samba

2018 Recap + How I'm Approaching 2019 Differently

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Welcome to 2019!

Welcome to 2019, happy to be here!

Before I get into planning the new year, it’s really important to look back on the year we’re finishing, and acknowledge all that was learned and accomplished (even if you feel like you didn’t do that much, I bet that it’s a lot more than you thought!) I’m posting my highlights, not as a brag or an encouragement for comparison, but to set an example that we all deserve to recognize our accomplishments and be proud of ourselves!

2018 was a really big year for me, crazy and challenging, but overall a good one. Here’s some of what I did:

WORK

PERSONAL / TRAVEL

  • Celebrated my 35th birthday + Tom’s graduation (after 4.5 years in school) on the same day!

  • Denver to celebrate a friend’s 40th birthday

  • New York City to see the installation at MoMA PS1 that Tom helped with

  • Cabin weekend in Northern Minnesota

  • New Orleans to attend Being Boss NOLA

  • Door County, Wisconsin for a wedding during the peak of fall color

  • San Francisco Bay Area for a gig and to visit family

  • Celebrated my 12th anniversary w/Tom!

  • Purged a lot of stuff from the apartment, which was years overdue and felt amazing!

LOW MOMENTS

(I share these in the name of keeping it real - it’s definitely not all highlights around here)

  • Being on my own for almost the entire Kickstarter - Tom was gone in NYC, working on the aforementioned MoMA PS1 installation

  • Sick with the worst cold I’ve had in years while recording my album

  • Felt burnout / “post-partum depression” after album release, which coincided with the sudden onset of winter and seasonal affective disorder

  • Tons of moments of “can I do this?”, “how am I going to do this?”, and other self-doubting thoughts (they’re not very Instagrammable, but we all have them!)

FIRSTS

  • First time feeling positive about winter, by getting outside for a walk most days (it made me happier than going to the gym)

  • Started writing my first piano trio

  • First in-person breathwork experience - I participated in a circle at Constellation Acupuncture with Amy Kuretsky on New Year’s Day

  • First craniosacral therapy (I’ve never been more relaxed - my friend Sara is made of magic!)

  • First time being a podcast guest (on the Essential Omnivore podcast, hosted by my awesome nutritionist Lucia Hawley)

  • First time getting cupping

  • Finally got comfortable with talking at performances

  • First sheet music sale

  • First time dying my hair - purple highlights!

  • First Kickstarter

  • First radio interview (on Jazz88, to talk about my album)

  • First album

  • First Facebook Live video that was entirely spoken (on holiday self-care)

CONNECT (My 2018 word of the year)

I really embraced this word of the year by collaborating with and meeting lots of other cool musicians and artists, some of whom even became good friends! I also attended some great events such as the Minnesota Music Coalition Summit, New Music Gathering, Giant Steps, and Dissonance’s Unhappy Holidays.

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Looking back on this list, it’s really clear to me that I did too much in 2018 - I don’t regret having done any of this stuff, but I worked too hard! I am feeling pulled toward being more present/intuition-focused, and away from tying my worth to achievement (oof, that's going to be a process.)⠀

So what’s in store for 2019?

I’m approaching this year very differently than past years.

After all that I did last year, I have a strong desire to simplify, in terms of things I’m doing, and in the material and digital realms. In the past, I have often treated new year planning and goal setting like arriving hangry at a delicious buffet - I always overdo it!

I don’t normally plan for a whole year at once, but this year I am being very choosy, so only things that truly feel good and right will make my list. (And permission to change our minds whenever we want is implied!)

In support of these goals, I also joined Mara Glatzel’s yearlong circle called Cycle, “conscious planning for women who want to get shit done without sacrificing their self-care” - rest is not optional! The first retreat was last weekend, and I’m already really excited about being part of this community. (This is not an ad, I just really love Mara’s work and have found it so helpful.)

So, appropriately...

This year my word of the year is JOY.

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  • Joy as a goal instead of a byproduct.

  • Doing things that feel good just for the sake of feeling good (something that I often ignore in favor of getting the next thing done, and the next, and the next…)

  • Making music that brings me joy, which I can then spread to others

  • Helping others find their own joy

Feeling good is not frivolous - it helps us show up for the important people in our lives, and do work that impacts others positively.

I do have a short list of things I’m excited about doing this year:

TASKS

HABITS (small changes work!)

  • Re-starting a daily practice and/or composing habit that feels good

  • Reducing my mental input (consuming too much information on the internet is like the mental equivalent of eating too much) by utilizing the Screen Time feature on my phone, and not picking it up immediately in the morning

  • Setting aside time in the morning for journaling and meditation - I know that I need more space in my life for thinking and processing

But, I also plan to check in with myself regularly to make sure that my goals still feel aligned with what I want and need - no “shoulds” allowed, unless they’re practical things in service of goals I’m excited about.

If all of this new year talk doesn’t resonate with you, that’s okay, you do you. I fully believe that the new year can be a fresh start, but shouldn’t elicit pressure or frustration. If you’re feeling a fresh start next week, or on a random Thursday in March, go for it - I’m wishing you an inspiring start to 2019!

If you chose a word of the year, share it in the comments, or share something you’re excited about doing in 2019!

New Sheet Music: Borboleta Azul

Introducing September's new release in my sheet music store: Borboleta Azul (Blue Butterfly). Like last month's new release, Baião da Bicicleta, this tune features baião rhythms, but also switches back and forth between that samba rhythms - it's a favorite of mine! 

Below is a preview of this track with percussion, which will be on my soon-to-be-released album of original Brazilian compositions and arrangements, Florescer, coming in October 2018! 

Borboleta Azul is available as a lead sheet for $2.99, and makes a great companion to Baião da Bicicleta.

Each month I publish one new piece - if you want to stay in the know about new releases, hop on my mailing list at the bottom of this post!

You can also check out the other pieces in my store (lead sheets and piano pieces) here

New Sheet Music: Brincalhão (A Maxixe-Samba)

Introducing May's new release in my sheet music store

Brincalhão, a Brazilian lead sheet that switches back and forth between an asymmetrical maxixe (AKA Brazilian tango) and samba. Brincalhão means "playful" in Portuguese, and I think you'll see why I named it that!

Here's a video of Jenny Klukken and I performing it earlier this year: 

Brincalhão is available as a lead sheet for $2.99, and will be appearing on my upcoming album of my original Brazilian compositions and arrangements, which you can pre-order starting May 29!

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Each month I publish one new piece - if you want to stay in the know about new releases, hop on my mailing list at the bottom of this post!

You can also check out the other pieces in my store (lead sheets and piano pieces) here

Video: 3 Original Brazilian Tunes - Piano/Marimba Duo

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Last Friday I was delighted to be able to perform 3 of my original Brazilian tunes at a faculty recital at MacPhail Center for Music (where I teach), joined by my friend Jenny Klukken on marimba. We had a blast putting these arrangements together - it was fascinating to figure out how to layer our parts, considering that both piano and marimba have so many possibilities for combining notes.  

The first one, Gingando (which I posted a solo piano version of back in December), is an uptempo Brazilian choro, and Gingando is one of those words that doesn't directly translate, but means "grooving" or "swinging. 

In case you're wondering, "What's a choro?", there are different types - many have a very fast tempo like this one. See here and here for more background on Brazilian choro, and watch the amazing documentary: The Sound of Rio: Brasileirinho.

Anelante (Wishful/Wistful) is a different, slower type of Brazilian choro: choro serenata. This piece has traditional choro form (AABACA), but not traditional choro harmonic progressions - it has a healthy dose of Debussy influence in there, too!

Brincalhão (Playful) has sections of both maxixe and samba. What's a maxixe, you ask? It's a dance from the mid-1800s that was sometimes also called Brazilian tango (and developed alongside the Argentinean tango) - check out the composer Ernesto Nazareth, who wrote many of them. 

Thanks for checking out these videos - wishing you a peaceful weekend with hints of spring (but if not, the Brazilian music always helps)!

My Sheet Music Store is Live!

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I am excited to announce that my sheet music store is finally live, with 5 pieces available!

So far, they’re a mix of piano pieces and lead sheets:

  • Gingando, an uptempo Brazilian choro (lead sheet)
  • Centimonk, a piece dedicated to Thelonious Monk on his 100th birthday (lead sheet)
  • Anelante, a Brazilian choro serenata (both in lead sheet format, and fully notated for piano)
  • Rusty’s Dream, a funny little chase/pounce adventure about my cat (piano piece)
  • Before the Bright Leaves, a nostalgic autumn-themed waltz (piano piece)

Also, I have some 5x7 postcards with a print of a piano drawing that I created:

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Best of all, everything is under $5! And, during the month of February, for every order of 2 pieces or more, I’ll send you a piano print for free! (Add the piano print to your cart, and use the code FREEPRINT.)

I'll be publishing one new piece at the beginning of each month going forward. I'm really looking forward to getting back into a good writing habit again - editing music and setting up this store took up most of my extra time lately. 

Now it's time to relax (and not open up Sibelius again for a while)! 

Wishing you a great weekend, whether you're on Team Super Bowl or Team Kitten Bowl (guess which one I am!)