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How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Posted in A Day in the Life, Back to the Woodshed! | 1 Comment »

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Being self-employed as a freelance musician and music marketer, it often seems to other people that I’m always on vacation. While that sounds nice in theory, the reality is that I hustle like everyone else. My blessing is that I’ve chosen work that I love so it looks like play, but it’s still important for me to take time off, and learn new things. This summer I decided to “go back to school” and take jazz piano lessons.

While my piano classes just wrapped up, I can now play and sing “My Funny Valentine” by myself on the piano – okay, I can play it verrrry sloooowly, but that’s nothing that a little practice can’t fix! When I was in college, Jazz Piano (and a scary teacher, I admit) was the experience that scared me out of graduating from the University of Miami. But I’m happy to say that I’ve come full circle!

As a Studio Jazz and Vocal Major at UM, accompanying myself on piano for one song was a graduation concert requirement. Unfortunately, the only available jazz piano teacher and I seemed to have different opinions of my capabilities. He thought that I’d never amount to be more than just a chick singer. And at the time, I suppose that I agreed with him. I’d get frustrated and drop his class every semester, until I finally got a call to go on tour with the Spanish artist, Rafael. Touring Latin and South America seemed like a lot more fun than proving myself to a teacher who had once given me a D minus (!) for an arrangement project, so what did I do? I left school mid-semester and became a professional chick singer! Soon after, I moved to New York City, never to return to UM.

Of course, that experience did leave me with the feeling that I had chickened out, and that he had won, so I found a regular adult piano class after I moved to NY. For myself. Thanks to simple practice, I was the best student in the class. Frankly, I was FLABBERGASTED! I found myself angry at my former teacher for making me feel too stupid to play jazz piano, but most of all, I was angry at myself for believing him.

Taking private jazz piano again after all these years was a much better experience. My teacher happily taught me jazz piano basics, and his patience made all the difference. Most importantly, I know that I can do just about anything when I put my mind to it. And I’ll never again believe anyone who tells me anything different.

Sometime this year, I’ll have a gig in which I’ll play a song by myself on piano. Around that time, I’ll also be closer to completing the last three classes I need to graduate with a music degree. And those particular “incomplete experiences” will be put to bed. YAY!

So the life lesson here is: If anyone ever tells you that you can’t do something,


One Response to “How I Spent My Summer Vacation”

  1. Cedric Says:

    Been there, been there. I’ve been criticized so many times for not playing “more commercial” music and yes, it is more difficult to lift yourself off the ground when you’re not playing the mainstream.

    Hopefully my band and I will one day hit the huge arenas and sell our music to millions. Until then, it’s just us, our first album, and a few hundred people who seem to think we sound awesome. Maybe they are 🙂

    Thanks for all your inspiring writing.

    Twenty-Six Other-Worlds
    Malta (EU)

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