Welcome to the new normal - hopefully you'll have found yours by now.
It's taken me a little while to find my new normal and like everyone else, I have good days and bad days. Good days include keeping to a routine and keeping myself busy.
Highlights for me are the Virtual Ceilidhs that I host every Sunday evening online. It's a lovely gathering of professional and non-professional harpists on a very low pressure basis - join a session as and when you want to - and we all play one short piece. It's a lovely way to connect by listening and sharing music with each other.
I continue to be so grateful during this lockdown that I live in a house with a garden and that we are coming into warmer weather in the UK. With four adults in my house, and no dedicated private harp room it is great to be able to retreat to my shed to play my lever harp.
We are now well into the COVID-19 worldwide lockdown and everything has changed for everyone.
On a personal level, like every other self-employed freelance musician I find myself without any income. But so has everyone else who is self-employed.
I was due to play at the World Harp Congress later this year, then various concerts in Australia, stop over in Hong Kong on the way back home. Tour with the RLPO in Japan and South Korea... but it seems all quite meaningless to have lost gigs, when one of my relatives partners mum is currently extremely ill with COVID-19 and it looks like she won't make it.
Health is more important every time. And we will all get through this. Together.
I'm extremely lucky that I have a house with a garden, and with a house full and no private music room I've re-fashioned my garden shed into a little harp hut so I can have some privacy. I am very grateful to have this space as I know so many must be really suffering during this lock down in crowded and unsafe relationships.
It's difficult to make sense of it all, but it's interesting that after 1 week into a nationwide lock down, that the emotions have so quickly gone from shock, upset to resignation and acceptance. Amongst all that is the comfort to be drawn from absorbing yourself in something that you are passionate about. In my case, music and playing the harp.
So with that in mind, here is the first of my Lock Down Shed sessions...
I always put total commitment and energy into every harp project I do, but I don't always get paid! Any support you can give is very much appreciated.
I've been making a concerted effort of late to sort out all the arrangements I have done over the years and to start publishing them. The latest of which is my arrangement of The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba for two pedal harps.
I arranged this back in 2013 for some duo gigs I was doing with my good friend and wonderful harpist, Eleanor Hudson. The idea behind the arrangement was to split the melody line up so that it worked stereophonically between the two harps. The Queen of Sheba is an often requested piece for wedding ceremonies and the melody line is quite tricky to play solo. So the inspiration of splitting the melody line was so that it could be played at a much faster speed than one would normally be used to playing it as a solo.
It's great fun to play, but you have to be careful to work hard as an ensemble to make sure the melody line sounds like one harp.
A list of all my published arrangements is here and I'll update it as and when I have new harp arrangements ready.
It's available to purchase as a download from my online shop on this website and hard copies can be purchased direct from the publisher here.
I'm delighted that the good people at Harps North West are using my arrangements of Pure Imagination for lever harp as part of their JaNEWary challenge. They are using two versions of my arrangements for lever harp. The first version is a more straight forward version with no lever changes, and the second version is more complex with lever changes. The pieces are broken up into small sections and they have special teaching videos and play-along videos presented by the very brilliant and inspiring Mary Dunsford.
If you want to join in and learn the arrangements as part of this months challenge you can head over to their website or their facebook page.
I'm looking forward to giving a workshop on extended techniques at the Harps North West summer camp later this year.
I started publishing my harp arrangements last year and Pure Imagination from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is available as one PDF containing all three versions which is perfect for teaching all levels of harpists. For beginner to intermediate harpists complete with carefully thought through lever markings and pedalling. 1. Easy lever harp with no lever changes 2. intermediate lever harp with lever changes 3. intermediate pedal harp.
Pure Imagination is available here and you can see all my other published arrangements here
I've been busy past few weeks doing new harp arrangements for my lovely students and have just finishing filming a few for my online students. Here's David Bowie's Life on Mars arranged for harp. It's quite chromatic so pedal changes throughout (but nothing too tricky pedal wise!) and it gradually gets more challenging through the piece.
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Lauren Scott is a harpist & composer and has been blogging for over 10 years.
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