Frances is a musician and entertainer who has enjoyed a career rich in experiences both in New Zealand and in Europe. She studied violin in NZ and in France and learned folk guitar with the late Phil Garland. Frances also studied piano.
She recently studied music at Ara. Frances enjoys singing lead and backup vocals. Her goal is to play covers and original music in a rock/pop band on a regular basis and develop her musicianship.
Bassist & Entertainer
Frances’s path to music and the performing arts kicked off when she was ten years old. Her mother decided she should learn the violin at school. Frances would have preferred the piano. It quickly became apparent that Frances had a musical ear and she continued to study the violin until she left high school at the age of seventeen. Throughout her school life Frances could be found participating in choirs, orchestras and plays where her success culminated in rave reviews by The Press for her portrayal of the lead role in the musical Calamity Jane. This led to what would become one of several turning points in her life. Her reviews caught the attention of the music director at 3ZM. He was assembling a panel of experts for a series of radio programmes assessing entries for the NZ Loxene Gold Disc Awards (NZ’s premier music awards). Frances found herself immersed in award entries and rubbing shoulders with radio personnel, music journalists and creatives in the music industry as the programme series progressed. It was invigorating.
Life then took her in a different direction; that of a primary teacher who specialised in music. To do that she took up classical guitar and piano. This served her well as a classroom teacher. Over the course of ten years she produced jazz ballet performances by students; sang in musicals, taught creative dance and drama at The Malthouse; taught guitar and ensemble work and also choreographed, acted and did lighting operation for the Elmwood Players Amateur Theatre group. She established the St Marks’ School Orchestra which still exists today, and did some photographic modelling on the side. It was also around this time she decided that folk guitar was more interesting than her limited experience of classical guitar. Who better to study with than one of New Zealand’s folk guitar legends, Phil Garland?
However, life shifted again. Frances quit teaching for the open road and a more corporate life where she progressively developed a talent for selling pharmaceuticals, luxury hotel services and facilities, telecommunications equipment and sheet metal fabrication. Music, for all intents and purposes had to be on the ‘back-burner’. This was later followed up with a degree in Applied Communication where she could let her talents for sales and marketing, event management and public relations really rip. A straight-A student, she eventually found a new career as the Public Affairs Advisor – Environment for New Zealand’s only ecocity, Waitakere. She loved her work with communities, businesses and politicians and her writing skills became honed by daily writing for the media, publications and ratepayers. But where were her creative energies focussed now? On public speaking via her professional activities and occasional stints as an extra in Hollywood movies. Frances’s talent for moving audiences gained her second place in a Toastmasters national competition.
Unfortunately, the new John Key government decided to create the Supercity of Auckland and Frances’s career in environmental communications in New Zealand was put to the sword. Unable to get work in Aotearoa NZ, Frances gave up everything except her guitar and violin and moved to France.
Initially working for a research laboratory specialising in ecological economics attached to a university outside Paris, she ended up teaching applied English to Bachelors and Masters students across diverse fields such pharmacy, medicine, administration, economics, international business communication, computer sciences and chemistry. Intellectually challenging work, it kept her busy, especially when she added in her contract as a corporate trainer for business executives in Paris.
To keep her creative interests active, she wrote and published a memoir of her surprising experiences in France and contributed to online newspapers such as Stuff in NZ and The Local in France. Frances is also a long-term blogger. However, her loss of music started to bite hard. After a hiatus of 43 years, Frances took up the violin again, with a French tutor, and together they shared a love of classical duets.
Life’s capriciousness wasn’t finished with Frances. After she gained her French citizenship, it became apparent that New Zealand’s retirement rules would force her back to New Zealand. Now she’s back and reconnecting with her life-long love of music and performing and she has the time to really explore the possibilities for herself and other musicians. That’s why she has realised a long-held dream. To take up her love of music through bass and to put all her accumulated experiences to use in one creative, adaptable and resilient package: Frances Harrison – Bassist & Entertainer.