Hannah enjoyed combat sports and music when she was growing up in Loch Lomond. Starting out on the flute and switching to the bassoon at school, she went on to pursue further study at the Royal Scottish Conservatoire, followed by a Masters and Professional Diploma at the Academy. On moving to London she took up boxing more seriously, alongside her studies, and met her trainers, Noel Callan and Derek Williams, who encouraged her to go professional.
Although an unusual combination, Hannah feels that music and boxing complement each other perfectly. ‘Being a musician, I like to practise and practise - I’m a perfectionist so when I do something I want to do it really well… I just applied everything I knew from music to boxing.’ Once Hannah was competing professionally she found more parallels: ‘It’s all about performing - with my music I perform on stage under the lights with an orchestra or solo, and with boxing it’s the same thing, except you’ve got a persona and an entrance walk!’
While her musical training helped with boxing, she also found that boxing professionally helped her deal with performance nerves for her solo recitals. ‘Being in front of everybody in a boxing ring and trying to avoid being punched put it all in perspective and I really started to enjoy solo performance.’ Hannah approached her final recital for her Professional Diploma like a boxing match with her coach in the wings to encourage her throughout. She says that feeling calm and controlled resulted in her best performance to date.
Alongside her boxing commitments, Hannah plays in the Coriolis quintet with four other Academy alumni, teaches bassoon privately and takes regular gig work. Her coach takes her music career into account in Hannah’s training schedule, meaning special hand-wraps to prevent injuries and avoiding anything that might cause facial bruising before a concert.
Hannah talked about how what she’s learned from boxing helps in her music career, in particular a good diet and plenty of sleep: ‘[When I was studying] if I’d known that having an extra hour in bed in the morning instead of getting up early would have made such a difference, I would definitely have employed that … the difference is amazing’. In boxing Hannah is surrounded by a team who get her ready in the lead up to fight night and she tries to create the same sort of support network for her music.
When asked what advice she would give to a current student or recent graduate Hannah said ‘I think in the music world we’re a little bit shy of saying what we’ve achieved. For example, if you’re going to do some work with the LSO you might not say anything about it because you might think you’re bragging but actually you should be proud of what you’ve done and people love to hear about these things.’