I began playing the harp when I was 9 (I think). I had been playing the piano since the age of 5, and at a new school, the piano teacher I was assigned to happened to be a harp teacher as well. She is a wonderful teacher and we really hit it off - no great surprise that with 3 other harpists in my class, I started learning as well! I was already able to read music in both clefs and co-ordinate both hands, so I progressed quite quickly.
I then changed teacher when my family moved away, briefly attending the Saturday morning Junior Department at one of the big London music colleges. My incredibly dedicated parents gave up considerable amounts of their time to take me each week and now that I teach my own students, I see just what a difference good parental support can make. While I loved my piano lessons, and all the harmony/musicianship training, I didn't enjoy my harp lessons and I developed a terror of orchestral playing that remains with me now.
I'll talk about the in-between years at some point, but my relationship with music went downhill through my teens. When I was 21 I completely gave up, and didn't re-start until just after my 30th birthday. This time, I was lucky enough to find another incredible teacher who has listened to all my angsty issues and helped me find a way through these.
In September 2009 I went to Rotterdam for a workshop with the International Jazz Harp Foundation - this was 3 days of utter intensity but it was to change my life in many many ways.
I met my wonderful friend Susannah, who arrived late at night at the room we had arranged to share, soaked to the skin and clutching a harp which she had brought on the bus from London! I learned (or started to learn!) to improvise, and best of all played with a band. Never in all my days did I think the harp could do this, or more specifically that I could do this with a harp. These days the harp is gaining more and more exposure all the time, especially in the rock/pop/jazz world, but as a young harpist, all the harpists I knew about played classical music only.
Although I learned a lot about jazz and the harp as a jazz instrument, I also realised how much I loved classical harp music as well - and it was wonderful to realise this was really my own love, not just a product of my training.
Then this year, I went along to a local pub which is very musical. The jam night wasn't really for me but the open mic night was fantastic, and a couple of weeks later, I took along my new electric lever harp and performed a couple of shaky numbers, one with Frankie who I had met about 5 minutes earlier. This was the start of something very big and very exciting.
It all culminated in my first proper recital in September this year - a carefully chosen programme of fairly serious harp repertoire and some other more contemporary items with Frankie and John (a fantastic guitarist who I also met in the pub!). It was terrifying but I survived, and best of all people came to listen and I enjoyed it (when it was over!) and I really want to do it again.
This page was meant to be just some pictures of my harps but now I have been rambling on.... so had best get to the pictures.
Here is Big Harp (also known as Errol).... he is a gloss black 47 string Pilgrim Canterbury, about 10 years old. I bought him in October 2009.
Next to him is my new arrival - he doesn't have a name yet. He is a 25 string Aoyama Saul lever harp and is 3 months old - I bought him as an ex-rental last month.
The big black/blue thing leaning against the radiator is the case for my electric harp (pics to follow).
This year I have gone from one harp to three....... given that I was previously not a fan of lever harps having only ever learnt on a pedal harp, this is quite something for me!