Sounds of Freedom

I'm so happy to have my song 'Reach Up' included in the Sounds of Freedom 76 -  a podcast compilation of "conscious musicians" put together by Mark Devlin, a musician and music industry researcher. My song is around the 40th minute, but the whole hour is packed with incredible music that is uplifting, inspiring and loving. Truly loving. 

https://soundcloud.com/mark-devlin/the-sound-of-freedom-show-76

K-RINO: T-RASH INTERVIEW

PTP FEAT. STEVE GRANT & ALAIS CLAY: TIME FOR A CHANGE

PHAT KAT & DJ DISTER: REVOLT FOR CHANGE

DEVLIN FEAT. HARRY JAMES: LIFE

JON WAYNE FEAT. ZEROH: AFRAID OF US

TALIB KWELI & STYLES P: IN THE FIELD

SIZZLA KALONJI & JAH MALI: TROUBLE

KATCHAFIRE: IF I HAD THE WORLD

KABAKA PYRAMID & NOTIS HEAVYWEIGHTROCKAZ: GENERATIONS WILL RIZE

TRUTH TRIP:

WHODINI: FRIENDS

JODY WATLEY FEAT. RAKIM: FRIENDS

TEN CITY: SUPERFICIAL PEOPLE

LUMAN CHILD FEAT. JOSEPH JUNIOR: HEY BROTHER

LYNDOL DESCANT: REACH UP

DAVID MONTOYA FEAT. ELIZABETH ACEVEDO: AFROLATINA (VOCAL MIX)

ANGELIQUE KIDJO: WOMBO LOMBO (HOUSE MIX)

KNOX FEAT. DAWN SOULUVN WILLIAMS: TURN IT UP (KNOX AND WOZNIAK MIX) 

 

Shedding Self copy.jpg

UCB Private Show - I'm the Audience of One

What what?!? That's right, I went to the UCB training headquarters in Manhattan to be part of an experiment called the Audience of One. 4 UCB comedians did 10min standup just for me. The whole thing was filmed and streamed live. 

I love UCB and couldn't pass this opportunity up. It happened to fall on International Women's Day and seemed the perfect way to celebrate my feminine empowerment. I didn't think about it til that morning, that I was the only audience member there to heckle. I'm never comfortable with attention, especially from Professional Comedians. I would have no where to hide. Yikes! 

They were kind,though, and just happy to have an audience laughing - even if it was just one.

 I LOVE to laugh and totally appreciated the increase in my T cells. Natural mood enhancers are welcomed these days!

And these guys are top notch and I was in stitches.  I think for my birthday next year, I'll try to hire them for another private show. 

Here's the link to video of it... 

https://www.facebook.com/UCBcomedy/videos/10154594397177326/

Winter Art Show at Greenpoint Gallery

One of the last underground art spaces, Greenpoint Gallery has selected some of my works for their Winter Show. Tonight, March 10th, from 8-12 in this authentic Williamsburg space, we will have our works showcased, juried, all the while bands playing on 2 levels. How fun! 

Greenpoint Gallery has long been serving the artists despite tremendous challenges to stay open. They don't take any % of sales and exist solely to keep art and music alive. How very rare these days when art and music are so undervalued by current economic and social norms. 

I'm honored and excited to be included in a community event of true integrity. Viva Greenpoint Gallery!

 

From a previous Art show at Greenpoint Gallery - 390 McGuiness Blvd in Williamsburg 

From a previous Art show at Greenpoint Gallery - 390 McGuiness Blvd in Williamsburg 

NYC Women Who Rock

I'm so stoked!!! I was invited to perform a few songs as part of this esteemed showcase of NYC women who have been rockin' the scene with their power, wisdom and talent. I have so much respect for these fearless women. I'm ready to rock out at the historic Red Lion on March 8th!!!

Women Who Rock!!!
Roger and I playing at Red Lion for Deja Blue's Women In Rock event, 3/8/17   - all thanks to Val Kinzler

Roger and I playing at Red Lion for Deja Blue's Women In Rock event, 3/8/17   - all thanks to Val Kinzler

SCBWI Conference - Children's Books

I'm headed to the SCBWI conference this weekend. I'm so excited to be surrounded by writers and illustrators, publishers and agents of children's books.

From 1998 - 2006, I worked in Educational Publishing as a Photo Researcher. All that time,  I was working on writing my own books for children and teens, including illustrations. I focused on all the subjects and things that were not in the textbooks we were creating.

Having set it all aside for awhile,  (I've been teaching for the past 8 years and focusing on my music) I've recently started the search for an agent or publisher for my first book. And I've just started illustrating a book called Car Wash, by Jeffery Phelps. While I love teaching, getting back to the children's publishing world seems a natural step for me at this point, having had so much time and experience working with children directly. 

I've been going to children's book stores (not many left) and reading story upon story, getting so inspired. I love the stories that are funny, as so many are laugh out loud funny. For example, the classic Amelia Bedelia books. 

The author, Peggy Parish, was inspired by the funny miscommunications that happen in her classroom over the years. From the quote below, I can tell she is the type of teacher who was an absolute blessing to her students long before she made a huge and hilarious impact with her books.

"Children's rights are taken away from them when they enter school. What I try to show teachers is that all the skills needed to read can be taught outside of textbooks. Today's children are not going to read what they are not interested in. And if a positive attitude toward reading is not developed during the first 3 years of school, it's virtually impossible to develop it later." - Peggy Parish

I agree whole heartedly with this and apply the same idea to teaching music. I find it of the utmost importance that the students who are just starting music, especially the young ages, enjoy their lessons. I strive to instill a positive experience of playing piano and/or singing.  This can be tricky cause it's not really that fun to be starting out at the basics on an instrument. It takes a lot of time and patience to get to the fun stuff and there's no shortcut.

But if I can help foster a true joy of music, then the student will be continue to play for the rest of their life. The motivation comes from within. In time, the student will achieve the music they dream of creating.

My first children's book, Master's of Trust,  is all about having a safe mindset to explore the arts as a youngster. It is inspiration to look for and develop the natural gifts given to each one of us.

I find children do need guidance to find and develop their own mastery, but also the space to explore. It's a long journey but a worthy pursuit. And the world needs each of us to reach our full potential. We need to find better ways to live and I believe our creativity  holds the solutions.

And once the seeds of joy are planted in a child's learning process, no matter what the subject, they will know how to enjoy their unique path of self-discovery.  And hopefully laugh a lot along the way.

I want to inspire not only in my music lessons, but in the books I write, as well as illustrate.  So here's to a great weekend of learning and networking at SCBWI.

 

Bullfrog, Bullfrog

Bullfrog Bullfrog was accepted to it's second film festival! SCIFF takes place Nov 3-6. I will let everyone know our screening date and time! 

I composed the final song, Grenouille Taureau for this delightful little film.  Congrats to Won27 Productions!

Sesame Street Debut

This past week, I filmed a segment for Sesame Street. The one and only Sesame Street! (though now owned by HBO)

Sesame Street moments are some of my very earliest memories. We watched it all the time when I was a young girl of the 70's.  Right from the start, Sesame Street showed me that learning is super fun. 

At the Concert Hall in the Brooklyn Conservatory, they filmed my standard vocal warm ups for youngsters with one of my students. She is interested in acting as well, so it was a great opportunity for her. While I played the piano in the background,  the focus was totally on her. As she rose to the occasion and sang beautifully, I couldn't help but feel the significance of the moment.

Getting to do my vocal warm-ups on Sesame Street is a great way to inspire children to take voice lessons, to develop their music abilities, and to make it all seem cool and fun – which it truly can be. What an opportunity to reach more student! Something I've longed for, as I truly believe in the value of learning the language of music – for everyone!

It was a career highlight for me, getting to fulfill my life's passion in that manner. I work hard for my vision of a world where music study is part of every child's education. To reach this end, exposure and inspiration are key. Thank you Sesame Street for the opportunity. 

It will not air for a year, so I'll be sure to post when it does.  

Sesame Street

Michaelmass

I'm playing tonight in Celebration of Michaelmass - a traditional holiday in celebration of St. Michael, and later including all the Arch Angels. I'll be debuting new material in gratitude around 9:00 @ Max Christopher's Original Thursdays at Greenhouse Cafe in Bay Ridge.

The Art: a styrofoam cup that was run-over. Reminded me of an angel. So I glued the cup, unchanged, to a painted board and added a necklace. I guess I made this back in 2010?

The Art: a styrofoam cup that was run-over. Reminded me of an angel. So I glued the cup, unchanged, to a painted board and added a necklace. I guess I made this back in 2010?

The Science of Genuis

I've long been into the “Science of Genius,” as Scientific American coined it. Since before I can remember, it seemed obvious to me that we all posses the potential for genius. Maybe my faith grew from the urban legend that we are only using 10% of our brains. Seemed logical enough to me that people like Einstein weren't more intelligence than the rest of us. They just cracked the code on how to use more of their brains.

And it also seems logical to me that since we are facing SO many issues in our society today, cracking the code is becoming essential to a more peaceful existence. If we had a planet full of Einsteins, maybe we could make some real improvements in our lives.

Seem naive? I think it's getting the heart of the matter. And 'simple' seems to work when it comes to genius. This is something I think about a lot, part of why I love my job as a teacher.

And I'm not alone. Scientific America dedicated a whole issue to uncovering our inner Genius in 2015. They did a great job laying out some real facts and figures from Scientist and Professors on the case. So we now have more than urban legends to inspire us. I love this issue cover to cover and wanted to share some of the finer points...

 

  1. “The idea that IQ tests do no measure all the key human faculties is not new. Critics of intelligence tests have been making that point for years.” - Keith F. Stanovich - This gives hope to people who don't test well, or do well in traditional school settings. There are many different types of intelligence and we are in fact very primitive, at that moment, in our efforts to measure them. When we have a more comprehensive view of intelligence, then perhaps students' nature abilities would be recognized earlier and developed fully. And older students could let go of low self-esteem based on an archaic testing.

     

  2. “We are used to thinking of intelligence as largely genetic inheritance but that is not the whole picture. What we do affects our mental well being: staying physically and mentally active helps us to stay sharp as we age.” - Christopher Hertzog, Arthur F. Kramer, Robert S. Wilson, and Ulman Lindenberger. As a musician and music teacher, I know the value playing music has in keeping the brain sharp. I also know that in order to play my best, I've had to incorporate the right kind of lifestyle for my optimal energy and mental clarity. This means a disciplined diet and exercise/stretching routines. It's such a shame that in our society, as people age, their wisdom is obscured by poor health. Their precious wisdom and other contributions are much needed. Personally, I've seen a huge difference in health and mental capacity as people hit their 60's and above. Working to keep our mental faculties optimal is a goal we should all keep until the day we die.

     

  3. “Abilities matter for achievement, but expertise in any domain requires a lot (about 10,000 hours) of hard work. Recent data suggest that many gifted children are not receiving guidance and instruction they need to fulfill their potential.” - Rena F. Subotnik, Paula Olszewski-Kubilius, and Frank. C. Worrell - I certainly did not receive this type of mentorship, something I strive to do with my students today. I remember quitting piano when I was 10 because I had heard stories of Mozart. I made a poor comparison, as my attempts at composing seemed null compared to the ones he did at my same age (10). I was no where close, so I figured I'm not a genius and I should just give up. It was an either or thing in my mind, you either had it or you didnt. I didn't comprehend the growth mindset; that it's baby steps. I could learn to do all the things he did - with hard work and effort. My ability to learn music would grow exponentially as I progressed, so what seemed impossible would become probable -  if I worked hard enough and never gave up. The most successful students I have are the ones who grasp this concept and enjoy the process. They don't expect themselves to be perfect right off the bat and they are not in the habit of comparison. Mozart's father had him practicing and performing an insane number of hours from such a young age. Natural talent developed by hard work created his genius. 

     

Ultimately, finding your own inner genius is altruistic; it truly benefits the society at large to contribute in your best way possible. It's like the Enya Song Caribbean Blue... “If everyman does all he can, if everyman is true, do I believe the sky above is Caribbean Blue.”

The fact that Scientific America had this issue last year makes me feel optimistic. If we all believed in our own genius and worked hard at uncovering it, no matter our age, I believe we will see bluer skies ahead.

Reference: Scientific American, MIND, Your Inner Genius, March 23, 2015, http://com-sub.info/Scientific-American-Mind/Welcome

The Ink and the Worm

Today I'm happy to announce I'll be on Radio Free Brooklyn, talking all things Literary with Swan Drsti. I met her at a Sweet Soubrette show at the Basement Bar in Bushwick, thru the dear Ellia Bisker. It's perfect timing since 2016 is the year I've sworn to get my Children's Book "Masters of Trust" out into the world. You can listen in at 2:00 Eastern time, March 13th, at the link below.  My dear friend and favorite comedian Lawson Leong will be joining us, sure to keep the conversation interesting. 

http://www.inkandworm.com

You can also hear it as a podcast after the air date - same link. 

Sweet Soubrette Gig at the Rock Shop

Last Thursday, we had a gig at the Rock Shop in Brooklyn. It was a full band formation which means 3 horns, violin, rhythm section and Ellia (songwriter) leading on vocals and ukelele. I adore playing with this band. Everyone in the band is accomplished and kind, fun to work with and gives 100%. I'm so thankful to be a part of it. 

The  music of Sweet Soubrette is unique and original and so completely rockin. I would love to use the word "cutting edge" to describe it, but I was just made fun of last night by an Australian  Booker for using this phrase. Not sure if the phrase has become trite or if it's due to the fact that Australians like to make fun of everything. (generalization here) 

In Dec and beginning of January, we recorded 5 new songs under the guidance of Don Godwin and Airshow studios in Maryland. I was able to play on 1 of two amazing pianos for the songs... a yamaha baby grand or a Steinway grand. I'm a yamaha girl myself, but the Steinway had a nice dark sound to it, so it was wonderful to decide by the feel of the song.  And Airshow is a top notch studio (probably another phrase an Australian would make fun of?)

Not sure yet when this will be released, but looking forward to it. We'll have another big show to release it and it's sure to be a blast. 

2016 Call to Action

I've heard that 2016 is a year of balance. While for some that might mean learning to take it easy, for other's it's about waking up... which happens to be 2 songs by Sweet Soubrette. Wow, I wasn't planning on writing about that here, but it's true. You can hear these songs via these links below and they will totally help you get into the spirit of 2016.

I loved recording these as a trio formation - Ellia Bisker on Ukelele and Lead vocals, Heather Cole on Violins, and Me on piano and back up vocals. They were recording by Casey Holford on an old Piano in an old Brooklyn Apartment. Then Bob was added later on the Bass.  The result is charming and edgy. I'm proud to have been a part of it.

Working on these songs helped me to develop traits in myself and free myself from trying to be someone I could never be.  This character development is coming in handy now for 2016 as I face some of my biggest fears; putting myself out there, allowing myself to be seen and heard for who I really am as an artist and musician. 

Sweet Soubrette lead by Ellia Bisker  

www.sweetsoubrette.com

http://music.sweetsoubrette.com/track/wake-up-when

http://music.sweetsoubrette.com/track/take-it-easy

 

2 Years in NYC!!!

On August 9th, I've officially made it two years in Brooklyn. Wow. Speechless to imagine all I've been through in the past 2 years, seems like a lifetime now.

When we make decisions in life, the important ones, hopefully we look back and realize we made them for all the right reasons. 

Underneath the struggle I've faced, the hardships, the hard work, the rejections and failures, and humbling experiences, I found myself. Like a butterfly inside her cocoon, I found a woman who is unafraid. I found a woman who loves life and is so thankful for the life I'm living.  I've found courage, I've found community and I've found confidence. I've found my life.  

My faith was the reason I came here. I felt I was being called here, from deep inside my heart. And my mind guessed the reasons and was wrong entirely. But only because the real reason would have seemed impossible. The reason it had to be New York was because no where else on earth could I have been so challenged that the real me was left no choice but to stand up fully and claim her life. The one she has dreamt of, the one she now knows she deserves.

I truly love you NYC. It wasn't love at first sight for me. You seemed a real dirty bitch to me for a long time, but now... now I can see you for the angel you are. I'm so thankful for these 2 years. I'm so thankful for the people I've met, the ones who challenged me, and the ones who supported me, gave me a chance, did whatever they could to give me one more day here. 

Who knows what tomorrow brings. I don't care to know for I have myself again in this very moment, and I've remembered that everything I need was inside me all along. 

Tour

I'm all packed and ready for the Sweet Soubrette Upstate NY tour! I hear it's beautiful country up there, and we'll be playing in historic venues like the Dream Away Lodge in the Berkshire's. I've heard Bob Dylan and Joan Baez both played here! 

Words can't describe my excitement and gratitude as I stand facing the beginning of this musical adventure. I'm wide open and ready to live it all, love it all, and play from my heart!

Teacher

It's almost the end of the year... recitals are full on happening for the next few weeks. I have a mini-tour this weekend with Sweet Soubrette and a few private events. This makes for a music filled couple of weeks. I'm so thankful.

I'm about to head out, ride my bike to the Conservatory through the park. The breeze has been so fresh this past week, the foliage so green. Cliché or not, I'm forced to pinch myself quite frequently lately to believe this is my life:)

I found some books on a stoop in my neighborhood last week. They must have been left out by a university student studying education. No one would believe what incredible books the stoops of New York have supplied me with. And always at the perfect moment.

I've been teaching now for over 10 years. And my passion is continuing to grow for this work, important work. It's not glamorous and it's back breaking, but so worth while. I'm ready to dig deeper, work on my craft, learn new skills. And Voila... magical NYC hands me some great books to study. At no cost at all!

One of the books I found is called Teacher by Syliva Ashton-Warner. She taught the Maori in New Zealand in the 50's and 60's of the last century. Her organic view on teaching was so visionary that she has so much to teach the "modern education system" about using children's creativity to constructive means. 

"The design of my work is that creativity in this time of life when character can be influenced forever is the solution to the problem of war. To me it has the validity of a law of physics and all the unstatable, irrepressible emotion of beauty." - Sylvia Ashton-Warner, Teacher

 

Bar 4 will be no More

The past few days have been really intense for me. So many things I love seem to be slipping away... like my beloved Bar4. It's officially been a year since I moved to NYC and not long after I stumbled across this Bar in my neighborhood and fell in love with it's open Mic.   For years, I had the goal of committing to an open Mic, going every week. I've always known it would help my songwriting tremendously to have a reason to compose other than gigs that I can get away with covers or old songs. Also, the idea of playing for an audience consisting of Mainly singer songwriters can really motivate to step up your game. Especially true when the quality of the other songwriters is that of what I heard at Bar4. Amazing musicians, Amazing Music. And amazing such a spirit of support and sharing and kindness. Not only did this place not have that competitive feel that pervades most open mics and jazz jams, but they had a beautiful, black upright that was pretty much in tune:)

I spent every tuesday night there, for close to a year, and let me tell you, it did more for my songwriting than I could have ever hoped for.  And in addition, I met true friends. Some say the first year in NYC is the loneliest. If this is true, then Bar4 did so much for me, because I have never felt more accepted and loved by a social organization that I have there. I'm sad that it's closing, but more so I feel so lucky that I stumbled upon it before it was gone. I count my lucky stars! And send the warmest love and wishes to everyone who touched my heart there. I'll never be the same, as a musician, nor as a human.  

Testing, Testing

Ok, this is a test to see if I can figure out my blog page, with out the help of my dear friend Mary Wages who has completely made this site come to life finally!!! After all these years of having this domain name and paying for web hosting, I could never seem to get a page going. Turns out bad Karma with my past web designer might have been the cause of all the technical problems I experienced. Once I released my anger against her, things came online pretty quickly.  Amazing how we can sabotage our own lives by harboring resentment towards someone else. This website is proof positive of that. Miracles really do happen when we forgive.

Before I test this to see if it publishes, I want to share a quote I read today that I loved!!!  It is in reference to the dream of finding a life partner and living happily ever after...

 "A greater story, we believe, would be that of the girl who learned to release her victim consciousness, to be her own hero and love herself unconditionally, and by embracing her truth as a beloved aspect of Source, shone brightly like a beautiful goddess, and from that firm foundation drew in all the elements to create the life of her dreams." ~Archangel Gabriel

www.trinityesoterics.com

Ah yeah!!! This site is going to be the beginning of that story, my new story!