Hi, and welcome to my first ever blog! I love writing almost as much as music, so I'm not sure why it has taken so long to get around to writing this, but I suppose I've been busy with life.... I am a professional musician, which includes performing, teaching and composing, as well as being mum of two. I love to be different, which is why I love the harp, and my personal aims are; to inspire and empower others, contribute to society and evoke emotions, mainly through my music, but via any means I can. I decided to be very personal and open about my life in my debut blog as that's what I am about anyway, I try to be myself and I would describe my best qualities as being expressive, caring and reflective. Hopefully this read will give you an insight into the woman behind the harp and the business, Nottinghamshire Harpist!
I began learning music at a very young age and come from an extremely musical family on both sides - my dad even named me 'Carmen' after the Opera so it was hardly surprising that my ambition at primary school was to be a concert pianist! I have learned several instruments including the piano, harp, oboe, clarinet and voice and I've spent many years teaching both piano and voice in a variety of educational settings as well as privately. Whilst working as an instrumental teacher, I was offered the amazing opportunity to learn the harp, and I grabbed it with both hands - literally! Because of my skills on the piano I progressed extremely rapidly, I passed grade 5 in just a year and then bought my beautiful, Italian, Salvi pedal harp. At the time I was working in a lovely church in Mansfield as Director of Junior Music, and members of the congregation became interested in what I was playing on the harp, I then began to get asked to play at weddings. I loved doing this so much that I decided to venture further afield and approached a couple of local wedding venues. This was when my relationship with the wonderful Old Vicarage began; they loved my music which fitted perfectly with their venue and I have gone on to play at many weddings there. I now play across the Nottinghamshire area and beyond, however it will always remain one of my favourite venues to play at, and I will always be grateful for their continuing support in my work as a musician as I watch them too grow and strive for perfection.
I haven't always been a musician and I haven't always had the amazing opportunities I have now with my work. I was bullied at school which I found very difficult to cope with as I was yet to embrace my 'differentness' from others. I tried hard to fit in but it became impossible for me, and after the death of my father at the age 13, I came off the rails. My troubled teenage years led to many problems and I had a break from my music. I still suffer with confidence issues that relate back to this period, but the harp and music gives me a very positive focus and I love that the instrument (rather than me) always takes centre stage. I find that I can express myself through my music, and I am sure that my former difficulties have contributed towards a level of expression and emotion that helps me to create something unique in my performances.
During my break from music I trained and qualified as a hairdresser in Nottingham's trendy Hockley area, these were wonderful years of fun, friendship, fashion and hard work. This experience gave me excellent training in how to talk to people and make them feel good about themselves, as well as the importance of great customer service! It also funded me through my university degree when I decided to go back to my musical studies, as well as my relocation to London to do my Master of Music degree.
After finishing my degree in London I set up as a freelance music composer and was thrust into the extremely competitive and male dominated music industry. The Soho scene wasn't really my style, and I preferred a less pressurised environment, although I did the love the buzz of London life, and feeling of individual freedom of expression that came with it. Despite not enjoying the cut-throat nature of the music business, it toughened me up very quickly; I composed and made contacts by day and taught music in the evenings and weekends to supplement my income. However, my natural nurturing nature led to success with my teaching practice, and before I knew it I had 50+ students....something had to give, so I decided to put my energy into teaching which I still love doing today. I still enjoy writing music and I've had lots of pieces used on various TV programmes, and it's this particular skill that helps me to create the wonderful arrangements I use for harp now. I'm really able to arrange any piece for harp which is very helpful indeed as I get asked to play lots of requests for weddings.
Since living back in my hometown of Nottingham, the biggest focus in my life has been my children. Although now being 15 and 12, they still seem to take up every waking minute of my thoughts (and sometimes even my non-waking minutes). I am completely committed to passing on the gift of music, and they are both accomplished musicians already, playing three instruments each. I feel we are incredibly lucky to live in a household where music is so intrinsic, and whether they become professional musicians or not, they already have the skills to enjoy music making and playing their instruments. Having a 6' 1" harp being played in their living room is really no big deal to them, and my son can often be heard humming wedding classics around the house!
More recently I have delved back into the world of composing, this time supporting producers with the classical and instrumental elements they need in their tracks. I've found this to be very rewarding and have enjoyed working with others, and hearing my music played in a completely different context. I've also been writing songs which I find to be the ultimate tool of personal expression, and an extremely important one.
With the pandemic crisis still keeping the world in turmoil, who knows what the future will hold, but thankfully I will always have my music to help me through.
Thank you for reading, if I have helped or inspired even just one person from reading my story then I shall be very happy. All the very best, Louise x