Hey, I’m Katherine Forbes and I’m so grateful that the Muddy Paw PR team has allowed me to takeover the blog today for #WisdomWednesday. As the founder of Designing the Row and Music Biz Besties, my weekdays usually look like designing websites for musicians and hanging out online in my Facebook group.
But today I want to talk about how music has taught me so many life lessons (I’ve been playing piano since I was 7). My hope with this #WisdomWednesday post is to encourage you to look for and embrace these lessons in your own life. Why? Because I’ve been able to lean on these lessons as I’ve started my own business, walked through cancer with my husband, and so much more.
On my new album, Life Lessons Learned Through Music, I’ve paired 7 lessons each with a story and classical piano piece… and today I want to share the bonus lesson with you!
Click here to play the audio version of the story and song below or continue reading the story below. In the comments I’d love to hear if music has taught you any lessons that you’ve been able to apply to other areas of your life!
“Amazing Grace” is a song I know you know, and it has special meaning to me for a couple reasons. I started at Virginia Tech the fall after the shooting – one of the deadliest in US history – and I joined the marching band, playing piccolo. The band’s tagline is “The Spirit of Tech,” and that year “Spirit” really took on a new meaning. One of the first students who lost their lives that day was a band member who played baritone. Though I never met him, it sounds like he was a joy to be around.
I can’t play or hear or think of “Amazing Grace” without feeling like I’m back on campus in front of the memorial playing it just a few weeks into my freshman year. I’ll never forget that day because I stood right in front of the director, and I can so vividly remember the emotion he conducted that song with. The arrangement starts out with just the baritone section and then changes key when the rest of the band joins in. Then come the 32 very dissonant beats of bell tones to represent each of the 32 lives taken on April 16. Those bell tones crescendo into a huge major chord played by the full band, and then it ends with just the baritones playing the melody. Listening back, it still makes my heart drop and gives me the chills every time.
Then fast forward to moving to Nashville and meeting my husband! He was taking care of his grandparents’ house after his grandmother moved into the nursing home. One night the whole family went over to celebrate her birthday. At this point her Alzhiemers had taken over. She didn’t know who anyone was or where she was. But, there was a piano in the room and since she had played piano her whole life and had always played in church we pulled out the hymnal and I started playing. Then Chris’ mom suggested I play her favorite hymn, “Amazing Grace.” And as I did, Chris’ grandmother sang every word to every verse, without missing a beat, and then said a prayer after the song was finished. The music took her back to a past moment of clarity. It was such a special experience.
While this song takes me back to some sad memories, it shows me the power of music. The power of music and the lessons I’ve taken from it – that I hope I have now passed on to you – have truly given me confidence in all that I do.
So I’d like to close out by improvising “Amazing Grace.” Just like I never know before I sit down to play this if I’ll play a sweet soft version, or a powerful loud one, or a combination of both – I think it symbolizes how we’re all going along in life doing the best we can. No one has all the answers or everything figured out. But if you quiet your mind and listen to what’s in your heart, it will show you the way.
Life Lessons Learned Through Music Track listing:
Get $10 off with code MUDDYPAW at purchase at www.katherineforbes.com
In the comments I’d love to hear if music has taught you any lessons that you’ve been able to apply to other areas of your life! PS. I hang out in Insta DMs too if you want to share your takeaway with me there, @katherinedforbes
When I work with new singers inside my studio and inside my paid community, The Star Singer Green Room, I always ask them why they are here and what they want to improve.
I get answers like:
I want to sing higher
I want to bridge and connect my vocal break
I want to sing without straining
These types of goals are technical goals and this line of thinking is why so many singers fail to hear the improvement that they want.
This failure creates this vicious circle of judgement, tension, and vocal strain. This tension actually manifests itself INSIDE your body and puts even more strain on your voice, which can actually makes you sound worse, or cause temporary or permanent vocal damage.
We do NEED technical goals, but when you start to feel comfortable and confident and you actually sounds pretty amazing…what then?
The BIG question that many singers never ask themselves is…How are you going to USE these technical skills that you have mastered? What does that big singing dream look like for you?
Do you want to:
Be an international touring artist
Sell your music online
Heal and connect people through your music
If you don’t give yourself permission to have that big singing dream and your technical goals aren’t aligned with your big picture goals, that’s why you are feeling stuck.
Goals help us to create a training plan so that we can actually see results and move forward with our singing.
For example, if you are trying to sing higher but all of your vocal exercises or warm-ups are focused on breathing…obviously you aren’t going to hear an improvement when you try to sing higher. This makes sense logically, but it is a super common mistake that I see singers make all the time.
You need 2 kinds of goals.
1. 2 Kinds Of Goals
What is your BIG, GIANT singing goal? What does your life look like when you achieve it?
What are the current technical goals that support and move your forward to your big goal?
For continued improvement, you need feedback.
Who was the last person who gave you some feedback on your singing?
What did they say? Now, the most important part…did they offer you a solution? Did they give you a piece of advice that would actually HELP your singing or just point out your flaws?
Here’s what I mean…
“You’re kind of pitchy.”
“It sounds like you are straining your voice a little bit.”
“You need to be louder up there.”
“Yeah, it sounded pretty good…but”
Stop listening to the wrong people…people who offer you problems, but not solutions.
These people point out your flaws, but don’t actually know how to help you to improve your singing.
This brings us to the 2nd thing that you need in order to transform your singing…
2. Expert Guidance/Feedback
Expert guidance can take many forms…a weekly voice lesson with a voice teacher, a monthly check in with a vocal coach, a membership community aimed at improving your singing and performances led by a vocal expert…whatever works for you.
The important thing is it needs to be an expert giving you the guidance and feedback…someone who can give you SOLUTIONS and help you to get better, not just someone who points out your flaws.
3. A Training Plan
Olympic athletes have training plans, pro football players have training plans. The BEST OF THE BEST are always working to improve and condition their craft…ESPECIALLY when that skill is muscle based. Your voice is part of your body and muscle memory is in play here. When you train your voice, you get better when you don’t, you don’t improve at all and in some cases if you are performing and singing a lot…you can actually get worse or hurt or damage your voice.
Vocal warm-ups are NOT a training plan.
Your training plan should be a combo of proven vocal exercises that align with your BIG singing goal AND your technical goals.
If your training plan is effective, you will hear improvement with just 10-15 minutes of practice 3-4 times a day. If you are practicing more than that and not hearing results, something is wrong.
I want to go more in depth with you on this idea and show you a proven framework, The Dream Performance Process, which is the 4 step plan that I’ve used with singers in my studio to give amazing singing performances over and over again. If you want to walk off that stage feeling amazing EVERY time, then this class is for you and it’s going down this Thursday, August 29th at 6:00 pm CST and you can register for free here.
Hi! The Ones You Forgot here, stopping by to give a little piece of #WednesdayWisdom to all those looking to get started in the music world.
Though we’ve been a band for over 5 years now, we find ourselves learning new things every day. When you build it from the ground up (especially when half of the members have never been in a band before), there can be a fair share of bumps in the road. Some lessons are incredibly important to learn on your own, but we would love to share a few tips that might help make your musical journey a little easier.
Focus on your art first.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the overwhelming amount of other aspects in a music career. From booking, networking and performing, to marketing, branding, and merchandising, there is a whole plethora of things that find their way onto an artist’s to-do list. Without a doubt, these are all very important parts, but it is so important to routinely step back and make sure that the first thing you do is write songs you LOVE! Your art is the center of your career in music, because, well, IT IS THE MUSIC! When you genuinely enjoy what you’re making, all of the components of the business side will come easier. You’ll also be proud of yourself when your art finally makes it out into the world, which is an awesome feeling.
2. Stay organized.
This is crucial for every aspect of the band. When you stay organized, you will pat yourself on the back in the long run. Whether you are in a group or a solo act, you are going to collaborate with others in some way, shape or form. Organization makes the collaboration run a lot smoother, and that can only enhance the creative experience! We recommend making checklists, drawing up timelines for important dates and plans, keeping the van tidy on tour, always keeping tight communication, etc. They may seem like tiny and obvious tasks, but they will make everyone’s day that much easier, especially when you have a lot going on.
3. Be professional and respectful.
Your parents probably taught you this one, but hey, that’s because it’s important!
Professionalism and respect speak for themselves, and should be given for all parts of your life, not just your music career.
4. Have fun.
It may be the cliche thing to say, but it’s true! Making art and sharing it with the world should be a happy experience for you. Yes, the music industry can be stressful, but for us, we know that none of that matters the moment we hit the stage. It’s all about enjoying ourselves and making sure that the crowd does too. If you feel like you’ve lost that feeling, it’s okay! Take a break, relax, and revisit it when you’re ready. Nothing is worth purposely putting yourself in a bad place mentally.
That’s all for our little rendition of #WisdomWednesday! Huge thanks to the Muddy Paw team for asking us to share some advice.
“The summit itself, which is currently wrapping up (September 13-30), was a free digital conference which brought 40+ professionals right to the homes of those attending. Each masterclass focused on both advice and actionable items, designed to help those like myself, who are maybe struggling with their next steps.”
Shuffle Beat Music recently featured Steve Palfreyman of the Music Launch Summit on their blog. The interview discusses the summit itself as well as Palfreyman’s thoughts on the industry. Click here to check it out!
Bryan Howell and the Standalones are geared up and ready to release their debut album Take The Risk, out August 5. With quite a bit of experience in risk taking under their belts, Bryan teamed up with Sonicbids for a blog about the risks musicians should be taking to help further their music careers!
Read the blog here!
“We’ve forgotten to treat one another as people, and we’ve forgotten the importance of community. That we need each other to reach our goals, and that in the end, we’re all just trying to live out our passion.”
Muddy Paw PR owner, Angela Mastrogiacomo, wrote an article for Sonicbids, discussing the loss of community within the music industry. Click here to check it out.
Our very own Angela Mastrogiacomo wrote Haulix Blog’s latest industry article, The Social Media Tool Your Band Is Missing Out On: Periscope. Check out the article here to get tips on how to utlitize this tool and make the most of your music career!
“Don’t think that getting signed will solve all your problems, but don’t be afraid to explore your options either. Signing to a label usually means giving up some of your freedom (as does working with any kind of team) but it doesn’t have to be negative.”
“There’s nothing more frustrating than getting an email from a band seeking coverage, only to discover they forgot to include vital information like links to their music, social media, their album’s release date, where they’re from, or what they’re seeking.”
Angela Mastrogiacomo, fearless leader of Muddy Paw PR, is at it again with some important advice for musicians who are looking to submit their music to blogs, posted on Raz Mataz Magazine. Click here to check it out.