Tag Archives: Music

Facing Your Ghosts

28 Aug

I have a ghost in my head. I haven’t seen him in person in four years, but he lingers there, in the corner of my eye; a spectre, the mirror reflection I compare myself to, wondering if I’ll ever measure up.

mr. robb, in 2008, with more than 20 years of choral education under his belt, took the best of the best from all his years back to gilroy’s sister city in japan one last time. I was so blessed to be counted among his number.

This week threw me for a loop. I work for a private school, and I’m in charge of teaching all of my teachers in California how to teach my subject area of expertise. This week, my best teacher quit. And I was asked to fill in. In the classroom, all day, in my area of expertise.

I’ve never been more terrified in my life.

Not when I had to teach the same kids other subjects, not when I’ve had to teach my peers how to do what I do (have you ever had to teach adults? Nerve-wracking, let me tell you), never. If I could choose any subject to teach, music – my passion, my reason for living – would not be it. Totally counterintuitive, right? Unless you’re me, and have trained with some of the best vocal teachers in the world. When you have that background to live up to, no matter how good I am, so matter how gifted a teacher I am, a vocalist I am, I’m going to fail. Because I’ll never be as good as they are.

And yet…

They must have started where I am. They had to have had their first day of school, their first day of teaching, their first piece of music they weren’t quite sure how it went but had to teach anyway. They must have, because no one gets to where they are without taking that first step. I know this…I know this!!! And yet, I’m wracked with insecurity because I won’t be able to do with my kids what they did with me, 20 years into their careers.

I’m not Greg Fritsch. I’m not Mr. Robb.

I’m just little ol’ me.

Nobody. 28 years old without the degree I’d aspired to all these years. 28 years old, only halfway through my 30 before 30 list with little time left to go. 28 years old, filled with a 19-year-old’s zest for life but wanting to have accomplished so much more by now. I never aspired to be Mr. Robb, not without so much more schooling than I have to date. And I don’t have it. And yet today, I have to be him.

Or maybe I don’t.

He’s my ghost, the person I want to be when I stand before a choir of children, because i know how much he moulded me, shaped my life, by being my choir teacher. He’s been my dad, my mentor…but I don’t have to make him my idol. As much as he was the spectre of what I have to live up to as a vocal teacher, he was never part of my life to make me feel like I couldn’t measure up. If I’ve learned anything in the 11 years since I graduated high school, I’ve learned that he was there to inspire me, to help me realize the best parts of myself, like any educator worth their salt would. If he stood before me today, he would tell me I could do it. That I had to make my own way, one step at a time, and that I couldn’t compare myself to where he was 25 years into his career. I didn’t get married thinking I could have the house, the car, the career America sets us up tp expect, but I wanted to step into my career at the level it took him 25 years to achieve.

How arrogant am I?

Maybe I can’t be the next Phil Robb. Maybe one day I will be, I can only hope. But for now I’m going to be the best Mrs. A. there is. I’m scared to death, but any teacher worth their salt started where I am. And this is where I am. Starting at the beginning. Stuck in between the bottom of the barrel and the greatness I grew up with.

Here’s hoping for a successful tomorrow.

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Saturday Soundtrack – Brought to You By Summer Days that Remind You of Being Young and Invincible

21 Jul

Being post-punk myself, I am a sucker for a good post-punk revival sound. The fact that these guys are from New Zeland only makes me love them more.

The Young and Famous has been flitting across my background playlists for about two years, and it seemed like every time I lifted my head to see who sang a song I was really digging it was them. The feel of this song seems to sum up the exuberance of youth for me. Driving down the Pacific Coast highway with the windows down, staring at the clouds while your bff turns the volume up and starts singing behind the wheel, no ponytail holder, but not caring how tangled your hair gets because it just feels so good to feel young and alive and free.

For fans of Pinback, Passion Pit, The Temper Trap, and The Xx.

Young Blood” by The Naked and Famous on Passive Me Agressive You (2010)

Like Ships In The Night

31 May

image from adventures of carly

A year ago I found this image and printed it out. It hangs over my desk at work, a reminder of a small but significant reason why I love music – teaching it, listening to it, performing it. I love that there is a song for everything.

This morning I was driving to work, minding my own business, totally unaware that my simple choice to turn on the radio that morning (not a usual choice for me, as of late) would give God an opportunity to shine a little light into the darker corners of my heart. Not exactly what you expect from your morning commute.

I’ve always found Mat Kearney’s music to be slightly uncomfortable to listen to. It’s not a style I usually go for, but I’ve grown to love his tender tenor and melodic hooks. Plus, he kind of looks like our former Youth and Family Minister. The uncomfortable feeling comes from his lyrics, which are always hard-hitting and honest. It’s like finding a ball of paper in the trash, smoothing it out to see what it is, and realizing you’re reading a page ripped out of someone’s journal. The problem is that as much as those lyrics come straight from his heart, so often I feel like the journal page could just as easily be mine.

I’ll take it, though. Two months ago I was feeling closely identified with Total Eclipse of the Heart.

So I thought I’d share this with you. Because, really, what married person trying their best to do things better than they’ve done before wouldn’t identify with this song?Aren’t we all “just fumbling through the grey/trying to find a heart that’s not walking away?” May it bring a little light into your life today, and hopefully we can make better mistakes tomorrow.

 

Ships In The Night by Mat Kearney on Young Love (2012)

Like ships in the night
You keep passing me by
We’re just wasting time
Trying to prove who’s right

And if it all goes crashing into the sea
If it’s just you and me
Trying to find the light

Like ships in the night letting cannon balls fly
Say what you mean and it turns to a fight
Fists fly from my mouth as it turns south
You’re down the driveway and I’m on the couch

Chasing your dreams since the violent 5th grade
Trying to believe in your silent own way
Cause we’ll be ok, I’m not going away

Like you watched at fourteen as it went down the drain
And pops stayed the same and your moms moved away
How many of our parents seem to make it anyway
We’re just fumbling through the grey
Trying to find a heart that’s not walking away

I turn the lights down low
Walk these halls alone
We can feel so far from so close

Like ships in the night
You keep passing me by
We’re just wasting time
Trying to prove who’s right
And if it all goes crashing into the sea
If it’s just you and me trying to find the light
Like ships in the night
You’re passing me by, you’re passing me by
Like ships in the night

And I’m at the airport waiting on a second plane
Had to pack and you had cramps and I was late
Headed to a red carpet, they won’t know my name
Riding in silence all that we wanna say
About to board when you call on the phone
You say “I’m sorry. I’ll be waiting at home”
Feels like we’re learning this out on our own
Trying to find a way down the road we don’t know

I turn the lights down low
Walk these halls alone
We can feel so far from so close

Like ships in the night
You keep passing me by
We’re just wasting time
Trying to prove who’s right
And if it all goes crashing into the sea
If it’s just you and me
Trying to find the light
Like ships in the night
You’re passing me by
You’re passing me by
Like ships in the night

I’m gonna find my way back to your side
I’m gonna find my way back to your side

Like ships in the night
You keep passing me by
We’re just wasting time
Trying to prove who’s right
And if it all goes crashing into the sea
If it’s just you and me
Trying to find the light
Like ships in the night
You’re passing me by
You’re passing me by
Like ships in the night

How Tuesday – Make a Rockin’ Interval Playlist

15 May

image from run like noone is watching on tumblr

If you’re anything like me, music is a powerful motivator to get moving. Heck, let’s be real; if you’re a human with a pulse, music is a powerful motivator to get moving. I made a goal for this week: to do something exercise-ey every day. Today I set the alarm early to get up for a 40 minute Booty Call, and I’m goin’ a-running! I’ve had the idea to make a playlist specifically for interval running sessions – because I find it so much more satisfying to run intervals based on the length of a song than on an alarm on my watch – so I thought I’d take today’s How Tuesday to share mine with you, and show you how to take all the guess work out of making a rockin’ playlist of your own, custom made for your workout needs.

Step One:

Decide what type of a workout you want to make a playlist for. I wanted about an hour of music for interval training. Interval training means changing up your pace, so I decided to shoot for a more-or-less equal number of songs falling within three ranges of BPM (beats per minute). For hard running I wanted a BPM of between 180 (optimum running tempo) and 170-ish, for jogging I wanted songs in the 160’s – 150’s BPM range, and for walking any BPM’s in the 140’s to 120’s would do me just fine.

Step Two:

Head over to jog.fm to start looking for music. What’s that? You haven’t heard of jog.fm? Honey, you need to head over there! It has never been so easy to find exactly the music you need to get you going! Jog.fm lets you search music by name, genre, hottest or most added, and – most importantly – by your target mile time or BPM! I spent hours sitting in front of my itunes with a metronome trying to figure out how many BPM my favorite songs were. This takes all the stress and guess-work out of finding exactly the music to motivate you. From jog.fm you can listen to your music for free on Spotify, which is convenient if you have a printed out workout or one from a magazine that you can do at home, near your computer. Jog.fm also links directly to iTunes or AmazonMP3 so you can purchase the music to make your playlist.

Step Three:

Narrow your choices. I searched for music in my ranges and click-clicked away to add to my playlist. Since I love a lot of music, I ended up with over three hours worth of songs. (Jog.fm also tells you how many songs you have on your playlist and how long it is. So handy!) This is good and bad, good because you can make several playlists with different lengths for different workouts, bad because you have to cut so many great songs. Be brutal though; the song you sing your heart out to on your evening commute may not be the song that makes you push through that last ten minutes. Like Indiana Jones, choose wisely.

Step four:

Song order. Arrange your songs thinking about how each one begins and ends. You want to feel like one song leads into another, or at least makes sense for your musical sensibilities right next to each other. For example, I would feel jarred and disjointed going from Bjork to Bon Jovi, but Bjork to Portishead? Now we’re talking.

Another thing to consider when deciding the order of your songs is how you want your workout to go. Do you want to let your tempo rise and fall, or do true intervals by alternating faster and slower songs? I chose to do the latter. I made sure to start with a slower song for a warm-up. In the last four songs I stacked two fast-paced songs followed by two of the slowest songs on my list. I wanted to really have to push at the end, then have plenty of time for a cool-down. I plan to listen to my playlist as-is until I get tired of it, then change things up by hitting shuffle. I think it’s fun when I don’t know what’s coming next, plus shaking up your routine is great for optimizing fitness.

Step five:

Download your playlist to your music player of choice, lace up your shoes, and get your booty moving!

As promised, here is one of the playlists I came up with. There’s a little bit of everything on there, and it really gave my morning run a boost. I went ahead and included the song titles with BPM’s listed below the image.

(click for larger)

  1. Viva la Vida by Coldplay – 138 BPM
  2. Hey Ya! by Outkast – 160 BPM
  3. Feel Good Inc. by Gorillaz – 139 BPM
  4. Paper Planes by M.I.A. – 172 BPM
  5. Dancing in the Dark by Bruce Springstein – 148 BPM
  6. Ignorance by Paramore – 171 BPM
  7. Spiderwebs by No Doubt – 142 BPM
  8. Clint Eastwood by Gorillaz – 168 BPM
  9. Suffragette City by Bowie – 137 BPM
  10. Objection (Tango) by Shakira (total guilty pleasure) – 179 BPM
  11. Born to Run (natch) by Bruse Springstein – 147 BPM
  12. Misery Business by Paramore – 173 BPM
  13. Love is a Battlefield by Pat Benitar – 181 BPM
  14. The Edge of Glory by Gaga – 128 BPM
  15. Raise Your Glass by P!nk – 122 BPM

What songs do you love to sweat to?

Saturday Soundtrack: Brought to You By The Hunger Games

24 Mar

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway for a signed copy of Nidhi Chanani’s book Everyday Love. Giveaway closes Monday at 9:00pm PST. Click here for how to enter.

image courtesy of weheartit.com

Oh, I had to.

We saw it last night with a group of friends after enjoying Hunger Games-themed appetizers and beverages. Because we are fangeek dorks.

Abraham’s Daughter  played over the closing credits, and is probably the best known song on the soundtrack aside from Taylor Swift’s collaboration with The Civil Wars. It’s definitely one of Arcade Fire‘s most haunting and spooky releases to date, with a driving beat and an other-worldly, almost childish vocal track. I listened to the soundtrack before seeing the movie, and thought the songs chosen fit the mood set by the Hunger Games books perfectly. Having seen the movie, even though I love the soundtrack, it definitely took a backseat to the overall brilliance of the score and sound engineering in the film (beautiful uses of silence and white noise). I’m not going to hype it up too much more except to say listen to the song and go see the movie because, as any fan of the book knows, the greatness of both speaks for themselves.

Abraham’s Daughter by Arcade Fire on The Hunger Games (Songs From District 12 and Beyond), 2012

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