Tag Archives: music

Find Your Oneness, Find Your Passion: What I Learned From My First Monday Night Football Game

I went to my first Monday Night NFL Football game this week. It was a very exciting opportunity to experience such a central piece of American pop culture, especially since I grew up in the Midwest in a football-watching family. My mom actually started getting interested in football as a result of wanting to feel included in her male coworkers' lunchtime conversations at the suburban Catholic hospital where she worked. For her studious dedication as a fan, she was rewarded with a Chicago Bears Super Bowl win in 1985 (Chicago 46, New England Patriots 10). Continue reading

Original versus Cover Songs: So what’s all the fuss about?

One of the interesting versions of partisan politics I've noticed since joining the local open mic scene is between two apparently opposing camps in the music scene - those who play "original" songs versus those who play "covers". "Covers" is a term, uttered either under one's breath with a hint of shame (by the people playing them) or with a distinct tone of disdain and perhaps a spray of saliva on the "c" sound just for emphasis (by those staunch supporters of playing only originals), used to designate music composed by someone other than the performers themselves. This distinction is a foreign one for me since I grew up in the classical music world, where the Great Composers Of All Time were revered and respected as part of my musical education. Some of these Great Composers were Bach, Vivaldi, Mozart, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Sibelius, to name a few. I focused all of my attention on training and developing the technique required to execute the intentions conveyed in increasingly complex written notation, leading up to the Great Concertos. These were the truly epic compositions that required a tour de force of virtuosic technique and range of emotional expression imagined to be conveyed by the Great Composer.

There was no talk of writing music. Continue reading

Join me for Tuesday Tea at Little House in Menlo Park!

Tomorrow afternoon I'll give a 1-hour talk and interactive music demonstration, entitled "Feel and Heal with Music", at Little House, multi-purpose senior center, in Menlo Park, CA. I'll share my personal story of transformation through music, and involve the audience in some music-making that will require no prior musical experience. Plus, a little surprise ending for all who attend! Hope you can make it. For more information, visit Little House's website, or call 650-326-2025.

Watch my interview on KMVT-15 King’s Connections – Remarkable Young Women Series with Rusty King

I had the pleasure and honor of being Rusty King's guest #3 on the Remarkable Young Women Series of King's Connections, on channel KMVT-15 in Mountain View. I met Rusty at a Mountain View Chamber of Commerce event, and we immediately connected on the subject of being musicians. Rusty is an award-winning songwriter and drummer, in addition to hosting his own show on KMVT-15. Thanks to Rusty's thorough research, in this half-hour interview we talk about my entire life, from my childhood in Libertyville, Illinois, through the launch of Chinese Melodrama just a few months ago. Watching it is like taking the "heroine's journey" all over again. It reminds me how this past year of my life, 2010, has been such a rapid whirlwind in some respects, while at the same time being some of the most spacious time I've ever experienced. Rusty and I discuss education, success, parental expectations, music, creativity, failure, and the necessity of following your own heart. Enjoy!

Starting a Band: 10 Lessons I’ve Learned from Launching Chinese Melodrama – Act One

The past two months have been a whirlwind of activity for me surrounding my new band, Randy Bales' Chinese Melodrama. In case you haven't seen it, we have a new blog and a Twitter account, where you can keep up with our latest activities. We've played in the Bay Area at least two nights every week for the past two months, and spreading our joyful energy has yielded plenty of early interest in our fledgling local band. I've been so amazed with what I've experienced that I put together 10 brief lessons from launching my first ever band. Let me say right away that it's been a total team effort with my friends and fellow musicians, Randy Bales (guitar/vocals) and Cathy Luo (percussion/bass/vocals). 1. Practice in public
  • In other words, be sure to play outside your comfort zone in public every once in awhile. Most of us can learn something from this statement: "Don't be so humble. You're not that good!" I can't tell you how many times Randy has encouraged us to play songs that I didn't feel were "ready". I can also tell you that at our first gig, I was deliriously frightened of what might happen! I had so many ideas about what a "performance" needed to be. Yet if I had waited until I thought we were ready, we might still have never performed in public to this day! My point? Be willing to start small. Just be sure to start!
  • Even if you consider it "practice", show up at your own personal best every time. This doesn’t mean you play perfectly. It means you set an intention for HOW you are showing up each time, and you let go of the results. And you do this every single time.
  • Notice that there will always be ways to improve upon your performance, but never be disappointed in yourself. If you’re tempted to “get down” on yourself or be harsh with your criticism, notice it and ask, “How will this help me show up at my best next time?”
  • Keep playing and be kind to yourself no matter what. Always know that you will have another opportunity to grow. It helps if you…
  • Create a regular consistent schedule of opportunities to play in a supportive environment. You will always get more comfortable by doing what seems uncomfortable at first.
  • All that said, also develop some “comfort food” – material that can always make you feel good, for those moments when you need to boost your own confidence.
2. Do the thing you think you cannot do.
  • This quote from Eleanor Roosevelt is framed on the wall of my office. Practicing in public (item #1) was exactly the thing I thought or believed I could not do, until about a year ago. My peak discomfort point was reached – in a public, but safe, setting – and it forever changed what I believed was possible for me musically.
  • Give yourself the gift of being open to this kind of transformative experience. Instead of avoiding the thing you fear, embrace it as the very chance you’ve been wanting to break through to your next level in life.
3. Strike while the iron is hot.
  • If you have an intention or an idea, start NOW while your energy is behind the project, and take defined steps right away to make your idea feel real to you.
  • Learn to trust yourself. Go with your first instincts.
  • Take small, defined, and consistent actions over a period of time rather than waiting for everything to be “perfect” before you begin. Hint: There is no perfection, so get over yourself and act now.
4. Support other people’s efforts with generous encouragement and humility.
  • Judgment comes more quickly than understanding. Seek to understand first.
  • Capture and share not only your own work but others’ as well. Facebook is a great example of how this works. Don't you love being tagged in photos or videos? And reading others' comments or "Like"s? There is a real-world analog to this, and it's called being present, supportive and expressive. Try it!
  • Collaborate openly. Playing with other artists helps build bridges of trust and understanding, and helps you understand yourself better too. Continue reading

Too much fun!

OK I just loved this performance by my band, Chinese Melodrama, last night. If you grew up listening to Metallica (which I didn't), you might recognize this tune. For me, it's like a thrilling roller coaster ride each time I play it, since I get to make up the ending every time! That's right, totally improvised every time. It reminds me that every single moment is fresh, whether or not it feels familiar in some way. Great way to live life! If you're in the San Francisco Bay Area, you can see us play this Sunday, 8/8, at 8pm, at the OCTOPUS Lounge in Pacifica. And "8" is an auspicious number in Chinese!

Sounds from Half Moon Bay

A new offering in August! IMPROVisE YOUR LIFE with Music Improvisation

Join me at the Cradle of Manifestation this August for a brand new offering, integrating the best practices of mind AND body so you can enter each week with clarity of intention AND action. Check out my introductory video blog about the offering below. And if you're ready to enroll, visit the registration page here.

IMPROVisE YOUR LIFE with Music Improvisation

Download class flyer pdf

5-class series

Begins Monday, August 2, 2010, 3:00pm - 4:30pm, at The Cradle of Manifestation, 2483 Old Middlefield Way, Suite 150, Mountain View, CA

Start your week with an intention AND practice of living creatively. If you are ready to take action in your life in a new direction, if you are facing a transition and need to gain a vision of greater possibilities, if you are simply wanting to feel more at peace with the changes happening in your world...this class is for you! I have found that simply talking about and thinking about change is not enough to bring us the results we desire in our lives. We need to combine intentional thinking with mindful actions. How do we begin to do that? This 5-class series will deliberately combine MIND and BODY work in the practice of music improvisation, with the intention to improve your experience of daily life. You will...
  • Invigorate your body, calm your mind, and experience greater clarity as you begin to take action throughout the week.
  • Achieve greater awareness of your own thoughts and awaken to new possibilities through deep listening and meditative sound-making.
  • Learn and practice small daily rituals that will help you begin to live and act more creatively.
I will facilitate as we REFLECT on our intentions for the week and PRACTICE the core elements of free music improvisation:
  • listening
  • play
  • repetition
  • emptying the mind
  • letting go of attachment to outcomes
  • offering quality sounds
  • allowing silence
**Please bring a notebook or journal and a pen. **Musical instruments are welcome but NOT REQUIRED. Some simple instruments will be provided for your use. Enter into this practice and watch your life IMPROVE with IMPROV. Mondays, 3:00pm - 4:30pm, August 2 - August 30, 2010, at The Cradle of Manifestation

Class Fees:

$30/single class paid in advance

$35/single class paid at the door (cash or check only)

$140/5-class series pre-paid at or before first session

Single Class or Series?

A little night improvisation

What a difference a few weeks makes! It seems like my musical world is expanding at breakneck speed, and relationships and opportunities are arriving effortlessly. All the while, I'm having so much fun, it almost seems criminal. Really! I have such a strongly ingrained belief that "work" is "hard" and "having a life" means "struggling" that doing what I'm doing right now has triggered a part of my brain that wants to cry out, "Danger!! This does not compute!!". Luckily, I now notice that this is an ancient part of my brain reserved for true fight-or-flight situations that I rarely encounter in this corner of the world I call home. Right now, in this moment, I'm sitting in a chair in front of a computer. I'm breathing. I'm surrounded by beauty. The sky is clear blue, the birds are singing, the sun is shining, and the trees are silently growing outside my window. There's nothing dangerous about being at peace. Sorry, brain! Here are some of my latest improvisation videos from this week's open mic nights. In each case, I had never heard the song before and just started from a place of listening.

"Rooster" by Alice in Chains, with Randy Bales, at Angelica's Bistro in Redwood City, CA:

"Knocking on Heaven's Door" by Bob Dylan (performed with two strangers who asked that I remain onstage to join them after seeing me perform with Randy!) at Blue Rock Shoot in Saratoga, CA: