A LIGHT-UP VIOLIN AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL
Well… welcome back to my blog! What a strange few months it’s been! I hope you’ve all managed to stay safe during these times. It’s been a rather challenging time for the music industry in particular and, as a violinist, I’ve certainly had to adapt and learn some new skills in order to keep busy and sane. “What have I up been up to?” I hear you ask. Well, apart from succumbing to peer pressure in attempting to bake sourdough (fail) and completing my tax return (praise be), I’ve mostly been trying to think of new ways of creating, sharing (and still living off) music… Oh, and if you need a laugh at all, I must mention my personal lockdown highlight of Chris and I broadcasting our own version of Eurovision on WhatsApp and YouTube. You’re welcome.
It’s been so good to get back to work over the last couple of weeks, with three weddings last weekend at Luton Hoo, Coworth Park, and a private residence in Hitchin along with an outdoor 50th birthday party in Cobham. So thankful that weddings of up to 30 people can now take place, and I can’t wait to play at some more intimate ceremonies, drinks receptions and evening parties over the coming months. As a solo musician I can still provide musical entertainment for the whole day, socially distanced and completely self-contained with my own sound system, etc.
My heart goes out to all the brides and grooms who were planning their weddings this season and have had to postpone. The good news is that I’ve managed to reschedule some 40 bookings to dates next year and beyond – I can’t wait to celebrate with all of you soon! 2021 is certainly set to be a busy one, so if you’re potentially looking to book for next year, please do get in touch ASAP as my available dates are filling up fast!
As well as parties and weddings, I’ve had the privilege of performing for some restaurants and private members’ clubs since the bars and restaurants have re-opened. Back in July I got to perform at the Ivy Cobham Brasserie as well as for diners on the terraces of Harry’s Bar, Scott’s, Mark’s Club, George and Sexy Fish in Mayfair.
It’s been miraculous getting back to performing for ACTUAL PEOPLE and one thing I’ve loved in particular is performing some of my special Doorstep Serenades. These are special socially distanced performances where I turn up outside someone’s house and play a few of their favourite songs as a surprise! The lovely Emma first booked me to perform as a surprise gift for her friends who had to postpone their wedding. On the day they were due to get married I surprised them outside their front door with two of their special songs – ‘Bella Notte’ from Lady and the Tramp and ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’ by Frankie Valli. Emma then went on to book me as a surprise for her friend John’s 100th (!) birthday. I played ‘Vissi d’Arte’ from his favourite opera, Tosca, as well as one of his all-time favourite tunes, ‘Amazing Grace’. It was such an emotional experience and I was touched by how much it meant to everyone watching. Performances like this have really brought home how magically powerful music is.
This month I’ve enjoyed playing for diners in Hitchin town square for the ‘Eat Alfresco’ initiative. I also had a STARRING ROLE on BBC Look East the other day (HI MUM!) I’ve also been doing the odd busking performances elsewhere in St. Albans, Letchworth, Henley and Marlow. Up until lockdown I had never busked before and I have to admit that it was initially a very daunting experience. It was completely out of my comfort zone, but I’ve really enjoyed performing in my town and getting to meet some of the local people who have been so generous (shout out to Paul for the flowers!) It’s also just been refreshing to play to a real-life audience again, and it really seemed to lift the mood over lockdown.
Speaking of real-life audiences, I’m also incredibly grateful for my VIRTUAL audiences over the last few months. Thank you in particular to anyone who has joined me on my Live Stream Sunday sessions on YouTube. It was a real hoot and probably the most challenging thing I’ve attempted during lockdown. I quickly discovered that live-streaming is much more than just performing in front of a camera. You have to be cameraman, sound technician, lighting expert, tech trouble-shooter, compere and musician all at once, and try not to look too stupid in the process. Check out what was going on behind-the-scenes:
I have to say though, once in the swing, I thoroughly enjoyed interacting with everyone online (mainly my family) and taking live requests (mainly Ed Sheeran). I even had the pleasure of doing a professional live-streamed performance for Deloitte and another to help out Benslow Music. If the idea of a live-streamed performance direct to your home intrigues you, I’m still available to book for virtual events :)
If you’re looking for innovative gift ideas, as well as Doorstep Serenades, I’m also still offering Personalised Music Video Messages which are great for birthdays, anniversaries or simply to send to someone to say you’re thinking of them! I’ll dedicate a song request to them and record a unique live performance from my home on either acoustic or electric violin.
With so much being taken online recently and with some more time on my hands, I’ve started offering online violin lessons from my home. I have some wonderful students ranging from the age of 2 (!) to adult learners. I used to teach as a peripatetic violin teacher in schools some years ago and I had forgotten how much I enjoyed it and how rewarding it is. Whilst I’ll be continuing to teach online, I’m looking forward to teaching (those who can) in real life again hopefully around October time, whilst adhering to all social-distancing guidelines of course!
Lots of recordings have also been taken online and I’m really proud to have laid down some string lines for a couple of pop tunes which are due to be released soon…watch this space! I’ve also collaborated with The Toons band on their cover of ‘Wagon Wheel’ by Darius Rucker, which you can check out here. It’s been great for me to get my head around Logic Pro X (long overdue!) which I’ve also started playing around with for some my own recordings recently. So far though, the only beats I’ve managed to produce sound like an 80s throwback…
It’s been a real technical journey over lockdown, and I’ve enjoyed recording some new music videos by getting to grips with the camera at home / forcing the husband the come and film me in places. You can check out the fruits of my labour here for some new covers. You can check out the (much nicer) fruits of Chris’s labour in my cover of ‘Ocean Eyes’ by Billie Eilish and ‘Senorita’ by Shawn Mendes & Camila Cabello (feat. André Saxman Brown).
Chris has now started doing this full-time, so if you have any branding / logo & graphics / content / video work that needs doing, get in touch: www.chrisreiddesign.co.uk (He’s excellent).
By far my most socially distanced booking was starring in this advert for Norwich City Football Club for the launch of their new 20-21 kit. Click here to read the official press release.
I was thrilled to be involved in the ad campaign and playing to an empty stadium at midnight was definitely an experience I won’t forget. It was a great shoot run by a really lovely team of people in very difficult circumstances. You can check out some behind-the-scenes drone shots here. I promise I checked with them before walking on to the pitch in heels! Here are some BTS shots by Matt Usher:
And that’s me all caught up! Now that things are starting to open up again, I’m really excited to start doing some more live gigs and getting back to work. If all else fails, I’ll just keep trying to make some 80s beats / sourdough.