In October of 2017, I got to meet Katherine Siochi, former AHS concert artist, 2016 Gold Medalist of the USA International Harp Competition, & current principal harpist with the Sarasota Orchestra (among other accomplishments)! We met for coffee at The Reserve, where we chatted for this interview. I have quite a bit of material, so am planning to split it into a multiple blog posts. Be sure to follow me on Instagram, Twitter, & Facebook to be reminded when posts go up!
Today's segment is focused mostly on technology & social media. This seems fitting as Katherine & I "met" through social media, primarily Instagram (follow Katherine here & follow me here!).
Katherine's tips for teaching distance lessons (using platforms such as FaceTime)
I really just started doing that, so...the most important thing is [to] make sure they're in a space with a good connection. And generally [a] laptop is going to be better than a phone for audio quality...just because their sound system is probably going to be better than what your phone has. So if that is an option [that’s preferable]. My student who's in New York just tried a few different rooms to see which one was the clearest…
That, and then also just making sure like you have a very clear view of their hands obviously, and close enough to their hands. Especially for [younger students], still a lot of what I'm working on is hand position and technique. So that's almost, that’s just as important as sound.
And also if you both wear headphones there's not going to be an echo, which helps a lot. Or sometimes one of the girls will wear one earbud so she can hear herself playing better on the harp, but then I can also talk to her while she's playing.
But definitely it can be very frustrating sometimes when you just don't have a good connection. If I'm not at my apartment where I have the router right in there, then I'm not going to be guaranteed...so that can be frustrating. It always takes way longer than you think it's going to, with the technical issues.
If anyone wants FaceTime lessons with me, I need more to do.
[I (Barbara) teach distance lessons too!]
Katherine's old YouTube channel
Well, ya, I don't know....a big reason I did that in high school was - it sounds really, kind of dumb - but I was home-schooled through high school...and I realized when I started posting those videos on YouTube, I was connecting with so many people, and it just added another layer of interest to my life, just being more connected to the outside world in some way. Because...I obviously had music stuff where I would interact with other people, but for the most part I would be at home most of the day, and it was kind of lonely. That was one thing I really liked...I've met some people through YouTube and collaborated with a couple people...and it's kind of cool, especially when you're posting a song by a band you really like, and then everyone else [who] find[s] your video are people you have that in common with, so you have an instant connection. Same with Instagram, like harpists. Everyone finds each other through the Harp Column, practical harpist hashtag [#practicalharpist]....There's so many people I've seen on Instagram and followed them or seen their photos and then at some harp thing, I'll actually meet them. But I feel like I already met them kind of. You see little snippets of their everyday like all the time. I don't know, it's really cool.
[side note: I'm pretty sure it was this video that I remember watching years ago & didn't realize it was Katherine until after meeting her!]
Her flatlay tips
Ya, well so that's why I didn't take a picture here, because the shadows are not...if we were outside, that's a different story...Ok so the secret is [to] be near a window, so you have natural light. If you have artificial light, then...you're going to see shadows and those are going to be in the picture. So it's not going to look as clear.
[I learned this] just posting way too much on Instagram. Ya, I guess just like following other people who take really good photos and trying to figure out why is their stuff is so good.
I haven't done a flatlay in awhile actually...I only take pictures of sunsets now. Ever since I moved here. I've been going to the beach...just in time to watch the sunset.
Her favorite social media platform at the time
Right now, well, I've gotten a bunch of different accounts and I just don't use some of them, so...it's probably going to be obvious, but I would say definitely Instagram...I just forget to use Twitter. I've never gotten into it. Like, I don't think I have enough short witty things to say for people to retweet and follow me....and I don't find it as engaging...the visual aspect adds so much, I know you can add photos to tweets, but that's not the same.
[Then we had a short discussion on sending Instagram photos to Twitter]
Well, so occasionally I'll remember I have it, and be like “I have this concert coming up,” but I don't think that's actually any of the interactions gotten real results from that...I started using [Instagram] ... maybe 4 or 5 years ago, pretty much right when it started, back when it had the real camera logo....so I started using that a few years ago, and I didn't ever post anything musical to it. Just like, pictures of my dog, or like you know, like flowers. You know, just random things that I thought were pretty. And then it wasn't until...a year ago or something, I started posting videos of me playing the harp. Or using it more to post harp-related things. And I sort of combed through my photos and deleted certain ones and then changed my username to my actual name so maybe it's a little more professional now.
But ya, I changed it to my name so maybe people could find it a little more easy. And started posting harp videos and stuff and then, when I started posting videos, I started getting way more followers, ‘cause like it's more engaging than a photo...And tag them with [#practicalharpist]. And all these harpists started following me, and I was like oh that's so cool... I mean I still post a lot of just like whatever I want to post, like personal stuff. But now it's sort of like both things.
Something I've talked about with a lot of people, and it's really hard to find the right balance. I feel like especially among musicians, who use social media....to present yourself in a way that's authentically who you are, and somewhat self-promoting, ‘cause that is kind of the point of social media, but not in a way that comes across...like you're obsessed with yourself. It's really hard to find the right tone, and to find the right balance between just being a relatable, down to earth person, who ya, this is what I do, my whole life is about the harp, and maybe I'm doing some cool things, but to share that with people so they can follow what you’re doing, but still be honest and humble. I find there's a very fine line, so it's hard to do that. And there are lots of people who do that very well, and it's just hard to not feel tacky sometimes when you're posting about yourself. So, I don't know, I don't have an answer to that. It's just like a very interesting thing that I’m always thinking about. How to find the right balance, which is why it helps I think to just post personal stuff and be like, “I'm just a normal person, I think this coffee is cool, like whatever.” You know what I mean?
...I think social media's a great tool. I posted about one time back in January I posted this post like all my upcoming concerts for the cities and the dates in one image and there were a couple people who came to them because they happened to be near that city at that time. Because they followed me on Instagram and I had never met them. Or maybe I had met them, but I don't talk to them regularly, so that was how they found out about it. So it can be really great sometimes. I think it's just like, it's very hard to not feel like you're going too far with it, or being overly self-promoting. At the end of the day, I guess it doesn't matter what other people think... you want to accomplish whatever your goal is through social media, do that, but I think people respect you more if you come across as just a little more laid back, not too intense about it, I'm not gonna post harp videos everyday.
Well the thing I posted yesterday was this piece I hadn't played in like a year....but ya I forgot I had that and I was just flipping through my files of music and I was like oh ya, this piece is really pretty, and I'm getting kind of bored with the stuff that I have to record, because that's not happening until the end of November and I've been playing those pieces since the beginning of the year, or at least for the past few months, so I'm like “Uh, I don't wanna practice again ‘cause it's fine right now,” but at the same time I have to maintain it, and it's like what do you work on, and it's just like uh. So I was just like I just need to play something different so that I remind myself that the are other things you can play on the harp besides the pieces I'm gonna put on the cd...Ya it's hard to play pieces that you've been playing for so long and maintain the same amount of enthusiasm as you did right after you learned it, cause usually when I learn a piece, them I'm just like instantly like obsessed with it. When I'm in the process of learning it, then that's all I wanna practice. I don't wanna play the other stuff I've already learned, I just wanna practice this new piece, cause I'm like really enthusiastic about it. And then, once it reaches a level of proficiency where I can play it from memory or whatever, then it's like not as exciting. I mean it helps if I have a performance to prepare for soon...So ya, I'm kind of like, I'm not playing the stuff that's for my recording everyday, cause I just don't want it to sound dull, and like I'm sick of it when I actually get in there to record. But, at the same time, it's like, recordings are so annoying, so it needs to be good, so that I don't make them cut every one minute. What always happens when I record myself I like start the beginning, and I’ll play one measure and there’s some tiny thing I don't like about it, and I’m just like restart, restart, restart. And once I get past that spot, then it's fine.
On mistakes coming out when recording
Ya, it’s just like when you push the button, it puts on this extra level of pressure that makes you psych yourself, and then you're just over thinking everything and it's also just the fact that it's gonna be something that stays there, more permanently that people can go back and rewatch, whereas a live ... performance it happens, they're not gonna remember, they're not gonna be able go back, see where your mistakes are, whereas a recording it’s immortalized....so just mentally, it puts more pressure on [you].
And there's the first installment of my interview with Katherine Siochi! Be sure to go check out her Instagram!
Don't forget to peruse the Guest Posts & Interviews category of the blog!
*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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