It is no secret that working with your family, whether that is a partner, friend, spouse, or children can be complicated. Mixing both pleasure and work can allow for many positive experiences, and help you to work through the odd sprinkling of negatives. The past months have given me the opportunity to cement my working relationship with my fiancé, George Todica. Together we form a musical duo, specialising in the performance of Art Songs, (poetry set to music, in a variety of languages from different cultures).

If you do not already know, George and I have been working together since 2013, when we were selected to participate in the Kathleen Ferrier Bursary  Competition and won the Audience Prize. Since then we have performed together all across the UK and on international stages in Belgium, Italy, Norway, and Romania. As an Art-Song Duo, we have released three albums “Canzoni D’amore (2015), Down the Rabbit Hole (2017), and Haugtussa (2016). Alongside our professional journey, we fell in love, live together and we hope to be married next year (after putting it off twice this year due to Covid-19 ).

Kathleen Ferrier Bursary Competition October 2013

We both have high aspirations for our careers, I continue to study and perform operatic roles and George delights in preparing works for solo piano and in a string trio. We have brainstormed several times possible names for our collaboration, but we seem to always return to “Charlotte & George”. There is a simplicity in this branding and immediately you are reminded of the people behind the duo. I am a strong believer that this human connection is important.

As Maya Angelou said:

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

I hope that the music that we have created and continue to aspire to produce, touch people, and opens their hearts to memories, ignites their imaginations, and releases a variety of emotions.

George and Me at Grieg’s House in Troldhaugen, Norway, 2015

Normally we are engaged in performances and rehearsals that can often take our concentration away from exploring new repertoire, curating new recital programs, and preparing for possible competitions. Now we have had the perfect opportunity to throw ourselves into learning new material, new programs, and put our ideas into action.

I have taken my inspiration from a variety of successful business partnerships, including my parents who have run a small family business together for the last 37 years, they met on the 14th of November 1981 at work. Here are my parent’s top three tips for working with a loved one:

  1. Find out each other’s strengths and use them to define your roles within the business, there are programs you can do online to facilitate this such as Gallup Strengthfinder.
  2. Total Trust. You always have to trust that you each have the other’s interests at heart be honest and transparent. Directly address any issues and conflicts immediately.
  3. When you first start out together don’t assume you both want the same things from your business, you must talk openly together and agree on common goals for the future of your business. Deliver on your promises and respect each other’s time.

As we strive to build up the work that we do as a duo it is important that we share out the none performing tasks to suit what we are best at. Currently, we have to act as our own Agent, Marketeer, Logistics Supervisor, Finance manager, and much more. By sharing the workload between us we will ensure we stay organised and remain on target to achieve the exciting goals that we have imagined (and will strive to achieve) for 2021 and beyond.

Do you work with your partner, a family member, or a close friend? If you do what are your top tips?

90 thoughts on “Working Together

  1. I have worked with my 5 sons, 1 daughter in law, and 5 nephews in the stagehanding business. I missed a lot of their growing up; because of working but as they were old enough to work with me I experienced them as friends.

    1. It makes me happy to read that Don, I love reading your stories so I imagine that would have been a great experience, all three of us worked in the business after school from the age of 13 I initially took over the cleaning from Matthew and he progressed into office work, tea and coffee making and the post run and Tom took over from me as I progressed. As I’m sure you know there are no concessions in fact if anything you are expected to work harder no slacking. Hugs to you x
      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  2. What a wonderful piece today, Charlotte. I’m so happy for you and George, for your love of music and for your love of each other.
    Maya Angelou is one of my sheroes – her words inspire and inform. You picked one of her great quotes.
    Sending you best wishes from South Carolina…

    1. Thank you Sheila I’m glad you enjoyed the post, without a deadline concert it is difficult to keep to time deadlines so we put in artificial ones and book online lessons to ensure that we have prepared for them as a deadline.
      Best wishes
      Charlotte

    1. Great reminders, patience is very important especially when we’re learning a new song or song cycle together. We’re both hard workers and that’s good or I could get frustrated when he is still playing at 10pm with his headphones plugged in.
      All my best wishes
      Charlotte

  3. You have excellent roll models in your parents, and you have a close nit, supportive family. That makes so much difference in working successfully with a family. I assume George has had similar experiences because you both already work together so well. There’s nothing wrong with Charlotte & George, C&G for short. It’s who you are, and people don’t forget how you make them feel.

    1. I have really missed visiting my parents this year I had plenty of projects up North the year before and usually stay with them, Yes, George’s family are very supportive and encouraging thank goodness for FaceTime and modern phones, What’s App etc.

      That is something we are really trying to invest time in, our new song recital plans, so its been a real luxury to listen to more music, check out our scores and think about themes. Thank you Timothy,
      Best wishes
      Charlotte

      1. That’s great. It’s really obvious you both have a lot of family support. That goes a long way toward success. Oh and BTW I posted a new parody with Susette singing on the parody. You might enjoy listening to her voice.

      2. Timothy are you aware you can’t click on your name (gravitar) to take you through to your blog I’ll check it out :).

      3. I see that. WP probably got mad an me for complaining about the block editor and unlinked it.

      4. Odd the link worked off the like in notifications but not on your comment. Great song I’m still smiling,

      5. I’ve been on the gravatar page and it shows they are linked. However, when I try to update the link, I get a “no blog found”. It’s one of those weird unexplainable quirks with WP.

  4. Wonderful read, especially your parents advice. And, even more-so your advice to Your branding. “Charlotte & George” feels to say it. I mean, you’re not playing the Pussycat Dolls (Which I like, though naming transforms around as it moves though genres in my book), and heck, Madonna is Madonna, Pavarotti is Pavarotti. And, once you open your mouth To sing and start playing, I gather the name from the audience will be, “ 🙂 Glad I am here steeping in this moving experience.”

  5. I don’t work with David but he is home at the moment working from home. I’ve yet to get back to work, so it has been nice to be together. I know a few couples who have been grateful their other halves have gone back to work, but I don’t feel like that with David. I could spend all my day and night with him and still be happy. 🙂

    1. I’m sorry you haven’t been able to get back to work yet Christine but you’ve been making good use of your time and I guessed you and David were very close from your lovely posts.

      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  6. “Charlotte & George” is a simply perfect name for your duo, and your parents have given you very sound and valuable advice. Wishing you and George many happy, successful years together, on and off the stage. <3 🙂

    1. Thank you, Lavinia, this year has certainly been intense we’ve never spent so much time indoors with each other, we were both relieved we found it quite easy and we now have a good routine and actually schedule in practice time together hehe.

      Best wishes
      Charlotte

    1. Thank you, John, it has been an intense learning curve to spend so much time together indoors. We are in a happy space.

      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  7. Oye! When I was married, I invited my husband to help me edit a video I was producing. He was so much my opposite that I had to remove him from the project. I had a specific timetable in which to deliver the finished product and it simply didn’t work out. We agreed to never work together again. Good decision on our part. Good decisions on the parts of you and George. Long may your union bless you!

    1. We met through our music and singing with him is just so enjoyable and I know he has my back. Business wise I know what you mean, I like to action things immediately and George is generally just more laid back than I am which is good I suppose. It has been very useful to have this lockdown time to work on our duo as well as our solo stuff.

      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  8. Lovely blog again, you are both so inspirational and always work well together.
    With lots of help from the family, hopefully next year we will have a bit of normality back,
    And your wedding will go ahead..
    Good luck with everything you do.xx

    1. Let’s keep our fingers crossed, it’s not looking promising right now though is it, certainly not for the wedding we planned for this June. Stay safe and well both of you I’ll see you as soon as possible.

      Best wishes always,
      Charlotte x

  9. Great post and the fact you both work and live together is a testimony to you both. I would have a tip of step back and look from the other side when things don’t work out. Love the first picture to. You look so happy. 🙂

    1. The living and working together during the lockdown has been quite easy, I can always go for a walk he he. Good advice on seeing the other side. We had a good giggle that day.

      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  10. Thank you for giving us this further glimpse into your personal and professional lives. Collaboration is a precious thing — and making music together can be a very intimate and passionate undertaking!

    1. Very true. It has been very enjoyable to have some precious time together to explore new music.

      All my best wishes
      Charlotte

  11. I work with my wife, who I call musical miss on these pages. She’s known. I manage her, among a few other musicians, generally acting as the lynchpin between her/them, the booking agents, the promoters and the venue managers. We’ve been at it since 2011 when I replaced her former management team. We trust each other completely. I generally tour with her even though we have a very good tour manager because she says I fix things with just a glare. Since there are 16 hours a day when everything needs fixing…

    Tips. Listen very hard to each other. Think, then act on what you heard. That’s my biggest job. Always have each other’s back in public even if you are wondering why one of you said or did something. Know each other so well on the business side that you can speak for each other. Don’t forget to build a support team who you can call one when you need them. An accountant, a lawyer, a doctor who you can call in the middle of the night and as you earn more money, an investment counselor.

    BTW, In those 11 years we’ve managed to make two children. One is 6 and the other is 4. Sometimes they travel with us, mostly they hate it. So, granny comes to stay with them. Granny is a known grump, but when we come home there are at least a dozen flavors of ice cream in the freezer.

    Stay safe. Stay mighty. Ray

    1. Thank you Ray, what super advice. I have connected with a new business mentor who is giving me new things to think about which is just super and I am very grateful for his time. My Dad is my free accountant and we do my tax returns together, so he is teaching me his experience for free too. I am not sure if doctors that you can call in the middle of the night even exist now here in the UK; we just would call NHS111.

      It always makes me happy to read that musicians fit in having children and still perform. I love when parents come and fill up cupboards, George’s mum even sends his favourite food treats in packages from Romania.

      Best wishes
      Charlotte

    1. Yes, I know some people really struggle and have many differences of opinion, as the duo is just one aspect of our careers hopefully we can avoid some of the pitfalls.

      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  12. Your partnership is stellar. I’ve had few partners along the way. Lately, I write plays, novels, screenplays, and whatnot; all solo activities. I did get a friend to do the melody for Call of a Distant Song and various editors for my manuscripts. I tried working with another screen writer on a film script, but it ground to a halt repeatedly. It might help if I had an agent/manager.

    1. Solo piano can be a very isolated pursuit and George practices hours and hours by himself, how he has the energy left to practice with me too is amazing, in the past our duo work has suffered because we’ve been so busy on solo projects so this time has been useful. I’d love to do a film, when we filmed The Fire of Olympus it was amazing.

      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  13. All sound advice and it’s always wise to revisit the core ones from time to time. But what struck me most about your piece was how great the top (and Alice) photos are!
    Love the top one: it speaks so much of your partnership and work 🙂

    1. It sounds corny to say we enjoy making music together but its true. We had a great day doing the photographs for our Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland inspired cd Down the Rabbit Hole, we went along to the botanical gardens in Glasgow, the children kept running up to have photographs with us such a nice memory.

      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  14. I once worked with my late wife. In truth it was problematic because our careers were based on confidentiality which limited our capacity for discussion. In my teens and young adulthood I worked with my Dad at furniture removals. That was close and enjoyable. I hope you don’t have to put off your wedding again.

    1. I hope we don’t have to put it off again Derrick but it’s not looking promising at the moment for next April ☹. Luckily in music we can have open discussions. I used to enjoy working with my parents too. Thanks for your thoughts.

      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  15. This pandemic has been testing many couples’ patience and love for each other. Very happy you two know how to make it work.
    I love that picture of you and George from “Alice”. Maybe that should have been the cover of one of your albums?

    1. We certainly had fun on that photography day, my Mum and Dad took the photos in Glasgow’s botanical gardens for our Down the Rabbit Hole CD. I go for a walk most days for an hour and George spends hours practicing alone so we’re not on top of each other all the time, we are very lucky to have our home now and not be still sharing the house with five others!

      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  16. I am so happy that you and George found each other! And this virus has undoubtedly tested your ‘togetherness’. Despite being married for many years, this year – with the virus and having to move, has sorely tested our bonds. We made it work and you are, too.

    1. I remember George and I packing up all our stuff in Glasgow to move to London it was quite stressful, and we couldn’t keep everything because there is not the same amount of room. I’m glad your move has finally concluded happily I wish you many happy years there together. There have been times I’m not going to lie that I could have happily … hehe.

      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  17. Good luck, dear Charlotte! It is the best to work together if you have a good partner to rely on. I wish you all the best & to achieve your most incredible aspirations! 🙂

    1. George has always had my back right from the first week we worked together, and I hope that he feels the same way about me. Thank you for your good wishes Maria. I hope that we can fulfil them it won’t be for a lack of effort.

      Best wishes
      Charlotte

      1. Just do it, dear Charlotte! 😁😁😁 A true couple means to build the career together. May it be so for both of you. By the way, have you recieved my email about the Twitter? I have created an account for my crafts there. Best wishes from snowing Moscow.
        Maria

      2. I just tried to follow you on twitter but twitter says @DesignRosellin did not bring up any results?

      3. I found you and followed you i think the i was missing at the end of your @DesignRosellini

  18. C&G works very nicely. 🙂

    In terms of a family business, we work with the daughters as being their primary “corporate sponsor” for their equestrian enterprise. The equestrian way of life is not exactly inexpensive, especially with 10 horses and an eye to add 2-4 more. The daughters have the horse expertise, we oversee the business side. North Ranch will eventually belong to them in the future, whether they’re professional equestrians or not. They’ll have the place to retreat from the everyday. The daughters do have a good sense for business, so we know they’ll have a good future. Regarding advice, after a certain hour, lay aside both sides, business and creative, and simply be Charlotte and George.

    1. Ten horses wow David, I have friends that ride. They are lucky to have your help; I am very grateful to my parents for their help. I have been told a few times I’m too business like, but I think artists need to stop apologising for needing to make a living. At the moment we are like a pair of workaholics there is so much to do and learn as well as teach and customer services to pay the bills. But yes normally we always make time to have a laugh and some fun even if it’s just star gazing.

      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  19. What a rich story you share of working with George, Charlotte. I’ve never worked with family, but I’m sure there are pros and cons. You both make a great team and a beautiful couple. I also like “Charlotte and George” in its simplicity.

    1. Thank you, Lauren, let’s hope we can continue to keep a lid on the cons. It’s good that we both understand the crazy schedules that music creates at this stage and from what I’ve been reading online and in news articles uncertain earnings seems to continue for many, many years. We just both love making music.

      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  20. Wow, well done !!!! Currently, I work all alone and I am alone). In my youth, I worked with my father for a few years. The only advice I can give is not to let yourself be eaten up all the time you have at work. You have to save hours for life with family and friends. This is the biggest risk, to be focused 24/7 on the professional activity.
    Best regards to both of you, be careful and take care of yourself. xx

    1. When covid is over we can finally chat about a project together moving forward. I miss family time, it is a good thing that Matt lives nearby but we are locked down again at the moment until 3rd December. I still make time to talk to and meet my friends for online chats. Yes we are focusing a lot on the professional side at the moment so I will bare your comments in my mind.

      Best wishes to you,
      Charlotte

      1. . It will be a great pleasure to do a professional project together.
        Yes, everything is complicated with COVID and containment.
        Plus I know that you and George are passionate perfectionists.
        That’s why we have to be careful. I know that before I was 40, for work, I happened to stay for 1 month with only 3 hours of sleep, even 2 years without taking any vacation at all. I ended up sleeping for a week :-). It’s still better to remember to take regular breaks. Family and friends are great for that. But also, you should regularly plan to spend 2 or 3 days you and George together without work, without family, without friends, just both for a walk, a little trip, to cook, to visit the countryside, to go seaside, in France we say “make tourists” :-). And while in confinement, take the time to read, look at photos, or schedule walks for after, watch a movie, watch recipes on the web, and cook things together that you’ve never eaten. It’s food for creativity !!! Take care of you my friend. xx

  21. Hello Charlotte!

    I adore your new blog theme.
    This is a very sweet post. You and George are awesome together.
    Yes, I have worked with my Norman, although not on a steady basis. I’ve designed costumes for his performances and videos. Just before the Virus landed, he was beginning a low budget movie, that he is writing, producing and mostly financing. He hired me as a consultant, as I’ve worked in film production for many years.
    Of course, the movie is on hold, but our mutual admiration and respect for each other is not. We’ve been together for over 30 years.
    Sent you a message via T. I’m working on the post full time now & am very excited! – Resa
    ❦🎼🤩❦🎼🤩❦🎼🤩

    1. I love that you and Norman are doing a film. I was recently introduced to Disturbed, ‘Sound of Silence’ a cover of the Simon and Garfunkel classic on Phillip’s blog, I loved the film quality of that, do you know it? Congratulations on 30 years I saw the lovely picture and poem that Holly did on you both, just lovely, would make a great cd cover.

      I’m excited to see what you create and I’m pleased you like the new blog theme, it needed freshening up, my lovely mentor told me it was a bit old fashioned so I hope its a bit fresher now. I want to work on the header typography and colour a bit more, so you may see it changing soon.

      All my best wishes
      Charlotte

      1. I do know the “Disturbed” cover. It’s fab!!
        You could cover so many amazing songs… in your opera way. Yes, Opera/Rock is a fusion that has been done…. but barely. You and George are in a perfect position.
        Haha! You will love this! After all these years, Norm heard my voice on a recording. I’ve been having fun with Timothy and his parodies. Norm was shocked that it was my voice.
        LOL! Now, we might do a song together.
        I think your blog now looks like its resting a sea bed of gems.
        I’m sure whatever changes you make will be A+.
        So excited about… everything!!!!
        Resa ❦❦❦

      2. Oh…about the pic of us kissing.. I love it. You’re right, it would make an amazing album cover.
        You & George should do it! Kiss in front of a sunset, or any heavily backlit scene… a body of water is good for enhancing that…
        Oooo a cityscape at sunset… or sunrise, or a garden. It’s all about backlight.
        Yeah, you’ll need someone to take the pic. However, the scene is the pro, the photographer just needs to frame it! xx

  22. The opening photo sets up this post so beautifully ~ well done! I too like the name “Charlotte & George” the simplicity in the name is reflective of the simplicity in nature (and in art)…and both your natural talents just add to this. It is great to see that in this very difficult year ~ there is always beauty and optimism to be found. Very much look forward to see what the future will bring 🙂 Cheers to you both!

  23. It is really good to be aware of all the aspects of collaboration with someone very close to you. My husband and I always read each other’s writing and I depend on him to pick up poor grammatical structure and and he calls (and we both refer to as) ‘he gazed into her sunburnt eyes’ idiocies. It is sometimes not easy and I crave more criticism. He writes academic prose and I am probably tougher on him, trying to make it easier for the reader. But it is wonderful to have someone so close and safe to share your work.

    1. I know exactly what you mean by ‘I crave more criticism’ but then when I get it I’m like 🙇🏼‍♀️🙆🏼‍♀️ Hmmm…lol. Seriously though I do appreciate his help and pickiness. The problem now is we’ve spent so much more time than usual together I miss him more when he goes off for competitions and courses.
      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  24. I have tried several times to work with others on a consistent basis, yet, it never lasted or never began. I’m more of a creative thinker and am teaching myself the business side of running a business. It’s taken time for me to get to where I am, but I’ve been stubborn by refusing to give up. Still, I do receive invitations to submit my Work to various Events and Competitions. It simply takes time for me to get everything ready.

    I used to be overwhelming, but I’ve learned to notice when I need to take a break. Also, I spend less time on social media and more time meeting people outside of those outlets (i.e. Instagram, Facebook, etc.) to really establish working relationships.

    The only thing I still have trouble with is during brainstorming sessions. I don’t have that person to bounce ideas off of just yet, so I lean on past experiences to help me determine what to create next and how to present ideas.

    1. You are an inspiration to me Eric, you always have been, your determination and sense of calm in your work is wonderful. I’m pleased there are still opportunities for you to exhibit and enter competitions as you say they are often time consuming but also have the down side of disappointment the competitions I entered this year were cancelled and in one the day before my pianist pulled out with suspected covid.

      Good idea to meet up with people, covid has put a stop to that a lot this year in the UK, networking is more difficult. If you ever need someone to bounce ideas off just e-mail me or we can arrange a FaceTime.
      Best wishes
      Charlotte

      1. I am so sorry about your Competitions. I wonder if you and George can have a Virtual Concert where attendees buy tickets through PayPal, or a service like that. I just attended one a few weeks ago with a pianist and violinist and donated to their cause online. Pick a date, send out marketing via social media, etc. and a specify a donation amount. People can watch safely from their homes across the globe.

        Yes, even the next Exhibition I was invited to participate in last week is completely Virtual. ..and the Artist who sent the Invite lives in Barcelona, Spain. He’s been following my Work on Instagram and wants a few more Artists to be a part of an arts organization he’s created.

        As for Meetings, they are also virtual, by phone and email. Still, I’m making good progress using Alignable.com as a resource to connect with other businesses and entrepreneurs.

      2. I’ve been looking into this Eric I have been recording 30 – 45 minute recordings for organisations that buy them as a concert to share. I don’t know about online concert marketing for an online audience and how to collect the donations you talk of did the violinist and pianist work through an organisation or were they self loading the video and marketing and selling it themselves? I’d like to see how they did it.

        I do singing lessons and pilates online in a group and a group language lesson so I’ve got used to zoom classes. Thats clever doing an Art exhibition online. It’s tough to act as your own agent but you keep on plugging and when you’re famous I can say I know Eric.

        Best wishes
        Charlotte x

      3. I am so sorry I missed your Reply! The violinist and pianist did something similar to your Live Balcony Concerts. As for Donations, the simplest way is to setup a Business Account on PayPal. I have a PayPal Business Debit Card for Art Collectors that like to pay through PayPal. Then, I can use that Debit Card like any other Card on purchases. All the Customer has to do is send funds to the email address associated with your PayPal Account. Perhaps, you and George can have another Live Balcony Concert and accept Ticket Costs that way.

        I’m sorry again for missing your reply. I have been swamped with delays to my Photography Print Orders due to the pandemic. Some products I usually Order are completely out of stock until 2021. Which means I have to change all my Product Listings on my website. With over 200 Photographs to keep in sync while working my day job, I am exhausted.

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