Interview - Animate Orchestra assistant Joe Harper

Joe Harper, a 4th year undergraduate music student at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, is an Animate Orchestra assistant. He spoke recently about Animate and studying music fulltime:

How old were you when you started playing the oboe?

I played the recorder throughout primary school, and started the oboe aged 11.

Which orchestras/ensembles did you play in before you went to Trinity Laban?

I used to play in concert bands both in school, and at the local music authority as soon as I started the oboe, but my first taste of orchestral playing wasn't until I was 14 when I joined the Wolverhampton Youth Orchestra. We went on tours to Italy, Estonia, Finland, France, Switzerland and Germany. I even got to play a concerto on the final tour to Spain when I was 18.

Is it hard to get into a music college?

As well as being Grade 8 on your instrument, it is also important to demonstrate that you have the potential to learn and develop as a musician - so doing all the extra orchestras and bands really helped me. The auditions weren't as bad as I thought they would be either, the panel was really friendly and just wanted to hear me play well.

How often do you practice?

About 3-4 hours a day on average. It's important to take breaks and have a good rest so I normally play for an hour in the morning, take an hour off, play for another hour and keep going like that. It splits up the practice and helps keep your mind fresh when you're really trying to learn something.

What do you want to do when you leave college?

My dream has been to play in a professional orchestra. I love the teamwork and the very close friendships that are built. I also love travelling too, so being in an orchestra that tours regularly would be nice. Preferably somewhere hot, like the Caribbean, three times a year.

What other career options are there for musicians?

Music is so amazing because you really can do anything with it - record, perform, teach, compose, conduct - the list goes on.

What advice would you give to young musicians, just starting out?

Keep practising! And play as much as you can, wherever you can!

Animate Orchestra offers young musicians in schools in Greenwich, Lambeth, Lewisham or Southwark, aged 5-10, the opportunity to play together and create their own music in a 'Young Person's Orchestra for the 21st Century'. Animate members experience the musical teamwork of playing in an orchestra, while bringing their own ideas to how orchestras of the future might look and sound.

With specialist tutors and world class musicians as mentors and guides, the courses are fun, sociable and musically adventurous. Members are from a wide range of cultural backgrounds and our music reflects their skills, knowledge and interests.

Launched in 2010, Animate Orchestra is a partnership between Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, London Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO) and participating local authorities, with associate partners Southbank Centre and the British Music Experience at the O2.


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