Saturday, 30 May 2015

6 Reasons a Private Music Recital is the best experience ever.

Today I had my Spring Recital for my little studio. In the past I have had as many as 38 students performing in 2 separate recitals (because it would get too long). I must say I am enjoying my small studio. It is what I can handle at this time in my life when my children are so demanding, I mean charming. I have always had my recitals in a church or my home, this year we had it in a new venue, Gigspace Performance Studio. It was perfect. My piano students enjoyed playing on a stage, on a gorgeous piano, with spotlights and everything. Oh the glamour! Everyone looked their best and played their best. There were some truly impressive and truly adorable moments, AND I got flowers. Best day.

You will never be as loved and supported in a musical performance as you are in a private studio recital. This is the truth. I have no idea how many recitals I have attended as a teacher, a performer, a family member, or a friend. Each time I leave feeling great, like everyone in the world is lovely and life is sunny. It is a fantastic feeling. Whatever nerves were plaguing you beforehand are forgiven. It is all worth it.

 6 Reasons a Private Music Recital is the best experience ever,

1. Everyone in the room wants you to succeed. EVERYONE. Your teacher, your parents, your friends, your family. Those are a given. What you don't realize is that fellow students want you to succeed as well. Even someone else's Grandma. She is crossing her fingers that you remember all that you have practiced. In a world that can be jealous, competitive, and sometimes unkind, a music recital full of people smiling at you and willing you to succeed is an amazing gift!

2. When you put in hard work, the rewards are greater. This is a fact. Learning an instrument or training your voice are not for sissies or lazy people. It is hard work! The hours of practice, the days when you are frustrated, the times when you don't want to go to your lesson because you are exhausted, these are all reasons to celebrate. Celebrate because you persevered! Even if your mom made you, you did it! Showing off your hard earned skill feels great!

3. It is a chance to overcome the greatest of all human fears. I know this doesn't sound that wonderful, but it is! Fear of Public Speaking is ranked as the number one human fear. Above death (really?). So, singing or playing the piano in front of an audience must be just as bad or worse. You get to deal with nerves, and eventually learn to channel your nerves into your performance, the ultimate skill! Working through your fears makes you powerful!

4. You have a chance to be inspired. Remember when you were a little kid, you went to your recital, and the older cool student that you secretly wanted to be just like sang that amazing song and you went home and practiced your little heart out? That. Motivation. There is nothing so motivating as hearing where you could be in a few years if you keep at it.

5. You have a chance to be an inspiration. Maybe you are the cool older student. Make a younger student's day by telling them that they did a good job! Maybe you are an adult student and you have NO IDEA how inspiring you are. People always tell me how impressed they are by adult students. If you can juggle life and learn a new instrument, you are amazing.

6. Making and sharing music brings joy. I really can't think of anything more jubilant that sharing music in a live setting. It is a wonderful experience for both the performer and the audience. Recording music is fun, and listening to recorded music brightens many of my days, but nothing can replace live music. It is sharing a part of your heart with others.

Today's recital had a few highlights for me. An adult student who overcame a lot of nerves and played a beautiful waltz, students who are preparing for exams and just nailed their pieces (what a relief for their teacher), a young student who couldn't help but dance when the music was fun, and a student who turned and made eye contact and smiled at me in her favourite part of the song (completely adorable). I played Blue Charlie Brown, which is one of my favourite summery fun tunes. Everyone had a great time, because a music recital is the best experience ever!

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Blue and Green should never be seen, unless it is in a washing machine.

Red is slowly disappearing from Vincent Van Gogh's paintings. This is true, read about it here. Apparently, the synthetic red hue that Van Gogh favoured is slowly fading away.

I have been thinking about this for days.

Vincent Van Gogh was my first artist love (me and a million other people). He influenced me in so many ways. Those brush strokes. Such freedom of expression and outpouring of emotion! Taking his own personal tragedy or triumph and communicating these feelings with paint, the greatest lesson of all for me.

A pastel I created hundreds of years ago, inspired by Van Gogh, hangs in my living room in an Ikea frame that my children keep trying to kill but refuses to die.

One of my absolute favourite aspects of Van Gogh's art is the colour. So much blue, green.. yellow... not a lot of red. This has actually influenced me in my visual life immensely. I am always drawn to blue and green, followed by citrus hues, and often leave red out of my art and decor completely. It's not that I don't like red, I have some red clothes, a couple of pops of red around the house (very few- and they sometimes bother me- I am strange), and my kids adore Elmo. However, when given a choice, I always pick other colours over red. I have even been known to substitute orange for "things that should be red." I decorate for Christmas without using the colour red, which is an actual Christmas colour! This is serious colour avoidance.

Now, I am wondering if my entire colour preference is based on a lie. I am perhaps feeling a little dramatic today, but this information about Van Gogh's disappearing red really sent my mind spinning. Would I be a red obsessed girl if the paint pigment in Van Gogh's paintings had remained vibrant? Probably not. It is fun to muse about this. Soon I am on the thought path of, "what if we all see different colours but we were taught to call them the same name? For instance, I see green and call it yellow, you see blue and call it yellow. How would we ever know the difference?" So maybe my version of red is not as beautiful as your version of red. Or maybe I don't favour red because I am highly squeamish and feel faint at the thought of blood?

I just took a 5 minute break from writing because I felt faint.

We may never know the answers to any of these important questions. We do know that regardless of one's colour preferences, Vincent Van Gogh was a genius of paint. When my Aunt and Uncle were visiting Ottawa, we all went to Van Gogh: Up Close, at the National Gallery of Canada. It was amazing. Overwhelming. Over 40 of Van Gogh's gorgeous paintings were on display. I found myself drawn to his paintings of grass and wheat blowing in the wind. I could not stop looking. Such a simple subject made so beautiful. I could see the wind in the grass and everything was moving and alive.

                                              Wheat Field at Auvers with White House

My Aunt's favourite was this painting of a couple standing back in the trees, seemingly fading away. I found it sad and lonely, which is great because I think art should make you feel. Maybe they are literally fading away because of the red pigment??

Undergrowth with Two Figures (painting names are the best- so literal)

I often dress my children or myself in blue and green (together- a scandal). Husband likes to tell me that "blue and green should never be seen, unless it is in a washing machine." One of the many pieces of advice that I love to ignore. Ignoring advice is the best. Perhaps the colour that should really watch out is red!

Friday, 15 May 2015

Remember when we got married? Evolution Of a Wedding Song

Today, I have been married for 13 years, to a man that I have been in love with since I was 16. Time flies when you are having fun! Husband, you are the man of my dreams, my best friend, and a fantastic father to our boys. I am a lucky lucky lady!

Remember when we got married?

We had a large beautiful wedding. Family from as far as New Brunswick (foreshadowing) came to celebrate with us. I am glad that we were married so young. I know that I would not have wanted all that fuss if we had waited. Also, when you know, YOU KNOW. Why wait? Life is short. Jump in!

Apparently, infants were allowed to get married in 2002.

Gerbera Daisies, why do you make me so happy?

My sisters are both fantastic vocalists, so naturally, I wanted them to sing at my wedding. I had recently returned from backpacking in Australia. While there, I discovered a beautiful version of Erik Satie's Gymnopedie 1. What was normally a sparse right hand piano melody, had been set to lyrics and sung by Charlotte Church (I know I know). I am in love with everything I have ever heard, performed, or learned by Erik Satie. Even his nonsense cabaret songs for soprano. I once sang, en Francais, about buttering a clock and wearing a hat whilst being late or something similar? I listened to Gymnopedie 1 on repeat while flying home. It is a long trip, I had it memorized by the time I was back in Edmonton.

I decided that this must be a song at my wedding. Also at my funeral. It is haunting and beautiful and not what you would expect from a love song. I adore it for all these reasons. Sisters, will you sing this at my funeral? If everything goes to plan, you will be in your 90s, and I don't care if you do a good job because I will be dead. 

Of course, *no sheet music exists for this, and the lyrics don't exactly fit anyway, and it is not a duet. First, I chopped it up to fit my vision. My students and I lovingly refer to this as a "Frankenstein Song."

*Oh hey! I just did a little search online and I found it, as a solo. I can print it off right now for $5.75. Different times. It was also a new release in 2002, and had not made it to print yet. I worked in a music store. I knew these things.

Oh my word. My scribbles on the right as I tried to figure out a proper key and transpose this mess. This present day harmony teacher shakes her head. 

Then, on my lunch breaks from Gordon Price Music (which no longer exists- Whyte Ave what?), I was transcribing by hand this song for my wedding. Evidently I got tired, or busy, or felt entitled, because 3/4 of the way through my mom took over. 

Thanks Mom. 

Then someone let us use their fancy pants software to print it out more legibly. These were the olden days when we only had dial up in our basement and no one had any music programs because they were expensive. We didn't care about details like proper instrument labelling. We are big picture people. It was clear enough for Aunt Michelle to play (thank you Michelle), we were happy. 

Jess, you can be the flute, and Adri must try to sound like a violoncello. 

It all turned out lovely. My sisters are champs and their rendition was perfect. It really was a highlight of the reception for me. Other things that happened were not as nice. We stood in a receiving line for HOURS and then my plate of food was taken away before I had a chance to eat it. Brand New Husband and I tried to sneak away near the end of the dance unnoticed, but then had to call his mom (honestly) from the Fantasy Land Hotel (glamour) because the room was a gift and had our names spelled wrong. They also needed to see her credit card. So romantic. I had hives from pure nervousness that appeared the night before the wedding. My employer was strict and would only give me one day off work, plus the weekend. Good times. 

Just over a year from our wedding day, we hopped in our 2 door Ford Escort and drove all the way to New Brunswick and have not really looked back since. So I am glad that our big, pretty wedding happened. It was special. 

Dear Husband, 

I have recorded our wedding song, From Our First Moment, for you. I bribed Mr. K with chips so that he would leave me alone while the twins were napping. I love you more every day. You are my world. Thank you for being my partner in this adventure we call life.


P.S. Sisters, this song is hard. Hats off to you both!

Saturday, 9 May 2015

What Mother's Day is All About (for me)

When the twins were 2.5 months old and I was only moderately functioning because of how little sleep I was getting (remember I didn't even have time to write lists), Husband asked me what I would like for Mother's Day. All I wanted was a picture of me and my boys. Usually I am the one taking the pictures, so this is a rare occurrence.

Now, getting 3 squirmy boys to participate in a picture is more difficult than you can even imagine. Our method has been, move quickly, hope for the best, and be happy with what you get.

This is how traditions are born. How long will my boys let me execute the Mother's Day photo? Judging by the fact that they have fought me on it since the beginning, not long. How long will I force them to? Forever and ever. This is what Mother's Day is all about.

Mother's Day Photo 2013

 Mother's Day Photo 2014

Mother's Day Photo 2015
This year I dressed the boys cute, set up the camera, set the 10 second timer, and ran to be in the picture. I got 2 takes before the boys scattered. Husband was not in the mood for taking pictures, but I forgive him x1000 because he got groceries, ran errands, and fixed the water pressure in our kitchen sink. 

Honestly, being a mother is the most amazing and difficult thing I have ever done. I am so grateful for my sons and all they teach me. I have also never been so entertained in all my life. I am grateful to my own mother. Being a mom is hard work. You don't realize until you are up all night with a sick child what your own mother sacrificed (mainly sleep and sanity).

My plan for Mother's Day 2015? Lots of cuddles. Play with the kids. No cooking or cleaning. I can't wait. Being a Mama is sweet.

"My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it." Mark Twain

Happy Mother's Day! Moms are amazing. And we clean up poop good.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

I Don't Have Time to Paint & Other Truths

Today started out perfect. I slept until 10 am. Husband woke me up with breakfast in bed and the kids soon joined me for cuddles. It is sunny and gorgeous outside. A day full of possibility. Breakfast in bed may have been a bribe so that Husband could go to The Avengers: Age of Ultron. I like bribes. They work for me. Still sunny.

Husband left for the movies. Husband also left an almost entire carton of eggs on the counter within reach of the children.  By the time I made it to the kitchen, the eggs had all been murdered. I can only imagine how fun it would be to have an egg fight IN YOUR HOUSE with your brothers. Eggs. Everywhere. Was this breakfast in bed really worth it? My answer was still yes. Started cleaning up the eggs.

While I cleaned up the kitchen, one of my children discovered that if you put an entire roll of toilet paper in the toilet, it becomes a fun sort of mush that sticks to walls and ceilings. This is why I take pictures of my children when they are sleeping. For moments like this.
Look, what an angel. Sleeping with his "Tiny WhyPad" last night. Before the discovery of toilet paper balls. We were so innocent then.

Cleaned up the bathroom. Bathroom still smells like wet dog. Will deal with that later.

SERIOUSLY THOUGH, while I was cleaning up the bathroom...
My baby boys pulled out all the recycling. I assume that they were planning on putting it all back again after they read the labels. Notice the laundry basket full of laundry to put away in the bottom right corner. One of 4 today, 9 loads. Also notice the quote on my wall that has saved many lives and many days. If you want to be happy, be. Thanks, Tolstoy. Not pictured, the recycling that the boys shoved down the heating vent. On the plus side, I found the Flash. He had been missing for a while. It looks like he is okay, judging by the wave he is giving me. That leg definitely looks broken though.
Somehow, I am still thinking that breakfast in bed was worth it, and I have not cried yet. This is when I discover the eggs mashed into my living room carpet. I cry a little. By now the kids are hungry and grumpy and probably exhausted from the impressive level of destruction that they have accomplished in one morning. I make them a lunch consisting of left overs from last night and eat some spoonfuls of macaroni salad standing over the sink. 

This is when I decide that I need some music therapy. Today was Mumford and Sons. LOUD. Sometimes you just need angry vocals and banjo. I am still not sure what I think of their new album and find myself wondering how they got so angsty. It definitely helped. Husband came home to loud angry music, the smell of cleaning products, and me wearing my best, pajamas and a hairstyle that I like to call, I have not brushed my teeth either. Twins are now napping and Husband has taken Mr. K out so that I can have some peace. 

All in all, I don't think that today is terrible. It is not even half over. Who knows what other messes I will get to clean up? My children are delightful, healthy, and mischievous. Husband is much the same. We all love each other. And I definitely don't have time to paint.