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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,