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Lucky number three

12 Dec

The results for Best Family Blog at the Canadian Blog Awards just came out today. Out of the five blogs that were in the second round of voting, I came in third, which, considering my sole wish was to not come out last of the 28 nominees (I know, I aim really high, hunh?  Besides, the overall voting numbers weren’t released so I wouldn’t have had a clue if I’d been dead last.  Who knew?) is pretty darned great!

That there is what you call an award-winning run-on sentence.  It’s totally why I came in third.  (You can interpret that however you wish.)

First place went to The Mabelhood, and second place went to Don Mills Diva.  Fourth and fifth place went to Under the Mad Hat and Party of 3 respectively.  Congrats, ladies!  I feel so honoured to be in the company of these women because I’ve run across them in various places in the mommyblogging world, so I feel like the unknown element in a crowd of celebrities.  Aww, shucks.

Thanks to all of you who voted!  Yipee!

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Updated to add: Two days after I found out about my nomination for Best Family Blog (so well into voting time), I discovered that my blog had also been nominated for Best Activities Blog.  Because of the delay and the fact that I had no idea what Best Activity Blog actually meant, I never actually mentioned it here.  But thank you so much to whoever nominated me, whoever you are.  (You know you’re driving me crazy with not knowing, don’t you?)

I’m a (gasp!) finalist!

1 Dec

Well, thanks to you, I have — unbelievably — made it into the top 5 in the “Best Family Blog” category of the Canadian Blog Awards!  Are you detecting a note of surprise here?  Because I am totally floored.

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!

Of course, the way this thing is set up, after asking you to vote for me in Round 1, I now have to shamelessly ask you to vote again.  If you’re feeling charitable, click on over and pick me!

(BTW, I’ve seen other nominated blogs have truly witty posts to ask for votes.  Unfortunately, you’re not going to get that here because I have only about two brain cells left and they’re worn out from being rubbed together.  But that’s the normal state of things when I write posts, so it must be why you love me, right?)

Shameless self-promotion

23 Nov

I didn’t even know it until another blog linked to me on the subject, but it seems that I’ve been nominated for “Best Family Blog” in the Canadian Blog Awards.  Wow!  I’m blushing!

So, um, if you like reading my blog, wouldn’t you take a moment to go vote for me?  Being on a list with the likes of Don Mills Diva is pretty heady, so even coming in dead last wouldn’t be so very bad.  But it would be nice not to be dead last, yanno?

You can vote once (per computer, that is…) each round and the first round started today.

The blog that linked to mine, Townie Bastard, put together a list of northern blogs that have been nominated for this year’s blog awards, so if you want to discover more great northern blogs, here’s a good start!

So that’s what relaxed feels like

10 Nov

Since Nugget is still tucked away and my mom is here and all up to speed on Jade’s routines, I thought it would be fun to accompany Michael to the weekly Big Band rehearsal tonight.  I stopped going to rehearsals at the end of September and I’ve really missed it.  Every time an update e-mail would go out to the group regarding set lists and stuff we should listen to on YouTube, I’d feel a pang of envy.

Well, I’m not sure if it’s because tomorrow is Remembrance Day and lots of folks are taking today off to make a four-day weekend, but there were quite a few players missing from the rehearsal.  We were down to two saxes, and had no drums, no piano, and no vocalist.  One of the saxists (is that the right word?  It doesn’t look right…) had invited a guy out to listen, and he gamefully took on the drums.  I can’t improvise worth a darn, so without music to read I couldn’t take my old place at the piano.  But the vocal charts happened to be there, so I got to sing!

I know I’ve blogged before about the high I get from singing with the band, so I won’t go into it again, but man… I haven’t felt this good in months!  The band is currently rehearsing for a Christmas gig, so I did a couple of Christmas tunes, and then a couple of jazz standards.  I don’t have my full vocal range at my disposal at the moment, what with Nugget squishing up my diaphragm and lungs and stuff, but I was able to do a pretty good job of most of it, and that’s when it really feels good.

After rehearsal, Michael and I joined the rest of the band at the Kopper King for nachos, wings, and beer (orange juice for me and ginger ale for Michael).  I was kind of wilting by 10:30, but having to much fun to leave.  We have such great people in the band, and I really missed them.  It felt like… home.

End of the Big Band era

15 Jul

Okay, it’s not the end of an era (after all, the big band era has come and gone) but it is the end of the musical season. 

Atlin was great fun (read and see more at Michael’s blog) and The Big Band played an absolutely amazing one-hour set.  I can’t say enough about the professionalism of the technical crew there; it’s the first time I’ve ever played with the band and been able to hear every other part, including myself, and, wow, it’s amazing how much easier it is for everyone to play together when we can all hear each other! (Kudos to Omni Productions!)

This gig was the band’s last time playing together until rehearsals resume in September, and it was a terrific way to end the season.  The sad part is I didn’t enjoy it as fully as I should have.  I had a shadow hanging over me the entire time because although things were going great at the keyboard — I have learned sooo much this year! — what I really wanted was to be singing.  I had actually asked to do one or two tunes, but our singer wanted to do this gig herself.  I can’t really blame her.  She’s a music teacher and spends most of her life encouraging others to develop themselves, to perform, and to shine; being the singer for The Big Band is where she gets to do her thing.  (Well, that’s my theory, anyway.)  But I would be lying if I said I wasn’t sorely disappointed.  I admit that I cried a little.  Then I told myself that I would be exactly as upset as I chose to be.  Which sort of worked.  It is such hard work suppressing the diva in me.

Seeing other performers at the festival made me realize that if I want to find a place to sing, I’m going to have to look for other musicians to play with.  I’m not yet sure how to go about doing that, and really the timing’s all wrong, since a few short months from now my life will be all wrapped up with propping my eyelids open enough to pay attention to Jade while snatching bits of sleep in between Nugget feedings.  (I know, I make it sound so appealing, don’t I?  I really am looking forward to it, honest.  Just not the sleep-deprivation part.)

A few months ago, Kim Beggs asked me what my goal was for my music, and I couldn’t answer her.  It’s something I do for fun, but, like a drug addict, it seems I want to do more and more.  I don’t (yet?!) have the confidence in my song-writing to really promote myself as a singer-songwriter, but I do think that I’d learn a lot by working with and playing with other songwriters.  I also know that while I wouldn’t mind doing the festival circuit (a path I had started down in the NWT) I don’t see myself doing the hard work of touring around the country, let alone travelling further.  Being a mom is still the more important job these days.  So I’m starting to get a fuzzy idea of some musical goals that would fit me.  Wouldn’t it be great if two years from now I could perform with a few other musicians as a singer-songwriter at the Atlin Festival?  Depending on your perspective, this could be a scarily lofty or laughably small goal… but either way I know it sure would be fun!

In the meantime, I’m going to miss Big Band rehearsals.  I can mentally go down the list of members and smile to myself at each name, thinking of this one’s soft-spoken warmth or that one’s caustic humour; corny as it sounds, The Big Band feels like family.  I’m not sure whether I’m going to join in on the rehearsals again in September; it will depend on how things are going with the pregnancy and with Jade, and whether there are any gigs to practice for before Nugget’s introduction to the world.

Is it wonder that despite the fabulous music, playing in Atlin left me feeling just a wee bit melancholy?

Perfect Angel

28 Jun

When you’re playing in public, I think it’s important not to make excuses about why you’re not good or what’s wrong with your performance.  The audience is there to have a good time and listening to you being self-conscious makes everyone uncomfortable.

Somehow I don’t feel like my blog is playing in public, though; it’s more like playing for someone in my living room, where I’m free to cough and say, “Gah!  That garlic I had for lunch is drying up my throat.  Excuse me while I run and get some water.”

So, I’m going to share this song that I just wrote for Jade, but I am going to preface by saying that I realize the metaphor is tired.  I don’t think it’s a brilliant piece of music, although there is a line or two that I quite like.  It does express some of the things I’ve been feeling, so it’s been therapeutic for me.  And it’s therapeutic for me to share things with you, so I figured I’d do that, too.  Lyrics appear below the fold.

Continue reading

Swing into Spring!

17 Apr

So what if it snowed 5 cm last night? The sun is out for almost 15 hours these days and spring is definitely on it’s way! Now here’s your chance to celebrate spring in style!

Swing into Spring with The Big Band

I’m soooo excited that I’ll be singing at this next Big Band event! I’ve mentioned before how hyper I am after I come home from rehearsals on Monday nights, and I’m sure I’ll be the same after this dance, ’cause we’ll be doing 3 full sets (that’s 3 hours of live music!) of great tunes.

It’s been such a great experience for me, not only for the thrill of singing with a 16-piece band (I mean, how cool is that?!) but also stretching me to try things I haven’t done before. I’ve found that my vocal range has actually expanded, and I’m singing songs that I might previously have thought weren’t “my style”, that I didn’t think I could carry off, but are now favourites of mine.  (Here’s an example of one like that.)

Okay, okay, this dance isn’t all about me!  But I won’t be playing piano at all for this one, so you can’t blame me for being so focussed on the singing part!  One of the band’s former members is coming back to cover the piano.  It’s great watching him play; he goes about it much more intuitively than I do, and it’s inspiring to watch (not to mention fun to listen to!)  We’ll be playing, I believe, 33 tunes, and I’ll be singing for about half of them. The instrumentals will include standards like “In the Mood” and “Sing! Sing! Sing!” that everyone knows, even if they don’t know what they’re called.

Personally, I suck at dancing, so when I’m not singing, I’m looking forward to watching people at it; I’m not normally able to do that because when I’m at the piano, my eyes are glued to the notes on the page and to my fingers. There’s a set of pretty serious ballroom dancers in Whitehorse, and you can be sure they’ll be out; maybe I can pick up a move or two between vocal selections — ha, right!

Anyway, if you’re in Whitehorse, be sure to get your tickets soon. The last dance sold out, and we have fewer tickets for this event because there isn’t quite as much space at the Arts Centre.

Aaaaah! I’m psyched!

Revision

5 Feb

I think I need to amend my “extraordinary” post.  What I ought to have said is that when things go well singing makes me feel like I’m doing something extraordinary.  Otherwise, I just feel squirmily dissatisfied.

We had a few minutes to spare at the end of last night’s Big Band rehearsal, so Kelly had me go up to the mic to try out a couple of tunes that the band hasn’t done in a while.  Since I’ve never heard the band play them, I wasn’t familiar with the arrangements.  Add to that the little frog in my throat (vestige of the latest cold), my apparent inability to count (seriously, I’m going to have to go to kindergarten with Jade) and the fact that we were set up so that I was singing to a wall with my back to everyone, and I was suddenly tremendously self-conscious.  Ah well, that’s what rehearsals are for, right?  It wasn’t that bad, still fun to try, and I’m sure I’m the worst critic of all.  I just can’t believe I’m still squirming about it this morning!

On a different note (no pun intended) I recently came across a quote by Voltaire that had me slightly worried: “The secret of being a bore is to tell everything.”  But then I realized… he wasn’t a woman.

Extraordinary

3 Feb

I spent a happy half-hour this morning going through music in the Big Band folder and making lists. We’ve got a dance gig coming up on Saturday and after that there’ll be a gig-less (tee hee!) stretch until we hold another dance at the Yukon Arts Centre in April. I’m already getting excited about that one because it looks like I’ll get to sing for it. (Exclamation marks are being withheld with great effort.)

Rebekah, our lovely vocalist, is most likely going to be away on a band trip at that time (school band – she’s a teacher) so having a back-up vocalist for the Big Band will actually come in handy for the first time. And I shall now say no more on the circumstances because, after all, I like Rebekah and too much enthusiasm would be unseemly.

(!!!!!! Oh my! Excuse me!… !!!! Oh, dear. How embarrassing.)

What can I say, it’s the diva in me. But hey, I’ve been a goody-two-shoes all my life and singing is how I get my high. When I sing, I forget to be shy, or concerned about my long list of “to do”s, or the fact that I’d really like to lose a few pounds, or whatever. When I sing, I get to feel like I’m doing something extraordinary, and when there’s an audience… well, I can’t explain the energy, but I might as well be flying. All I know is that everything feels just right. And that’s not something that happens every day.

What do you do to feel extraordinary?

On being a musician

21 Jan

Last fall I participated in a competition to be part of a recording project organized by Yukon Women in Music.  YWIM gave us the opportunity to get half an hour of free studio time to record our muical submissions, and then the recordings were sent to jurors across Canada for judging.  Out of the 30 competitors, I came in 14th, which isn’t terrible, although I missed getting onto the CD that is the intended end-product (only the top 12 got on).

One of the requests that was made of the jurors was that they critique the submissions so that participants could get feedback.  You can imagine that with 30 entries to listen to, not all the jurors would be excited about doing this.  In fact, only one juror did give feedback, and, pest that I am, I’d been bugging the organizer of the project to send it to me.  She had been busy and the e-mail had been misfiled, and anyway, the short story is that yesterday I finally got the feedback I’d been asking for.

I’ve never thought of myself as much of a composer, and it wasn’t until this fall that I ever even wrote a song that I liked.  I’ve written a few more since then, but I know they all have a similar sound to them and I need to find a way to grow my style.  I was looking forward to getting this feedback because I can take criticism (well, constructive critiquing, anyway) and I know it’s important to keep learning and improving.

Here’s what I got:

This vocalist has a fine voice but the melody is too rudimentary.  The diary style of the lyrics make it sound like it would be a great song for a musical or play.

Ouch!  Okay, it may not sound so bad, but it kind of stung to read it.  The melody is too rudimentary?  What does that really mean?  That there should have been harmonies?  That another melody line or refrain should have been incorporated?  That it’s repetitive?  I thought I was going to get dinged on the structure of the piece, as it’s not conventional, but there’s no mention of than, unless that’s what this person meant.  I just don’t really understand what this juror is trying to say, which is frustrating, because what the heck do you do with feedback when you don’t get what it means?

The part where s/he says it sounds like a song for a musical or a play makes me laugh, because I got that comment from quite a few people.  I guess my roots in musical theatre are showing.  (Quick, where’s the dye?! Ha!)

I know I have shortcomings as a musician.  I don’t play well by ear and I couldn’t improvise anything to save my life, except on the most common C-A-F-G chord progression.  This is part of what limits me in my song-writing, as the accompaniment to my songs tend to be unimaginative.  But I thought I at least came up with nice melodies.

Ah, well, as I said, it’s important to keep learning and improving.  I’ve arranged with a local piano teacher to get some help learning improvising, which I’m hoping to start on Wednesday if I can find a baby-sitter (Michael’s heading to Yellowknife for two nights – *grumble*) and I’m still toying with the idea of some vocal instruction or guitar lessons.  But I really can’t take on too much because there just isn’t enough time.

At least I know that most people – including this juror – think that I can sing.

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