Category Archives: Music

Miranda’s tenth month: music

I’m happy to say that I didn’t eat any candy or cookies for 22 days in a row. And during all of these days, I did some kind of physical exercise, although on a few days it was only a walk. I have tried zumba and pilates and tai chi, and for once, I’m almost addicted to working out. It does make me cope better with the workload, and I don’t crave sugar anymore. And despite my stress, I’ve been able to read two books, meet some friends and go to two concerts. Because I prioritized what I felt was most important to me, I had the energy to do things in time anyway.

So, because of last month’s success, I’ve decided to go against my plans and choose a focus area that may not help me finish my essay faster. However, it will hopefully keep my mood up and give me some nice breaks from the long hours of studying. This month, I will focus on music.

Last week, I took part in the filming of a documentary, and they wanted a shot of me playing the guitar. First, it hit me that I hadn’t taken my guitar out of its case since my last guitar lesson in December. Secondly, I couldn’t come up with a single song to play. This made me feel really awkward, because here I am, dreaming of making albums that will change people’s lives, and I haven’t even touched my guitar for months. I figured that if I managed to squeeze in up to an hour of exercise every day, I should have time to play some guitar as well.

My first goal is to learn a quite difficult song containing lots of fast picking, which is something I really need to practice. Right now, it seems completely impossible. But if I slow it down and just gradually play it a little faster each day during the month (or at least each day I’m home, because I’m going to London tomorrow), I could make it.

My second goal is to find a new band I like every week. Sounds simple enough, but I’ve had a really difficult time finding bands with more than one or two good songs lately. I cancelled my Spotify subscription last week to save some money, and I still haven’t regretted it. I think Spotify made me lose my patience with music, because there’s too much – it’s so easy to jump to the next song. And some music needs to be listened to a few times before the greatness of it sinks in. Now I’m mostly using 8tracks, a free service where you can only skip songs a limited number of times.

I think these two goals will be enough, considering that this is the month I will (hopefully) finish my essay. It’s kind of hard for me to grasp, but soon my education will be finished. In one month and a few days, I will be free.

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Filed under Goals, Health, Miranda, Music, Physical exercise, Priorities, Stress

At the end of another month

My creative month took an unexpected turn. Due to a workload from hell, several weeks of illness and other unfortunate events, I haven’t had energy or focus to get into the early morning writing habit or practice much guitar improvising. Instead, I have started drawing (which I did a lot as a child but haven’t done at all for years) to relax after long hours of studying, I’ve come up with musical arrangements on the piano for my great grandmother’s funeral, and I’ve spent many hours crafting Harry Potter-themed Christmas gifts for my little sisters, and recording a CD for the adults of my family (although it didn’t get done in time because I got a throat infection and couldn’t sing). One of my goals of this month was to finish something that I’m proud of, and I must say that I am pleased with both the drawings I’ve made and the gifts I made for my sisters. To sum up, this month was a reminder that even if things don’t work out quite the way you’ve planned, it doesn’t have to mean you’re failing. Despite all the stress I’ve been creative doing things I love for people I love, and for me, that is definitely something to be proud of.

Happy new year everyone!

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Titania’s fifth month: Music

I’ve really been out of Memento Vivere focus for a while now. It’s eleven days into my fifth project month, and I didn’t make the final decision about which of my project areas to apply to December until yesterday. Hm. Anyway, here I am, having realized that Music is the perfect area to focus on a little extra this month. Music has always been a very important part of my life. As a child I sang in a choir, played the guitar and my parents taught me a lot of traditional Swedish folk songs. Growing up I started going to concerts and music festivals.

The most intense part of my music life was when, in my early twenties, I sang and played the guitar in two small music groups. We made a few gigs, but – more importantly – we went on a busker tour in Europe. Our goal was set low: we hoped to earn enough money from our busking to pay for our food (three grown-ups and a child), and then we didn’t go for expensive meals in restaurants, but very simple food, eaten in the streets or at the campings where we were staying. We usually managed! The bands split up, but a few years later I did a new busker tour in Paris with a newfound friend. We earned extremely little money, but we had a great time, meeting a lot of other buskers. I especially remember one very late night at a party where my friend and I sang beautiful Swedish folk songs in parts. The other buskers were amazed.

I can even say my husband and I found each other through music. We were students at the same university course and soon discovered that we had very similar taste in music. Our first real date started by a picnic where we played the guitar and sang together, and one thing led to the other… We went on playing together at home for some years, but then we were drowned in housing, parenting and all the other stuff that tends to come between people and their hobbies at a certain time in our lives. We have continued to listen to music and we go to concerts every now and then but we never take the time to sit down with our guitars. That’s a habit I hope to get back to this month.

Other pieces of music to fill my December:

  • On Friday my husband and I will go to a concert.
  • The Friday after that Miranda and I will sing and play two songs at her great grandmother’s funeral.
  • For six days (starting yesterday), one of the Swedish public radio stations is (for the fifth year now) devoted round the clock to a music project called Music Aid, originating in a Dutch project (Serious Request) starting 2004. Listeners donate money and have their music requests played on the radio. Famous artists visit the studio (a glass box on a public square in Malmö in the south of Sweden where the three presenters are locked in for these six days) and make live performances. This year the money goes to helping children living in slum quarters worldwide get access to fresh water. I will listen as much as I can and donate as much money as I possibly can instead of buying a lot of Christmas presents.
  • I will finally try to figure out how to import music into my smartphone. I usually listen to the radio, but – especially when I go for a jog – music is a better alternative.
  • I will also try to listen to some new music. Particularly my daughter Miranda, is a great source here. For my birthday I got a CD with some of her favourite artists which she thought that I might like – and I did. I will listen more to this CD and to other music made by these artists.
  • My seven-year-old and I will go on learning songs made by a famous Swedish singer-songwriter, who wrote a lot of songs in the mid-1900s – a project we have been devoted to for more than a year now. I knew a lot of these songs as a child and I’m happy that my children (especially this daughter of mine) have also taken an interest in learning the songs, which are an important part of Swedish cultural heritage.
  • On New Year’s Eve, my family and I are going to a Christmas party where there will be an Open Stage. It’s just a small party and we’ll definitely take the opportunity to do some kind of music performance. That will be a great way of closing my music month.

Now time to go on listening to Music Aid while working!

Titania

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Miranda’s fifth month: Creativity

Some say there is a link between depression and creativity, and I must admit that one of the most creative periods in my life so far was during my very worst high school years. I played in a band and wrote most of our songs. I kept a regular diary, made drawings and wrote several poems a week. And now… Nothing. I dream of and think and plan musical and literary masterpieces but I never actually start creating anything anymore. I play some riffs on my guitar but then I realise it sounds like something someone else has already played. I open an empty document and write some words but then I realise it sucks and close it without saving.

So, is it impossible to create good things when you’re not depressed? I don’t think so. I just think I’m too terrified of that first bad draft, whether it’s a song or a novel. I’m painfully aware of its inevitability – I know that I have to write something to ever be able to write something good – and still I’m hopelessly blocked by my own perfectionism. This month it’s time to tear down the walls of doubt by forcing myself to create something, not necessarily something good, but something all the same. My goals for December are as follows:

 – Write every morning

I’m still having trouble rising early, but I will try to revert to a good habit that I formed around this time last year (when I literarily had to work with my bachelor’s essay from early in the morning until I went to bed) and include some writing in the process. My plan is to start the days by taking a short walk when my boyfriend goes to work (which is supposed to be around 6 am) and then write freely for 20 minutes while having breakfast. It would get my body and mind started, and give me some writing practice every day. And by rising earlier I wouldn’t have to go mad on the mornings my boyfriend (who works flexible hours) decides to take the late bus and snoozes with the alarm going off every ten minutes for a whole hour.

 – Improvise

As long as I can remember, improvising has terrified me. I remember the horrors of my elementary school drama lessons, and I still can’t jam with other musicians, not even my guitar teacher or my boyfriend. But practice makes perfect, right? This month, I’ll devote a large part of my guitar routines to improvising, because if I ever want to find another band or create the great songs that are so far only tiny hopeful fragments soaring through my mind, I will have to learn.

 – Make my own christmas gifts

This one is necessary since I’m almost completely broke at the time, but most of all I like to make things for others, and no matter how much I love christmas it feels good to go against to the melting flow of commercialism that it is turning into.

 – Finish something

Whether it’s a poem, a song or a painting, I want to finish at least one work of art that I’m proud of this month. And hopefully this can be combined with the goal above.

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Filed under Challenge, creativity, Goals, Miranda, Music, Perfectionism, Writing