WELL WELL. It’s two weeks till 2018 and I AM FREAKING OUT. There’s a lot to be excited about, but there’s also a lot to stress about. I’m going to try and do more of the former and less of the latter (but you know me…the Pack Mule Waffle Queen Overcommitter Perfectionist™ *nervous laughter*)
In case you missed last week’s post, I’m doing a miniseries on the blog called: 7 THINGS I LEARNED ABOUT ____ IN 2017. Today it’s about music and last week it was about writing. I always like to look back at my year and see all the goals I met…plus some of the goals I didn’t meet. SO LET’S TALK ABOUT THIS SOME MORE IN THE COMMENTS. I want to discuss what you learned in 2017 as well!
2017 was a good year for music. I didn’t record nearly as much as I wanted to, but I feel like I have accomplished other (less tangible) things. I’ve definitely witnessed major improvement in my voice, WHICH IS ALWAYS A GOOD THING. Even though I couldn’t stick to my plan of releasing one cover song each month, I was still happy with the music I did put out there. LET’S LIST.
2017 MUSIC GOALS – REACHED
– Released my single, Back To Normal
– Released my first cover song and music video, I Found by Amber Run
– Released my first MASHUP cover of Hello by Adele and Alive by Sia
– Released another mashup cover, this time Riptide by Vance Joy and We Don’t Believe What’s On TV by Twenty One Pilots
– Announced that I was officially #done making covers lololol
– But not really because I’m still going to make more…I GOT PLANS, BRO
– Announced that I’m going to start making ukulele covers / an acoustic music video series for my YouTube channel
– But I haven’t actually made a cover yet
– I PROMISE IT WILL BEGIN IN JANUARY
– How did this list of accomplishments turn into a list of things I haven’t accomplished yet 🙃🙃🙃
– but IF YOU READ THIS WHOLE POST (or if you scroll to the very bottom) I have a super exciting announcement about my first EP!!!
So I’m pretty happy with how much music I put out there in 2017. Four songs isn’t bad?? AND NEXT YEAR IT’S GOING TO BE EVEN MORE so stick around, my friend. I have all kinds of new exciting ideas for music videos too so THAT’S GOING TO BE BUCKETS OF FUN. Now let’s get on to the lessons I learned about music this year.
WHAT I LEARNED ABOUT MUSIC IN 2017
#1: EMOTIONAL SINGING > GOOD SINGING
I will never be a textbook singer. That’s just not who I am. This year, I discovered that about myself. I discovered that music is super emotional for me, and if I’m not conveying my emotion through my voice when I sing… I am failing at my art. It’s not about hitting the right note. I don’t want to impress a listener with my belting or vibrato or my riffs…I want to impress with the amount of emotion in my voice.
Songwriting is a very intimate thing for me. I take my deepest struggles and feelings and thoughts and I translate them into music and poetry…the last thing I would ever want to do is lose that emotional power that I feel when I write my songs or sing them alone. Not gonna lie – sometimes, when I’m writing lyrics and practicing by myself, I will weep. Like hardcore bawl my eyes out, while singing. THAT’S what I want to record. That’s what I want to put on Spotify or list on iTunes. I don’t want my music to be perfect or polished or even “good.” I want it to be emotional. I want you to feel what I feel when I sit at my piano, alone in my house, and sing with tears streaming down my face.
Very few artists are brave enough to show their most unrefined emotions. But there are some artists out there doing this – and they inspire me to no end. I think we should all, in our own ways and our own arts, reveal the rawest version of what we do. I think we should all focus less on making something “good” and instead focus on making it TRUE TO OURSELVES. I’m far more interested in authenticity than meeting someone else’s standard of “good.” Whatever you do, do it with your whole heart. Pour out everything you’ve got.
#2: STORY SONGS ARE MY FAVORITE TO WRITE
There are several different kinds of songs in the world. I won’t say “two” but…BASICALLY?? You have songs that are just kind of a mashup of feelings and more allegorical than anything else…and then you have songs that tell a story. Although I LOVE to write the first type of songs (and most of my songs fall into the first category), this year I discovered that I love writing “story songs” even more.
I’m a storyteller at heart. And music provides an interesting vehicle to write a story and deliver to your listener in less than 5 minutes.* In fact, it’s arguably one of the most powerful ways to tell a story, because music is the only art form that gets stuck in your head on repeat and haunts you in your sleep. But DON’T GET ME WRONG I love books too! Obviously. Fiction is my lifeblood and I would be lost without it. Plus there are some things you just can’t fit into a song. But I’ve written at least half a dozen story songs this year and asdfghjkl I LOVE THEM ALL SO MUCH. I can’t wait to share these stories with y’all. 😉
*or less than 10 minutes in my case… I LIKE WRITING LONG SONGS OK no surprise there
#3: THERE NEVER HAS BEEN AND NEVER WILL BE A RIGHT OR WRONG WAY TO MAKE MUSIC
I always laugh when people talk about playing an instrument and they say something like “you’re doing it wrong.” BECAUSE THIS STATEMENT IS FUNDAMENTALLY FLAWED. There is no right or wrong way to do music.
When you REALLY break it down: music is noise. Good noises…noises that sound beautiful. BUT THAT’S ALL IT REALLY IS. You hit something, it vibrates, you like the sound it makes. You hit something else, it vibrates, you like the sound those two things make together. < THAT’S. ALL. MUSIC. IS.
|^ I just needed to use this gif don’t judge me too harshly|
Now, it’s different if you’re playing in an orchestra or band and you have to work together with other musicians to produce the sound everyone has in mind – you all have to be on the same page. But if you’re by yourself?? WHO CARES. Who cares if you’re playing “wrong” or if you don’t follow the same rules that other people do? If it sounds good, DO IT. Never feel inferior because of what someone else’s standards might be. They don’t FEEL the music like you do. And, unfortunately…they’re the ones missing out.
#4: YOUR BEST IS ALL YOU CAN DO
AND YOUR BEST WILL CHANGE ALL THE TIME. I sing a lot in the shower to instrumentals of my favorite songs.* Some days I’m like “OH YEAH THAT WAS AWESOME!! BEST VOCAL EVER!! MAN I WISH I HAD RECORDED THAT” and other days I’m like “wow that sucked.” Because your best varies day to day – regardless of what you do. Some days you’ll just be…off. And that does NOT determine your worth – nor does it accurately represent how good you are! Some days I sing better than I do on other days. It’s the same for any creative ability. ALL YOU CAN DO IS YOUR BEST. And when you do your best, you have no regrets.
*no, I don’t take voice lessons and I never have. I just sing a lot??? Because it’s fun??? AND I FIND THIS IS THE BEST WAY TO IMPROVE YOUR SINGING VOICE IF YOU’RE INTERESTED IN THAT SORT OF THING. Just sing sing sing sing sing sing and never stop. You’ll see changes happen all on their own.
#5: CRITICISM IS NOT THE END OF THE WORLD
THOUGH IT’S VERY HARD TO BELIEVE,* I receive criticism on my voice and my music. Not much, but some. And here’s how I’ve learned to deal with it: I DO THINGS MY OWN WAY. The choices I make with my voice and my music (ie: not playing by the rules AT ALL) are…well…choices. I choose to sing the way I do. I choose to play music the way I do. I choose to write songs the way I do. I’m okay with being different, with being criticized for not doing music the “right” way. (Ahem.) But, yes, I’m human.** And criticism hurts. But I’ve learned (and I’m still learning) to not let it bother me. Because there are always going to be people who don’t get me. And there are always going to be FAR MORE people who do get me. Like you, my friend. 😉
*-insert modest laughter here-
**I THINK??? Maybe not. I’ve never shown many indicators of being human so…who knows ??
#6: MUSIC IS MY EMOTIONAL OUTLET
I said this before, but MUSIC IS MY EMOTIONAL OUTLET. And I’ve learned that more than anything else this year. Whenever I’m struggling with an emotion or a question or a turbulence of some kind, my first instinct is to run to music. I’m not much good with words sometimes, but with music…I DON’T EVEN KNOW HOW TO DESCRIBE IT. It’s the one art I do where I feel like I actually have a “muse.” Lyrics and notes just come out of my heart – there’s nothing intellectual about it. My left side brain just shuts up (for once) and ASDFGHJKL MUSIC JUST HAPPENS. If I didn’t have music to pour my emotions into, I don’t know what I would do. Probably start an angry YouTube channel or something idk.
#7: I STILL HAVE A LOT TO LEARN
Especially in the realm of recording. As some of you know, I built my own recording studio this year and ran myself into debt buying equipment to get myself up and running. But here’s the thing: I HAVEN’T ACTUALLY DONE ANY RECORDING YET. The last quarter of 2017 was crazy busy, and I just never found the time to really delve into the world of audio engineering. BUT I’M GOING TO. And I’m super pumped for it.
SUPER EXCITING ANNOUNCEMENT:
I’m releasing my first EP in 2018. YES!!! I DON’T KNOW WHEN EXACTLY, but guys: it’s actually happening. The EP is going to consist of 5 BRAND NEW SONGS and it’s also going to have a theme (think: Space by Sleeping At Last.) THAT’S ALL I’M GOING TO SAY FOR NOW. You’re just going to have to stay tuned for more information. 😉
What have you learned this year? Any important lessons/insights about life? I could always use more wisdom over here. LET’S TALK ABOUT MUSIC. Tell me about a new artist you discovered in 2017! Are you a musician yourself?? What is a cover song you would like to hear me do?