So we have come to the end of a very long, but deeply fulfilling year for me. Highlights include recording and releasing my debut album, finishing my studies at the Guildhall School Of Music And Drama and starting my freelance career full time. All of these I will go into more detail.
My year started with January, where I recorded my debut album, surrounded by my closest friends and some of the best musicians I know. Planning and production for the album started in July 2018 and was a hugely ambitious project for me, involving about 30 people, a lot of trial and error with repertoire, and a lot of sleepless nights. Right up to the first recording day (27th January), I was writing, re-writing and re-re-writing, constantly anxious if it was good enough to put on the record. Having put a lot of money into the process already, there was no going back! We did 3 days worth of recording and 2 days worth of mixing. Although this was a deeply satisfying time, it was very tiring and a lot of mistakes were made by me during the process. By doing this as well as my last year of Guildhall, and still very in-experienced, I was learning on the job. I hardly knew what EQ was, let alone recording a full big band! I learnt a huge amount doing this process, and had a lot of teachers, mentors and friends around me to help me along the way. I also had a huge amount of fun doing it. In summary, I made a lot of mistakes, but I learnt a huge amount, and above all, I am deeply proud of the finished product.
From January to June, I spent the majority of my time doing post-production with the album ( mixing , mastering, album art ect..), so we’ll jump to June. In June, I finished my studies at the Guildhall School Of Music And Drama. 4 years worth of hard work, debt, blood, sweat and tears came to a head when I did my final recital, surrounded by my friends and family. I conducted a big band in my compositions and arrangements, and proceeded to cry for the whole 45 mins set!!! One of my favourite moments of the recital was an arrangement of “A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square”, sung beautifully by Luca Manning. This recital was one of the only moments at my time at Guildhall, where I felt I could sit back and enjoy it. It was an overwhelming feeling, as through my time at Guildhall, I struggled with self-confidence, which is something I still struggle with today. I was so happy with how the set went and was a great way to finish my studies.
In July, after Guildhall was finished, I started working as a freelance musician full time. It’s been a great 6 months of work, from releasing my debut album at the Vortex Jazz Club, surrounded by musicians that I respect and proud to call them friends, to finishing a whole batch of choral arrangements (which I have never done before), to doing my first T.V copying job. There is always that voice at the back of the mind telling you “What are you doing?” or “ You are not worthy of doing this job” ect… but I can truly say that all the work that I have had the pleasure of doing this year, I have done to the very best of my ability. I’ve always tried to push myself to do things that I have never done before, because I feel, that is the way I learn the best.
The first couple of months, I was expecting there to be a lot of anxiety, about making the rent and how I come across as a person/musician. I was expecting loneliness, from never having the time to see my friends. The constant thought that I’m not good enough and battles with myself! Looking back on this- yes, these feelings do crop up from time to time, but most of the time, things are fine. You worry about making the rent and somehow it just happens, you make time for meeting up with friends or we be in the same place at the same time. However, now out of uni, sometimes getting motivation to work is challenging but you find your own ways to get up and get on with the day. Loving the work I’m doing really helps, and I’m so appreciative to the people who have given me fantastic opportunities so far! I’m slowly realising that I’m ok- getting very real and still slightly scared, but I’m doing ok.
This year has been a year of learning, from learning how to release the album, to learning how to write for voices. It has also been a time of learning from mistakes. I’ve made a lot of mistakes this year, not only in my job and music, but also through my actions. I try to keep a positive attitude when I have made mistakes, in order to learn from those mistakes and move on but sometimes it takes time to recover from them. This year, I have also learnt how my actions look to other people.
In 2019, I have a lot to look forward to, starting off with a concert that I am musical directing at the end of January with a lot of my choral arrangements of American Songbook songs. I’m currently planning a couple of very exciting things which will happen in the new year. I have things currently booked until the end of January but then after that, I have no idea what is going to happen in the new year. It will all unfold as the year goes on, I hope!
To end, I thought I would make some “New Years Resolutions” :
To be a better person, through my actions, and not just my words.
To visit friends and go to gigs more often. I have found whilst working that it has been increasingly difficult to go out and see gigs and see friends. I will make sure that I get out of the house (my flatmates will approve at least)!
To listen to a broader range of music.
Finally, a massive apology to anyone who I have upset this year, and a massive thank you to all the musicians, mentors, tutors, friends and family who have made this year awesome and a massive stepping stone in my life!
I wish you all a very happy Christmas and have a fabulous 2019!