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Laura Botsford – “Aquarium Funk” Album Review

Aquarium Funk

Laura Botsford is an artist. And I don’t just mean in the musical sense. Visual arts are also a creative outlet for her. Collages seem to be a speciality of hers and when it comes to music, this also seems to be her strength, musical collages, or as Laura calls them “I coalesce the vapors”.
This album fuses a number of genres and collects a wide variety of instruments as well. The danger with this style of production, is amalgamating mismatched themes and instruments, leading to a cacophony of sound that never settles down to be a listenable, engaging tune. Well thankfully, Laura has not fallen into that unfortunate, well worn rut, that so many producers end up in. “Aquarium Funk” is engaging and musical on so many levels and well worth your listening time.
If you are a fan of Jazz, Hip Hop, Soul and a melting pot of groove based sounds, then you’ve found your pot of gold at the end of the rainbow with this 13 track album. Or as Laura herself has described it ,”Aquarium Funk is an innovative compendium of cool with wings, hip with the hap of old school meets break out contemporary jazz fusions of capriccio tuneful funky charm.”
Track 1: Aquarium Funk: Channels James Brown with cool horn parts, grooving bass, funky guitar & lovely keyboard parts divided between Hammond organ & Rhodes electric piano. Quite a groove based ride as it weaves in and out of mellow & solid funk.
Track 2: Clemies Jazz Club: Cool 12 bar blues shuffling tune, gives way to a mixture of laid back musical themes and instruments.
Track 3: Miles: As the name suggests, this is a homage to Miles Davis. Very breezy feeling on this relaxing tune, guaranteed to help you “Chill out”! The vocal addition is like a breath of fresh air, not to mention the lovely bird samples that reinforce that relaxing vibe.
Track 4: Chet’s Dream: Electric piano intro overlayed with mellow trumpet is then accompanied by female vocal scat singing, that takes you into another world. With layered reverb, this tune makes you feel like you are floating in a beautiful, safe place, that you won’t want to leave.
Track 5: Feel Good: Once again trumpet & electric piano set the scene for a reverb drenched, chilled out tune. There is still more than a hint of groove going on in the background to this, at times surprising piece. Surprising, in the fact that it makes twists & turns you are not expecting, but mold together as a coherent tune.
Track 6: Bluezette: Laura desribes the track in this way “Dreamscape Jazz- Melodic Sax and Sweet”. With the sweet female vocal weaving in and out of the musical “dreamscape” of this tune, the scene is set for a ride off into another world.
Track 7: My Valentine: This tune starts as a chilled tune, but quickly enters a more electronic theme than any of the other tunes on this album. Ending with a beautiful music box melody.
Track 8: Luster of Stars: As the name says, this tune really channels the musical equivalent of looking up at the stars on a dark clear night. The use of congas in this tune, really push along the tune rthymically, without hitting us over the head with a strong beat. Lovely use of floating sounds that add to the impression of a starry night.
Track 9: Way In: Lovely use of acoustic guitar & fretless bass in this tune. As the music progresses, a driving synth bass & shuffling drum beat, takes the listener on a groove infused direction.
Track 10: Street Dance: More vocal work on this tune than any of the other on the album. Laura manages to insert, guitar lead breaks, Hammond organ, upright bass, flamenco guitar, flute, vibraphone, saxaphones, Rhodes electric piano, but mold them altogether into a cohesive, danceable tune.
Track 11: The Walk: Upright bass & saxaphones start this relaxed grooving number, which despite using some synth sounds & electric guitar parts here and there, still keeps that jazzy feel throughout.
Track 12: Porch Swing: This really invokes the feeling of a hot night in the American South and the popular porch swings in that area. Infused with some lovely blues themed piano & harmonica.
Track 13: Angelic Funk: This track rounds out the album. Starting out with the vocal “Let yourself go”, this track let’s rip into a funky ride, but to give it that angelic theme, has choir style vocal in the background & a beautiful acoustic guitar lead in the quieter moments. A lovely way to finish of the “Angelic Funk” album.

Laura summed up the process of making this album, “I was exploring the fusion of Funk/Jazz with a cinematic feel as if one fell into the musical soup of all their favorite genres. Having grown up in house full of jazz, I love the improve of going off into different instruments playing off each other, and with the array of electronic samples, I found myself blending in some FX, and ambient voices to carry songs with flight of doves transitions from one style into the next.”

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The importance of music

importance of music

Being a visual artist myself, I have to reluctantly admit that it’s quite possible, the general populace of the world could live without paintings, sculpture and visual art, but I severely doubt the people on this planet could live without music.

What is it about structured or unstructured sounds and rhythms that has been around since earliest civilisations? In fact animals and birds have been producing musical sounds way before man ever walked the earth. Australian aborigines play music today, that dates back 100’s of 1,000’s of years and yet are still quite relevant in today’s modern world. 12th century compositions are still played and listened to daily. In fact music, is so interwoven into all different societies across this planet, that a day without it almost seems an impossibility. Words, in any language, can only go so far. Expressing emotions are not always an easy task, but music can really assist that voice. Maybe that’s the reason it’s so embedded in human culture.

Having occasionally scored music for films, it is patently obvious, that without a soundtrack, movies would be a very flat cinematic experience. Nothing emphasises emotion, pathos, elation, grief and a myriad of emotions, like music can bring to the silver screen.

Basically, I would propose, that now mankind has used and experienced music for thousands of years, if it were to be taken away, we would all be the poorer for it and my feeling is, the fabric of society would begin to unravel without its influence.

The important role of musicians in the production of their sounds, can be approached from many different angles. Some use scientific means, some improvise, some read printed notes, some have no knowledge of their instruments and yet others are so deeply in tune with their instruments, that they know the sound that will be produced before they hit the key or string. Some play for audiences of thousands and others only for themselves. As there are many varied approaches to music making, there are also many varied tastes and styles and this gives music its amazing broad appeal.

Apart from the great joy, solace, healing and release music can bring to the actual musician, music, in a social context, is quite a responsibility musicians & teachers alike, exert. Whether we perform or instruct, we are influencing a broad range of society, especially considering the dearth of the live music scene. (That’s another whole article in itself. Young children who visit my home, often wonder what the piano against the wall in my lounge room is for. Not really comprehending the relationship between hitting, plucking or strumming an instrument to produce the music they hear on TV and radio.) We are allowing people to find things in our music that enable them to express emotions & feelings that may not have been possible using words alone. I know in my own favourite listening catalogue of music, various tunes give me the release I need to relax, find joy, revel in my melancholy, escape, feel anger in a controlled way and way too many emotions to list here, but suffice to say, it performs a much needed role in my life. I am lucky enough to be able to get in touch with these emotions through both playing & listening.

With music being such an important part of our social fabric, we as musicians are custodians of a precious gift to mankind, now and in the future generations we currently teach or influence.

As Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars said, although not specifically addressing musicians & teachers, “May The Force Be You”.

TPC- Four Chord Challenge

TPC – The Joy of Christmas

Album review – “Frozen dream” Milana Zilnik

frozen_dream2

Milana Zilnik, is one of the most popular piano players on the Soundcloud platform, with 20,000 followers and regularly appears in the “Piano Explore” section, which showcases the trending / most listened to tracks across the world. Milana’s music is very difficult to “pigeon hole”, as she covers such a wide variety of genre’s, from classical, to jazz, across to new age, romantic and then dashes of ambient in there as well. Milana sums it up best, when she says “many of my free flowing melodies and harmonies were born after listening to my favourite masters such as Chopin, Debussy, Chick Corea, Oscar
Peterson & Keith Jarret.

Her latest album “Frozen dream” is an atmospheric, spacious musical journey, well worth the ride and here are my impressions of each of the tracks, one by one.

 

Autumn Dream

On a bed of softly played arpeggios, Milana produces an emotion laden melody line that is amazingly evocative. A feature of her playing is inserting unexpected chords in throughout her tunes and Autumn Dream is no exception. Dropped in here and there, these chords keep the interest levels of even seasoned musicians, at a high level. Arty Sandler, her husband / producer, has used an ambient degree of reverb to the beautiful piano tone, to achieve an emotive feeling on this opening track.

Falling into You

A much brighter piano tone on this second track, leads us into some really lovely jazz infused chords and runs. Milana brings a huge amount of chordal variations to lead us on “Falling into you”. The skill to convincingly pull this off is evident throughout this piece.

The Whispering Blaze of Autumn

A transparent, reverb drenched tone, sets the mood for this really lovely piece. “The Whispering Blaze of Autumn” starts as a very gentle breeze blowing, but then builds into strident arpeggios, underpinning a lovely right hand melody line. Broken into chapters of strongly played music and interspersed with light whispering phrases, makes this tune a relaxing track on the album.

Rainy Thoughts

Jazz voiced chords are a real feature of this track. Although this tune does not exhibit a strong melodic theme, the dancing Milana does between the vast amount of chords, is so pleasing to the ear, you hardly notice the absence of a distinct melody. This track fooled me, as I thought it had sparse synth backing, but it was just a really clever use of reverb & dissonant chords. This production technique, really enhanced the mood.

Childhood That is Gone

A return to Milana’s ambiently toned piano and using her lovely, lilting melody lines, this is the type of tune her many fans have given her the most listens to. Despite the romantic nature of this track, Milana still throws in some strongly played bass hand runs, that contrast so well with other delicate and airy playing.

Shine On

I can just imagine this being played in a small jazz club, while businessmen sit around sipping on their drinks. The chordal motif at the start, breaks into some really delightful jazz licks. Anyone who plays piano or can recognise voicings in chords, will hear some really superb examples of full fisted jazz polyphony in this piece.

Looking Through a Frozen Window

The title sums up what Milana has achieved on “Looking through a frozen window”. Arty Sandler has achieved a piano tone that perfectly feels like ice, cold and glass. The reverb once again almost supplying another instrument to the mix. Of course, it can’t be understated that Milana’s touch on the piano also conjures up a cold, icy feeling and yet tinged with some warmth via the left hand arpeggios on this track. As I write this review, it’s currently 32c outside and my body temperature has been suitably turned down just by the mood evoked in this piece.

Frozen Dream

Once again, another icy themed tune and the tone and playing style echo this picture in my mind. Being a piano player myself, the variety and complex knowledge of voicings in Milana’s chords, are something I aspire to. Sometimes musicians of such high caliber as Milana and respected by other musicians, can often not connect well with the general public, but this has proved not to be the case, as Milana remains true to her style and probably because of that, has a huge following across the world.

Meltdown

As in most of Milana’s tunes, her left and right hands act like two totally different musicians & are on their best display in “Meltdown”. Such great, at times piercing, runs with the right hand are backed up by fluid bass lines and occasional left hand chords. This tune once again shows experienced jazz voicings in her chord selections and some speedy jazz licks punctuate the somber moments.

February Elegy

Elegant, reverb processed melody line throughout this brooding piece, set the scene for a lovely romantic track. This is what I feel Milana does best of all, conjuring up pictures that I see in my head, flowing out of “February Elegy”. The advent of film clips, has seen the death knell of people dreaming up their own “clips” to go with music. Hopefully Milana will never put a film clip to her music, as I’d rather each of us come up with our very own images to these evocative tunes.

From the Heart

As far as I’m concerned, Milana plays all her music “From the Heart”, so the title of this track is really applicable. Once again dense, jazz laced chords provide the basis for this tune. If you stumbled into a small jazz club early in the morning, when the whole place was winding down, this is the type of tune you’d hear. The real feature of this album, is her ability to get the length of the tracks just right. You never feel that they have overstayed their welcome, but also leave you begging for more.

Tenderness

Exquisite, high register notes open this levely tune. As the title suggests, Milana brings a tender, lilting feel to track No 12. This is my favourite tune on the album, as the notes painted a picture in my mind. Dancing from lightly played melody lines, to warmly played left hand arpeggios and chords.

Rhythms of the Night

This tune has such a full sound because of the rich chords Milana uses. The lovely reverb really enhances the spacious tone used and as well as plumbing the depths of the bass tones, She lights up the keyboard with her right handed treble clef playing.

Violet Dream

Such tender playing to begin this piece. “Violet dream” has created such a welcoming cavernous place, I just wanted to dive right into this piece. This is one of five pieces on the album, that fall under 3:00 mins, but so much has been said in such a short time.

Movement

This is another favourite of mine on this album. Really intriguing melody line over a strong, confidently played left hand accompaniment. Light & shade trade places throughout this tune. On second and third listens, more and more phrases jumped out and grabbed my attention. “Movement” weaves through many different genres within its 4:42 length.

Waltzing at Dawn

Understated, sparse chords begin ‘Waltzing at Dawn” and when the right hand begins it’s lovely, jazz licks, you’re gradually being invited into a fitting end to this great album. The complex jazz chords are gradually broken up by strongly played right hand runs, that have shone through on this whole album. Milana moves effortlessly through many complex chordal runs in this piece and towards the end, plays right hand runs with sparkling clarity. A fitting way to round out the album “Autumn Dream”.

https://milana.bandcamp.com/album/frozen-dream

 

Milana Zilnik “Moonlight Stroll”

Nikki Nicola

I’d like to write about a favourite composer & recording artist of mine, Nikki Nicola. Nikki has a very polished commercial sound to her recordings, often involving strings, bass & drums to really support a very melodic approach to composition. After listening to her tunes, I wouldn’t be surprised if you go away whistling the main theme & melody.

Let’s go back to the very beginning though, to give us an idea of how this talented artist has arrived at this point.

Nikki’s first experience with a keyboard came around the age of 3. Nikki shares “We had a piano at home and I’m told that I came home from nursery one day and played baa baa blacksheep by ear! My mum played, so it’s definitely in the family.” Nikki had a really inspiring teacher at age 4 & this really started her off on her musical career. Because of Mrs Dobson’s (her piano teacher) encouragement & insight into Nikki’s potential, it made for a blossoming start to her musical journey.

Nikki again shares “I started to compose really early on too. I used to play tunes and my mum used to transcribe them & I remember writing songs from the age of 6.”

After shifting to a another town, Nikki’s new teacher wasn’t quite so inspirational, but she took all the classical grades regardless, but her heart was always in composing though & when she got her first basic electronic keyboard at 11, Nikki was totally amazed & used to play it along side her piano. She then bought one where you could layer different tracks & never looked back!………

Niki has always recorded her pieces, from a very young age & was encouraged to do so by her mum (back then on a cassette recorder of course!) She now uses a Mac & Logic pro. Nikki’s only recorded on a computer for the last few years as before that she used workstations. Like many of us with a musical gift, Nikki has dipped her toe in the live music scene using her Korg Triton Extreme or Roland XP60.

Nikki tells what has most recently happened in her musical journey “After many years of composing & not much recognition, I am finally having my music used on the BBC. I’ve always loved the music from Masterchef, so one day I decided to tweet the show & one of the editors saw my tweet, followed the link to Soundcloud and loved my music! I get a huge buzz hearing my music on TV. It is truly amazing! It really gave me a confidence boost, as it was frustrating feeling like my music wasn’t being heard. Now it has, by millions! I would love to get more TV work in the future so fingers crossed!

Words are never enough when it comes to music like Nikki’s, so lets listen to 2 tunes she’s nominated as her favourites. The first one is called “Waiting”. Nikki shared “This tune was written at a very sad time in our lives, waiting for test results to see if our unborn baby was ok, sadly it wasn’t. I started as I usually do ,with improvising on the piano & getting the chords / piano riff. Then building it up from there!

The next tune is called “Bathed in sunlight”. Nikki said ” I like the simplicity in this track, and the good feeling that you get when the drums kick in!”

I’m sure all of you will join with me in wishing Nikki all the best with her endeavours in music & hopefully her dream job of writing for TV or film. Visit her SoundCloud page to hear more tunes like these.

Healing with Music

bandaid

With war in Syria, daily muggings, deadlock in the Middle East, domestic violence & escalating racist tensions, we are in desperate need of some good news stories. Being a creative musician, you may not realize it, but you hold the key to giving the world some peace and inspiration.To truly understand what this means, we need to go back a few years to a time when this truth became desperately apparent to me, a time when it changed from merely a concept into a reality.
Some years ago I contracted pneumococcal meningitis, an infection of the brain, to put it simply, and was airlifted to an infectious diseases hospital. One in three people die from this infection, so for a few days, in an induced coma, it was touch and go. In fact, the doctors told my wife to gather all my relatives to say goodbye. I was completely oblivious to all of this and woke eventually with my only thought being that my bed clothes were much too tight, as I couldn’t move my left leg. It was only then that I realized, there was no movement on my left side and total numbness on the right side of my face. I was devastated by the thought I might never walk again and no doctor could give me a straight answer about my prognosis.
Two days into my stay in the infectious diseases ward, I heard what sounded like children playing on a piano. Upon asking the staff, I discovered that a full size grand piano had been donated to the hospital and put into a large open ‘lounge room’. Naturally, at the first chance I got, I asked a staff member to push my wheelchair around to the piano so I could re-establish some semblance of my old life, or at least one aspect of it. If I thought it was simply a matter of sitting at the keyboard and playing all my favourites just like old times, I was gravely mistaken. Many parts of my brain had been damaged and not only would I have to re-learn to walk but also to access the memories I had of musical pieces. My doctors couldn’t give me any signs of hope, but I found a new way to access hope, through music.
Each night, after I ate, I would play for about an hour, and unbeknownst to me the whole ward was listening. One night, as I shuffled my way to the lounge room on my crutches, I was welcomed by a small crowd of people, one of whom asked me if I was the person who did concerts each night. I said I was, and then I played. As it turned out, these patients thought I was a musical therapist paid by the hospital to aid in their healing. This continued for the whole month that I was in the hospital and included times when relatives of terminally ill patients would bring their mothers or their fathers to let the music softly wash over them. One family explained, that it was so depressing, standing around their dying father’s bed in silence, not knowing what to say. He had heard some of the blues tunes I was playing each night and asked to where they were coming from. His family told me later that before he died, he confessed to really enjoying the blues piano and still believing that I was employed by the hospital, thanked the staff for the musical therapist.

As musicians we have a gift that can not only help ourselves to heal, but also bring solace and joy to those around us. With the advent of cheap home recording and the internet, we can now touch souls all over the planet.The world is so full of bad news stories; let’s take back the right to hear some good news. Record, post online, perform and enjoy your music, let’s start to heal this planet one listen at a time!

ith war in Syria, daily muggings, deadlock in the Middle East, domestic violence & escaWith war in Syria, daily muggings, deadlock in the Middle East, domestic violence & escalating racist tensions, we are in desperate need of some good news stories. Being a creative musician, you may not realize it, but you hold the key to giving the world some peace and inspiration.To truly understand what this means, we need to go back a few years to a time when this truth became desperately apparent to me, a time when it changed from merely a concept into a reality.
Some years ago I contracted pneumococcal meningitis, an infection of the brain, to put it simply, and was airlifted to an infectious diseases hospital. One in three people die from this infection, so for a few days, in an induced coma, it was touch and go. In fact, the doctors told my wife to gather all my relatives to say goodbye. I was completely oblivious to all of this and woke eventually with my only thought being that my bed clothes were much too tight, as I couldn’t move my left leg. It was only then that I realized, there was no movement on my left side and total numbness on the right side of my face. I was devastated by the thought I might never walk again and no doctor could give me a straight answer about my prognosis.
Two days into my stay in the infectious diseases ward, I heard what sounded like children playing on a piano. Upon asking the staff, I discovered that a full size grand piano had been donated to the hospital and put into a large open ‘lounge room’. Naturally, at the first chance I got, I asked a staff member to push my wheelchair around to the piano so I could re-establish some semblance of my old life, or at least one aspect of it. If I thought it was simply a matter of sitting at the keyboard and playing all my favourites just like old times, I was gravely mistaken. Many parts of my brain had been damaged and not only would I have to re-learn to walk but also to access the memories I had of musical pieces. My doctors couldn’t give me any signs of hope, but I found a new way to access hope, through music.
Each night, after I ate, I would play for about an hour, and unbeknownst to me the whole ward was listening. One night, as I shuffled my way to the lounge room on my crutches, I was welcomed by a small crowd of people, one of whom asked me if I was the person who did concerts each night. I said I was, and then I played. As it turned out, these patients thought I was a musical therapist paid by the hospital to aid in their healing. This continued for the whole month that I was in the hospital and included times when relatives of terminally ill patients would bring their mothers or their fathers to let the music softly wash over them. One family explained, that it was so depressing, standing around their dying father’s bed in silence, not knowing what to say. He had heard some of the blues tunes I was playing each night and asked to where they were coming from. His family told me later that before he died, he confessed to really enjoying the blues piano and still believing that I was employed by the hospital, thanked the staff for the musical therapist.

As musicians we have a gift that can not only help ourselves to heal, but also bring solace and joy to those around us. With the advent of cheap home recording and the internet, we can now touch souls all over the planet.The world is so full of bad news stories; let’s take back the right to hear some good news. Record, post online, perform and enjoy your music, let’s start to heal this planet one listen at a time!

lating racist tensions, we are in desperate need of some good news stories. Being a creative musician, you may not realize it, but you hold the key to giving the world some peace and inspiration.To truly understand what this means, we need to go back a few years to a time when this truth became desperately apparent to me, a time when it changed from merely a concept into a reality.
Some years ago I contracted pneumococcal meningitis, an infection of the brain, to put it simply, and was airlifted to an infectious diseases hospital. One in three people die from this infection, so for a few days, in an induced coma, it was touch and go. In fact, the doctors told my wife to gather all my relatives to say goodbye. I was completely oblivious to all of this and woke eventually with my only thought being that my bed clothes were much too tight, as I couldn’t move my left leg. It was only then that I realized, there was no movement on my left side and total numbness on the right side of my face. I was devastated by the thought I might never walk again and no doctor could give me a straight answer about my prognosis.
Two days into my stay in the infectious diseases ward, I heard what sounded like children playing on a piano. Upon asking the staff, I discovered that a full size grand piano had been donated to the hospital and put into a large open ‘lounge room’. Naturally, at the first chance I got, I asked a staff member to push my wheelchair around to the piano so I could re-establish some semblance of my old life, or at least one aspect of it. If I thought it was simply a matter of sitting at the keyboard and playing all my favourites just like old times, I was gravely mistaken. Many parts of my brain had been damaged and not only would I have to re-learn to walk but also to access the memories I had of musical pieces. My doctors couldn’t give me any signs of hope, but I found a new way to access hope, through music.
Each night, after I ate, I would play for about an hour, and unbeknownst to me the whole ward was listening. One night, as I shuffled my way to the lounge room on my crutches, I was welcomed by a small crowd of people, one of whom asked me if I was the person who did concerts each night. I said I was, and then I played. As it turned out, these patients thought I was a musical therapist paid by the hospital to aid in their healing. This continued for the whole month that I was in the hospital and included times when relatives of terminally ill patients would bring their mothers or their fathers to let the music softly wash over them. One family explained, that it was so depressing, standing around their dying father’s bed in silence, not knowing what to say. He had heard some of the blues tunes I was playing each night and asked to where they were coming from. His family told me later that before he died, he confessed to really enjoying the blues piano and still believing that I was employed by the hospital, thanked the staff for the musical therapist.

As musicians we have a gift that can not only help ourselves to heal, but also bring solace and joy to those around us. With the advent of cheap home recording and the internet, we can now touch souls all over the planet.The world is so full of bad news stories; let’s take back the right to hear some good news. Record, post online, perform and enjoy your music, let’s start to heal this planet one listen at a time!

Anxiety / Depression “The Black Dog”

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Being a creative musician is a dangerous profession. No, I don’t mean getting your fingers slammed by the piano lid, or a Steinway falling on your head. I mean the proportion of suicides compared to statistics in the general population. Everytime I hear a story informing me of another person who has taken their life, be it a celebrity or “man on the street”. I am deeply touched & realise how close I have come to being another statistic.

I knew from early childhood that certain things affected me profoundly. When I heard certain songs or chord progressions, I felt butterflies inside me & sometimes it made me cry. When I would see injustices to class mates or in movies, I would feel deep empathy. Obviously I was quite a sensitive person & music gave me a chance to enter a creative world of my own making. As positive as these traits were & still are in me, they also have a dark side. Having only recently gained some wisdom on how these thought patterns have affected me, I stumbled on unknowingly through my life, eventually culminating in a breakdown, which really forced me to learn more about the subject & myself. Here are some of the key points I’ve learnt about how I tick.

 

“People Pleaser”

I realised I tried to “Please all of the people, all of the time”. This is an impossible task & ended up causing a massive gap between my expectations & reality.

 

“Setting Boundaries”

I had a tendency to place clients higher in the pecking order, than my own family, so partook in some pretty crazy overtime hours, or I’d take bookings for gigs, even though I’d promised to do things with the family. This caused massive frustration on my part, as I danced around trying to please everyone, inevitably I pleased no one & hurt myself in the bargain.

 

“Learn to love yourself”

I’ve only just started to hear my negative self talk & have realised how destructive it has been all my life. I remember listening to a relaxation tape that was meant to be part of your nightly regime. One of the first things the speaker asked you to do, at the end of each day, was reach up behind you & give yourself a pat on the back! He would then go onto say “You did the best you could today with the information you had.”

 

“Surround yourself with supportive people”

At times I thought I was the only one who felt these thoughts. When I discovered others were in the same boat as me & were willing to help each other out, I rejoiced! Friends who understand your condition & are willing to talk with you are a gift from heaven.

 

Living with anxiety / depression is not an easy thing, but I have to wonder, what if I didn’t have this condition, would I be as productive as a creative artist? The fact that I have felt the lowest of lows, means I rejoice all the more when I feel the highs.

 

If you are experiencing these types of feelings, then take solace in the fact that you are not alone & a helping hand is just a phone call or key stroke away.

“Play me I’m yours” Street Pianos

Music is an amazing thing! It can enrich both the listener & the performer at the same time. A win-win situation!

This is especially evident in the “Street Pianos” project created by UK artist, Luke Jerram. Since 2008, Luke has placed more than 1,300 street pianos in 38 cities across the globe, bearing the simple invitation “Play me I’m yours”. Over 6 million people have been touched by this project.

I was totally intrigued by this concept, that when I heard it was being installed in Melbourne Australia, I couldn’t help myself & took the train down to be part of the action!

The whole experience touched me in a profound way. People, from tiny 5 years olds, all the way up to octogenarians, would see the brightly coloured pianos sitting in public places with “Play me I’m yours” emblazoned across them & walk over & begin playing. I talked to them afterwards & they all seemed so full of joy! Some of the older people, had not touched a keyboard for many years & the experience thrilled them! Because the pianos were placed in unlikely positions, railway stations, bridge walkways etc., pedestrians were completely taken aback, but then stayed & enjoyed the music. It never failed to raise a smile from the passers by!

Luke Jerram told a few heart warming stories on a recent interview. One was of a mother in South America, who worked extra jobs to pay for her daughters music lessons. Because they didn’t have a piano at home & the daughter went to her teacher on the other side of town, the mother had never heard her play. When the “Street Pianos” installation came to their city, they were both entering a railway station & the daughter invited her mother to sit beside her on the stool & subsequently played her heart out! The mother dissolved into tears. After all these years & sacrifices to have her daughter learn, she finally heard what would have been, the most beautiful music in the world!

Another amazing story was from the UK. A piano was installed at the front of a police station. A guy came up to the keyboard & began playing just one note. This went on for 3 hours! In this time, the police had found out he was a convicted felon on the run & promptly arrested him. Obviously he wanted to be arrested, but how fantastic to use music to do it!

There are quiet a few grants given to art projects that frankly, are quite elitist & pointless, but having now experienced “Street Pianos” first hand, this project deserves to continue & receive worldwide support & funding, as it provides such an enriching experience to anyone who comes in contact  with it. If it comes to a city near you, get out there & both enjoy yourself & enrich someone elses life with music.

http://www.streetpianos.com/

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