I missed a gig last Friday and just spent an hour crying under my piano.

being a 24 year old free-lance musician is tough. At any age I’m sure it’s difficult, but especially when you’re just starting out and expecting the world.

It’s tough, it’s lonely, it’s boring and you get very complacent and angry. But you can’t really do any other job, anything else would seem like a waste of your talents, but more importantly, your time.

I have nothing happening next month.

During the lusty month of May I have no bookings… and it’s May.. and I’m a harpist, and it’s wedding season. I know that when we get into May I will get bookings and work will come (it’s the same as every month) but I’ve been doing this dance for almost 4 years now and I’m still not used to it.

Back when I was first starting out it was fine, I was playing it by ear, I had just let uni and busking on the street seemed way better than getting a minimum wage job in a coffee shop somewhere. It still is, and I would hate to have to do any kind of non-musical job, I don’t think I would survive. When I first left uni I got my residency, I had a little bit of stability and at the very least, I had work every weekend. Now I’m lucky if I have a Saturday gig. Sure, even when I don’t have a gig I only have to busk 3 days to meet my targets, but it’s the infrequency and the insecurity that I wish someone had told me about when I was starting out.

The one thing I wish someone had said to me was:

‘You will have to pay your rent with money you don’t yet have’

You don’t have that money yet. It’s not like an office job where you’ll get X amount of money every month, you will struggle and you will do really well and that’s fine! That’s the job! I just wish someone had said, ‘At some point you will panic about everything and just need to lay down on the floor on your office just because you feel too overwhelmed with your chosen career path’. I hope that if you are a young musician starting out and looking for tips you realise this is reality. unless you luck into a great gig or regular work, your life will be this.

I missed a gig.

I only realised it today, but last Friday I missed playing an event. or did I? I could argue that firstly, they only sent 2 emails, one of which was enquiring, the follow up telling me about a change of venue. And secondly, that they never actually confirmed payment, or even sent a ‘Great see you there’ email to reply.

So, it was a retirement event for a lecturer at Cardiff met uni, held at Cardiff university. Now, usually with booking through a university or a college, they take an invoice so they can pay me. This woman didn’t do that, or confirm that the quote I sent her was what she was willing to pay.

So the initial email was sent on the 6th, to which I replied to that day. She then replied on the 11th to tell me the date change. It was clear and there was a question in it, to confirm that times. I then replied but for some reason I didn’t put it in the diary… and so I didn’t remember it was happening and I didn’t do it!

This is the first time that this has ever happened… and I just panicked. What if I’ve done this with other events and not realised? what if I’ve missed loads of events that I’ve just completely forgotten about?!?! This is my constant waking nightmare that I have to live with. I already have horrible anxiety when driving to events, ‘What if I’ve got the wrong venue/date/time/my car runs out of gas/my tyres burst and I’m late and I don’t get paid and I have to refund these people and they write a bad yelp review and I never work again?!?!?!?!’ So, naturally this sent me well over the edge when I realised that I’d completely missed this without so much of a thought. And therefore, I did what any rational adult would do and got underneath my upright piano, got in the fetal position and started crying about how writing things in my dairy and going to gigs is literally most of what my job is and how if I’ve managed to fail at this then I’ve obviously failed at my job and should give up and get a boring office job with the same repetitive hours so I couldn’t screw that up.

No, it’s fine. You’re ok. One of the main reasons I completely forgot about this event is because I had a wedding on Sunday with a little bit of a nervous bride who phoned me practically every three days before the wedding. So I naturally must have been distracted from checking this email, maybe calling her office and confirming the booking.

4 emails is usually what it takes to confirm a booking, at the very minimum. If it’s someone I’ve worked for before then it’s only 2 ‘Can you do this date, time?’ ‘Yes, I’ll see you there’, that’s when I’ve worked at the venue and there isn’t any issue with the system of payment. So, there is a number of reasons why I missed this one. We’re human, we make mistakes, the point is not to beat yourself up about it, take a deep breath and try to make sure that you do better in the future. and exhale.

 

Next month, ‘You have to make your own work’

 

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New Harp, Who Dis?

Written on 22nd April 2017.DSC_0014.JPG

I know this is long over due, but I got a new harp! and I LOVE IT!!!!

So today’s blog is about my brand new pedal harp, why I upgraded, and all my harp plans for the future! So, here we go!

My new harp is an Aoyama Orpheus 46, we got it second hand from Pilgrim harps, my parents gave me the money and I have to pay them back. I was going to get a loan for a pedal harp but my parents were willing to lend me the money so that was wonderful and meant I could get an instrument that was really great! I will be forever grateful for this!

Why I upgraded.

A couple of months ago I went to the Camac harp weekend here in Cardiff, It was wonderful and I played every single harp they had on display!

and as I worked my way round I got to the pedal harps and I just loved it! playing their pedal harps it was the sound that I always imagine my korrigan sounds like. When I was at the Hilton I used to pretend that it was a big concert grand… even though it doesn’t sounds like anywhere near to an actual concert grand.

So, I was playing all these gorgeous pedal harps and I went to all these workshops with all these other harpists with big real harps and I just felt like ‘I could do that…. but better!’. And honestly, humblebrag, but 2 weeks in and I kinda am…. so humble! I know!

So we started looking for pedal harps more seriously, I had been looking at pedal harps for about 4 years at this point. So I knew the market and what I was looking for etc. We tried a little Salvi Daphne 40 that had a great sound but the owner thought he had something far more valuable than what he actually had. I saw a great Erard on the Pilgrims website. (Brief plug, if you’re looking for a great second hand harp I would always look at their website! It’s great! Their website!)

So we went to look at a Dodd and an Erard their and they also had this Aoyama. We got to look around the workshop, which was great. And play their very expensive harps! I started playing the Dodd and the Erard and they weren’t what I was looking for. As someone who plays a lot of Jazz and needs some Pedals that will really take a beating over the years, these older harps weren’t going to be up to scratch. So, I played the Aoyama, it was perfect. A little big for me, which was something I considered when buying a harp I will be gigging with. But it’s still pretty portable and should be wonderful when I finally get it out and about!

We then spent about 4 hours in traffic trying to get home!

Today's tip: new harp who dis?

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And of course I had a play when I got home! (I didn’t bring my trolley so we dragged it up to the patio at my parents house so I could have a play!)

The Gag. It didn’t fit my car…. so I’m swapping cars with my parents so that I can actually take my harp places. My mother is really worried about me getting my harp into a car singlehandedly. So here is a video of an older shorter harpist getting her harp into a car.

I’ll be fine! (She had to get it over that curb!)

Might make one of these though! Looks practical!

Anyway, The FUTURE!

 

What’s Harpening Next?

So, I’m transitioning all my material to my pedal harp… which in reality took less than a week… guys… not wanting to brag… buuuutt. I’m amazing at pedal harp!

Today's tip: find something that sounds as good as it looks.

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This was day one. (DAY ONE! let that sink in) #Prodigy

And this is 11 days later….

Guys! I’m amazing!!!! I just gotta wait until I have a car that’ll let me take it places and you better watch out!!!

Back to the point.

So, apart from being insanely good at it, one of the main reasons I upgraded was for that sweet sweet pedal harp money. Because if you have an expensive, 6foot instrument that sounds as good as it looks, then you can charge accordingly. And I will.

The other reason is the rep I can now do! I CAN DO KEY CHANGES! There is literally nothing stopping now… except that I can’t take it anywhere yet… but that will soon change! So look out other harpists, I’m coming to snatch your giiiigs!

 

They don’t have gifs for harpists snatching gigs….. so… sorry…

Anyway, the plan is to keep my Korrigan for smaller weddings and for people who want that traditional look. Also, for venues that don’t have step-free access. (Looking at you Angel Hotel Cardiff… full side eye to your crazy car park access… get it together! I did yell at them last time… I will do a full post about step-free access)

Anyway, so this wonderful new harp will be my trusty harp for the foreseeable future, or 15-20 years until I buy something new that will suit exactly what I’m doing at the time. If I’m selling out festivals and concert halls and still playing on my Aoyama, then I might buy something more impressive. If I’m still playing gigs and weddings then I might get something super portable, smaller and even more light weight.

Lever Dreams

So, I’m still going to be playing lever harp every week as I still have to busk, because I gotta pay for this big harp somehow! (seriously, I have to pay my parents back for the big harp)

I have been toying with the idea of getting a DHC for busking and concerts that an electric harp would work wonders at. I think a DHC would be a wonderful addition and would work so well with my repertoire. However, I don’t think it would actually recoup it’s investment. The Pedal harp will pay for itself in three years. my Busking harp paid for itself within the first two months. The Korrigan within the first three months. I don’t think the DHC would make it’s £5,000 price tag back within the first three to five years. Which is the general time scale I set for harps.

So that’s it!

Pricing Gigs (or) I Don’t Understand.

General Warning: If you don’t want to know vague financial details about my life and work then please don’t read this and continue to believe I am a poor struggling artist who magically pays her mortgage through song and hope…

 

 

 

I just got back from playing at a restaurant. This is a nice restaurant that I like performing at however they do things a little differently and I, honestly for the life of me, can not figure out the correlation between what they are paying me and the duration of time I am playing for.

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My Prices

N.B. This is only 2017 specific prices. my prices will probably change every year like a normal business.

What I am paid for any event is not decided by me. Sure, I have a set ‘price’ for an event, but what I am actually paid is 100% dependent on the budget for the event.

When I get an email from a client with an event that is up to 2 hours (again this is wedding excluding), I will quote them a price depending on their budget. For any event from 0-2 hours I charge between £175-£250. This is a huge gap in prices but I have a starting price and then I’m happy to negotiate down to my bottom before saying ‘no’. My logic though is this, If it is not a charity event anything under £150 is not a gig I should be at for more than an hour. Quick gigs that are only an hour are fully negotiable because they are short and there is so little chance of me having to wait around! However, if I am doing a wedding and they don’t want to pay me at least £175 for a drinks reception a child will 1) Run head-first into the pillar of my harp (this has happened twice at two different weddings) and 2) A Child will slap the pillar of my harp. (this has happened at three different weddings). So if I am asked to do an event in a decent location for less than this amount of money I will not do it for the sake of my livelihood (my harp.. duh) and also because I can’t afford to waste ‘prime time’ (Wedding season, i.e. a Saturday afternoon in August) where I can find another wedding that will pay me a liveable amount!

I know, I know. ‘Sam… stop complaining about how much you charge/earn… it’s so gauche! aren’t you meant to be a classy musician who doesn’t talk about money, like you were taught to in University?’ (literally, this was something I was “taught” in uni…. more on that at another time). I know, it sounds snobby and trite, but if I don’t talk about it then no one will! LITERALLY NO ONE!!! and then young musicians are just gunna leave music college/uni and have NO IDEA what they need to charge… which is exactly what happened to ME and why I once did a wedding ceremony for £50…………….. yeah…and the bride even had a meeting with me to discuss music…

To enlighten you, here is my ‘Annual Budget Guide’ on how much everything roughly costs me and how much I need to make a week in order to pay for all of these things. Granted I usually aim for £250 a week so typically earn more by default. but this is the bare minimum of what I need to earn in order to keep living. (and I know my website is crazy expensive and I forgot to put my harp insurance on there!)

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This is how I got my £175-£250. I don’t like charging over £250 for a two hours event unless it’s a large business that has the money for it!

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HOWEVER, back to my point, I have been booked in to play at this restaurant twice before and instead of giving me exact start and finish times, like you would for an event. They divide it up into ‘sets’… two 40minute sets is £100 usually, which kind of makes sense, you do a 40 minute set, you take 5-10 minutes to go to the loo and refill your water, and do your second 40 minute set. Usually, if I play a dinner, I will just play for the whole dinner and take quick stretching breaks during, because I know my body and what it’s comfortable doing and how long it’s comfortable playing for.

Today they had me in a 6pm to do three 30 minute sets… I was puzzled by the exact length of time they wanted me to play as they were staggering their guests so that they could seat people in a calm fashion and I was playing at the bar so that they could sit guests down while they were waiting for their tables. Pretty smart. However, when I got there and asked about the sets and the time in-between the manager replied ‘oh you know…’ and gestured… That is not helpful… so I did my three 30 minute sets (I hope that’s a helpful way of writing that!) with five minute breaks in between because playing for 30 minutes for me is nothing… I play for 2 hours when I busk with little stretching breaks and tea breaks.

So I finished my sets and packed up, I handed the manager my invoice because they pay me in cash for some reason… and he looked surprised, he said ‘oh you did them back to back?’ I replied ‘I took like a five minute break between, you weren’t very specific’, he responded in his glib vague nature ‘oh well… you know… usually they… ummm… take about 20 minutes and have a drink… and… ummm… well…. you know…’. I don’t know. I don’t understand. For this gig (they made up the prices) they were paying me £200 for 3 30minute sets… was I being paid for waiting around? was I being paid for the sets… was I being paid for the entire time I was there? how long was I even supposed to be there?

I don’t understand.

They asked if I would do another half hour set (that’s probably a lot clearer I should’ve used that from the start), and I said, ‘sure, but I will bill you for it’ because, as we have learnt from previous experiences and previous blogs ‘THEY ARE NOT YOUR FRIEND!’ you aren’t ‘helping out’ I’m not gunna take a 20 minute break and start bussing tables… they aren’t a small independent popup that I frequent! I owe them nothing! THEY ASKED ME TO BE THERE!!!

Anyway, so I went and did another set (which involved unpacking all my harp stuff again and then packing it up once I was done…) and I said to the manager ‘Do you want me to write you a new invoice or do you want me to write the extra set on the invoice I’ve given you’ and he said handing me a roll of cash ‘oh… no, I’ve put an extra 20 in if that’s alright…’ I was confused by this and replied ‘well… 50 would have worked because it’s technically £66 a set…’ and then HE was confused…. what? what’s happening…

And then I realised, as I was getting my harp down a flight of stairs because their disabled lift doesn’t work… which just… ugh

Why….

Nevertheless, I realised, there is absolutely no correlation between what they are paying me and how long I am performing for/how long I am there for…. They, like me, plucked this ‘sets’ system out of mid-air and assigned numerical value to it, while at the same time getting a quote off me for my system without telling me about their system… so, here we find ourselves… I don’t understand….

Mainly, I don’t understand other ‘musicians’ who do gigs there… do they have time to just sit around for 20 minutes alone in a bar waiting in between sets? what? I get it, if the most expensive bit of a equitment was your PA system, but if you have a harp out you don’t wanna just leave that uncovered in the middle of a crowded bar… that’s lunacy! Also, had I known that they wanted me to sit around for 20 minutes between my ‘sets’ I would’ve brought a book…. my laptop… some work to do…Also, I could’ve given them a price based off what they expected from me and what I expected from the event. Either way, this is a classic case of grown ups not being direct and not frankly and clearly addressing the work they want and then being surprised when it doesn’t meet their expectations. I don’t understand how a place that has staff and clearly knows you have to be specific with timings was so unclear about this this time! Oh well! this explains why they were so surprised by my original price quote! I just don’t understand. I think that is all I can say at this point. I have literally no idea what they were paying me for

 

Nevermind! I’m back there again next month…. I think the important thing is that they are paying me!

I Thought Menopause would slow me down.

Like most women, when I got ‘the change’ I thought ‘well… there goes my social life. Now I’m gunna be one of those women you see in J crew adverts wearing stripped jumpers drinking tea with both hands looking out the window’. but honestly it hasn’t stopped me! and I show no signs of slowing down anytime soon!

It all started with my wonderful yoga class that I go to tuesday – fridays at 7am, it’s a great way to start the day, after that breakfast and then a quick wander of ‘the grounds’ (that’s a funny nickname for our garden) before heading out to work.

I’m so happy to report that the community garden is thriving and doing so wonderfully even given the weather we’ve had recently! yes, I’m on of those ladies who talks about the weather almost constantly!

 

Well, we’ve getting a great big bunch of people to help plant up more things there this weekend, then it’s off the work for this lucky lady!

Oh I tell ya, when I’m not playing my harp at fabulous venues, doing yoga or wandering aimlessly around my garden with a piping hot cup of earl grey tea, I like to just sit at my kitchen table and look out the window in a striped sweater drinking tea with two hands….. yes sir! Menopause hasn’t stopped me and it shouldn’t stop you either!

Gardening Update: Where do I start!?!?

Ok. So when we started the gardening year in March the garden looked like this

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After Months of hard gardening, last month it looked like this:

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And this month we took down that fence and helped/are currently helping our neighbours sort out their garden!

We get hours more morning light now so everything’s growing like mad!

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The Wildflower garden going WILD!DSC_0277

I got a veg patch!DSC_0278

All the roses are budding up again for a second bloomDSC_0279

Planty is doing very well!DSC_0280

 

So I also ‘rescued’ a new plant from a wedding gig recently!

Her name is maxine and she is a bay tree, when I got her (4 days ago) she was just a clump of dead leave

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 All sad and lip!
I of course can’t help but faff with things so she’s gradually going bald.
Here’s her the next day without all the dead leaves.
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Here is her today with a new pot! and even less leaves! but hey! the leaves she has are pointing right up instead of sad and to the ground!
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Unlike planty I think Maxine will take a little bit more time to bounce back after having a hard life. but it’s ok! she’s safe and happy and soon she will be growing and becoming the beautiful young plant god intended her to be!

 

Anyway, that’s what has been happening in my garden!

I <3 Office Drama.

I do. I really, really do!

 

The best thing about having friends with proper jobs is getting to live vicariously through their lives in offices! The people of the great indoors! They don’t have to worry about parking and stairs! They will have to carry some boxes one time and finding it the most challenging thing of their month! They get to sit down all day! They get, and this is my favourite bit, to work with other people, who they do not get on with!

Remember the movie ‘Castaway’, where Tom Hanks is trapped on a deserted Island and to keep his sanity has to draw a face on a volley ball and call him ‘Wilson’?

 

Yeah… that’s sort of what my home office is like…

Today's tip for musicians: go on holiday during January because there is no point suffering through it.

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Sure, it looks lovely, but I spend half the day talking loudly to myself, because there is no one else here! I will talk to most strangers on the street because I am so starved of social interaction that anything at this point is great! Siri is my best friend.

 

 

So, when I get to hear about other people’s lives, how they struggled with Janet in accounting, or how Craig from down the hall keeps humming while he boils the kettle, I am enthralled!

Reality television is for audiences who want to live vicariously through people who are in different circumstances and situations that they would maybe never be in. They will never be trapped in a military grade bunker with 14 other people, they will never be super-rich and eat avocados, they may never visit where ever the Jordie Shore is set! (is that even still on?). So people with office jobs is my version of reality TV, and I just lap it up! I love hearing about who’s the new hire! I love hearing about who’s used all the toner in the photocopier! I LOVE hearing about who didn’t wash up the communal mugs when they had a meeting with Robert from corporate! I LOVE IT!

I love it in the same way that people love playing violent video games, You love the idea of it but you would HATE to be in that position. Steeling a car? Easy on the telemabox (That’s a totally real gaming console), but steeling a car in real life? That’s illegal and you will get in a lot of trouble for it. So hearing about who Margaret down the hall nearly got fired for spending company gossip, from an exterior perspective: FASCINATING! but if I had to work with Margaret everyday: MY OWN PERSONAL HELLSCAPE!

In conclusion, I like hearing about office drama! It sustains me! well….. me and wilson Obviously, we both love hearing about it!

 

 

 

Gardening update: Drama, Destruction and Death!

I went on holiday and the boy we had staying here watering the plants left four days early! and those four days were the hottest of the year!

needless to say when came back the garden looked a little unkept:

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the main casualties were my hanging basket:

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And of course planty!

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my beautiful baby tree!

The wild flower garden we planted before we left is doing incredibly well and Sarah let me dig up a veg patch so I can grow even more fruit and veg!

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23rd June

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3rd July

here are some labeled pictures of everything we’re growing!

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We also have a pear tree now, and my hydrangea is doing brilliantly, as is the rose that we inherited from the previous owners.

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Planty bounced back!

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And we got a water butt! (mainly so we can make butt-jokes)

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But the most exciting bit of gardening that I’ve done recently is the gardening that’s not in my garden!

At the end of my street is a small space with three squares of ground where trees used to live.

they had trees there in 2008:

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(thanks google street view!)

and then in 2012 they were removed!

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and the end of my road became a fly tippers paradise!

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So when I was offered the chance to take care of a planter on the street I jumped at it! and in June we put a big planter there!

 

So when we put that in the council said ‘sure, you can dig up the other three squares’ and that’s what we did this weekend!!! (and I started a twitter… I’m too keen!)

So that’s it! Hopefully some lovely things will grow! but you’ll have to tune in next time to see!

Doing As Little ‘Work’ As Possible.

Like every normal human on the planet, I don’t want to have to work more than I have to. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job and the work I do is really fun, but I don’t want to have to work an excessive amount.

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In winter, specifically January and February, I have to busk around 3-4 times a week because I have no gigs, so by the time spring and summer comes around I don’t want to have to keep busking when I don’t have to. It makes no sense, why should I schlep my harp out 3 times a week when I’m already making my target amount? The truth is, I don’t have to! which is really nice and honestly I wish everyone could enjoy the freedom of only having to work three days a week, we would get so much done! (There are actual studies to show that a 3-4 day work week would be better for everyone).

 

Anyway, because my working hours are so different from that of someone with a ‘proper job’, I feel like there is a culture clash whenever I talk to someone who’s job doesn’t involve heavy lifting, paranoia about the weather and so on and so forth.

Are you Busy?

I get asked this a lot by people. ‘Busy’ is for people who are trying to do their tax returns, laundry and feed their child while also walking the dog. I am not ‘busy’, I will never describe my work week as ‘hectic’ unless I am lying in an email…. which I occasionally do, I’m not perfect, gang!

Because I will never have more than 1 thing to do a day, or in the most extreme circumstances, 4 things to do in one day and then nothing to do for the rest of the week. The idea of calling my work ‘busy’ makes no sense because If I wanted to I could wear my pyjamas for 3 days straight and not leave the house some weeks. So when I’m talking to the woman at my bank or someone asking about my work calling my work ‘busy’ seems like a complete lie… I’m never going to be ‘busy’ if I’m sat here talking to you. I will be ‘busy’ when I have to schedule in conversations. When someone on my staff says something like ‘you have 2 minutes and then you need to be in the car.’ THEN I will say ‘yeah, I’m pretty busy.’ I’m not that busy, I’m not running a country, I have time to spend 15-20 minutes picking out my clothes the night before. I’m not falling asleep trying to finish work and then waking up to get right back to it. I’m not busy. I’m just not.

But what’s the alternative?

For me, I’m never really gunna be busy, I will be ‘working’, if you work in entertainment, in any form, the best thing you can be doing is ‘working’. Because work is not a constant fixed position, it’s not a desk in an office building somewhere, your work is a performed action. Unlike an office job, you don’t get paid to be sat at a desk (unless you write books or have managed to find a way to get paid for writing a blog… if so, please tell me your secrets!) so when you are being paid to work that is the same as a person with a ‘proper job’ being ‘busy’.

For everyone else? Maybe lets just say ‘keepin busy’, I like that because it makes me think of retired octogenarians finding things to fill their time. Which sounds great doesn’t it? Your grandma ‘keepin busy’ is her going to see a castle with her friends, or replanting the hydrangea out in the garden, or going to the proms. It’s less about being constantly working and more about filling time.

I will never stop being amazed at people with office jobs who tell me they finished their work and then just did nothing for three hours until the working day was done. What?! If you have nothing to do, either go find something to do or leave! There’s no point in you being there! I think this is why I love my work so much, I am paid for every single little bit of work leading up to the event I play at, If you email me at 11pm on a Sunday and I reply immediately, guess what! That’s what you’re paying for. You want me to learn a piece? You’re paying for it too! If you thought, when you booked me for a wedding that you were only paying for me to turn up, I would be sight-reading your music!

I think this model of ‘Time+Work+Anything else=Total Sum’ works better than ‘Time=Money’, because you stop wasting time sat in offices doing nothing and get to go do stuff! Granted this is coming from someone who’s never had and (God willing) will never have an office job. Could you even imagine me in an office for more than 15 minutes?!?!? What would I even do? I have basically no other skills!*.

So, let stop asking if people are ‘busy’, because it’s not healthy to encourage that sort of work/life balance, and start asking specifics, or just how they’ve been ‘keepin busy’! You planted a community garden? GREAT! You did some fundraising for your favourite charity? Wonderful! You build your own dinning room table out of drift wood?! Amazing! I want to hear about that! I also want to hear about office drama because I will never have office drama (More on that next month). But, we should be trying to be more than just ‘busy’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

*No other high level skills that would make me ask qualified at a desk job as I am at playing the harp and singing. I have skills, don’t worry about that!

 

 

Reasons Why I Am Wonderful.

Last month’s blog post was sad and this one will be happy or whatever. Here’s a list of some reasons when I am wonderful.

  1. I can out-belt any other Cardiff busker
  2. because my voice is an unstoppable machine
  3. maybe I’m just too good for Music college? (maybe… who knows!)
  4. I’m pretty damn good at playing harp a lot of the time!
  5. I’m pretty damn good at singing too!
  6. I’m pretty. Damn that’s good.
  7. I’m getting really good at playing piano! which is nice!
  8. I can make an ok cappuccino!
  9. I’m alright at Yoga… though it’s not really a competition…
  10. I could probably yodel if I put my mind too it!
  11. all the furniture I’ve built is still standing!
  12. I’m pretty happy with my sense of interior design…
  13. my office is pretty tidy most of the time.
  14. I am alright with a camera!
  15. I’m not too bad at recording either!
  16. I’m doing ok!
  17. I’m getting more projects in this year!
  18. I can afford to do more fun personal passions rather than having to do things specifically for work!
  19. I’m pretty happy with the way I look, for the most part.
  20. I’m slowly getting better at feeding myself.

 

And That is a small list of things, I’m good/wonderful at.

What is Love? Why Can I Never Get to Sleep at Night? and Will I ever lose that weight? Or ‘Questions and Answers’.

I don’t really know what I’m talking about this month so I thought instead of writing anything about my job or harps, or gardening or owning a house or any of my other (there are none) hobbies (or which, again, there are none). I thought I would share with you some of the questions I have when I’m lying in bed at night as a scared, frustrated and worried little 24 year old free-lance musician.

They are not nice thoughts, so if you want to continue feeling good I suggest you skip this blog and read next month’s entitled ‘How Ole Sammie Got Her Groove Back’ or something.

 

1) Am I progressing or am I in exactly the same place I started?

This one is a tricky one because as a musician, you’re accomplishments are basically completely intangible. You can make recordings and videos etc but the main brunt of your work is simply ‘improving as a musician and performer’ which are not tangible things. If you worked in an office, a clear sign you were doing well would be that your pay would go up and you would also get promotions and move in the company. However, there are so many ups and downs as a Musician (and even just a free-lancer) that it’s actually tricky to tell if you’re doing better or worse. One year you may have a full-time residency, then you lose your residency but still, somehow end up earning more and working less than when you had it! Similarly, you may never do concerts anymore but you may be a lot better at performing than you used to be. So, as long as you are growing and developing, the answer is always ‘yes’. Even if you’ve had no solid work and feel like you’re stuck and never getting out, you’re doing better.

2) Why haven’t I found my audience yet?

I genuinely don’t have a good answer to this, I have a condescending mean-spirited answer towards myself, which is always ‘BECAUSE YOU NEVER GET OUT THERE AND DO THINGS?!!?!?’ but then I remember that I busk like 3 times a week and that’s not really a good enough reason. It takes time… I’m making music not memes!

3) Where did all my money go?

This one I ask myself every.damn.year. and between paying for all the expenses of life, and what I can actually afford to save, there is not much left over. Also, being a small business, turning an actual profit is tricky and you will spend the first few years just trying to keep going! (Also, it helps if people pay you promptly! I can not stress this enough! If clients sent me a payment the day of the event I would never worry about this at all! and in fact, during my residency the fact that at times the hilton would owe me £800 would come as a complete surprise to me after struggling to pay my rent for two months!)

4) I would get more work if I was thin.

I genuinely believe this, and I’m sure one day I will get tired, lose a bunch of weight and people will think I’m amazing or something. but until then I’m just gunna keep trying my hardest…

5) Will I ever actually just be able to work inside instead of busking?

My goal is just to be able to stop busking at 30, I just want to have developed enough of a career that I can work inside… that’s all I want… and to not have to carry around a harp all the time…

6) I’m never getting out of here.

This is not really about ‘here’ as in a place, this is about ‘here’ as a career. I have very limited prospects. I’m not 100% sure what my next step is, whether I could go into Opera, Musical theatre, or even train formally as a harpist and get into an orchestra (which is apparently all anyone things harpists do…).

But, I’m been making a decent living off my Bmus and I have time to decide on a proper career path so I’m not too worried about that. My worry is about my equitment and my actual work. I just want to be able to play on instruments I really like, I absolutely hate my big harp, it’s useless for gigs because it’s so quiet but with ridiculous string tension that gives you absolutely nothing in return… So my second worry is that I will be stuck playing this instrument for years until I can finally get something that works for me.

7) Do I hate my job?

yes… maybe… who knows… sometimes… doesn’t everyone… why do I never smile when I’m playing events…I should smile more and pretend I’m having fun at work.

8) Will I ever be respected enough at work?

I am so sick of children running into my harp at weddings, and middle-aged women thinking I’m some sort of charity case that needs to be ‘helped out’. Does my talent not speak for itself, and if it does, then is THIS what it’s saying about me?

9) When will I be famous enough that people will never ask me to work for free?

The answer to this is ‘NEVER’, in fact if I get more well known I will probably get asked to work for free all the time…

10) Why don’t I have more friends?

I feel like whenever I’m with people it’s just a performance… I don’t like having to make conversation and it’s exhausting trying to think of clever, funny and insightful things to say. I just wanna sit in my office alone and only communicate via email.

11) Why don’t I have more friends who are musicians?

This is a strange one because I’m a harpist with the training of one of those sad guitarists but a singer with the training of an actual singer, so where do I fit in? I’m such an in between ‘proper musician’ and ‘guy who knows four chords on a guitar’…

12) Will I ever find my ‘crowd’?

I’m still looking for the group of 20-40 year old free-lancers who all hang out together and go to fun and fascinating events and cultural gatherings together. Where are those people?

13) Am I WASP-y?

Well… I’m definitely passive aggressive and I don’t like to be touched…. sooo yeah sure. There are worse things you could be…

14) I spoke to about 3 people who all knew who I was this week and I have no idea who they are….. What’s wrong with me that I can’t remember faces or names?

honestly, maybe this is just practice in case you get super famous and everyone knows who you are…? I guess… *Shrugs* OR, you are a terrible person, you need to put more effort in when you meet other people, it’s no wonder you’re a sad loner.

15) Why Did I let that woman take all the chairs from my table?

I went to a concert yesterday and they had tables so I sat down expecting someone to come sit one the table too as it was a pretty good view and a woman came up to me and asked if she could take a chair. Next thing I know I’m sitting alone at a table in a crowded room.. This is a large 4 person table with me on the only chair… Why did I not say ‘oh, you’re gunna take all the chairs and make me look like an anti-social loner who masterminded some insane plan so that they wouldn’t have to sit next to anyone else at this crowded concert… ok great, thanks.’ I don’t know, it just felt selfish and exclusionary to take a bunch of chairs instead of just sitting at the table… I’m complaining about nothing here, let’s move on.

16) Do I hate everyone?

Seriously though, is hating everyone just a trait in my personality? I get that I’m competitive by nature and I would probably win a hunger-games style event due to that alone. But, why don’t I like a lot of people? I’m so judgemental and mean all the time… it’s no wonder I don’t have any friends.

17) Do people understand me?

like, when I talk… do I actually get my points across? my biggest fear is people not understanding what I’m trying to say. And it really weirds me out when I talk to people and they don’t understand me (this is not a ‘Do you speak English?’ thing, this is a ‘Does what I say make sense to you?’)

18) Should I get an office?

No… I’m not that busy.

19) What If I’m never busy enough to need an office?!

a valid fear.

20) If I close my eyes and lie really still, why can’t I get to sleep?

Seriously, I just lay there for hours in complete silence waiting for dawn to break half the time.

21) Am I too angry?

22) Am I not angry enough?

23) Do I sound good or do people just pay me because they feel sorry for me?

no joke, I genuinely had a theory that my parents for paying for the Hilton to have me for my residency. I don’t want to know if it’s true or not, but it’s a solid theory!

24) Do I really want this?

Is this really what makes me happy or have I just made it so that getting a different job would be awful?

25) What do I want to do?

26) Why don’t I travel more?

27) Where am I going?

28) How am I gunna get where I’m going if I have no idea where that is?

29) What do I need?

30) Why?