Hannah Lamb Promotional Photo

Photo Credit: Amie Fretter

Course Studied: BA (Hons) Music (Popular)

Year of Graduation: 2018

Top Career Highlights:

  • Meeting and collaborating with musicians who are now some of my closest friends. There is nothing like the feeling of complete vulnerability and creativity amongst incredibly talented musicians
  • Recording music that feels like a true reflection of myself. Creating something authentic took a lot longer than I had anticipated but was well worth the wait. Itll be out soon!
  • Working with young people in Leeds, both at the conservatoire and in the wider community to deliver music and songwriting workshops. Working with children and young people (even though I definitely still feel like one myself!) is so rewarding and enriching

Hannah Lamb is an accomplished singer songwriter with extensive experience of delivering music and songwriting workshops to young people, both at Leeds Junior Conservatoire and in the wider community.

We caught up with Hannah to learn about her experiences on our BA (Hons) Music (Popular) degree programme and the importance of the connections she made during her time at the conservatoire.

How did studying on our Popular Music degree prepare you for the wider industry?

Choosing to study Popular Music was quite a daunting decision, but definitely one of the best I have ever made. The academic side of the degree opened my mind to a world of music that I had never seen before. Although it was often a very challenging aspect of the degree, I think that this exposure to the academic side of Popular Music was instrumental (pardon the pun) in broadening my understanding of music as a whole. This has given me the confidence to engage in really interesting social and political conversations around music and has led to me exploring this as a stimulus for songwriting as well. The one-to-one voice tuition was second to none and I can honestly say that my understanding of my instrument has developed more than I could have ever imagined. This understanding and improvement in skill and technique has made me a more confident, competent recording artist. I know how to use my voice and manipulate it to, safely, express myself. However, the opportunity for collaboration with other musicians was probably the greatest thing that Leeds Conservatoire gave to me.

How important were the connections you made with other artists and creative professionals during your time at the conservatoire?

I literally cant thank the conservatoire enough for the people I met during my time there. Most importantly, the connections made with artists and creatives who are different to me was extremely valuable. I learned so much about other styles, genres and songwriting approaches that I would not have been exposed to if it werent for collaboration. I met some of the most important people in my life whilst studying at the conservatoire, people who are so incredibly skilled and who use their talents to help me develop into the artist that I want to be. Their endless patience with me is also pretty great. I literally would not be able to continue doing music in the same way if it wasnt for them. I have connected with songwriters and producers who I still work with 3 years (yikes!) after graduating - they are also a huge part of my musical journey. Its also worth mentioning that Im still a member of the Contemporary Pop Choir which brings me so much joy and fulfilment. Honestly, if youre a vocalist at the conservatoire - AUDITION. The guidance, support and advice from the founder of the choir, Craig Lees, is something I am forever grateful for.

So many of the connections I made at the conservatoire still play a huge role in my life today, both professionally and personally. Collaborating and putting yourself out there is daunting but it honestly is the greatest thing you can do. How often are you surrounded by so many incredible creatives?!

What was the most important lesson you learnt during your time in Leeds?

Just be yourself.

I am a huge advocate for pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and trying new things, but Im an even bigger advocate for staying true to yourself and trusting your intuition. The music you make should make you feel some massive feelings! If it doesnt, maybe spend a little more time working on the elements of your music that could give you that feeling.

Dont get me wrong, trying new things is the perfect way to figure out what really gives you that fire in your belly. Its also super exciting and you discover parts of yourself that you didnt know existed! But ultimately just make sure you are doing what you want to do.

 I also learnt a big lesson in discipline at the conservatoire. (Thanks Craig!) Music is fun but its also hard, and you have to work even harder to better yourself and your craft.

Tell us about your involvement with the Leeds Cathedral Choir School?

I visited Holy Rosary and St Annes Primary School for a workshop with the Contemporary Pop Choir and realised that music and kids is a great combination for me. It was so rewarding that I contacted Sally Egan, the Choral Director of the Leeds Cathedral Choir School, looking for an opportunity to get involved with the amazing children at HRSA. In the end, I actually got a job as a teaching assistant at the school and was able to work alongside Sally delivering music across the key stages. This was such a rewarding experience for me and I absolutely loved the challenge. Getting to observe and work alongside someone like Sally Egan was a huge learning curve and I cant thank her enough for the opportunities she gave me. I started my own extra-curricular Gospel Choir and was able to give the children the opportunity to visit Leeds Conservatoire and watch the Contemporary Pop Choir rehearse. It was amazing to see how empowering this experience was for the kids as they got a glimpse of what they could do with their passion for music in the future. I was also able to develop the music curriculum at HRSA and deliver music lessons across the whole school. This is something I was really passionate about, as I remember my own Primary music education sometimes feeling irrelevant and distant from my own relationship with music. To engage children of all ages in music that was relevant to them, whilst still teaching them fundamental music skills, was a huge achievement for me. I then went on to complete my teacher training at HRSA. I am now in my NQT year and as passionate about bringing music to the classroom as ever! Music deserves more credit for its impact on childrens academic and social/emotional development, and all children deserve a good music education.

What is your approach to delivering songwriting workshops?

I think its always important to deliver content that you are passionate about. I try to consider the things that I wish someone had told me or shown me when I was younger. For example, the opportunity to look at some of the worlds greatest songwriters and consider what makes their music so good, identifying great songwriting and putting it into practice, using vocal techniques as a songwriting tool - all of these things are areas that I wanted to explore as a teenager. I think its a shame that some of these topics often arent taught or discussed until you begin a music degree.

Having ran workshops for Leeds Junior Conservatoire, what are some of the challenges of teaching children - and what have been some of the highlights?

The biggest challenge was delivering the workshops virtually! We are in a difficult situation at the moment and adapting to deliver the sessions online was certainly a challenge, although I do feel proud to have provided the students with workshops through a period of time that will have been tough for them. I hope I was able to give them something to look forward to.

In general, the challenges of teaching children are the same no matter what topic you are delivering. It needs to be fun, engaging, clear, accessiblethe list goes on. That is why I try to teach the curriculum / learning objectives in a way that interests me or that I know will be relevant for the students.

What's the best gig you've ever played?

At the moment we obviously cant go and play any real life, face to face gigs. So with that in mind, every gig has been the best!

Seriously though, it's really hard to pick a favourite. My final recital at the conservatoire is definitely up there! Theres just something about working for months towards a gig and it turning out exactly how you wanted it to. It was the perfect way to finish my degree. 

Ive played a couple of amazing gigs down south with the band that felt like actual electricity. Travelling somewhere new to perform and putting on a great show is an amazing feeling, especially when youre so in tune with your bandmates.

More recently we played a set at the Corn Exchange in Leeds. When I say recently, were talking 2019. Obviously. It was just before Christmas, in one of the most beautiful venues in Leeds and it felt like a real step forward for us as a band. Performing new material for the first time is a really unique experience and I absolutely love it.

The best gigs happen when I am free of inhibition, connected to what Im performing and when theres this wordless communication between us as a band - they always know exactly what to do! Ive played some great solo, acoustic gigs but my favourite way to perform is definitely with the band. Its unmatched, I love it.

What do you think are the three most important skills when it comes to being a musician?

  • Listen to your bandmates, to your mentors, people whos opinion you value, people who are different to you, people who care about you, listen to all kinds of music. Listen to yourself.
  • Be brave! Sometimes you will try something and it wont work, you might feel really awkward and embarrassed for a few minutes but at least you tried. Other times you will try something new and it will change everything in the best way. Realistically, you are the only person who cares if you mess up every now and again.
  • It took me a while to be really dedicated and committed to working on my craft. Being a musician is not as easy as everyone thinks, it takes a lot of determination and you have to be willing to work on yourself in lots of different ways! Practice, practice, practice.

If you could be anywhere in 10 years’ time, where would you like to see yourself?

Who wouldnt love to be a successful musician, on tour with your best mates, doing what you love every single night? Thats a huge goal for me. Maybe its a bit much but you have to aim somewhere!

If I dont achieve all the crazy, big dreams I just want to make sure that music is always a part of my life and that I dont give up on it. Its a huge part of what makes me happy every day and I hope it continues.

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