Friday, December 31, 2010

For Now

"For Now" from the musical Avenue Q contains not one, not two, but three key changes up a half-step - the obligatory musical theater modulation taken to extremes.  It's the finale of the show, though, so they deserve to milk it for all it's worth. 

So here we are at the finale of my own little project.  My sister and brother-in-law took the boys to an indoor play area so I could have some much-appreciated quality time with the keyboard.  I almost succeeded in holding in a meltdown last night after my sister suggested, in a subtle way that belies her non-Japaneseness, that the rhythmic thumping of the keys when I practice with headphones might potentially be loud enough to elicit a complaint from the neighbors downstairs.  I was ok until she came to apologize because she felt bad we hadn't made enough time during Normal Waking Hours for me to practice.  I wasn't upset with her, I was just frustrated, and I hadn't had my US RDA of alone time for a while, and -

Well, frankly, it has nothing to do with her or Japan or anything like that - I'm just a little frightened for next year.  I thrive on simplicity, like 12-bar blues, or learn-a-song-a-day - but now it's time to rebalance life, priorities, how I budget my time.  Which is a complicated, ever-changing equation.  I need to subtract song-a-day in order to add important things like write-a-book and find-better-paying-work, but I don't want to lose the traction I've gained this year.  I have a project planned for next year that's more abstract than the simple but time-consuming directive to memorize a song every day, and I'm worried that my little monkey mind won't be able to stick with it. 

Sigh.  Speaking of monkey mind, it's customary to do a sort of year-in-review at this time, is it not?  Let's swing over to that branch now. 

In honor of High Fidelity, I'll start with some Top 5 lists:
5. The Best is Yet to Come - great, interesting form.
4. Friends in Low Places - Vocal. Range. Well done, Garth.
3. Theme from Rocky - nice development of musical ideas.  Dig the combo of fanfare and electric guitar solo in the same song.
2. All I Want for Christmas is You - Discovered to my surprise that I like Mariah.  Won't spoil it by trying to explain.  I just do.
1. Smells Like Teen Spirit - awesome melody.  No wonder this is so coverable.

5. The Story - Brandi Carlile - would like to hear it sung by a man, suspect the melodic range would sit better than in a female voice.  And Brandi Carlile has no business singing about lines on her face, even if she sounds like she's giving herself nodes on her vocal cords by doing so.
4. If It's Magic - Stevie Wonder - don't know.  Maybe I'm jealous of the harp for taking over any of Stevie's repertoire.
3. Foolish - Ashanti - that piano riff really gets on my nerves after a while.
2. What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life - Bergman/LeGrand, various recordings - I prefer my schmaltzy lyrics and slow tempi not to occur in the same song.
1. Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman: - Bryan Adams - Worst. Lyrics. Ever.

5. Summer, Highland Falls (and a lot of other Billy Joel stuff)
4. Honky Cat (and a lot of other Elton John stuff)
3. Lullabye (Ben Folds - for the piano solo in particular)
2. Great Balls of Fire
1. Ribbon in the Sky (and other Stevie Wonder stuff)
0. honorable mentions... too many to mention! Ray Charles, Alicia Keys, Paul Smith (Ella's accompanist)...

As you may have inferred from that last list, doing a song a day had its pros and cons.  One pro - I am familiar with a lot of songs.  One obvious con: I didn't have time to absorb much more than the form and chord progression, and maybe a riff here and there. 

So did I succeed or fail?

Well ok, if you asked me to sit down and play (and sing! that was part of the objective! ack!) from memory down the list of 365 songs, we'd come up with a colossal fail. 

But I would remember some of them.  Maybe even a lot of them.  And I suck less than I did, which, you may recall, was the other objective.

I still wish I could beam myself to where I want to be, literally and musically.  But a journey doesn't just begin with a single step, it continues with further steps, little by little, sometimes assisted by wheeled or jet-fueled vehicles.  Songs: 365 sticks of dynamite (well, maybe a few M60s snuck in there) to blast Perfectionazis out of the way, bridges to connect people who may have nothing else in common, gemstones to decorate my life, companions when my kitten doesn't suffice and real humans are frustrating or unavailable. Three hundred sixty-five stepping stones to help me go, little by little, toward the seemingly-inaccessible town of Less Suckness.  Musical Omniscience is a mirage, like water ahead on the freeway, always out of reach, but Less Suckness is actually as accessible and common as Springfields -it's everywhere along the way! 

Process vs. Product.  We live in a product-oriented culture.  Humbug.  In the end, aren't our lives made up of a consecutive series of Nows, not products-that-we're-buried-with?  I still haven't found what I'm looking for, no.  I'd like to learn actual notes, not just form and harmony that I fake my way through with varying degrees of competence.  I'd like to review what I've learned, so I can retain it.  I'd like to suck less than I do today.  If everything in life is only for now, I'd like to spend most of my Nows playing with words and music (with breaks for family and friends, travel, and shoe-shopping).  Which is what I did this year.  So I'm calling it a success. 

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

New Year's in Japan!

My sister has lived a total of about fifteen years in Japan, between study abroad, work and marriage.  The work program she took part in after college determines where they send people based partially on language ability - people with less Japanese skill will be better off in cities where there is a relative abundance of English.  My sister, being the badass that she is, got sent to the booniest of boonies: a small farming village in Kyushu where she was the first foreign resident, like... ever. I should mention, my sister is 5'10", blond and blue-eyed, about as non-Japanese as a humanoid can get. 

My sister's best Japanese friend, Chieko, is the only child of the sake brewers of that village.  My favorite New Year's ever - and it will be hard to top - was spent at her family's house in Kyushu nine years ago.  New Year's is the big holiday in Japan. Sort of the reverse of the U.S. - Christmas is the date holiday, and New Year's is the go-home-and-get-fat-with-your-family holiday.  Stores close, business associates exchange gifts.  My sister's friend's family had mountains of mikan, and platters and platters of traditional New Year's food from their business associates.  We basically sat around the kotatsu and ate for a couple days.  Everything was closed. Granted, it was a small town, but you could've heard a pin drop anywhere in the village.

On New Year's Eve, my sister and I went to the local Zen temple.  They have a giant bell there that is rung with what is much like a suspended railroad tie with a cord to move it.  The bell is rung 108 times on New Year's (see here for the significance of 108).  Since it's such a small town, I got to smash the railroad tie into the bell a couple times.  Some little kids were keeping count of the rings.  Then my sister and I hung out, drinking green tea and eating cakes with the priest and his wife, who remembered her from her time working in the town.  At midnight, the priest went to the altar (?) and chanted.  We returned to her friend's house, where it was a few degrees warmer inside (no joke, we could see our breath when we were brushing our teeth - I'll have to talk about Japanese houses another time).  We slept on futons under super-warm futon comforters, then got up and had sake for breakfast.  Er, with breakfast.  I'm pretty sure there were few cessations of eating that week. 

Japanese kids usually receive gifts of money at New Year's. I was very surprised to receive such a gift from Mr. Yano, one of the townspeople who had come to New Mexico in a tour group organized by my sister.  My sister's local government job was basically cultural exchange, so why not get to take a trip home by bringing her Japanese country mice to check out Southwest America and its country mice?  Fun was had by all, even Mr. Yano, who put up with an abcess tooth with typical Japanese don't-want-to-trouble-anybody stoicism until it became unbearable and had to be removed in my hometown - imagine having emergency dental work done in a language you don't understand!  Anyway, Mr. Yano gave me a generous New Year's give of 10,000 yen (almost $100) instructed me to get something for myself and for my parents, whom he'd met on the New Mexico trip.

A note on Mr. Yano: had WWII lasted any longer, had we not dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I would never have gotten to meet this kind, humble man.  He was training as a kamikaze pilot when the war ended.  He got to see the yards of the Pima Air Museum near Tucson, AZ, and he said something to the effect of, "What were we thinking?  These were your leftovers," about the giant machines.  The Japanese were prepared to fight until every last one of their young men had gone down in a paper airplane.  So, while I think that the museum in Hiroshima should be required viewing for every single 8-year-old child on the planet, so that we impress upon them before puberty how very stupid and fucked-up war is, I also think that there are at least two sides to every story.  Before Mr. Yano said it, I never thought there could have been any upside, at all, ever, for any individual anywhere, to dropping an atomic bomb.  And even with that slightly conflicted view of that particular sad event in history, I couldn't smile for several hours after leaving the museum in Hiroshima when I visited with my then-boyfriend last time I was in Japan.  Ugh.  Imagine all the people, people, please.

Meanwhile, back in the Kansai area where my sister now lives, my sister and nephews and I went to visit Chieko.  Chieko married a sake brewer from this area, so my sister very conveniently has a friend nearby.  We had okonomiyaki lunch with Chieko and her kids, sent her son to cram school with a packed dinner (6+ hours of cram school on vacation, ugh!), and went to her house via the sake brewery.  I got to have a quick little tour of the brewery, proof that even when I am almost-studiously avoiding tourism, I still get to do cool stuff.  Tamara and Chieko and I drank tea and ate little yummy things like good grown-ups while the kids ran around and played their noisy rambunctious bilingual play.  Chieko's daughter can definitely keep up with my two nephews.  I'm pretty sure she's a superhero. 

I wasn't sure where I was going with this when I started writing.  I probably wanted to talk about food.  That's usually where I'm going when I start - food or music theory.  But my natural gravitas strikes again, and I can't help but notice something non-food-related:

My grandpa, who earned a Purple Heart fighting in Europe in WWII, often referred to "Japs", at least until my sister moved to their country and seemed to be happy.  Mr. Yano got his tooth extracted while visiting America, a tooth he wouldn't have had in a lifespan he wouldn't have had if WWII had lasted only a few more days.   My sister was doing a summer internship in Florida between years of grad school when one of her assignments was to interpret for a Universal Studios Japan team that had come to study the park in Orlando prior to building the park in Osaka.  One of the few young, single Japanese men who is taller than my sister happened to be on that team, and he is now my brother-in-law.  They have two little halflings, who live in Japan but speak English much of the time, and who live in appropriately-neutral Switzerland for several weeks every summer while my sister works in-house for her main client in Geneva.  Chieko's daughter picked up more English yesterday while playing with my nephews - (kids learn so fast - I heard her correct her pronunciation of "sneck king" to "snake king" after hearing it a couple times from my nephews... goodness knows what a perennially-useful phrase "snake king" is, but it had something to do with whatever game they were making up). 

When the bomb fell on Hiroshima in August 1945, it killed everything for miles around - tens of thousands of people, and all the vegetation.  No one knew when spring might come again, or if it would come, in a stark wasteland peopled with grievously-injured survivors.  In the museum, there's a photograph of one brave little flower coming up out of the barren ground the following spring.

Every culture seems to have a winter solstice observation of hope and light before the darkest and coldest time of year sets in.  This has been my Blog Post of Hope and Light.  Thank you. 

Anyway, Centerfold

Today's songs:
"Centerfold" by the J. Geils Band, and "Anyway" by Martina McBride.

"Centerfold" now belongs in an ever-growing medley I call "Songs in the Key of G".  The medley includes but is not limited to "Blackbird", "Wake me Up When September Ends", and "Chasing Cars" (which is in A, but playing "Wake Me..." makes me want to play it).  I managed to peel myself away from ebay long enough to listen to a few of the surprisingly numerous covers of this song.  I guess I shouldn't be surprised, because that opening riff is really catchy. 

"Anyway" - to be learned after dinner (do-it-yourself sushi here at my sister's place).  This song belongs to a small set of seasonal Songs that Pertain to Important and Meaningful (if Often Tedious and Annoying) Life Lessons Learned This Year, or SPIM(OTA)LLLTY for... short?  Hm.  Well, anyway - unintentional pun - I'll list those songs with short explanations:

1. "Crystal Ball" -
a. Pink's songs are formulaic (my exploration of Funhouse album in early spring was how verse-chorus-bridge form really sunk in - went from knowing-it-in-my-head to ah-ok-so-that's-what-that-is), but I like them anyway.
b. I-IVsus2 = instant pop song
c. There are a lot of lyrics in this song that resonate with me after this year.  I don't think I can sum it up into one pithy sentence, so just go listen to the song.  That's why they exist, after all.

I'm sure I will have geeky musical thoughts about these songs too, but I haven't worked on them yet, so no conscious observations...

2. "Anyway"
I don't know if my career is ever going to take off to the point where I'm being paid to be creative, or if I will remain a respected-in-my-circle but unknown accompanist/music director.  I intend to cobble these posts together with other journaling and writing I've been doing this year into a book, and I intend to record an album that includes some of the songs I've worked on this year, but who knows if it will reach beyond those who already know about it.  I put so much time into things that may never pay off.  But what am I gonna do, not try?
Again, the song says it better.

3. "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For"
There are so many more songs in the world!  I still need to suck less every day!  Ack ack ack ack ack!
I will study music my whole life.  Hopefully I will have the good fortune to make my living at it too, since that's just a more efficient use of my time - on-the-job training.

4. "Only For Now"
Avenue Q is one of my favorite musicals.  It is so expertly crafted, in addition to being funny and irreverent, which entertainment should be if it possibly can.
The bitch about live performance is that you have to get it right time after time, not just once so you can hand it over to the editing team (TV/film actors = sometimes a questionable casting choice for the Broadway stage, just sayin').  As my technique improves, I am beginning to sense that consistency in my playing might actually be in the realm of possibility.  That's exciting.  But I still have to pay attention to what I'm doing.  Because music is only for now.  Or something (go listen to the song).

And then I learn songs like "Centerfold" to crack myself up...

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Playing Catch-Up

I seem to have two speed settings: GOGOGOGOGOGO!!! and crasssssshhhhhhh.  Clearly I'm in crash mode at the moment, because all I want to do is rot my brain with tv and internet, and I have no inclination whatsoever to practice.  Ah, vacation.  That time when your brain refuses to work, and it's kind of ok.  

Need to catch up on two things - song-learning and shoe-shopping.  One GO-related and one crash-related.  Song-learning: I discovered a grave Supergeeky Spreadsheet Error yesterday - I do, in fact, have five extra songs to learn before 2011 arrives, because try as I might, I couldn't squeeze in the rest of the make-up songs before I left New York, and I lost most of a day coming here that I won't get back until I return after New Year's.  So I need to double up these last few days.  Oh well.  At least I have plenty of time.  I'm beginning to suspect that Time and Motivation are the same person, since I never see them at the same time. 

The Song Plan:
Today (the 27th) - "Go Your Own Way" and "I'll Be Home For Christmas" (as soon as Mary Poppins is over)

The Rest of the Year (I can't believe we're nearly at the end of it!!):
Crystal Ball (Pink)
Anyway (Martina McBride)
I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For (U2)
Only For now (from Avenue Q)
Centerfold (J. Geils Band)
Sleigh Ride
It's My Party and I'll Cry if I Want To
Blue Suede Shoes

I had grand plans of planning a clever curriculum for myself at the end of the year, to highlight my growth over the course of the year blah blah blah, but 1) I'm allergic to waxing toooooo philosophical (sometimes, like when I'd rather be shoe-shopping) and 2) I just didn't have time (I had motivation, though - see what I mean?).

The past few weeks, I've had the same feeling I get whenever I reach the end of a trip - excitement/panic and a sense of "Oh no!  I haven't done this and this and that!  I have to come back!" - only I rarely do go back to these places unless I have family there.  I've decided to handle this existential panic by trying not to do too many things I don't want to do (hence the state of cleanliness or lack thereof of my apartment), trying to make sure the things I bother with are things I want (hence the prevalence of cookies in my diet), and not worrying too much about the rest.  So I try to avoid stupid songs that I hate, and pick songs I think I'll like, and not worry too much about the ones I haven't had time for.  And I keep reminding myself I can continue to learn songs after this year... though I seriously need time for, like, a boyfriend, and occasional shoe-shopping...

Speaking of which... auctions await (shoes, not boyfriends).

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Theme from Rocky

I have just learned my song of the day, and I will take one further brief moment away from gorging myself, looking at clearance shoes online, and watching my nephews play in order to post this brief log. 

Theme from Rocky (or, How to Impress Your Nephews)
So far, in Japan, I have played legos, watched Star Wars, and eaten the tamales and cookies that are a holiday tradition in my family (props to my sister for making the tamales - I picked up corn husks, the one ingredient that's impossible to find in Japan, and the proprietors of the Mexican grocery near my apartment asked if I was making tamales.  My response was along the lines of, "hell no, but my sister is!"). 

it's really loud in here right now - my nephews are playing with my brother-in-law and their new toys.  They are as brainy as they are loud...
I don't really feel like spending any more time writing this when I have family to hang out with and cookies to eat and shoes to find, so I'll just take notes:

WHY Rocky: it was playing in the car, and my nephews like this song, and I realized I'd never really learned a mostly-instrumental well-known song.  Also, it appeals to my oft-ascendant inner tomboy. 

HOW: ipod, keyboard, 2 sets of headphones (one to cancel out external sounds like excited nephews), one headphone/jack adapter we finally found yesterday at the third electronics store we tried.  Repetition.  Handwritten chart. 

THOUGHTS: would be fun to take more time to transcribe more specific horn/string lines and make a more detailed piano arrangement.  But my younger nephew looked suitably impressed when I took the headphones out of the keyboard and played it for general consumption. There are few parts that repeat exactly in this song - it's more through-composed than most pop songs with lyrics.  Usually it's only a small change - it sounds more repetitive than it is, because the fanfare thing keeps going and unifies it. 

Ok.  Back to family, food, and shoe-shopping, the Kat-on-Vacation Trifecta of Happiness.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Christmas Song

My computer has caught on that I'm in Japan, because all the links on the browser are in Japanese, which makes for interesting surfing.  I learned The Christmas Song (you know, the one about the chestnuts) this morning on the keyboard here at my sister's house in a suburb of Osaka.  I listened to Sammy Davis, Jr. and Diana Krall, and played the song in a few different keys.  Then we all went, my sister, brother-in-law, two nephews and me, and did some shopping and ate some amazing conveyor belt sushi for lunch.  A little more shopping, and now it's about 1 a.m. in New York, and siesta time here, so I'm about to crash for an hour or two.  My sister has been combing through her CDs of 80s music and making song suggestions for the last few days of the year, but has asked to receive neither blame nor credit for my choices.  Yay vacation and family time!

Recent songs: 

"Feel" (Robbie Williams)
"Ev'ry Time We Say Good-Bye"
"Tempted" (Squeeze)

"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"
"Oh Darling"
"A Child is Born"

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm

I just want this effing gig that provides less than 5% of my income and has taken waaaaaaaay more than 5% of my practice time to be freaking over already.  Jeez.  (You know I'm cranky when I go full circle from fake swearing through real swearing to fake swearing again.)  One more day.  21 hours from now, I will be pouring red wine down my gullet to decompress a little, because all the gigs requiring major prep will be over. 

Anyway...New York English: "happy holidays" is what we say to wish someone a pleasant December/January celebration.  It's politically incorrect to wish someone a merry Christmas here, because, well, what if they're Jewish or something?  So cocktail and background gigs this time of year can be awkward, knowing some people want to hear holiday music, some people are offended that their minority religion is underrepresented by holiday music, and some people are sick to death of the same damn songs being forced up their eardrums by our capitalist pig consumer economy boombox since mid-October. 

And that's where songs about cold weather come in.  Today's song - written by a Jew, like many good cold weather songs and in fact many popular Christmas songs (money moeny money...side note: these songwriters are savvier than I - see 1st paragraph regarding 5%) - ahem, today's song is a lovely AABA tune... with a twist.  For all my worshipful praise of 32-bar AABA form, none of the standards I've picked recently have been that clear cut.  "Embraceable You", "A Foggy Day" and "Moon River" are all ABAC: question-answer, question-different answer.  "Moon River"'s C is fourteen bars long (the rest of the sections are a more normal eight).  "I've Got My Love..." definitely has a discernible bridge, new key and everything ("off with my overcoat) - but while the bridge is Ye Olde Normal Eight, all the A sections are sixteen bars long - two eight-bar phrases each, a question and an answer.  Best of both worlds.  So, if you were really, really nerdy like me, you could, if you had nothing better to do, analyze it as (AB)(AB)C(AB). 

Or you could just sit down and play it like a normal human.  I've played this one from the sheet music many times.  It's one of those handy holiday season songs where, if I'm doing a little improvising over the form to stretch it out and it's gone on rather long enough but then I see a couple guys in suits and yarmulkes walk by, I'll take another chorus.  And now I know that the long A sections have collectively given me an extra twenty-four bars to stall with. 

Fun with standards: tonight I listened to the Ella and Billie versions I already own, then looked on youtube and playlist to investigate other versions.  Listened to Dean Martin's, part of Frank Sinatra's (could only find a snippet), and a dance remix of Kay Starr singing it.  New discovery, Kay Starr.  That track, which I ended up downloading, will be handy for days when I decide to prance around my living room for my cat's entertainment because I can't get it together to go to the gym.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Embraceable You

It occurs to me as the year draws to a close that, in doing a song a day, I might have been better served by really sticking to the traditional definition of a standard song -  one that has become standard repertoire of many musicians and has been covered a zillion times. 

Standards are about structure - what does a given arranger or performer hang on that same structure?  Strings?  A clever intro or tag?  A face-melting guitar solo?  (Yes, please, if only because then I can say "face-melting guitar solo").  Structure is the first thing I take note of when I learn a song, at least if I'm trying to memorize it.  Specific notes of a piano part, not so much.  There are a few iconic piano riffs that stick - some of the Billy Joel and Elton John stuff, some 80s piano-based power ballad stuff - but the main thing that sticks is the harmony and the form.  Guess specifics will have to wait til another year (more on this anon).  All I can really hang onto, since I'm not just learning to play but also memorizing, is the form and chord progression of a given song - the bare minimum that I need as a pianist to fake along with a singer.  I guess it's good to learn how to do the bare minimum, since my natural instinct is to do everything the hardest, most complicated way possible! 

Tonight I'm doing a standard - finally getting around to "Embraceable You".  Can you imagine how much darker and drearier the world would be without the Gershwins?  I've listened to a few different versions: Art Tatum solo piano, Ella's Nelson Riddle arrangement, Judy Garland, Etta James, Rod Stewart.  My M.O. for learning songs for much of the year has been to put the most famous recording of said song on my ipod, but on my headphones, and learn it by ear.  I think maybe I'll experiment with twinkling along with a couple different recordings, and then figuring out my own little arrangement of this standard.  We'll see how it goes. 

Build Me Up Buttecup

VR: C'mon, Kat - all you have left to do tonight is learn your song.  Hop to it.

KG: What's that you say?  All I have to do tonight is get really, really hammered?

VR: No... even though that's what you want to do... just focus and work hard for five more days and it'll calm down a bit.

KG: Arrrghhhhhhhhhhh...

Ok, I'm glad that the voice of reason won out tonight, and I stopped at my customary two-beverage maximum while out with my old roommate who's in town - I have five more days of plowing through, and no time for a hangover.  More to the point, my song tonight was really fun.  I chose it because one of the contestants at my Stonewall gig sang it to a track a couple weeks ago, and I thought it'd be a good one to learn.  It has a I-III7 chord progression, one of my favorites.  It has other secondary dominants as well.  Secondary dominants... I have already paid my theory nerd dues today, teaching a pack of actors some klunky vocal arrangements (I got them to identify plagal cadences by ear, yay, can I get an amen?); suffice to say, secondary dominants are like briefly passing through another key on the way back to tonic. 

mmm... tonic...
I kinda miss having a social life, you know?  Stupid New York with its high cost of living and fierce professional competition and atmosphere of driven-ness.  I've been thinking a bit about what to do next year.  I want to keep growing as a musician, but I need to have a life.  And maybe a buttercup (not to be confused with a peanut butter cup). 

To be contemplated more later.  Now gonna catch some zzz's before I wake up and pull a beginning piano workshop out of thin air.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


Recent songs:
River - Joni Mitchell
All I Want for Christmas is You - Mariah Carey
My Guy - Mary Wells
Baby, It's Cold Outside (used the Ella/Louis Jordan and the Rod Stewart/Dolly Parton versions)
Taking Chances - Celine Dion

I have had geeky thoughts about all of these songs, of course, but no time to record them in a way that is intelligible to other life forms, so you'll just have to wait until my book for recent geekery.  Been busy learning 35 mm by Ryan Scott Oliver for a pair of performances next Monday - love his work, love working on new shows, and it's great to play with a band.  Also hacking through as much of the Christmas section Handel's Messiah as I can before a singalong next Wednesday that will be, um, an adventure (in the sense that not getting to rehearse with conductor or soloists before the gig is an adventure).  'Tis the season.  Looking forward to a few hours to go Christmas shopping and maybe bake some Christmas cookies before I leave for Japan! 

Saturday, December 4, 2010

My Favorite Things

FAIL.  Every couple weeks I have a day where I am just too tired for ANYTHING.  In the morning, I taught three new classes at Circle in the Square - well, old classes, but new to me as I was subbing for my friend-the-usual-music-theory-teacher.  Then in the afternoon, in increments of an hour each: travel/break, rehearsal, travel/break, coaching with a new client.  Taught a lesson to a new student in the early evening.  Afterward, returned home and attempted to be productive with very, very limited success.  New classes/clients/students take extra mental energy, and I was a little fried.  The four-hour practice session was simply not to be. 

Went to bed early on the condition that I get up early to read through a musical score I have to learn over the weekend.  "Learned" "My Favorite Things" and "Edelweiss".  Quote marks around "learned", because I just sounded them out by ear, played through each a couple times, and called it a night.  I have heard these songs since I was little.  Downloaded them this morning (I did manage to roll out of bed before 6:30, which is not terrible since an "early" bedtime for me is 11:45 p.m.), will print the lyrics and analyze and listen to the arrangement.  Probably will only count one of them - I mean, how half-ass can I get?  Then again, I guess being able to sound out a song I know by ear but have never played from memory is an important skill too.  Rationalize much?

Today: Born to be Wild

Thursday, December 2, 2010

I Hope You Dance

I am very excited right now, because I had a double cappuccino to counteract my sleep deprivation, and because my first column for the website Big Vision Empty Wallet just went up - check it out:

Recent songs:
MON: Toby Keith, "Should've Been a Cowboy".  Love this song.  It reminds me of seventh grade.  It also makes for a really good androgynous facebook status update: "Kat Sherrell should've been a cowboy."  Not quite as good as "Kat Sherrell knew it complete when she wore a younger man's clothes", but not bad either.  China is definitely going to take over the world, because all the movers and shakers in the "free" world are sitting on their asses of an afternoon, thinking of clever status updates.  Anyway...

TUE: I earned back my political karma by learning "Not Ready to Make Nice" by the Dixie Chicks.  Listen to the bridge.  Go.  Go now and listen (in fact, if you download it from here, I earn 10c ... I just found out I've earned a single dime from one download!  ...But amazon won't pay in increments less than ten bucks.  It made me laugh to find this out when they emailed me saying I should finish filling out my contact info so they could pay me.  Gotta love automated emails.  The bridge to "Not Ready to Make Nice" (it could also potentially be analyzed as verse-two-on-feminism-and-steroids - the chord progression stays the same, and the bridgey-melody part interrupts at the midway point on the verse): ladies and gentleman, this is the proper way to respond to a death threat. 

WED: John Hiatt, "Have a Little Faith"
TODAY: Lee Ann Womack, "I Hope You Dance"

Outta time for writing!  Please check/share out my column (or this or any of my posts, if you feel so inclined and have more than three facebook friends ;)!