Monday, June 19, 2006

More floor tom!

This past weekend was the Fremont Fair, an annual solstice celebration/fundraiser for Fremont Public Association/excuse for people to paint their bodies and ride their bikes naked (in the solstice parade). We got our fill of naked bicyclists last year, so we skipped the parade and just went yesterday to see some bands we like--the main one being Math & Physics Club who I love, love, LOVE. Except. Their drummer is a wee bit of a diva. They were already starting a few minutes late, which wouldn't be a big deal, but then the drummer showed up (late) and made us wait even longer. Apparently, even though his bass drum and vocals were each miked, he really really needed another mic for...his floor tom. His vocal mic was already turned on, so the whole crowd heard him going on about how so many of their songs used the floor tom and it was vital to the group's sound. Buddy. It's a FLOOR TOM. I think we would survive without it! I know I'm not a drummer, so maybe it truly is a vital part of the sound. Still, it seemed a little ridiculous--you're at an outdoor festival performance, with someone else's PA system, and with 45 minutes to play. I don't think that would be my top priority. But moving right along...

Once they finally started, the set was great--the lead singer could use a dose of self-confidence (he seemed a little shy even though his voice is why I love them so much), but they were clearly having a lot of fun onstage and I just love all of their songs. The bassist in particular was super fun to watch. They all seemed like a down-to-earth bunch, even the drummer once he got started playing. It was my first time seeing them live after listening to their EPs many, many times, and I'm happy to say I love them as much as ever, maybe even a little more.

But who knows--it could've been a whole different story if that floor tom hadn't been miked...

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Thank you for the music

Full disclosure: I'm writing this at 1:30 am, my friend Jenny has just left after coming over around 9:30 and helping me polish off 1 and 1/3 bottles of white wine (white wine = no hangover = happy Sunday!). We ate heavily buttered popcorn that Larry was nice enough to make for us, snuck a few Swedish meatballs that he had also made, listened to Joni Mitchell, and talked about singing and life in general. Jenny is a fellow singer and is one of those great friends who can always energize me and make me feel excited about my craft, but also she's just fun to hang out with. She was kind enough to drive to Kirkland for my recital tonight--it's only 20 minutes away but since it's on the Eastside, it might as well be in outer Siberia--and gave me very positive feedback on my performance. I should backtrack a bit:

Since my horrible, terrible, no good, very bad day on Sunday, I have had an amazing voice lesson with my teacher, attended my high school student's recital which renewed my self-confidence as a teacher, and just chilled out in general. I decided to stop being so anal and start experiencing creativity in the making: in other words, to let my singing be and enjoy it in the moment, rather than being hypercritical to the point where I don't want to sing anymore. Because, after all, isn't the whole point of making music to HAVE FUN? I know that's why I got into it, but sometimes you lose sight of the fun in the midst of striving for technical perfection. So anyways, I let go of all that and told my inner critic to just shut up, and as a result I had fun tonight, I really connected with the music, and my technique took care of itself for the most part. And the audience responded--they really enjoyed my performance! More importantly, I enjoyed it, and I had a new appreciation for all the other singers' contributions as well. Everyone's voice is so different and unique, and that's what I love about singing--it's a new and different experience each time, with changing variables. You could have a cold, or be tired, or the room is different, or your emotions regarding the song affect you in a new way, and suddenly the entire process changes. Sometimes for the better, sometimes not, but always a slight variation, which is really exciting when you think about it. Music isn't some static, stale operation; it's constantly evolving, not just with changing times but with each musician who brings their own point of view to the table. So we're always being forced to confront our preconceived notions and opinions, which makes us fresher, better musicians (and in the end, better human beings). I better quit before I get all new age-y, but I have to put in a quote that my accompanist Penny said earlier this week:

"When a performance is too perfect, it loses its humanity."

She went on to clarify, that any performance so steeped in technical perfection ultimately feels disconnected and emotionless, but I love that quote. Because we as humans are imperfect, and while it's okay to strive for perfection in practice, in performance you need to give over to the moment. That's what makes music--or any kind of art--interesting. People don't want to watch someone hit all the right notes, with the proper vibrato, brightness, etc.--they want to feel connected to you, to be told a story, to get lost in a song for a while. And singers who get caught up in the teensy tiny details of absolute perfection are missing the point, and making themselves miserable in the process. So this recital was great for me, as frustrating as Sunday was. It brought me to a new level of understanding about my craft, as well as a breakthrough in my voice lessons, and in the end taught me some (non-voice) lessons about myself. I only hope I don't forget them too soon.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

A few of my favorite things...

Hearing that my best friend is one HUGE step closer to cancer remission!!!!!!
Amazing voice lessons both with my teacher and my students
Larry, who is nice to me even when I'm a pain
Being reminded that making music is a collaborative, creative process and we can all take part
Cute new "fresh popped ideas" journals at Flourish
Going to my student's senior recital and watching her get lost in a song
Playing with my kitties, who can entertain themselves for hours with only a clear plastic wand
Ross--where else can you find an adorable skirt for $6.00?
A glass of Coke and baked barbecue Kettle chips
Summer in Seattle

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


No matter what kind of awful day I'm having, the gals at Go Fug Yourself always make me laugh; hence, the link on my blog. But this fugliness from a few days ago is so spectacular that it deserves its own special post. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Some days are like that

I am officially burned out. Between working, teaching, and rehearsing for this upcoming recital I am so over everything. I'm so grouchy right now that I'm even sick of myself, but I'm just so tired and overextended that I can't help it. The best part of my day was the Storm game, even though they lost tonight--I think they were having a rough day too.

So I'm singing on my friend's recital this coming Saturday and I'm performing 2 pieces that she composed. We had rehearsal today and her feedback was great, but I felt a little defensive about it for some reason, which was really annoying. It's a little nervewracking singing a solo in front of the person who wrote it (and who's performed it before), because of course you want to make them happy. Then there's the whole voice teacher thing--we're both teachers, but she has much more experience than I do, plus I'm still honing my technique so sometimes I still get impostor syndrome about my qualifications and ability. Which is pretty stupid considering that I've taken private lessons for 10 years now and have been teaching private lessons for 3 years, plus that whole music degree thing. Why do I have to be such a freaking perfectionist? I think that's what bothered me the most--that she had to make suggestions, like I should have just done it perfectly the first time. Of course that's completely unrealistic, but there it is. If I could change one thing about myself it would be to stop being such a perfectionist. I've managed to mellow out in most parts of my life, but in singing it still persists, and of course that's the area where I most need to chill out--it's hard to have an open, relaxed sound when your body is filled with tension, steeling itself against the criticisms the brain anticipates.

I have such a love/hate relationship with singing; the whole process I described above makes me miserable, gives me stomach aches and makes it hard to sleep sometimes (because along with perfectionism comes the tendency to over-analyze everything). But when I don't sing,or when I think about having a life where I wasn't making music, that seems even more miserable. It's a catch-22. I'm sure I'll feel better tomorrow, and of course it's just one recital; 10 minutes of singing on a Saturday night is really not that big of a deal, even though it felt like it today.