Yinou Mu

Photo credit: Bri Hammond

Meet the Musician: Yinuo Mu, Harp

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I started off firstly playing the piano and when I turned ten I was encouraged to learn the harp. I’d never seen a harp before but my mum always had a painting of a lady playing a harp at home. When I discovered that a harp was that beautiful instrument in the painting, I happily took it on.

I need to tune my harp daily and replace strings when they are worn out. I restring the whole 47 harp strings once a year before getting it serviced. I do this myself and it takes about two days to restring the entire instrument. A harp requires maintenance as much as a dust and clean from time to time.

It’s a very tricky situation if a string breaks on stage during a performance. It’s happened to me a couple of times and it’s quite stressful. I have to try to find ways to keep going by playing the note enharmonically, or in a different octave or just leave it out altogether if I have to. The first chance I get – when I’m not playing – I have to l find a new string from the spare string bag and replace it in the most inconspicuous way possible.

I’ve recently become a new mum and in between being a new parent and a busy work schedule it’s hard to find the time to practice. I usually try to learn the music I am playing on my days off and sometimes after rehearsals in the evening. It can be difficult to find any time for personal practice, especially when I’m still learning how to be a mum! I just find 15 minutes here and there. And sleep – well that’s a thing of the past!

I love to play in front of my son whenever I get a chance. He seems very intrigued by the harp. When he was two or three months old he used to lie on his play mat and stare at me playing the harp intently. Now at almost 7 months he is a busy little boy and he doesn’t want stay around for long. If I bring him closer to the harp he would reach out and grab the strings. I’m sure he finds the sound of the harp soothing as he heard it for so many months in utero.

Growing up I had always wanted to be an actor or a film director. In recent years I have loved the idea of being an entrepreneur. I love doing something that requires creativity and constant growing and evolving. I once dreamed of being a detective but I’m so oblivious to clues, I think that career would have been very short lived!

It’s mind-blowing that I’ve gone from dreaming of being an actor to performing with many great artists from Renee Fleming, Dimitri Hvorostovky, Bryn Terfel and Yo-Yo Ma to name a few. It’s amazing to think of where I have performed, with the most unforgettable concert being the BBC Proms at Albert Hall in 2014. That concert was so electrifying.

I love what I do and I love making music. I do have to remind myself of this when I’m moving a big, heavy concert grand harp around, but why else would you become a musician if you didn’t love performing and playing, I’m just very lucky to be doing it every day.