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.
By: Nick Manduley
East coast progressive post-hardcore bands With Sails Ahead and Pulses announced eight-day tour of the American southeast that will be taking place in late September. Dubbed the “woodland creatures” tour, the run will kick off September 21st in Richmond, Virginia and go to South Carolina, Florida, and North Carolina before concluding in Falls Church, Virginia on the 28th. Fans following the bands on Facebook can keep up to date and get a good laugh by joining the “Creatureposting” group; a Facebook group created by both bands to share information regarding the tour dates, as well as (and primarily) high quality meme content.
With Sails Ahead released their latest EP Morning Sun on March 9th, 2018. The critically acclaimed record was produced and recorded by Kevin Antreassian (The Dillinger Escape Plan) at Backroom Studios, and mixed and mastered by Derek Moffat (Dreamhouse) at 608 Studios. Creating their own unique blend of prog-influenced alternative rock, the group has found themselves sharing the stage with critically acclaimed acts such as Tilian Pearson of Dance Gavin Dance, Emarosa, Hail the Sun, Royal Coda, and more. The band recently released a music video for their single “Pixelated” which brilliantly parodies the worst clichés of being a band in the DIY music scene. Fans can expect new music from With Sails Ahead sometime this winter.
Pulses (stylized as “pulses.”) are a band that takes influence from as many genres as possible and incorporates them into their post-hardcore style, creating a unique sound that can only described as superb. The band released their first full length record bouquet. in 2017 and went on to share the stage with acts such as Eidola, Strawberry Girls, The Ongoing Concept and Kurt Travis of Royal Coda. The band made waves online via several music videos, most notably for their songs ‘What’s Good (What’s Really Good)’ and ‘I Drink Juice (Aqua Berry Cherry)’. The band is looking forward to expanding on their sound on their upcoming sophomore full length record, due out in the fall of 2019.
‘Woodland Creature’ tour dates:
9/21 – Yellowhouse – Richmond, VA
9/22 – New Brookland Tavern – Columbia, SC
9/23 – Will’s Pub – Orlando, FL
9/24 – Shantytown Pub – Jacksonville, FL
9/26 – Kaboom Underground – Raleigh, NC
9/27 – Ice House – Greensboro, NC
9/28 – VFW 9274 – Falls Church, VA
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.
By: Nick Manduley
Here at Muddy Paw, it’s no secret we love music. To some of us, we love it- no, we need it more than we need coffee in the morning. Finding new and awesome music to vibe with can sometimes be a struggle though, but luckily, the internet has a plethora of avenues for us to find those new bangers! Let’s take a look at a few.
1. YouTube Radios & Playlists!
Does the image of an anime girl peacefully working on some homework with a window in the background, providing a detailed view of a cityscape sound familiar to you? What about an animated bird’s eye view of a swimming pool in the summer time? Yes? No? Maybe? Well, if not, then I’ve got some news for you. YouTube has 24/7 livestream radios that’s perfect for lovers of lofi, hip-hop, rock, pop, and indie music! Not to mention countless playlists that are guaranteed to have something for everyone!
Ahhh, Bandcamp. How we love thee. Bandcamp has a special place in the hearts of millions of DIY musicians and bands all over the world. Bandcamp is the go-to website for amazing underground music, and if you’re looking to pinch your pennies, there are countless artists who have their music available for free download on their bandcamp site. Free! How awesome is that!? Bandcamp is also a great way to support up-and-coming artists through purchasing their merch and making charitable donations through the website’s “name-your-price” feature.
This may seem like an obvious one, but Pandora is a sure fire way to not only find new music, but find new music for YOU! Users create their own radio via searching for an artist they enjoy and selecting them. Pandora will not only play music by that artist, but also music from artists of similar styles and genres! You can also stream your own custom radios for stand-up comedy! Who doesn’t love a good laugh?
4. Indie Music Blogs
Blogs, blogs, blogs! Indie music blogs are always reporting on underground and up-and-coming bands and artists from all over the world. Spend any amount of time scrolling through one of these blogs, and you’re likely to leave with a laundry list of new music to check out. These blogs are a great way to get information regarding your new favorite bands, their upcoming tours, and possible new music.
Nick Manduley is a Senior Public Relations & Journalism student at Monmouth University. He is an intern with Muddy Paw PR as well as a staff writer at The Outlook, Monmouth University’s student-run newspaper. Since 2016 he has played guitar and provided vocals in the New Jersey-based punk band Drive, Kid. Manduley has been extremely active in his local music community; organizing and promoting local shows while also providing reviews and features for not only his friend’s bands, but local bands across the United States and Great Britain.