Lucia and Matt - welcome to Earlsfield Talks! Firstly thank you so much for your online classes- for our family, as I'm sure for many others, it has been the highlight of our son's day and given us a cheering family activity in these challenging times. We are so grateful and can't wait to learn more about you guys!...please tell us a bit about yourself and Mini Music Makers?
Lucia: I arrived in London, bright eyed and bushy tailed 9 years ago after studying singing at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, to move in with Matt and to start a masters at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. I realised the masters wasn’t for me after 5 days, so quit and found myself completely at a loss. I had such fond memories of the music classes my mum had taken me to as a young child, so decided to set up my own ones.
Why did you choose to set up in Earlsfield?
Lucia: I started working as a barista at Mood Food Cafe on Penwith Road, a few doors down from where we lived, and convinced the owner, Lucy, to let me run music classes in what was then the storage room. The evening before the classes were due to start we were still painting the walls and transforming it into a playroom for kids!
You are both so talented! What have the highlights of your careers been?
Lucia: Thank you! I love any projects that combine my passions for opera and community. Creating ‘Opera Dots’, a new programme for under 5s for the Royal Opera House was pretty special, and the highlight of my week (pre-lockdown, anyway) was running workshops for Streetwise Opera, which works with the homeless community.
Matt: I’ve been incredibly lucky in my career to regularly tour all five continents as a singer with various orchestras and groups. I am probably most proud of the solo album I devised and recorded at Abbey Road Studios with the London Philharmonic Orchestra. I was signed in my mid twenties and generously supported to see this project through right from it’s conception to release 4 years later. We got it to number 7 in the classical charts in 2015. It was a real labour of love and huge learning experience about the music business which I think gave me an invaluable wider perspective as a performing musician. I think also my interpretation of ‘the Wheels on the Bus go round and round’ is a work of particular importance!
What are you enjoying most about the online classes?
Lucia: So many things! As cliché as it sounds, getting to work with Matt has been awesome! I’ve always roped him into writing songs for our albums with me (‘Around the World in 21 Animals’ was written as we trekked to Everest Base Camp a few years ago. Our guide thought we were nuts!) but it’s really nice to actually run the classes with him. Creating the sets and bringing our themed Monday classes to life has been particularly fun.
Matt: I’m in total awe of what Lucia has achieved in her career, not only as an early years specialist but with her work in opera and with the homeless community. She is incredibly motivated and a bit of a workaholic. I’m, well.... not so much. One of the wonderful things about this venture is that I get to see much more of her and I think we are lucky to have found a creative energy that works in this scenario. At least while the camera is on!! Joking aside, the awfulness of the corona lockdown situation can feel overwhelming, and this has given us (all three of us) some much needed structure. We hope it has helped similarly for those watching in some small way.
What are the biggest challenges?
Lucia: Trying to juggle the classes and all the work that needs doing around them, with an increasingly demanding and frustrated toddler! Luckily parents have been understanding about the meltdowns that occasionally happen during the classes. And Matt and I are trying to involve her in all the prop making as much as possible, which she mostly enjoys.
What's next on the cards for you both once normality resumes (challenges of Covid-19 ease)?
Lucia: Good question! We are both loving the online classes so much, and hope to carry them on after lockdown. We just need to find a way to make this financially viable. But I’m also very excited to go back to some face to face work - I crave human contact!
What advice would you give other businesses who are struggling during the challenges that lockdown brings?
Lucia: We wanted our classes to be available for everyone to watch, regardless of whether they could pay or not. So rather than a subscription, or pay as you go, we’ve just asked people to pay what/if they can, and I think this has helped us reach lots of families who wouldn’t have tried out our classes in the first place.
Who or what are you inspired by?
Lucia: In pre-lockdown life I loved getting to work with a variety of people on different projects; directors, singers, composers and instrumentalists. They all bring different skills, ideas and perspectives to work (and life). And the people we worked with, whether it was a homeless refugee who was once a famous poet in his country, or a primary school child with autism who took a particular interest in the Mozart project I was running in their school. I feel so privileged to work with such a vast spectrum of people.
Matt: I’m inspired by children and animals! Also, the composer J.S. Bach, and decent heavy metal music.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Lucia: Relax! Everything will work out, but probably not as you expect!
Matt: Enjoy your accomplishments. The grass is not always greener. Spend more time observing nature. Try not to worry about the future! Love, walk, laugh, breathe!