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 other things.... I am a professional musician, business woman, mother of two amazing children and soon-to-be wife; not always in that order, depending on what happens to take priority at the time. 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'm always open and try to be myself, expressive, caring and reflective, and 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. At the age of 40 (yes, 40!) I was given the opportunity to learn the harp and I grabbed it with both hands! 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 fabulous 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 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 https://www.vicarageboutiquehotel.co.uk/ began; they loved my music which fitted perfectly with their venue and I have gone on to play at many weddings here. 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 with the death of my father at the age 13, I finally 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 greater 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.
Now living back in my hometown of Nottingham, the biggest focus in my life these days is my children. Although now being 12 and 9, 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 fantastically gifted musicians already, playing two 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!
Later this year I will be getting married myself. Although second time around for me, it by no means lessens the importance or the emotions surrounding our big day, in fact it is heightened to a new level this time, and also gives me an even greater understanding of what the couples I'm working with to create their special day are experiencing. In my case though, I don't need to research or go to wedding fairs, I already know my favourite suppliers! For me it isn't about following the latest trends, it's about people and making memories. My family, friends, students, colleagues, fellow suppliers, etc. are all linked to me and are part of my life. Friends become customers, students and colleagues become friends, families extend and music is my life....
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