I always had an idea somehow that life was supposed to be amazing. Not just average or a matter of survival but amazing. Most people seem happy to scrape along from A to B accepting low standards in themselves and others. Not easy, but amazing.
Looking back at my life, I would say I had a strange and interesting life – unusual in good and bad ways that is hard to even put in a nutshell. It was not a bed of roses but I was always a grateful and joyous child and I had many interesting experiences full of unexpected surprises, some very powerfully good experiences as well as many challenges (including some poor health).
From a distance now I can look back fairly comfortably at my past to try and sum it up for my website, but I wouldn’t say it really made me happy going through my past. The sort of bird’s-eye view I got of myself was someone who put everything into everything, almost dangerously so. I put myself out there using every bit of energy resourcefulness I had, and have not come out without some scars.
I aimed high and expected nothing. I have always lived off hope and gratitude, and would say I have always had the ability to create my own patch of heaven even in a dark valley, and felt a responsibility to light it up those around me.
I tried to improve my life moment by moment with out looking back. But to be true to yourself always invites criticism, envy, or people not summing one up correctly. And I dealing with unkind people is the hardest thing. Amazingly though, often when someone did something unkind to me, it opened up an amazing new door and made me stronger and better too.
For me my main work and achievements were the things that no one knows about that cannot be seen. And career highlights were in a way a by-product of aiming to grow as a person.
Ultimately it is not about money but what you do with what you have. Life is a bit like a cooking show. Sometimes candidates are given the same ingredients and the same amount of time and have to do the best they can with whats given them. And some do very little and blame might it on the ingredients. I have seen people who have such a lot, and do nothing with it.
I also believe that achieving something but hurting someone else in the process or neglecting the most important things in life is failing. For me achieving was not about winning something or being better than someone else or impressing someone. It was about self-mastery, and improving the world.
I made a difference in small ways, properly outdid my own past performances in life and utterly thrashed the low benchmarks other people had set for me.
I grew up on a farm with out a TV (for the most part – and am so grateful for that as well as growing up away from the city) with a brother and a sister and spent my free time riding horses or reading, and was basically just a farm-girl who was good at riding horses. My father was a farmer and my mother an artist.
I thought one day I might become an architect, orthodontist, Lippizzaner rider, archaeologist, detective, car designer, or somebody’s secretary.
I had piano and recorder lessons for a short while when I was about 9, and started flute when I was 12 for a short while until my teacher left, but didn’t play anything seriously until I was almost finished with school.
I then started taking flute more seriously and started violin too (after I heard an old record playing Beethoven’s Violin Concerto and realised this instrument was quite something – I was then almost seventeen). I completed my Grade 8 exams for both my instruments and later qualified to teach on both.
After school I studied in America for one year then went to Pretoria University where I studied music and completed my BMus Honours in flute performance finishing in 2007.
Over many years I had lessons with some wonderful teachers, played in concerts, a few orchestras, various groups, took part in master classes, festivals, talent shows, competitions, and met many people. But mostly I worked very hard, learned how to be disciplined, how to deal with pressure, and grew in confidence as an artist.
I also studied some French and Russian and did fencing for a while to try and develop and challenge myself in as many ways as possible.
As the notes on the dance page of my website reveal, after I had finished my degree I started realising more and more that dance was something that not only went hand-in-hand with music, but was becoming a passion of mine and was slowly starting taking the lead in my life.
At this stage in my life I did not really know what to do with my music in the long term. All I knew was that because of the incredible stress of being a performer I did not want to perform anymore, nor did I want to be a flute or violin teacher for the rest of my life. But I did want to give something back to the world.
I was also motivated by the fact that music can up-lift and heal people’s lives, and wanted to do something in gratitude to all the people I am grateful for in my life especially my mother who passed away in 2009.
So I studied several music technology Master’s subjects at Pretoria University such as sound, recording technology, music business and music law for a year in 2010. This equipped me to do my own recording, mixing and editing (and I continue to grow and develop in this field).
After that I decided to put my all into making a CD, so that if I changed careers somehow, then I would have something to show for my music training and would be giving something back. I decided to record myself while I was still practising violin for several hours a day (I already had a recording of my flute playing and had almost totally stopped playing flute).
After I had made a CD – I told myself – I could stop practising (and do more dancing instead).
Ironically, that was when my music career started.
Getting to know Heather Q & A:
Most influential people: My mother, and my dog Sheila (who was the best friend I have ever had), and anyone who lives/lived as a good example.
The thing you can’t live without: My spirituality. Take care of your soul first.
Favourite TV program: Used to be Top Gear.
Favourite books: Too many to mention.
Favourite composers: Mozart, Vivaldi, several Baroque composers, Saint-Saens…(also too many to mention).
Favourite pop artist: I actually don’t have one. I could for instance listen to anything Mozart or Bach wrote and still enjoy it. Pop artists don’t seem to have that kind of consistency. I’ll like one or two songs per artist and the rest I can’t listen to. A group like the Beetles would be the most consistent for me. I do like many different genres of pop though and there is some good stuff out there.
Favourite movies: Phantom of the Opera, Ratatouille, The God’s Must be Crazy, and Charlie Chaplin’s “Modern Times” (I can relate to the “Waterfront girl” and I also had a little house that was falling apart just like the one in the movie when I lived in Cape Town for a few months).
Relaxation: Nature, my horse, cooking, and listening to music.
Greatest misconception about your life: If someone asked what the hardest thing about my life was and is, I would say its people’s misconceptions about me and my life. Also misconceptions about the arts in general, presuming that the arts are something easy for frivolous people. No one has the right to sum someone’s life up and judge them when they know very little about it.
Plans for the future: To grow my own vegetables, be “off the grid” and have as many pets from the SPCA as I can. Basically not to be irritating to anyone, and if I can write one hit song in my life that would be amazing.
Advice to people: Do what’s best not what’s easiest.