A scrappy entrepreneurial spirit and deeply rooted sense of community have helped Scottish harper Rachel Hair thrive while the world waits out a pandemic at home.
Nearly 3,500 miles separated Rachel Hair and I when we got together on a Zoom call one cold January day. It was the first time I had “met” Rachel, and despite the physical distance between us, I felt like I was sitting across the table from an old friend, sharing a cup of tea and catching up. The Scottish harper caught our attention nearly a year ago when she launched a set of online tutorials called Harp at Home. Now a year into a global pandemic, many organizations have moved their programming online, but Rachel was one of the first, and she wasn’t a big organization. She was just herself—one scrappy, independent musician figuring out how to continue creating while the world was stuck at home. Her series caught on like wildfire, as harpists who were hungry to learn and connect during COVID found Rachel’s warmth and deep connection with the music and stories she shared to be just what they needed (her great Scottish accent doesn’t hurt either).
When we talked in January, Rachel had just kicked off her third Harp at Home series. Though she’s hopeful that she’ll be able to return to her pre-pandemic touring and travel soon, she continues to make the best of her life at home in Glasgow.
Harp Column: It’s been almost a year since the start of this pandemic. Tell us a little bit about how your daily life looks different today than it did a year ago.
Rachel Hair: I’m not a slave to my diary today, I would say. Until a year ago my life was usually very busy and was kind of split into three parts: teaching or playing or touring. Whereas now I’ve never spent so much time at home. I miss going to people’s houses for lessons. I quite like that. I like getting out of the city to people’s houses and meeting their dogs and having cups of tea with students. I was also teaching on the Isle of Man, which I would visit once a month for a few days. And before [the pandemic]I would go to The Netherlands seven times a year to teach. So I had that teaching life, and then I had a lot of corporate work in Scotland, so I’ll get called to play at the likes of Stirling Castle or Edinburgh Castle. And I had a touring life. So it has just been crazy waking up at home every morning.