Saturday 24 March 2018

'I haggled over tea in China and was terrible at it'


Cellist Kate Ellis
Cellist Kate Ellis Business

Kate Ellis is the artistic director and cellist of the Irish contemporary music group Crash Ensemble. To mark the 20th anniversary of the group, Crash Ensemble is currently touring the country with a new music project entitled CrashLands. For more information, visit

What's the most important lesson about money which your career as a musician has taught you?

Being a freelance musician is at times a pretty precarious job. It's a sort of baptism of fire when you leave college and realise that you are running your own business and suddenly you are responsible for all that that entails. I'm still learning how it all works!

What's the most expensive country you ever visited?

Denmark and Norway are pretty high up the list. The most expensive city I have visited would definitely have to be New York.

What's your favourite Irish coin?

I liked the Irish punt. It was large and chunky and smelled good!

Are you better off than your parents?

Both my parents worked extremely hard for a lot longer than I have, so I would have to say no, I'm not better off than them.

Apart from property, what's the most expensive thing you have ever bought?

I don't own any property, so my cello would be the most expensive thing I have ever bought.

What was your worst job?

I've liked all jobs I have had. Aside from playing the cello, I've worked in an ice-cream hut, looked after children, waited on many, many customers at tables in bars and restaurants across Dublin, ran a classical salon, taught the cello, and programmed festivals.

What was your biggest financial mistake?

Luckily enough I don't think I have one. I don't like to gamble and have been very lucky with any decisions I've made.

What was your best financial killing?

The €9.99 I spend a month on Spotify is definitely a win-win situation.

What's the most expensive piece of musical equipment you've ever bought?

My cello.

Android or iPhone?

I use an iPhone and am on my fourth or fifth phone. I like the beauty of it, but would love to have more storage. Most of the storage on my phone is taken up with photos and videos. I like to take a lot of photos.

Have you ever made an insurance claim?

I'm lucky enough never to have made an insurance claim.

Have you ever switched utility provider?

About a year ago, I switched internet providers and saved about €6 a month. However, a month or so ago, the rates were raised and are now the same as the previous provider.

ITunes or Spotify?

I prefer Spotify. iTunes confuses me. I find it much easier to search for music using Spotify and I like the suggestions it throws at me.

What was the last thing you bought online?

A wolf eliminator for my cello and some sheet music for an upcoming project.

Would you buy Irish property now?

I'm not in a position to buy property at the moment. I would love to buy some land and build, but that's a long-term goal.

Cash or card?

I use card more than cash as I find it's easier to keep track.

Do you ever haggle?

I haggled once in a market in China. I was haggling over the price of tea and had to get someone to take over as I was terrible at it!

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