It was here that we had the idea to start the concert in complete darkness.  We go to the harps and start playing one by one, each holding a candle.  Our first piece is entitled ‘Interstellar Cloud’ so the candles look like twinkling stars as we play.   It’s also the bonus track on our new CD – WATER which can be purchased here  http://www.cloudsandharps.bigcartel.com/product/water

Here we are at Eastgate:

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We had lots of people commenting on our dresses, Rebecca (on the left in the photo) actually got these for us while working on the Queen Elizabeth cruiseship.  Two are from Costa Rica, one is from Malaysia and the other is from Mexico!  We loved how coordinated they are while still being individual.

After Peebles it was time to head down to Newcastle for a Wednesday evening concert in Trinity Church – another beautiful venue, followed by a Thursday lunchtime concert in Brunswick Church right in the city centre.

The rest of the day was spent driving down to Mynytho in North Wales.  I adore this area and luckily the weather was fabulous when we were there – there was even chance to paddle in the sea in Abersoch!

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We had an evening concert on Friday in Pwllheli (a concert that included lots of delicious cake in the interval!) followed by an afternoon concert on the Saturday in Llanbedrog at the Art Gallery.  This was a really special concert as we played outside in their little amphitheatre!  I’m sure you can imagine that the value of our harps means that conditions have to be perfect, but on that day we had the chance to play CLOUDS under the clouds!

On the Sunday we all went our separate ways, I headed back to Manchester, Esther set off for London, Elfair went to compete in the Eisteddfod and Rebecca went to support – Elfair actually won the Blue Riband so a huge well done to her for that!  What a way to end the week.

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So it’s been nearly a week since the tour ended and it’s back to reality – this is the first ‘free’ week I’ve had since I left Long Tall Sally.  There’s still lots to keep me busy though!  It’s amazing to not have to set an alarm for the morning, but it is rather alarming that my body wants to sleep until 11am some days!  Need to get some sort of schedule going – maybe next week!

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CLOUDS, Les Mis and Summer

Summer 2013 is turning out to be very busy indeed!

Last week was the first leg of the CLOUDS Harp Quartet tour.  We did five concerts in and around Manchester and had a great time, rehearsals were at my flat, rather interesting fitting four pedal harps into an average-sized lounge:

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The tour is to promote our new CD entitled WATER:

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We are all so excited about this new piece.  It’s written by Esther Swift – but I use the term loosely – nothing is physically written down.  Esther composes the piece, then teaches it to us aurally and by demonstration.  When we first started playing together about four years ago I’d never done anything like it, but now I love it.  The music is so free because we aren’t bound by sheets of music, we have to communicate a lot during our performances and I think it makes us much tighter as a group.

*At this point I’d just like to say anyone wishing to purchase WATER can do so by clicking here http://www.cloudsandharps.bigcartel.com/product/water *

Also, here are the dates for our 2013 tour – catch us in Edinburgh, Peebles, Newcastle or North Wales:

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On the first day of rehearsals with CLOUDS, my new lever harp arrived!  I’ve hired one for the year, and it arrived like this:

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It’s a Dusty Strings Ravenna 34 and so far I’m really happy with it – I even went busking earlier this week!  I hadn’t really realised how heavy these things are, yes it’s easier than a pedal harp but too much walking around with this on my shoulder results in a lot of pain.  Definitely an interesting experience though.

So this week I’m playing for Les Miserables over in Runcorn.  Same company that I played for when they did Phantom of the Opera last year.  It’s a group of 16-19 year olds and it’s in The Brindley in Runcorn.  I do love playing for shows and I’m lucky enough to be doing three this Summer, this one is a bit different though because I’m playing from the guitar part.  Shaun Chambers, the conductor, thought (quite rightly) that some of the melody parts would sound really good on the harp – however, it also means I have to play from guitar notation eek!  It has been so good for me though, playing from chord symbols – a bit time consuming to mark up in terms of pedals but once you get used to it it’s nice having the flexibility to slightly change what you play each time.  Usually playing harp for a show you can expect to be in five or six numbers.  I’m playing ALL THE TIME – it’s great!  Although it doesn’t leave enough time to eat my minstrels during the show.  I made friends with the brass players during the interval last night over chocolates and warm lager.  Classy.

The final show is this Saturday evening, after which I am driving straight up to Edinburgh to start the second part of the CLOUDS tour.  Someone remind me how I ever managed to fit in a day job?!

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Both sides of the coin.

Well again it’s been too long since I’ve posted, but I can promise that from now I’ll be blogging much more regularly because…

I QUIT MY JOB!

That’s right, I’m giving up regular income and easy work to become essentially a wandering minstrel.

I have three shifts left – I actually cried when I handed my notice in, but I know it’s for the best.  Saturday is my last one, it’s going to be weird.  Long Tall Sally has taken up so much of the last 6 months it’ll be very strange having time to do other things.

The fact is, it is too hard to fit my musical life into 3 days a week.  I’ve tried, and I can’t do it.  Yes I can do my Saturday gigs but I never have time to practice (I actually miss practice – what’s happened to me?!)  My flat is always a mess because I never have time nor energy to clean and tidy, my repertoire is dwindling as I don’t have time to learn new pieces and I’m way behind on general life admin (sorry to my parents who still have my deceased car on the driveway seven months after I get a new one!)

Yes, the income was OK, the girls I work with are lovely and I feel very lucky in that respect.  But, I didn’t study for four years for a music degree and undertake years of practice and hard work just to spend my days manning a shop floor for minimum wage.  

So here’s the plan: 

1. Summer is pretty booked up with gigs so income should be ok for a while.

2. Hire a lever harp and try busking to see if it’s a realistic source of extra income.  If it does turn out to be good money, try lots of different cities/save up to purchase the harp.  Maybe even drive to France and do some busking on the continent?!

3. Keep any spending to a MINIMUM – essentials only – bye bye gym membership, clothes from Primark and food from Aldi – get a cheaper sim-only contract when my current contract runs out AND my car insurance should be a lot cheaper when I renew.

4. Write to all the cruise companies I can google and try to drum up some work.

5. Chop up credit card (I actually already did this)

So I named this post ‘both sides of the coin’.  Before I got my job at LTS, I needed income – desperately.  When I got the job, I realised I’d actually given up the freedom that comes with being freelance – and the price I had put on my freedom was a little over £6 an hour.  I can now see that having the ability to work for myself and to rely only upon myself is worth so much more than that.  Yes it’s risky and scary, but I remember at RNCM in one harp class with our teacher – Eira – we discussed the poem by William Arthur Ward ‘To Risk’ and in particular the line the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.  I simply have to be free to sort my own schedule, to come and go as I please and not have to ask anyone’s permission before taking on work that is good for my career.

But, I honestly think, having seen and experienced a ‘normal job’ for the past six months, I am more motivated than ever to take my music career as far as I possibly can.  This has been a real wake up call and shown me that it is my passion – and the only thing I can really see myself being happy spending my life doing.

To Risk by William Arthur Ward

To laugh is to risk appearing a fool,

To weep is to risk appearing sentimental.

To reach out to another is to risk involvement,

To expose feelings is to risk exposing your true self.

To place your ideas and dreams before a crowd is to risk their loss.

To love is to risk not being loved in return,

To live is to risk dying,

To hope is to risk despair,

To try is to risk failure.

But risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.

The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing.

He may avoid suffering and sorrow,

But he cannot learn, feel, change, grow or live.

Chained by his servitude he is a slave who has forfeited all freedom.

Only a person who risks is free.

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