Tips for Musicians Who Work Day Jobs

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Tips for musicians who work day jobs:

1. Return to gratitude as frequently as possible.  Gratitude expands the heart and opens possibilities whereas resentment, frustration and discontent block creative flow.
2. Downplay gossip, it eats the soul and fuels discontent so avoid it at all costs.
3. Find a couple of good friend coworkers who appreciate all of your talents and your super hard working nature.  This is especially important if they make you laugh or bring out your silly side.
4. Try to catalog the funny office moments that may fuel or spark a song (Johnny with the weird gesticulations).  There’s a ton of great relating examples in the workplace.  What can be culled from those lessons and applied towards your craft?
5. Know that you’re setting a powerful example for your child (if you have children) as a responsible parent who remains dedicated to the craft.
6. Know that people in the community respect you.  Most people give up their dream along the way but you have found a way to contribute to and work with society without sacrificing your artistic integrity.
7. Find the aspects of the job you do like and try to grow those areas and minimize the annoyances if possible.
8. Return to number one.
9. Fake it til you make it.
10. Retire as soon as possible.  Focus on your plan for the future and manifesting your personal goals.

I have enormous respect for musicians who continue to do what they’ve got to do to support their families. Ultimately I’d like to see a better balance and monetary infusion for artists, in the form of generous grants.., something! Until then you’re a fierce soldier of your craft!

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Featured image used under a creative commons 2.0 license from Flickr
Photo by Paul Hudson 

Singing in Sacramento’s Spring

Never have I been more thankful for my teachers and technique, than in Sacramento’s glorious spring.   A layer of gold pollen covers cars, the trees are blooming and colorful flower petals float back in forth in the light valley breeze.  Everywhere I look, there’s flowers, poppies, roses, lavender, dandelions, mustard and wild weeds.  It’s beautiful here and it’s beauty has been a muse to many an artist beit painter or composer.

What does it mean for a singer with notorious hay fever?  Having a good understanding of the typical physiological response to allergens and a plan of action, is so important.  Last year I tried a new product, Sensimist by Flonase and I have finally found real relief.  I still get some breakthrough sneezing so an Allegra on top does the trick.  Kudos to Flonase for coming up with this fabulous product.  

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I do my best to head it off early but sometimes still miss the mark.  My toolbox contains:

  • Sensimist by Flonase
  • Allegra
  • Zaditor
  • Albuterol
  • Neti pot
  • Water
  • Water

It’s a well known and ongoing issue which is why understanding the physiological response to allergens is so important for singers.   The natural inclination is to become tense and press- but don’t!  Just don’t!

Relax, fall back. retreat, do some easy ooohs and gentle well placed eeees – resist the temptation to panic and consider your antihistamines and environment.  Listen to the people around you.  So many of the workers in my office have raspy sounding voices at the moment and my best buddy told me she couldn’t even sing the hymns in church on Sunday.  So I know it’s related to the environment and to rely on my understanding of my instrument and careful technique.

There are a few things I’ve done to make it easier performance wise as well:

  • Lowered my repertoire
  • Became good at changing keys depending on the scenario or on the condition of my instrument
  • Learn to trust my technique – go low for the high notes, high for the low notes, never press, sing the vowels and be patient.   When the pollen’s crazy it takes a little longer to warm up, and more awareness to keep the support.

As soon as we bust 100 degrees it gets better.   But look at these guys, is it any wonder??

They’re like little assholes, standing poised to ruin your spring performances.

When you feel their affects, proceed with caution, go back to the gentle basics of good singing technique and if that’s not enough:

  • After two weeks of insurmountable symptoms, see your doctor
  • Hit the Benadryl when you have to.  Though it knocks me out, nothing calms the stymptoms better
  • Rest when you need to, wait for that 100 degree day, adjusting the pitch of your repertoire (still practicing good technique) and
  • resist the temptation to look up various online diagnosis
  • Resist the temptation to scratch your skin
  • Water
  • Ricola
  • Water

If you can afford an allergist and can handle the shots that may eliminate the whole ordeal, and local bee honey is supposed to help as well.  But if not be patient, summers coming!