Sunday, December 28, 2014

Even More Painting

I'm more pleased with this one than I was with my last effort. Though I felt like my first attempt at palm trees was super sloppy. I see several ways I can do them better next time. I'm eager to see if I'm right.

I'm still doing music too, I promise.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

More Painting

My most recent effort was a bit of a disaster. I sort of want to purge it from my home with fire, but it's always good to keep bad pieces around so that you can see how much you've improved over time. Still, I keep catching it out of the corner of my eye, making me die a little inside each time I see it. To be fair to myself, it was my first attempt at water or more detailed snow.

Monday, December 1, 2014


I've discovered it's quite hard to be verbose about learning a new instrument and thus I haven't really had much to say on the topic of late. I'm still progressing, still loving it all. Though, as always, I don't feel like I'm improving as fast as I should be. I'm toying around with the idea of learning some viola to go along with the piano. Just to spice it up.

The last year and a half has seen me returning to old loves (music, writing, etc) that I had put aside as the weight of every day adult life took my attention. To add to the ever-growing list, I've delved back into painting. I say "back" but that's not quite accurate. I used to be a fair - if not exceptional - hand at drawing with graphite but for some reason I never really tried painting. I had the itch to try it lately and have done a handful of acrylics in recent weeks. I am currently seeing rapid improvement on each painting as I continue to get used to the feel of the brushes and paints though I know I will inevitably soon hit a plateau and then have to fight tooth and nail for any improvements.  I'm actually sort of looking forward to it.

Painting 1 and 2. Both of which I am hiding in my closet. The right one makes me die a little inside each time I see it.
Painting 3: Birch tree.
Painting 4. Bob Ross has been preparing me my WHOLE life for this painting.
Painting 5: Cherry Blossom Tree. Apparently I like to paint trees.
Painting 6: An attempt at a Monet style water lily.

Monday, October 13, 2014


I have been tasked with writing a whole song by next Thursday.
"Just finish one even if it's terrible. It probably will be terrible. Write a bad - yet complete - song. Just get it done."

This should be a disaster.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Still Progressing

It's amazing how quickly you can get behind on something that you meant to do frequently. I was thinking today, "I haven't updated my music blog in a few weeks" only to look and realize it had been several months. Despite a little funk I went through where my motivation waned a bit, I'm still making progress though - as usual - not nearly as much or as fast as I'd like. Part of the problem I'm discovering is that it's oddly difficulty to write about music especially given my current state of musical skill isn't especially interesting to anyone but myself and possibly my instructor. And when you spend a lot of the little free time that you do have either practicing or in a class, it makes it hard to get around to updating a blog that no one reads. Still, I started this for myself as a motivational tool, and it will be nothing but a boon to me if I can keep it up a little more regularly with better detail than I've provided previously. My lofty vision of what I was going to do with this page was pretty high up the mountain side compared to what I've actually accomplished.

In my effort to fill all of my spare time with productivity, I think I possibly bit off a little more than I could chew. In addition to piano lessons, I am doing vocal lessons, as previously mention. Pile onto that the fact that I dusted off my guitar and have been trying to get back into that, as well as taking about 3 classes - 'music theory', 'music tech', and 'learning how to learn' - I think it's fair to say I'm a little overwhelmed. That's not even counting the self-study I've been doing for work to try and improve myself so I can progress there as well. All of that said, I'm sure you can see how I have gotten a little over-zealous in what I can accomplish in a given time and have had trouble staying afloat.

I'm going to try and spread myself a little less thin so I can give each thing I'm working on a bit more quality as far as my effort and thought goes. At this point I'm almost doing myself and anyone helping me a disservice by drowning myself in work.

I will do better.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Vocal Range

Today was my second vocal lesson and I'm already feeling a lot more confident in what I might accomplish if I stick with it. We worked on seeing how far I could sing along with scales using a variety of sounds. I went ~2 octaves and my instructor thinks I can go farther still, both high and low. All these techniques for focusing on projecting sound, for imagining sounds, and paying attention to the shape of your mouth, and where the sounds sort of resonant inside your body is all oddly fascinating to me.

This was the range I did today while keeping my voice in harmony with the piano. Exciting stuff!

I'm hoping I will soon be able to look back on this starting point in signing the way I look back at starting piano and being amazed at how far I've come in so short a time period. I wish I'd not fallen out of playing music for so many years...I would be so much farther. But I can't undo that so I suppose there's no sense fretting over it. Eyes forward!

Thursday, May 15, 2014


  Today, after years of being too terrified to take the step, I went to my first voice lesson. And it was a freakin' blast.
  When I arrived I was really hoping there would be no one else there, that no one would be able to see me, and that we would be in an air-tight room where no sound could enter nor escape. Obviously not a single one of those hopes came true. But part of the reason I wanted to do the class was I thought it might help me with my shyness, so what better way to put that to the test. I'm 33, it's time I stopped being shy. I managed to make it through without fainting or voiding any bowels or anything else that fear might cause a person, so I call that a victory. I was slightly comforted when I entered and this tiny little 6 year old said in a cute voice, "hi! I take singing lessons just like you!"

  Who knew there was so much going on with the voice. Head shape, neck length, how you picture sounds, all sorts of things I never imagined mattered. I don't know what I truly expected out of such a class, but I think it involved an instructor just going, "okay do what you just did, but try to make it sound good." 

  The majority of the class was discussing what to expect, my experience level, my goals, and so forth. I was really put at ease during that portion so when the actual work rolled around I didn't completely freak out. Okay, I'm making that dramatic. It wasn't bad at all, I just had built it up to be a lot more intimidating than it was. I was given the option to either try and harmonize with piano scales, or sing a song I thought I was good at singing. Obviously I went with the former.
  The exciting news is that she said I hit every note almost perfectly, I only had trouble when switching from a chest voice to a head voice, which she tells me quite common and that I corrected for the problem quickly. We did a little over an octave and a half, and she said she thinks I'll be able to go a bit higher as well as probably a lot lower, so maybe I'm not as big a lost cause as I thought. I'm pretty pumped about the whole ordeal. There's little I love more than belting out a favorite tune. This gives me a lot more confidence to try and write music someday.

  Interestingly, I warned her I might be a troublesome student because I have no uvula... or the "hangy-down thingy in your throat" as people tend to call it. I figured since that causes problems with me doing certain things like rolling letters, that it would be an issue. But she believes it will actually be a boon and seemed super excited to use me as an experiment to see how high she can get me hitting notes. Evidently I'm her first uvula-less student. Finally a positive side to not having that thing, hooray. Hopefully her theory is correct.

  Thankfully I made it out without her requesting to hear my Aaron Neville impression, which earlier in the class she'd said she wanted to hear. Bullet dodged for now. Not that I'm worried because my Aaron Neville impression is amazing.

  All in all, a fantastic experience and I'm glad I finally went. I'm looking forward to next week. Ariel will be back teaching piano and I'll get my next vocal lesson which I'll feel considerably more confident at. Good times.
  Getting back into music has really been a wonderful move for my life. It's not only opened me up to a lot of other things, but I had forgotten just how much I like playing instead of simply listening. And nothing makes me feel more alive than learning new things. 
"She's the sea I'm sinkin' in"

Friday, March 14, 2014

A Pi Song on Pi Day

  Since I've been terrible about updating lately, I thought I'd at least share this fantastic video on the aforementioned Pi Day.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Cajons and Jam Session

  Today was a music-filled day. To start the morning off, I had a cajon lesson with Steve Bowman from the Counting Crows, who was a very talented, friendly, and down to earth fellow. He really sang the praises of his instrument and despite the fact that the cajon (or even drums) isn't something I've ever aspired to learn, by the time we got started I was feeling pumped up to get my hands on one. And as seems to always be the case with a new instrument, once I sat down and learned to play a little bit of music on it, the hooks were in me and I wanted to learn more. I don't anticipate cajon is something I'll pursue as intensely as piano or guitar, but I do think I'll attend a few more sessions. Swollen, throbbing hands aside, I found playing to be a very satisfying experience and this would be a good way for me to finely hone my rhythm.

  Here's a low quality video of part of our session, filmed on Steve's camera potato. My favorite part is toward the end where it sounds like a horse galloped into the studio.

  After that, I hung around the studio for a bit talking to a few talented ladies who up until recently toured with Mustang Sally, and then I had my first ever piano-violin jam session with one of them. I don't know if it was nerves or the giant window through which the sun beat down upon me, but I was sweating a bit when I settled in to play with complete strangers. Thankfully I soon forgot my trepidation as my mind was forced to focus on keeping up with the songs. I loved the sound coming out of the room with our combination of instruments, even with all of my mistakes. We played a few old-timey songs, ending on a waltz that is absolutely beautiful on strings...and all the better accompanied by piano, in my opinon. As seen below:

  I need more days filled like this. Learning new things and collaborating on creative endeavors tickles me in all the right places.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Seaboard Grand

  I don't often see new instruments created these days. I was shown this a bit earlier; really interesting tech that resulted in an equally interesting device. I love the sounds coming from this thing. It seems like something you'd see at a Sigur Rós show.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

New Year, New Motivations

  My progress with last year's New Year's Resolutions was such a success that I'm hoping to continue that trend on into this new year, but to take it even further. I want to push harder on with the music and continue to try new things. And I still need to work on being more social and a bit less of a recluse...that's one aspect of my resolutions I didn't quite conquer to the extent I wanted.

  My optimism for the new year is exceptionally high. I continue to progress and fall more and more in love with the piano, I've knocked a bit of rust off the ole guitar skills, I have a Cajon lesson coming up soon (with the original Counting Crows drummer, which is pretty cool), the vocal instructor I'm going to see is back Feb 17th so if I keep my courage up, I'll be meeting up with her to determine if I can work on this voice of mine so I can sing along with my guitar playing without sounding like a tortured rooster. I've another trip in mind for this year, though my destination isn't decided yet. As much as I want to go back to France, I need to go somewhere I've never been before. And tomorrow I have a 90 minute session in one of those sensory deprivation chambers, which sounds like a very interesting experience. Maybe that will get my creative juices flowing.

  This is going to be a fantastic year, I can feel it. I'm not even going to let the flu that knocked me out for 3 weeks make me believe otherwise.