braindribbles

Posts Tagged ‘Music

rainbow daylight front

 

The blurb you need to read first

First of all, apologies. I have literally run out of original photos since the monster montage of the previous post, so other than the top picture, you’re going to get text only on this occasion. Second, this’ll be more serious than before…but not that much more serious. Third of all, it is very, very long. I nearly broke it into two posts, but it didn’t seem like the right thing to do. Make yourself a cuppa before settling in.

Basically, three things have been happening concurrently that have had a major positive impact on me this last year or so. One is doing the hair thing. Another is the major increase in paid work as a musician. And the third thing is regular visits to Joy, who is a CBT therapist with many other qualifications to boot.

I have to admit, whilst I think I get which way round things went, and which things had an impact on the success of what, I’m still not 100% sure. I don’t really know if I can say that any one thing had more impact than the others. Have a read and see what you think. It’s still a little fresh and under-edited, but hopefully you’ll make good sense of it.

 

Back Story

In the spring/summer of 2014, while I was unwittingly rather high on the anxiety/depression scale, I also had an opportunity on the music front. The first in many years. The chance to sing professionally. I’d sung at a professional standard before, but never been paid for the privilege. So when I was asked to sing at a wedding ceremony, I jumped at the chance. I didn’t know if that was going to be it for several more years, or if it was the start of things to come. But somewhere deep inside my subconscious I knew that that was what I wanted to do more than anything else. It set me on a path. So there was that going on.

Soon after that, I got to a point where things were just awful. And guilt-ridden…I had a good life, didn’t I? So why wasn’t I enjoying it? Why wasn’t I coping? I eventually realised that it wasn’t going to get better by itself and got in touch with Joy. That set me on a road to recovery and fixing my thought patterns so that they weren’t constantly berating me for not being good enough.

After a couple of months I had a fragile kind of happy going on. It wasn’t easy, as family life had to continue, and I had to keep earning. But then more music was happening. It turned out it wasn’t a one-off. I could actually sing and make some money out of it. And that boosted my happy factor big time. Nothing better for your self-esteem than being paid to do the one thing you love more than anything else in the world.

And then I was ready. I had arrived at a point where I realised I was properly OK again. And it was at around the same time that my thoughts kept turning to hair colour.

Now, if you know me well, I’ve not been one to particularly want to tread the beaten path. I’ve always done my own thing, and if I get really into an idea, no matter how strange or crazy, I will still just go ahead and do it. Hence the marathon. And that’s kind of what happened with the hair thing at this point. I couldn’t let the idea go. So I figured I’d better scratch the itch, satisfy my curiosity and deal with the consequences. (You can read about that here.)

loved my new hair at the time. It was a huge deal. In hindsight it was a little nuts, but I’m so glad I did. I look back at those early photos now and I have to admit I’ve eyed them up with suspicion, as the colour then was very simple and I wasn’t that keen on the rest of my appearance….but what I do love is how it changed me on the inside.

 

Reflecting back

Yes. Flattering or not, having hair that bright meant that I would no longer be able to shrink away and hide. It still felt like me, but it felt like the bold, brave, confident version of me. Which was always part of me; it’s just that I sometimes had to dig down and find it. Now it was there and out on display all the time.

Fake it till you make it

There’s a brilliant TED lecture somewhere. I’ll link it as it’s hugely significant for me. Here you go.

I found myself in a very similar position. It took a few weeks to get used to having the bold me on display all the time, and it did feel pretty weird for a while, but as described in the video, it just became normal. And once it had, it was transformative in everything that I did. It felt like the me that had been fighting to get out, but simply hadn’t had an outlet. Changing my hair forced the issue. I was this person, and most importantly I loved being this person. It was the me that came out occasionally with the kids when other grownups weren’t looking, or when I was really relaxed and happy. Only now it was…just me.

There’s more to it

Of course there’s more to it. I still have hang-ups about my body image, guilt about whether I’m parenting my children the right way, and major issues with screen addiction that lead to very little sleep. There’s a whole load of grey. Only now I feel happy and confident most of the time in spite of all those things. Even when I’m really tired. Even when I’ve got too much going on and I feel like I’m on an endless treadmill. Also, I’m dealing with all those things bit by bit. Not least because I still see Joy once a month. Seeing Joy helps get everything into perspective. Is it just my mind playing tricks on me? Is it something I can do something about? Also, she’s fun. She always has me in a good mood even if we’ve dealt with some emotional stuff.

Why colour and why hair?

It’s funny that it manifested in colour, isn’t it? If I’m honest, I’ve always loved colour. It’s just that my mum loves colour too, and the rebellious teenager lurking within me even now still hates the idea of having such a similar trait. So it’s quite convenient that I found a way to express my love of colour in a very different way. The subconscious is pretty sly, isn’t it? And I have to admit, I’ve only realised that tonight. Blogging is good for things like that.

The slight catch

So now I’ve realised all this, doing crazy things to my hair has served me incredibly well this last year. And I feel that if I wanted to I could still keep the happy, confident me and go back to a more conventional appearance.

Only thing is, I’ve kind of developed an obsession. It’s going to be a very long time before I get to a point where I’ve had my fill of all the possible colour combinations out there. If I have a moment of idle thought that isn’t taken up with some aspect of family life, or a piece of music I’m working on, it’s fairly likely I’ll be pondering hair colour. Right now I’m dithering when and how to do Christmas hair this year – it’s proving to be a real dilemma.

And there’s another thing. I suspect after all the colour, I’d find conventional hair terribly boring. Yes, I love it on other people. I love it on my children and my husband. I’ve even tried on wigs once or twice to see how I feel about it. Here’s the thing. I look in the mirror and it feels like I have lost part of my identity. Which is just bizarre, but there you go.

 

How I feel now

Writing this was quite a learning experience for me. I didn’t quite appreciate how differently I would feel about it now compared to a year ago. I felt superb a year ago, but somehow, today I feel miles better still. The confidence thing is innate now. The fun that felt inhibited, well, it’s on display. The sense of adventure in the everyday. That’s normal now.

If I had known I could love my life quite this much a couple of years ago, I wouldn’t have understood that it could be possible, let alone believed it. I thought I was muddling through OK, as long as we didn’t have anything hugely difficult to deal with at the time. I didn’t recognise that I could be so much happier.

So I’m very thankful for how those three major changes in 2014 came about. For people who don’t know me well, it probably looks like a mid life crisis. I am 41, after all, and the timing fits. Though of course, for me it feels like the exact opposite of a crisis. Cheesy though it sounds, for me, it feels like God decided it was my time to shine. 🙂

Easter Music

Posted on: 02/04/2013

I promised you more about my musical shenanigans… and it’s been a very interesting couple of months on that front.  In a good way!  (It’s rare for me to not enjoy anything involving music.  Unless it’s rap or hip-hop, of course. Oh, and terrible 90s club music. Ugh.)

The bad news is, our choir’s professional conductor fell ill and had to take time off for a couple of months.  The good news is, he’s now fine. And in the meantime the choir kindly let me have a go at the helm.  So I spent Friday afternoons waving at the piano to the music, Friday evenings waving at the choir singing the music, and finally last week waving at the choir performing the music in concert.

Steep learning curve doesn’t even begin to describe it. I had to re-learn how to conduct properly rather than just keep a beat ticking (even that was back in my student days), and I had to really know the music.  As someone who’s been lucky enough for sight-reading to come naturally, that was a surprise.

But it was so worth it.  I enjoyed the experience immensely.  If I’m not mistaken and people did honestly appreciate and enjoy the concert, I was OK at it too.

And, even though I could never keep that kind of thing up while the kids are still young, it did ignite a spark of ambition to take this more seriously some time in the not-too-distant future.

I feel a summer school coming on one day …

Remember my last post? Anticipating a no-show on my first singalong day?

Well it turned out just fine in the end.  Totally not what I expected – it was supposed to be all about grown-ups doing grown-up music and playing grown-up instruments and singing grown-up songs.

What did we do instead? Kids songs.

Well, there were more children there than there were adults.  And they didn’t want to join in if they couldn’t have some kiddie songs they liked.  And we would have had virtually nobody if they hadn’t joined in.  So kids songs it was.

Thankfully, I have some excellent Sandra Boynton music that everyone enjoyed.  Top of the hit list was ‘I want to be your personal penguin’, and everyone strummed and sang and bashed and rattled.  Great stuff.

Next time, however, I am hoping for more grown-up stuff. The kids are keen to play board games in the next room, and they can do that if they aren’t pretty much the only ones there.  They are particularly keen to play with other kids that turn up.  And I am particularly keen that they give us grown-ups some space to enjoy ourselves.  On our terms.

So, though I have no regrets, next time I am looking forward to singing some grown-up songs. With grown-ups.

Can’t wait.

I write this on the eve of a work-based trip to Manchester. A colleague is doing the driving; all I have to do is take in the sights – mostly of traffic jams on the M6 – and I get around 40 hours away from small people and loved one.

It’s at times like this that I have to remember who I am without all that other baggage.  If I don’t identify myself as a mum, or as a wife, what I have left is music (not what the trip is about) and my training (entirely what the trip is about).  I am going to spend two whole days behaving like an adult, or at least, behaving as if I were the most important person that I have to deal with on a regular basis.

an NCT antenatal class

Image courtesy of the NCT

If I have music and antenatal teaching to outwardly define me when I’m out on my own, what does that mean? I am using the words as if they were labels. I feel strongly that they are not, but nevertheless they are the two most important things in my life after family.

Since this trip is all about antenatal teaching – a study day and a national forum – perhaps I should try to work out why that in particular is so important to me. Earning money as an antenatal teacher is a bit of a joke; unless you compromise on family life, it’s very difficult to work for more than sixteen hours a month or thereabouts, and it’s quite difficult to manage even that much with the current bookings system.  So, it couldn’t possibly be about the money.

an NCT class

Image courtesy of the NCT

What teaching antenatal classes means to me is the opportunity to help people find their way through such a special time in their lives. They come to the first class anxious, scared, knowing very little, and by the time they leave to have their babies, they feel revved up and ready to face the challenges and wonders that make up childbirth and becoming a parent.  It’s amazing to be able to give people the tools to help themselves through what can sometimes be a very difficult period, and to see them make friends for life through the classes.

Nevertheless, when I go to these big forums or conferences, I do feel very intimidated. I, a mere student in a sea of qualified teachers, unused to the hustle and bustle, and not entirely sure I belong at times.  Particularly on this occasion, when events have caused me to question things in a way I wouldn’t have dreamed of a year ago.

So, I’ll go, and I’ll feel small and insignificant, but at the same time I will revel in doing something that means a lot to me, and that has nothing to do with family.

I say that, of course, but…I would never have been inspired to teach if it hadn’t been for my family.  Funny how these things come full circle, isn’t it?

Here’s another of my discoveries.  It’s a full-length version of Toto’s ‘Africa’, done completely acappella by a large Slovenian choir.

Putting it like that, you might be inclined not to watch it.  But do.  I really can’t believe such a large choir can be this good at acappella.  Also the start’s a bit of a treat too…

As you may have gathered from many of my previous posts, I am nuts about singing.  I especially enjoy acappella, but I’ll sing anything just so I can get my singing fix.  The kids are at that age where me spontaneously bursting into song is just a little embarrassing; I can’t possibly imagine why.

There are loads of opportunities to sing out there, but I haven’t found a single one that doesn’t require a childcare solution; that’s why I decided to set up a once-a-month Saturday singing group.  People come for the day, the children run around playing with each other, it’s all very informal but a lot of fun.

Trying to get a bunch of other parents – and non parents for that matter – together on a sacred Saturday, is tricky to say the least.  Let’s face it; most people have plans for most of their Saturdays. We have so far managed just the one Saturday, and since then either I have been busy, or everyone else has.  (And you do tend to need a certain number of people if you want to sing acappella.)

I am struggling with this issue.  I can’t see a way through.  Sundays are also sacred in a similar way to Saturdays – you might even say more so – and weekday evenings require childcare.  I can’t plan long-term until after we have successfully moved house, and until that happens we are at the mercy of short-notice viewings anyway.

Sigh.

I think I am going to have to revise my ambitions a little.  What I’m going to do is keep holding one Saturday a month for singing, but not worry about the numbers – I’ll make it an open house instead.  Whoever we get, however many we get, we’ll just sing along either to my guitar (or piano once we eventually move) or one of many backing tracks I have, jointly, individually, whatever people feel comfortable with.  And on those occasions where we do get enough people to come along, then we can have another go at the acappella stuff.

That sounds to me like it has considerably more chance of success.   I get to spend time with friends and sing at the same time.  A vast improvement from having to cancel all the time.

Yeah.  That should do it.  I feel better already.

I’m feeling more and more of an urge to arrange a funky song into an acappella number.  I have many possibilities to choose from, but I’m never going to get the time to do more than one, or at a push, two, before moving house.  So I have a dilemma: what shall I arrange?

domdeen / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Firstly, much as I love Glee, I’m not inclined to copy anything they’re doing.  It would be too samey.  But I can think of many, many songs that are crying out to be sung by an acappella group.

I have such a vast selection of favourites, I clearly need help choosing… So give me a hand and let me know what you think I should do.
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I eagerly anticipate your responses…