Brit Idol

Today, I had an audition for ‘Brit Idol 2012’ – a nationwide talent show with a prize of £1000 plus performance opportunities.  I came across the competition through starnow.co.uk.

As I live in Manchester, which is quite a large city, I was expecting the audition to be packed.  I was also expecting to be sitting around for hours.  So I took a new book with me, Stephen King’s The Stand, I’ve only just started it but I can tell I’m going to enjoy it.

So anyway I turn up at the Zion Arts Centre and the place is … well … pretty much deserted.  Eventually a man comes out with a clipboard and calls a register.  His register is only about a dozen names but half of those hadn’t turned up – luckily there was a friend of mine from RNCM also auditioning so we could sit and chat while we waited for our 5 minute audition.

I had arrived at 11.45am, by the time they start taking people in for auditions it was already 1.15 and I’d had to sneak out to buy a sandwich.  They didn’t call me in until 3.55pm!  I went in and did my thing (will post a video as soon as I work out how to transfer it from my phone to the internet).  The judges were a singer, a cellist and a pianist, and the only piece of constructive advice they gave me?

Smile more.

I waited around for FOUR HOURS and you are telling me to ‘smile more’ ? ? !

I could not believe what I was hearing, the piece I chose was jazzy and light-hearted, but what do they want me to do – grin like the cheshire cat because I’m playing happy music?  So frustrating…

So I’m just going to chalk it up to a learning experience – still can’t believe I paid £10 and waited all afternoon to be told that I look too intense when I play.

Nevertheless, onwards and upwards as usual.  I’m going to a friend’s house for dinner tonight so I can forget about this waste of a day…

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The Harp

 

The harp that I play is a Lyon & Healy Style 30 – Natural finish.

Here it is pictured at a gig I was doing this New Year in Sheffield.  I adore this harp, I have had it for nearly two years now.  It has 47 strings and 7 pedals, and weighs around 36kg.

To transport it I have a large estate car with the back seats almost permanently laid flat.  So to wheel it around I need a trolley – and stairs present quite an issue, especially if there are a lot of them!

I quite often need to ask people for help while moving the harp, which is not always such a bad thing, it’s a good ice-breaker and a way of meeting someone new (it also makes sense to ask the man who looks like he’s the strongest/fittest to help me, I don’t mind that so much – for obvious reasons!)

Maybe this is part of the reason harpists have a reputation for being divas.  If you ask us to play on an upper floor and there is no lift, we will be annoyed, likewise if we are asked to play outside, next to a radiator or a fire, or anywhere that is freezing or too warm.  It’s bad for the harp!

The question I’m most often asked when I’m out and about with my harp is, ‘how much does it cost?’ to which I usually reply ‘it’s not for sale’.  But if you are looking for a harp like this, you’re looking at the £18,000 area.  People say to me ‘why don’t you sell it and buy an amazing car/holiday/deposit on a flat/whatever’.  That is to me like saying ‘why don’t you sell your left leg?’  Well, yes I could live without it if I had to.  But why would I want to?

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a little about me

I am a 23 year old harpist, living and working in Manchester.  I am writing this blog to document my adventures in the world of the music business.

There are many areas of my life that will be included in this blog – as a freelance musician you have to wear several different hats, each hopefully contributing to either your development or your bank balance (ideally both).

I wear lots of hats right now, including:

  • concert harpist
  • orchestral musician
  • harp teacher
  • chamber musician
  • wedding harpist
  • self-publicist
  • business woman
  • bar staff
  • waitress

Having just graduated last year this is my first year being ‘out in the big wide world’ and it is scary.  I am on my own and responsible for my own success or demise.  My parents – who have always shown their support in every way and I will be eternally grateful for all their continued support and help – have re-assigned my bedroom into a lounge.  So giving up and moving home is not an option.

This is it.  Sink or Swim.

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Hi there,

So, this is my first post here.  Still working out how this site works.

The title of this blog is slightly tongue-in-cheek.  ‘Living The Dream’ is the name for what we recent graduates of music college do for a living.  But this living the dream is likely to be very different from anyone else’s living the dream.

For a musician at the start of his/her career, living the dream frequently means doing as many gigs as possible, trying desperately to pay the rent and to still have enough money left over for food, staying on the computer for hours emailing everyone and applying for a million different things related to gigs or potential gigs, chasing up fees that no one wants to pay, all the while trying to find the time to practice and have a life at the same time.

Dream or Nightmare?

With that in mind, the aim of this blog is to follow my personal experiences in this crazy world, trying to forge a career in a difficult but challenging field.  Where will I end up?  Who knows.

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