david bowie

She’s a Total Blam-Blam…and other revelations

For those of you following along at home, I’m in the process of educating myself in the realm of rad rad music by listening to the Top 100 Albums of all time by mid-September.

Already, this is more music than I’ve listened to in probably the last 5 years put together.  I’ve realized that I really don’t ever just sit down and listen to a whole album.  Or very rarely.  So this has been really fun.  Some days I just have to walk away because I feel like my brain/ears/heart will explode.

Secretly I’m curious to see if doing this project will change my own songwriting process.  Part of the reason I think I don’t sound like anyone in particular is that I never listened to anyone before. I really just write what I hear in my head.  We’ll see if this changes that.

After the first post I was all caught up, so now I’m actually writing these while I’m listening to them, which is way more entertaining.  For me, at least.

Onward…

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kat downs

My Music Education Project

Truth:  Even though I’ve been a musician my whole life, I don’t listen to a lot of music.  Never have. Mostly because I always have music playing in my head, so sometimes I really can’t because it sounds like two radios playing at once.  Yuck.

In school, I was trained in Classical music.  The history of it, where it came from, how it evolved, branched out, church vs. secular and all that… but I never studied rock music.  Or really any modern music outside of the “played-by-a-symphony” area.  Mainly because I never planned on being a rock musician.  Funny how that worked out.  (Now I know why I felt like I never quite fit in.  Haha – retrospect is awesome. )

So, recently I decided that I wanted to educate myself since this is my career and all, so I poked around online and from several different places put together a list of the 100 “greatest albums of all time” that I want to listen to before my birthday – which is September 17th, by the way.  Gifts are always welcome.  🙂

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Don’t Just Stand There

You are overwhelmed. You are scared. You are the adult and the decision is yours. Everyday the decisions are yours. All of them. No one is going to tell you what to do.

But you don’t know what to do. You don’t know which decision is the right one. Or the situation is so convoluted there are multiple options but none seems to truly be the right one. Or more than one could be correct, or maybe three. And then even what initially seemed to be the wrong answer starts looking like it might be the best way to go.

“Don’t just stand there,” your brain says. “You are scared. You are uncomfortable. DO SOMETHING. ”

I used to. I used to just do something. Just pick something at random and go with it so that the decision was made and the uncomfortable would stop.

Which had disastrous outcomes. (As you may have guessed)

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Kat Downs

Starting from Scratch

If there is one thing I have learned that I constantly need in my life, it’s perspective. For some reason, when anything becomes even remotely challenging that’s the FIRST thing that goes. Every time.

This is why I enjoy teaching private music lessons.

Seems unrelated, I know. Just stick with me.

I had the joy of starting a brand new flute student a few months ago. I love this. You both sit on the floor cross legged and open your flute cases. You tell the new student the names of the different parts of the flute. You ask the student to put the instrument together the way they think it should be put together and then play it for you. It’s this great cozy bonding moment. One of my favorites ever.

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To the Grindstone

As expected, we are in day 19 of the New Year and it really is pushing me to my absolute limit.

After doing some writing I realized the best way I could take care of myself amid the mayhem would be to surround myself with positive energy.  Beautiful words, beautiful sounds, positive messages, positive people.  Yoga.  Fuzzy animals.  Manicures.  Mantras.  Soup.

Sadly, as I was perusing my music selection trying to put together “Kat’s (Doing it Anyway Even Though I want to Cry in a Pile) Positive Energy Playlist” I could not find the kind of tunes I was looking for.

So, instead, I wrote some.  I love them all madly and have had them on repeat for over a week already.

This is my favorite (so far) and I wanted to share it today.  I hope wherever you are, it helps you find a happy, peaceful, safe space… if only for about four minutes.

xoxoxo

–Kat

 

 

Sit Kitty Sit

How to Play to an Empty Room

It happens more often than you might think.  Especially when you’re playing in a brand new city.  Maybe they didn’t book a local band, or maybe they cancelled at the last second.  Maybe you’re playing on a Monday, or the venue down the street has a huge sold out show.  Or maybe you only got the gig about a day ago. Or the venue forgot you were coming, or…or…or…

At times during an interview, or when I’m chatting with someone I’ll get the question “what’s your one piece of advice for musicians just starting out?”

It’s a legit question.  Typically I’ve spouted some kind of “do it because you love it” or “just don’t quit” type comments, which are kind of lame pieces of advice, but now I finally feel like I have a legit answer. What’s my piece of advice for musicians starting out?

“Learn how to play to an empty room”
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