Confessions of a learning addict…

Confessions of a learning addict…Well, I guess the first step to recovery is admitting that you have a problem, right? I am addicted to taking courses, and love learning new things. My mother and I were talking about this the other day, and in the last 10 years I have taken guitar, piano and cello lessons. I have also done Irish Dance and Tai Chi as well as taking online courses from Ariel Hyatt (Cyber Boot Camp), Cari Cole (Fast Forward To Fame), Sarah Gavigan (Get Your Music Licensed 101) and Bob Baker (Guerilla Marketing Music Mastermind).

So, what keeps me going back to take more courses? I love having a teacher. I have bought the “teach yourself” book and videos, but don’t have the determination to stick to it on my own. I am smart enough that I should be able to teach myself how to play the concertina, but I really need the accountability of seeing someone every week. I need to know that there is a chance that I will embarrass myself completely! I need the chance to fail in order to succeed… I wonder what that says about me?

Just so you know, I am not a good guitarist or pianist… I only took lessons for a short period of time. The instrument that stuck the most, and on which I have taken lessons the longest has been the cello. I believe that I have an affinity for instruments with a bow.

The Irish Dance and Tai Chi lessons have both been part of my process to regain my health and lose weight. I enjoyed and was really quite good at both activities. Both Irish Dance and Tai Chi involve patterns, and my mind works really well with patterns and my memory is excellent! Sadly, I no longer practice either as they do not currently fit into my schedule. I will certainly take more fitness classes as time goes on. I have looked into many other fitness related activities including belly dancing, zumba and step-dancing… Notice, none of these are going to a gym to lift weights. I think that I need the thought of the activity being identifiably creative.

And my online courses, which I started taking a few years ago, were/are all related to my business… How to reach more people, how to step up my game, how to make more money, etc. They have been excellent courses and I would suggest them to anyone involved in the music industry.

So, what do I do now? I have now gained a lot of insight into the music industry and think that I need to take time to implement some of what I’ve learned… No more gathering information… Time to use it! I will be continuing with my cello lessons, but taking some time off from online courses… or at least, that is the plan!

ECMA Day 3

This was my last day at the East Coast Music Week.  It was yet another great day!  The morning and afternoon were spent rehearsing with Symphony NB.  Today our soloists joined us throughout the day, so we rehearsed with David Myles, Chris Colepaugh, Samantha Robichaud and Matt Andersen.  During our lunch break I went to the Moncton Market.  I had never been to the market before, so it was very nice.

After our second rehearsal I headed back to the hotel to get ready for my showcase.  A quick dinner, a change of clothes, and then off I headed to the Delta.  I wanted to stop by and listen to a band called the BackYard Devils.  This is a country/bluegrass/rockabilly band from Moncton.  I went to hear them because a friend of mine had suggested it.  I thought they were great!  One of the things that I love about ECMA is hearing new bands and especially hearing bands that I would not necessarily have gone to hear in another situation.

I had to pick up my CDs today from the Export Buyers room.  This is where artists can drop their CDs off and promoters can pick up CDs from artists that they might be interested in hiring.  I did have a little interest, so that is good.

From there, it was off to the Tide & Boar for my showcase.  Tom Richards had driven from Fredericton to back me up.  We had a great time playing, and the audience was great!  The only strange thing was that they were actually running early.  That is very odd for a music event!

Once my show there was done, I had to walk back over to the Capitol Theatre for the concert with Symphony NB.  The orchestra was made up of members of Symphony NB, the Atlantic Sinfonia and the NB Youth Orchestra.  I think one of my favourite moments in the concert was when David Myles was talking about how great a concept it was having young people playing alongside more seasoned players.  All of us who were not youth were curious where he was going with it when he got part way through the sentence.

All in all, today was a good day!  No big meetings or connections made, but a great day of music!  What else can a person ask for?

ECMA Day 2

Today was a great day!  My day started off meeting up with Paul Milner, a producer from PEI.  We were originally scheduled to talk about doing a Christmas recording, but I have put that plan on the back burner for right now.  We actually ended up talking about some of my plans for teaching, and it turned out to be a great meeting.  I had thought about cancelling the meeting once I had decided not to record again this year, but thought that it could be worth meeting him anyway even if it did not lead to anything right away.

Most of the rest of my day was spent with Symphony NB.  We have teamed up with NBYO to be the back up orchestra for a concert at ECMA.  We will be performing tomorrow night with Matt Andersen, Samantha Robichaud, Chris Colepaugh, and David Myles.  We haven’t rehearsed with the soloists yet and will be doing that tomorrow.  The rehearsals went fine, except that we are playing new arrangements and each time we would rehearse a piece someone else would realize that they didn’t have the music…  By tomorrow night everything will be straightened out though!

I also tried to take in a couple of bands.  I went to hear “Ten Strings and a Goat Skin” at radio ECMA.  Sadly there were technical difficulties, so they band did not get to play live, which is of course what I wanted to hear.  This is a group of three high school kids who play mostly trad but also some original music.  I also went to hear Sprag Session.  I met these guys last year at the EMCAs.  At that point they were going under the name of the Colin Grant Band.  It was nice to see the guys again, and also very nice to hear them.  The final performer I heard today was Chris Colepaugh.  He was playing right before Sprag Session.  I had never actually heard him before.

All in all, a good day.  Tomorrow will be a big day with rehearsals for Symphony NB and my showcase at 7pm.  Looking forward to it!

To Forgive is Devine…

I recently did a gig with my band Different Folk where at first we messed everything up. We were playing in a new venue and had hoped to make a good first impression. We started songs in the wrong key, forgot words, messed up fiddle tunes. Pretty much anything that could go wrong did. As the night progressed though, we did get better, and by the end of the night were the back to being the band that we usually are.

So, what has this got to do with forgiveness? Well, as the night wore on I was thinking about the fact that the best musicians still make mistakes but are able to move on from them quickly. I am always telling my students that you have to let go of your mistakes and focus on what is coming. The more you think about how badly you just played, the more mistakes you make, and the more removed you are from the performance! If you let go of the mistake and focus on playing well for the rest of the night, no one will even remember your mistake! An audience is there to be entertained and not to keep score of how many mistakes you have made!

In the end, I think this advice applies to life in general. Those of you who have been reading my blog know that I have been working on losing weight, and it has been going really well! You also know (by looking at the calendar) that we just passed Easter, and talk about needing to be able to forgive yourself! I love chocolate, and certainly ate some (or maybe a little more than some) over the Easter weekend. One ‘trick’ to long term weight loss is also allowing yourself the occasional transgression, don’t beat yourself up and get back on-track!

Forgiveness is an integral part of my life and what I do. I have always been good at forgiving other people, but it is equally, if not more important, to allow yourself to make some mistakes, get back on track, and then move on with the experience and knowledge that you have gained.

ECMA Day 1

Well, well…  Kim and I got up at 5am today.  We packed up the car and hit the road early, arriving in Moncton around 8:30am.  I managed to check into our hotel (although we couldn’t get access to the room right away) so Kim would have somewhere to hang out.

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Gypsophilia

I headed over to the Delta at 9am, registered, dropped of my CDs to the Buyers Lounge, checked out the schedule and waited for the Export Readiness Pitching Training Workshop.  The workshop was excellent!  We talked about what makes a good pitch and then had a chance to make a 3 minute pitch.  After my 3 minute pitch I was critiqued on what was good and what I need to work on.  That was great!  After lunch three people from the class were chosen to pitch to presenters so we could observe an actual pitching conversation.

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Old Man Luedecke

I also made some interesting connections during the workshop with some of my fellow classmates.  I am always looking for entertainment that might be appropriate for the NB Highland Games in Fredericton, so it was great to meet the representatives for both “10 Strings and a Goat String” and “Arseneault.”  On top of that I met Crystal Mann, a teacher, children’s performer, and violin/fiddle enthusiast from Nova Scotia.

A very cool thing that happened at the end of the workshop was that one of the presenters came to me looking for a CD.  She is a music producer for some TV shows and sometimes needs fiddle music.  There is certainly no guarantee that my music will be used, but this is the start of a relationship, so I am really pleased!

While I was at my workshop, Kim was able to check into the room.  ECMA this year is offering a shuttle service to the hotels where people are staying, which is great!  I was able to meet up with Kim really easily and then we have been able to just leave our car at our hotel.  That is always nice!

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Matt Andersen

In the evening we went to the Roots Room concert.  Performers in the concert included Catherine MacLellan, Matt Andersen, Coco Love Alcorn, Old Man Luedecke, Kim Stockwood, Gypsophilia, ENNIS and Gordie MacKeeman and His Rhythm Boys.  It was a great concert!  During the concert the awards for Folk Recording, Roots/Traditional Solo Album and Roots/Traditional Group Album were all awarded.  I, sadly, did not win the Roots/Traditional Solo (Kim Stockwood was the winner), however, I am still delighted to have the nomination!

All in all, this was a very successful day!