Archive for March, 2009

Piano and Voice Lessons

Posted by Heather
In life, music
30Mar 09

     As a young girl, I took piano lessons.  My Piano Teacher also taught voice, and she encouraged me to both play piano, and sing, in various festivals – usually Royal Conservatory ones.  I’ll admit, I did not relish practicing the piano – the scales and technical stuff really didn’t interest me that much.  I found it boring compared with playing songs I liked.  I always enjoyed hearing a record, then trying to play the song on the piano.

My Teacher helped me get quite far in both piano, and voice – to the point that performing in public was tolerable.  I have never been one that liked having the spotlight on me – a fact that many find funny.  They fail to understand that just because you enjoying singing/dancing/acting/playing an instrument etc., it does not mean that you have a ton of self-confidence, and feel comfortable in front of lots of people.  One of the most difficult things for many artists I know to deal with is their love of singing or playing vs. their natural shyness.  When I was younger, I always assumed famous performers were either extremely self-assured, or maybe even terribly conceited.  As an adult, I now know that although that may be true of some, many more struggle just to do the thing that brings them joy.  Not everyone wants to be the center of attention, just because they feel the need to perform.

I have quite a few friends that have incredible voices, but absolutely hate it whenever they have to get up and sing in front of others.  They know they can sing, they know people will respond well, but they just don’t enjoy the feeling of “all eyes on them”.  I guess it’s not much different than people who fear speaking in public.  Some of us don’t get that, some may relate, but it doesn’t matter – we all have things that make us uncomfortable – it’s not a matter of right or wrong.

Even though I used to dislike it when my Dad made me practice my scales and things on the piano, I am obviously glad now that he did.  It’s  nice to be able to sit down and play every once in a while, when I have some free time.  ( You may feel a bit rusty, but the fingers always seem to remember which keys to go to next. )

I don’t tell many people that I used to play piano, because then they want you to sing and play, which I don’t enjoy.  I prefer to do them one at a time.  ( o.k., at Christmas time, I don’t mind playing and singing along with friends to some old favourites )  Generally, I like to focus on one thing only – either playing, or singing.

One thing I had almost forgotten – until  digging up an old folder after I moved recently – was that my Teacher had also encouraged me to write songs – both music and lyrics.  I wrote a ton of things when I was young – mostly poetry about heartbreak, and romantic lyrics for “love songs” … but I rarely showed anyone, for fear that they might think I was silly.  Although ( back then ) I had the technical ability to write songs, I always loved writing lyrics the most.

The past couple of weeks, I have been thinking again about writing lyrics.  I suddenly have a bunch of ideas , and words, running through my head, and am hoping to put them down on paper soon.  I would love to work with my Producer, Jarome Matthew, on some songs – I would write lyrics, and he could put them to music.  He and I have talked about this casually in the past, but now it feels really important to me.  I will let you know if anything comes of my ideas …

Finding Time

Posted by Heather
In life
17Mar 09

     At the end of each day, I find myself trying to keep my eyes open for just a few minutes longer, so that I can get a couple more things accomplished before I fall asleep.  It has been said by many that there aren’t enough hours in a day, and although we’ve all heard that expression, I think it really is more than that – it has become true, because of the way we live our lives. 

     Think about how the hours in our days are supposed to be distributed – 8 hours for sleep ( ideally ) 8 hours ( or more ) for work ( for your average person ), which leaves only 8 hours for absolutely everything else.  How many hours in a day do you spend getting ready for work, preparing, eating, and cleaning up after meals, working out, doing housework, and running errands ? What about paying bills, making appointments, or being “on hold” on the phone with some company you are trying to contact ? If your work requires you to take courses, you may have homework and/or studying to do at night, as well.  How many minutes and hours do all these things add up to in your life?

     Most of these things are not considered optional – they must be done.  So, we sleep, we work, then we try to get as many “essential” tasks completed as we can, while we can stay awake … so we can get back up again the next day, and do it all over again.  Sounds fulfilling, doesn’t it ?  ( yeah, not so much . )

     What I wonder is, when do we have time to do things we enjoy, or are interested in ?  You know – maybe put up your feet and read a good book, go dancing, attend a social function, work on a hobby ?  What about spending relaxed, quality time with your partner/family/friends ? When is the last time you put pen to paper, and wrote someone you care about a real letter – not e-mail, texting etc. – a letter that requires some effort.  Most of us don’t even pick up the phone to keep in touch any more, as we feel we don’t have time for lengthy conversations.  Trying to keep up with answering e-mails on several accounts, replying on Facebook, telling everyone what you’re doing every 5 minutes on Twitter, writing your Blog posts – well, who has time left over for real communication ?

     It has been said that we must “make time” or “find time” to do the things that make us happy, the things that bring us joy, or that are important to us.  In fact, we are so busy just trying to get ready to go to work, so we can try and pay our bills by being at work all day, that we neither have the time nor energy for much else, when we do get home.

     Trying to cram everything into a 24 hour period usually results in one or more important things suffering – often it is sleep, proper nutrition, exercise, or the ability to relax, or let go of stress.  We feel we have to do a couple more loads of laundry, finish the work we didn’t have time to complete at the Office, or figure out the monthly bills –  before we allow ourselves time for the things we really need.  Next thing we know, we look at the clock, and realize we have to be up for work in 5 hours, we are exhausted, and haven’t done anything “just for us” that night.

     I recently had 3 days off, and I turned my cell phone off, didn’t even log onto the computer, and what a difference that made.  I was able to get some errands done, spend time with people I care about, get out and do things I enjoy, and now I feel refreshed, instead of weary.  You’d think I would feel happy, but now I am behind on my housework, my e-mails, and pretty much everything else that I “need” to do …

     … and I’m o.k. with that, because life really is too short, and I’d rather spend more time on the things and people that really matter, than on the things I pile onto my “to do” list, which is always an unrealistic list.  Bottom line is: with all the pressures we put on ourselves today, and the need to work hard just to scrape by, there really isn’t enough time left over for us to be well-rested, and emotionally, physically, and spiritually healthy.  So, what are we going to do about our current pace of life?  Has so-called “progress” and technology improved our quality of life ? Are we happier and healthier today than our parents were back in the day ? ( I think  not )

     It’s never too late to take a look at our priorities, and to try and stop putting so much pressure on ourselves.  Life can be tough, and most of the time it is, but there has to be a reason for it.  We have to find a way to enjoy it, even once in a while – at least that’s a start.

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