I thought I’d take a bit of time and talk about some of the dreams I have for the future; hopefully that’s of interest to someone. This may end up being a long post; I have a lot dreams and plans for the future.
What can one do with a degree in harp performance? Usually people assume that I want to play in an orchestra, but although I’m not totally closed to the idea, I really don’t see myself doing that as a career. Before I actually played in an orchestra I thought that that was what I wanted to do, but I discovered in the last two years that I find playing solo music in performance and in my own home more rewarding than playing in orchestra. Plus, I want to live in Winnipeg (since my family, many of my friends, and my long-term boyfriend live there), and being set on orchestra playing would mean I’d most likely have to move somewhere else. So basically, if the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra had a spot, I might try out for it, but that’s about it for orchestra.
Once I graduate, I hope to go to Chicago for a year to the Lyon & Healy harp factory and do an apprenticeship to learn how to do harp maintenance. That way, I can maintain my own harps, fix other peoples’ for money (there isn’t anyone in Winnipeg or the prairies that I know of that does maintenance), and potentially travel to Vancouver to service the many harps in the city and visit my UBC friends at the same time.
That won’t be a lot of income though, so I plan on doing a lot of gigging; that is, playing at weddings and private events, etc. That means I get to play fun music. I get to pick the songs I play (for the most part, anyway). And the appreciation people give for your playing in those situations is just so gratifying and it makes it incredibly meaningful. And in case you were wondering, there is actually quite a lot of this type of work for harpists, and since there aren’t too many of us it shouldn’t be too hard to get hired!
I also see myself doing a lot of teaching. I’ve loved the teaching I’ve done in the past, I love connecting with students, and I loved the idea of being my own boss. I have this dream of buying up used harps and renting them out to people – many of whom could be my students. The harp is an expensive instrument, so renting them will make it more accessible to those who want to learn, thereby drawing in more students, and also bringing in revenue for me without trying too hard.
One other thing I’ve been doing is making harp arrangements and posting videos of them on Youtube. I’ve started to get a bit of a following, so I’m excited to see where this takes me in the future as I continue to make more videos and (hopefully) improve as I go along. Once I garner enough arrangements, maybe I’ll publish a book of them! Or a book of my own compositions, or a teaching book! Or maybe I’ll be able to record an album and sell it on iTunes, or go on tour! There are so many possibilities and it’s so exciting!
So no, playing in an orchestra is not the only thing you can do as a musician. That’s my plan and dream for the fear-inducing “after graduation” that everyone seems to dread. Except that for me, I’m really quite excited.