Wednesday, January 29, 2014

My First Music Video!



Last night I uploaded my first music video! I have to admit, I was very nervous. I uploaded it and sent it to my Facebook page. All of a sudden, I had this panicky feeling... what if no one "likes' it? Or worse, what if only 5 people like it? I will be so humiliated! But thankfully, I have gotten more than 5 likes, and people seem to genuinely like it! I am working on getting my video blog going, so you will hear from me soon. I hope you like the video! If you like the song, please download it on iTunes here:


Friday, December 6, 2013

Shot My First Music Video! OMG!

Sorry for the bad iPhone photography...
Well where do I begin? My album is done. I'm staring at a copy of it right now. It's hard to believe! I have worked so hard for the last two years to make this thing, and it's just sitting there hanging out staring up at me wondering what the hell I'm gonna do with it. Well. A lot has to be done. I'm an independent artist, so I have to think strategically. All the pros release singles before they release an album, and that is what we (me and the produce-ah) are going to do too. In this era, that means making a music video! 

I don't know how the stars managed to line up for me, but they did. As I was waiting for the CDs to come in, I was at a new student's house making chit chat with the dad. He asked how the CD was going. I told him that honestly, I'm nervous. I've worked hard at this album, I have no PR or Marketing team, and my only chance at getting an audience is a good video... and did I forget to mention I have no video team? Well.. those who deny the powers of the Law of Attraction, prepare to be mystified. He looks at me and says very simply, "Oh- I'll shoot your video." I didn't even realize I was talking to very successful Hollywood Cinematographer, Kris Kachikis. (I mean... I knew his name. C'mon, of course I knew that, but I don't google every single person I meet like some people 
do :-)  And he came through. Incredibly. He recruited an enthusiastic young Director named Mike Gratzmiller (we decided to call him Gatzby which I believe makes him sound mysterious :) Mike and Kris put together a team of 15 people to work the set on Black Friday last week. David and I found a loft space downtown, auditioned some actors and a dancer who volunteered their time as well as 2 make-up artists and a wardrobe stylist. Everyone accommodated our very, very low budget. They were amazing. All. Of. Them.
Catching the L.A. Golden Hour
When I arrived, I was amazed to see this busy crew buzzing around the loft. There were actors waiting to go on, make-up artists working, JM the dancer practicing his moves with a sword, a monitor for everyone to watch the actors do their thing. When it was my turn, the gloomy rainy day turned into a brief sunset miraculously, so we had to work fast. You can see me running to the set in the photo above. I sang the song 100 times that day, I think. From 2:30-11:30, I sang sitting on a bed, standing up by the window, staring uncomfortably into the camera's lens, in the backseat of a car. I accidently flashed the entire crew when my coverup came down during a very in-the-moment performance, and there was no time to feel embarrassed about it. I have a lot of respect for actors now.
A Monitor Behind the Scenes
It was really fun. I honestly think I could do that every week. I had been really nervous during the week leading up to the shoot, but once I got there, I remembered how to be vulnerable in public. It's not that hard. It's just a decision you make in your head. An audience loves vulnerability especially if it's honest and from the heart. So that is what I kept telling myself.

Next step is editing. I'm super nervous because I want it to be great. I am so hoping we have it out in the next few weeks as well as the single available for purchase on iTunes and Amazon. Will keep you posted. Oh yeah- have I told you the name of the single? It's also the name of the album-- "Die For Love." I love the drama of it, don't you?


Monday, September 9, 2013

Practicing Mistakes = Creating Bad Habits



I have a lot of students who are so talented, but so lazy. Instead of correcting their mistakes, they just continue to play on and essentially make the same exact mistakes every. single. time. Ok, I admit I am not perfect, and sometimes I am also lazy. Sometimes I breeze through the mistakes saying to myself, "I'll correct it next time. I promise. Seriously I will!" Yeah, it's pretty weird the way I talk to myself.

I realized the other day a connection between making mistakes in music and making mistakes in day-to-day life. When you continue to make the same mistakes over and over again, that is when they become bad habits. First of all, music is learned by making mistakes. You can't become great at your instrument without struggling and messing up all the time. But when we get lazy about fixing the errors, they become permanent habits in our practice. Just like in life.

When I sit down at the piano each night, I usually make mistakes within the first few minutes. I used to hate this. And it would cause me to resist even beginning to practice, because if I can't be perfect immediately, then what is the point, right? What a crazy idea to carry around with me all the time! The perfectionist attitude is a frustrating habit that keeps us from growing and becoming better. Once I tell myself to just suck it up and deal with the mistakes, I give myself a chance to actually strive toward perfection, instead of just beating myself up for not being automatically so.

I find that the more I practice dealing with mistakes in music, the better I get at dealing with the mistakes I make in my day-to-day life. Giving someone a dirty look in traffic? Recognize that mistake and work on not repeating it. Being late to a piano lesson? Recognize the mistake and try again next time. Overall, I am becoming more content with the fact that mistakes are a part of life, but how we deal with them determines whether we grow or get stuck.

My next big project is to start making music videos. I am beyond scared, and the perfectionist in me wants to just say "never mind! we don't need a video!" before I even give it a try. But the new me says not to give up or get lazy. I'm gonna work just as hard at making a great video as I did on making a great album. I'm sure I will make many mistakes along the way, but I will not let it stop me. Wish me luck!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Album Almost Here!

Recording in what we nicknamed the "Frank Sinatra Room" at East West Studios.
Yes that really was his recording room!!
Over the past 6 months, I have been in and out of the most exciting and intimidating music studio ever. Somehow, my amazing producer got us into East West Studios, home to several names such as The Beach Boys, The Mamas and the Papas, Elton John, Michael Buble', Adele, and everyone else you have ever heard of. I don't know how he did it, but he managed to secure all of our studio time there. It was really, really amazing. I don't think I can really describe how exciting and scary it all was. Exciting, because I would have never imagined recording my first big CD in such a famous place, and scary, because... well... read that last sentence!

I spent several months before that holed up in my apartment rehearsing with the string arranger and the backup singer, and also in a rehearsal space in Hollywood with a rock band. David and I were meeting with musicians at least 4 times a week in order to get us all ready for the big recording moment. We found almost everyone on Craigslist! So basically a group of strangers came together to make our songs sound less like singer-songwriter anthems, and more like radio ready hit songs. I have to say, I was so impressed and amazed by their talent that I often felt intimidated around them.

We managed to record and mix everything in a few months time, and after that it was a whole other adventure. The album has to have a cover, so we prepared for my first photo shoot. To say I was scared is an understatement. I don't know what happens when someone sticks a camera in front of me, but for some reason my face tenses up and I look awful. So I treated the photo shoot like a performance and I practiced. Yes that's right. I practiced. You don't know how dorky I feel admitting that, but it was great advice given to me by my best model friend, Rebecca Winters. I set up a camera on a tri-pod in my apartment and worked on relaxing my face, specifically my jaw.

A fun shot by Kevin Scanlon
The shoot ended up being a total blast once I relaxed. We got some good photos that we chose for the back and inside booklet. The cover photo came as a surprise, when my friend Olga asked me to come over for a shoot at her home. I will wait for the release date to show you what she came up with, but I will tell you we were both so excited when it happened. It was at the very end of the day. She had taken some pretty fun photos like this one:

Photo by Olga Roth
The actual cover is so very different from the examples above, but I wanted to give you a taste of what I have been working on. We will be ready to release it very soon, and in the meantime, I need to crawl out of the dinosaur world and figure out how to get a YouTube channel going. You can expect some videos very soon! I'm excited!!!!!!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Concentration & Focus

Many kids have short attention spans, and I find myself saying "focus!" quite often when I am teaching.  Other favorite phrases are "pay attention" and "concentrate." If you let your mind wander for just one second, you can lose the whole song. One thing music education teaches you is how to pay attention.

In Buddhism, this is what meditation teaches us. It teaches us how to pay attention to our own breath as well as the world around us. When we can pay attention, we can see what is really happening, verses what our ego thinks is happening.

For the past month, I have been working on my own focus. I committed to doing yoga 5 days a week before I put in my 2-3 hours of practice. It's been quite the boot camp of concentration, and I'm pretty sure it's changing my life.

Now my goal is to simply focus on each moment of the music when I sing or play piano. I use the word "simply" quite loosely, because the truth is that focusing on every single moment for the duration of a 5 minute song is anything but simple. It is hard work.

So my friends, that is what I have been up too. What have you been up to? I have to go to yoga. I'm trying Hot Yoga this week. I am surprised at how much I like it! I will write back soon.

Peace & Music,
Bella