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!!!!!!