I love to envision my life as a musical. No matter what I am going through, my songs uplift and guide me.
For the past few weeks, I have been feeling down. I continued to sing at a nearby recording studio vocals for songs that I was working on despite that. When I sang vocals for my song “Music Saved Me” I was very inspired. The noise in my brain melted with the lovely chords and lyrics of that song. It really saved me!
Links to stories where my newest song vocals can be heard:
My emotions are very raw and singing soothes me. I find deep meaning from every song that I am working on. My lyrics can be interpreted in many different ways and that’s what I especially love about them.
Another song I just finished a new vocal for was “Wonder Why.” I was able to relate to my song about suffering because my eyes hurt me so much while I was singing it.
The words of “I wish somehow I could fly – away from sadness, torture and madness” were exactly how I felt and fitting for this post title.
It’s also ironic for me that my newest song arrangement was for “You Are My Wings.” My song was an old love song I composed in 1980; it was a very challenging song for me to sing in my current state. I sang several takes and had zero feeling for my song – even though the arrangement was gorgeous. I wondered if there was a way I could “fly” with it!
My new arrangement can be heard below:
I want to write about something that comes up a lot for me. It is about my reluctance to finalize and sell my music.
There are probably many reasons for this. It starts with the premise that for decades during the time I was married, my self-worth was completely tied to how much money I made as an artist. When I began exploring music, my family “couldn’t wait” to see if I could sell my music and “make it big.” I fell into that mindset, but then decided to let it go because my music was far more healing when I didn’t worry whether it was “commercially acceptable.”
I love sharing and do share freely on my blog. But I would love to have a larger audience, so I am motivated to sell something in order to do that. I’m just not sure when I’m ready to let go of my songs – where I can’t improve upon them anymore.
It’s hard when I tell myself the story that I’m a huge perfectionist and nothing will ever be good enough to finalize. That thought isn’t helpful for me at all.
How can I possibly explain how much I have savored my amazing progress since I started to play my guitar again in 2010? I know perfection is unreachable. I’m very human and embrace that with my songs. But perhaps feeling “I want to be my best” for my songs is unreachable since I plan to keep improving.
The word is that I am close to selling something. My first album will be of 12 instrumentals and it’s a few days away from being available for downloads in over 30 on-line stores including iTunes. I’ve also had 20 songs mastered; I’ve designed several album covers and enjoy figuring out which songs will go with the many albums I have planned. However, I’m not rushing!
Everything I do is almost exclusively self-taught. After 30 years of not doing any kind of music, I had to learn so many things about my voice, guitar, arranging music, performing, as well as recording and computer music programs.
The screenshot above is for a song vocal. It shows two tracks of cross-fades in Garage Band. The yellow pieces come from about ten vocal takes of a song. Every piece represents a word; line or syllable and the blue line/dots are for volume control. I create a sculpted vocal line by fading in breaths and removing sibilance, clicks and harsh consonants. It requires as much skill as any illustration does.
For two years I have worked this way. My first attempts were not very good, but now I can do pretty much anything I want to with my voice. Of course, singing something in a nice way makes all the difference to start with!
What I do is not conventional by any means. But it works for me. It even helps me figure out how I want to sing my song when I perform. Lately, my voice and guitar playing have really connected with my heart. I’ve started to share videos of my performances again on You Tube after taking down all the old ones a few months ago.
Lugging my guitar to an open mic and singing in front of an audience (and cameras) isn’t easy when my eyes hurt. I have let go of worrying whether I am a good enough singer. It’s good enough for me!
A few weeks ago when I was performing, a friend handed me a flier. It was for classes to help musicians promote their music. I went to the website that was listed. There were many interesting workshops but I was especially interested in the idea that I could book a consultation with a music promoter.
Link to that wonderful website for musicians:
I left a message asking to set up an appointment and received a reply from Chris Fletcher. The message was: “Let’s meet so I can answer your questions and you can find out more about the services I offer.” We set up an afternoon appointment later that week at a nearby Starbucks.
I was very excited about my appointment with Chris. I prepared two CD’s of my songs to share.
On the day of our appointment, it was very hot. I wiped the sweat from my forehead as I entered Starbucks. Suddenly, it occurred to me that I didn’t know what Chris looked like. How would I recognize him?
I glanced around and made eye contact with a man sitting nearby. He smiled at me as he looked up from his laptop. I walked over to him and said, “Are you Chris Fletcher?”
He laughed and said, “This happens to me all the time! All over the world this happens!”
I was confused and said, “What are you talking about? Are you Chris?”
He said, “No. But people always come up to me!”
Now I was really sweating. I sat down and wasn’t sure what to do next as a few minutes went by.
All of this was very funny because a moment later a short middle-aged woman burst through the door and walked right over to me. She smiled warmly and said, “Hi! I’m Chris and you must be Judy. I recognized you from the Kulak’s video you sent me.”
It never occurred to me that Chris was a woman! I was chuckling inside for a long time after that.
She and I hit it off and I was very impressed with all the information she shared with me. In my dreams, I wanted her to “take me on” so I boldly asked her if she would consider helping me promote my music. But I quickly realized that agents for musicians were similar to agents I worked with in my art career. They only handled people who were already established.
Chris gently said, “I cannot take anyone else on at this time. I’m stretched too thin already.”
I felt sheepish for even suggesting it. I was a nobody! But of course, I hoped it wouldn’t always be that way.
I told Chris my story and she was very kind.
She said, “Judy, there’s so many things you can do to promote yourself. There are lots of places in this town where you can perform. You can even travel anywhere in this country and find places to play. If you want to do inspirational music – there are churches where you can perform in front of hundreds of people. But first you must have CDs to sell and share.”
She told me she would email me a list of places. I was most comfortable playing at Kulak’s, but now I could explore other venues. I was also interested in her recommendation for a CD duplicator who could do small runs of CDs for me.
I left our meeting and squinted in the sunlight. Chris was a lovely woman and I hoped she’d contact me after listening to my music. It was exciting to imagine being “out there.”
But then, the pain in my eyes overwhelmed me and I realized I was not up to anything that added pressure to my life.
Depression feels like a whirlpool that is hard to swim out of. I will not drown as long as I can breathe. It’s just very tiring.
When I have been at some very low points over the last few years, it was music that truly saved me. I see it as a magical essence that feeds my soul.
But nothing shuts down magic as quickly as pressure does. I am fragile, emotional and vulnerable with my eye condition. Stress causes pain in my eyes and pain in my eyes causes stress.
The idea of singing to large audiences and promoting myself feels scary. I once looked forward to speaking publicly and singing, but now it seems almost impossible. Although I loved some of the ideas that Chris shared with me, I want to “stay safe.”
“P” IN MY LIFE”
I am stuck on the letter “P.” It makes sense because pee is a big part of my life (I drink a lot of water to combat my dry eyes.) My sense of humor has returned!
But this actually relates to the word that started it all – pressure. Because pressure overwhelms me with negative feelings, I started to look for alternate words to combat pressure. And they were all words that began with “P” also.
I want to expand on all those “P” words because they are flying through my mind. I’ll start with the negative ones that go with pressure.
Pressure leads to paralysis and panic. Perfectionism is another word that causes me pain and is a problem for me.
The very first “P” word that came into my mind to combat pressure was the word passion.
My passion for music continues to save me. My emotions are powerful and my heart feels pure when I sing.
Sometimes, I see myself as a Princess. That is such a beautiful image. And so are pink clouds.
I am also a positive thinker.
I can easily hear the progress I’ve made with my music and there are so many possibilities for my life that I never imagined when my journey began. The whole process has been amazing because I never realized my potential. I am so proud!
Because I am very passionate, I spend a lot of energy creating music. It can be exhausting sometimes so I must remember to pace myself. The time that I have spent learning to use a computer has most certainly taught me a lot about patience.
What I treasure most about my current life is peacefulness. Pressure takes that away. It also takes away pleasure, too.
I promise I will share by performing and promoting my music with the world when I’m ready. I pray to God that I will feel better soon because that would make all of this a lot easier!