photo: Martinez Design
Happy Friday! Do you subscribe to YouTube channels? Have you ever thought about becoming a YouTuber? Or a full-time harpist of any type?
There's some really cool info in today's edition of "5 Questions with..." featuring harpist Amy Turk. She agreed to an email interview. The questions I sent are in large type above & her answers are in regular type below.
By the way, I think I'll start calling the interview series "5 Questions with..." What do you think?
What's it like being a full-time harpist? How does that work?
It's crazy, and fun! The range of jobs you get offered is huge, so sometimes it's just about having the courage to say "yes" even if you're not quite sure how you're going to make it work initially (eg. Could you play medieval music in period costume tomorrow night). That's part of the fun though, as it quickly teaches you how versatile you're capable of being, so you're always learning new stuff. I get to wear a LOT of pretty dresses as well, which I am totally ok with. As with all musicians, it's also about having a range of moneymaking avenues - I used to teach a lot in previous years, but have almost entirely quit now to focus on performing, so now I mainly play at weddings etc, and post on YouTube. A lot of my friends and colleagues in the London harp scene still teach pretty extensively though. Teaching is a wonderful way to learn more about yourself as a player, as well as being able to pass on what you know, and help people realise their potential. So there's a lot to gain, as well as being able to pay the bills!
Your cover of Toto's "Africa" was featured by ClassicFM. How did that come about? And did you know they were going to feature it, or was it a surprise?
Classic FM contacted me initially through Instagram to ask if they could feature my Toccata and Fugue video on Facebook, and then again a month or so later to share my Clair de Lune video. After the success of those first two posts, they picked up Africa, and that seemed to do quite well too! I did know it was going to be shared on their page, because they have to ask permission before using it! But it was still really exciting to see it reach so many people.
Photo: Martinez Designs
Listeners can support you on Patreon. Would you tell us a little about that?
Patreon is a crowdfunding platform that allows me to make extra money from creating YouTube videos, in addition to the ad revenue that Google pay me. Lots of YouTubers are now using it as a way to boost their income as ad rev is not hugely substantial, especially if you only post fortnightly or monthly like I do. You can pledge as little as $1, or as much as you like per video, and there are perks like a 24 hour preview on each video before it goes live on YouTube. It's still early days for me using the platform but I'm building a nice little community! It's a nice way to try and encourage my fans to make requests or ask me questions I might not have a chance to answer otherwise.
What are your tips for someone wanting to be a full-time musician?
Say yes to lots of different stuff, and don't be afraid to try new things! Usually you will need several moneymaking avenues to make sure you are able to pay the bills, but this is a positive thing, as I said before it shows you how versatile you are and might lead you to discover things you really enjoy playing that you hadn't considered before. Try to build up connections with other musicians who you really admire and like working with, and take opportunities where you can to collaborate/create with others who share your musical aspirations/have fun and exciting ideas you want to be involved with. Say yes to things you really WANT to be doing as much as possible - it's easy to get bogged down playing lots of gigs or taking on whatever work, before you notice that it's really not what makes your heart sing. it's really important to keep working towards doing the kind of work you really, really love, even if that means working a little harder outside of your regular, bill paying work to make it happen. Your best work is going to be the stuff that's truly in your heart, whatever that may be. Let yourself find it. You are worth it.
Photo: Martinez Designs
Can you give us a little glimpse into what it takes to produce one of your YouTube videos? (I especially like when you have outfits that coordinate with the song!)
It's a fairly simple process, and I have a very small team who help make it happen. First, I have to transcribe and arrange the music I want to play, which I normally do by ear into Sibelius, my preferred notation software. Once it's done, I test it out at the harp and finalise the score before printing, marking and learning it. Then, we record audio and create a guide track - I have been working in local studio spaces in the last six months or so but am getting back into recording at home now too. I work with my brother on the audio, as we have been working together recording the harp for many years (before we both became professional musicians, we used to record stuff for fun in our parents' living room!). Then, on filming day, I perform live to the audio with the guide track, with the help of my brother, again, who usually directs, and my best friend John, who does all the camera work. We have done a lot of location shoots, and these are always chosen to try and enhance whatever music I'm doing, and of course I try and dress appropriately and have suitable props. Sometimes (often!) these are just things I own already, and sometimes we have to buy stuff in or make stuff. It's normally a combination of both! For more complicated shoots I have gotten a little help with props and costume - for example for the Nightmare Before Christmas shoot, my Mum painted the jars and made the big gravestone in the background of the Sally side of the shot, and for my Rey's Theme shoot, she helped with making the Rey costume (she is better at sewing than me!). So it's quite a home grown operation, but it's really fun to do a lot of it myself as I love set dressing and costumes, it all adds to the atmosphere on the day and getting a great video at the end of it. Once a shoot is complete, either my brother or I will do the edit, and John does the colour grading and final touches before it's ready to go live. It's quite a lot of work for three people! But it's a lot of fun and I'm proud of the videos we've made together.
And there's the interview! What's one thing you learned? Let's chat about it on social media (Amy's handles & my handles linked below) or in the comments section below this post! And don't forget to go subscribe to her YouTube channel!
*Fischarper interviews may be edited for accuracy (spelling, punctuation, etc.), sentence flow (primarily verbal interviews), & space.
Barbara Fischer runs Fischarper, LLC and loves her job as a harpist and private music educator. She enjoys blogging about various aspects of the music field on fischarper.com/blog. For more music resources, check out the Fischarper store. You can connect with Barbara all over the interwebs on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube. And you can sign up to receive Fischarper updates by joining the email list.
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Welcome to the blog! I'm Barbara, and I work as a freelance harpist and private music educator. You can read my bio here. On the blog, you can find posts about various aspects of this career path, especially teaching and crafty stuff. Thank you for stopping by! I'd love to hear from you in the comments or on social media. And don't forget to subscribe to the email list for updates!
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