Put My Heart Down

And because I want to remember this foreeeeeeeever:

sara evans tweet

 

She’s basically been liking any tweet where someone tells her the new album is awesome so it really probably doesn’t mean anything BUT I’M GOING TO PRETEND IT DOES. The end.

Posted in music | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Music Row

Did you know that if you google “Music Row” and view the images you actually get a bunch of pictures of downtown on Broadway? Not the same thing, my friends.  But I know why that happens – Music Row really doesn’t look that impressive.

There you go, country music fans.  It’s just a normal little street – well, a couple of normal little streets.

We’re going to see Nickel Creek (!!) at the Ryman this weekend, and hopefully continuing with springy activities like cleaning (sigh) and tending to our little #shoegarden and just enjoying the nice weather.

Happy Easter Weekend!  Hope you have a lovely one.

Posted in personal | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

5 Happy Things

I got to come home about an hour early today – no particular reason, except that I worked a lot last week and this past weekend, so when I looked at my calendar and it was free from 11 am on (oh, miracle of miracles) I decided to churn out some things I needed to get caught up on and then duck out early.

This is going to sound so cloyingly sweet, but ever since I walked in the door this afternoon I have just been met with so many things that make me HAPPY.  And in an effort to preserve them for posterity, I guess(?), I decided to list them.

Top 5 Favorite Happy Things of the Moment

    1. Windows wide open sunny breezy spring!
    2. Growing things. I’m not super awesome at it but this year’s little balcony garden experiment is going quite well, if you ask me.
    3. Homemade bread, one day old, toasted, with lots of real butter. This is my weakness.
    4. SINGING. I mean, of course, but really.  Even when a sneaky little virus shuts me down for a week and a half.
    5. Our home. It keeps changing ever so slowly.  I know this isn’t our forever home, but I know one day I’ll be very sad to see it go. At least we can take the awesomeness like this with us:

What’s making you happy this week?  Tell me!

Posted in personal | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wherein I Get Technical and Perhaps Discover My New Blogging Destiny

My least favorite thing about being a singer is that the slightest little tickle in your throat can completely shut down the thing you most love to do.

I don’t know whether to feel annoyed or grateful, because I’ve had a few of these tickley, swollen throat things this year without them ever turning into that full blown headache, swimmy, can’t get out of bed feeling.  No coughing! No gunk in my lungs!  On one hand, YAY immune system!  On the other hand, booooo now I have to LISTEN to the music instead of singing loudly over the top of it.

I was told all my life to “sing through it” and just exactly HOW I should be singing through it. More space. More air. Blah blah.  If you’re a singer you’ve heard these things before.  And it’s definitely a good idea to learn how to sing when you’re sick, because sometimes you don’t have a choice.  But the hardest lesson I ever learned was that when I DID have a choice, the choice I should make is SHUT UP.

That goes for speaking too.  Shhhhhhhhhh.

It all comes down to this:

  • Do you have a performance coming up?
  • How soon?
  • What can you do to prepare BESIDES singing?

If the answer to the first question is, “No,” then oh my gosh, shut your mouth and rest your voice.  Nothing good will come of forcing yourself to sing when you’re not well.

If the answer to the first question is, “Yes,” then we have to move on to the next pressing point.  How soon? There’s no good answer that works every time here.  It’s all a complicated equation involving how long you have until you perform and just how out of commission your voice has become.  If you HAVE to sing, it’s a good idea to go back to singing SMALL.  Go back to the very, very beginning of everything you’ve been taught.  Work on breath, relaxation, space, tone placement, and remind yourself with every sound that comes out of your mouth NOT TO PUSH IT.  You may very well sound exactly like you always do OUTSIDE of your head and you might not (and that’s not necessarily a bad thing – I had a choir teacher tell me once that I’d do well to have that chest cold at Festival time, because I sounded extra fantastic with it), but I guarantee that inside your head, things are messed up.  It’s like flying a plane through a snowstorm.  You trust your instruments, not your own senses.  So trust your training, not your hearing.  And for goodness sake, don’t hurt yourself.

If at all possible, though, you should still try to work as much vocal rest in as possible before your performance.  Voices heal more quickly when they can rest, and overworking them when you’re sick can just make them worse.  But you don’t want to let your mind wander, right?  You want to keep the focus and the momentum going!  Here are some things you can do:

  • Practice breathing! Standard breathing exercises, as well as practicing your breath (I think a steady “hiss” is the closest to actual singing when it comes to breath control) while reading the lyrics to your songs/pieces in your head keep the rest of your body in shape while your voice heals.
  • If you have tricky rhythms, find yourself some pots and pans and bang them out.  Or clap, that might be less annoying to your family and/or neighbors.
  • Read the lyrics to yourself over and over.  If you’re singing in a foreign language, practice your spoken pronunciation. For anything, classical, jazz, pop, – anything – speak the words out loud, if your voice can handle it.  The best sung musical phrases sound conversational, so, practice conversing.
  • Do some simple exercises – especially exercises that promote great posture!  These simple yoga poses are a great place to start.
  • “Sing” the songs in your head.  When I was a kid, I used to finger my piano lessons on my desk at school when I got bored.  I could hear the music in my head, and my fingers were learning some much needed muscle memory.  The more you hear your music in your head, the more confident you’ll be, whether you’ve actually been singing it out loud or not.

I totally did not start this blog post out as an instructional guide to whether or not you should sing when you have a cold, but there you have it.  I doubt you’re even with me anymore, unless you were in desperate need of random voice advice.  The point is, man, I’m just annoyed that I can’t (read: shouldn’t, and mostly am following my own advice MOSTLY) sing right now. It is my looooooove. It is my liiiiiiiiiiiiiife.  My throat tickles. Boo.

What are the hardest lessons you’ve had to learn about pursuing and living your passions?  Share them with me. Make me feel better.

 

Posted in music, vocal studio | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Do What You Love

So, I started taking voice lessons again. My first lesson was Wednesday.

I’m still having a hard time organizing my thoughts regarding this.  My mind has been racing since I booked that first lesson.  I could hardly sit still the day of the lesson.  I couldn’t sleep for the next two nights after the lesson.

It’s like there was this part of me that had finally emerged from the jail cell I’d unknowingly locked it up in, Shawshank Redemption style.

I’ve alluded to the studio I’m taking lessons with, and because I’m also trying to build my own studio and I’m not officially certified by this studio to use their name for those purposes, I won’t tell you who they are here (ask if you want to know).  Suffice it to say (one more time) that I’ve gotten recommendations for this studio from professional musicians. These guys are good.

I have to say, I don’t know what finally possessed me to book lessons, but it was the best, best thing I ever could have done.  I’ve been told all of my life that I have an exceptional talent for singing, but I have never felt as though I was as good as I wanted to be.  I know when I first moved to town, the thing that kept me from taking lessons was the money.  Then it was that my time and energy levels were low and my dreams of making music for a living were slowly turning from fire to embers. I have gone months without writing songs, spent weeks at a time listening to NPR in the car instead of singing (I mean, I love NPR, but music.  Music is important), and… I don’t know.  I wasn’t unhappy.  But I have not been excited about anything in years – especially music.

Showing up at that studio on Wednesday reignited all those things in me that I had forgotten I could feel.

So, I met my coach, who was an absolute doll – so fun, personable, and of course, one hell of a vocalist, and we sang.  We just… sang.  We sang, and I walked out of my lesson singing things I have never, ever, in all of my years of private lessons and choirs and musical theater and TRYING MY DAMN HARDEST, been able to sing.  I also think I (oh my good grief, finally) found my whistle register later that night, singing in the car on the way home.

Who just accidentally finds their whistle register?

Well, maybe a lot of people actually, but you have to be doing a million other things right first.

I’ve been singing non-stop all the rest of the week, trying these new techniques I’ve either learned or been reminded of, singing songs that have always been killer on my voice.  Now, they’re coming out effortlessly. I mean, come on.  I spent 50 minutes with this girl and suddenly I can sing every Sara Evans song in existence?  This is too good to be true.

I told myself for quite some time that, you know, why would you bother “wasting” money on voice lessons?  You went to college for this stuff.  You’re already supposed to know what you’re doing.  Also, are you performing anywhere anymore?  What exactly are you investing in here anyway?

But I’ll tell you what I’ve learned.  One – you’re never so good or so educated that you can’t keep learning. I mean – we all hear that, right?  And this certainly isn’t the first time YOU have heard that from anyone.  Sometimes you just need to figure those things out for yourself.  Take that pride, throw it on the ground, and stomp on it.  There is always something to learn.  Two – What exactly am I investing in here anyway? My freaking happiness, that’s what.

Do what you love.  Do it.

 

 

Posted in music | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Run Him Out – Homemade

This is one of the songs from “Homemade,” my newest EP.  You can get it for $1.

 

Posted in homemade, music | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Singing is not for Sissies – New Learning Opportunity

I made some big decisions last week.

First, I signed up for voice lessons/vocal coaching.
Second, I decided to actively start looking for voice students again.

Huge.

I’ve been considering vocal coaching (as in, being coached) ever since I finished college.  I have missed having someone to sing with, give me feedback, and just provide that relationship where someone is there to push you to be better than you were yesterday.  I’ve had that kind of relationship in my life since I was in middle school and I would be lying if I said I had thrived without it.

A few things held me back for several years – partly pride, partly just not knowing where to seek out lessons when I’m already at my level (this goes back to pride, a little bit. Hi, I’m in Nashville). Mostly, though, money (and again, Hi, I’m in Nashville).

So my connections around town have grown slightly (and I mean slightly) over the years, and recently I found myself with several people I could honestly ask – do you have a voice coach? Who? – whose answers wouldn’t take me back to their educated-same-as-me, used-to-working-with-sixteen-year-olds coaches.  Everyone led me to the same vocal studio in Nashville, so I checked it out, and I signed up.

I start on Wednesday.

And with that, I’m also opening up my personal availability for teaching lessons again.  I taught when I first moved to Tennessee and I loved it, but for several reasons I just wasn’t able to continue.  Truly though, it is something I want to do. I miss doing.  Since I’m finally taking the initiative to get my own voice back into shape, now feels like the perfect time to help others who want to learn as well.

The best part is – my services are available TO YOU. I teach in Nashville and ONLINE – all you need is a Skype account. I’m accepting all levels – kids, adults, beginners, experts, and everyone in between.  You don’t have to be a performer of any kind.  You don’t have to want anything but to sound great while you’re singing to the radio as you drive down the road. Singing for singing’s sake is a fulfilling journey – and it’s a hobby you can carry with you for the rest of your life. 

So if singing to the radio on the highway, or singing lullabyes to your kids at night, or being able to help your kid with her piano lesson, or writing that special someone a song just for them is something you want to do, you should work with me.

My teaching availability is here.

My main focus will be singing (of course!) but I also teach/tutor Music Theory and Songwriting. I’ve gotten an inquiry or two about piano and ukulele, and even though I don’t advertise those services on my TakeLessons profile, I’ll work with you on those if the circumstances are right. Just send me an email at courtney @ courtneyolson.com before you book to discuss the situation.

AND FINALLY:

I will give ONE complimentary lesson to anyone who will leave me a review on my TakeLessons.com profile.  The Nashville market is saturated; positive reviews will really help me out.

What are you waiting for?

 

Posted in music | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bribery Works, Kids

The best way to get my parents to come see me is to BRIBE THEM.

Listen, it’s not like they wouldn’t come see me at all if I didn’t buy them Rascal Flatts tickets, but I am saying it certainly doesn’t hurt.

So this time, I emailed my dad and said, “JENNIFER NETTLES AT THE RYMAN IS IMPOSSIBLE TO SAY NO TO. I AM BUYING YOU TICKETS. PLEASE SEE YOURSELF TO AN AIRPLANE.”

To which he replied, “Okay.”

So my parents came, and we saw Brandy Clark and Jennifer Nettles at the mother church and we had a great, grand, magnificent time.  By some sort of miscommunication (also known as Grant getting stressed out by PEOPLE ACK and reacting in Chicken With Head Cut Off fashion) I ended up with TWO glasses of wine, so that, coupled with seeing Jennifer Nettles (who I can never listen to recorded ever again because it could never compare to her singing live, like ever, holy cow woman) with my faaaaaaaamily, it was all in all a great night.

My mom took this pretty awesome panoramic of the auditorium.

ryman

 

Not a single bad seat in the balcony – not one.

We managed to stay a bit busier that weekend than we have historically.  I’ve been here long enough that I know all the good local stuff to do, so we’re not just scouring the internet for something that it looks like we might enjoy.  That, coupled with the fact that I’m married to a Native who knows things even better than I do, and we had plenty of ideas. THAT, and I’ve been here for five years, so even if we have done some things before (like the Grand Ole Opry, or eating at the ever fabulous Ted’s Montana Grill) we’re at the point where we can recycle a few activities and not feel like Nashville’s just a one trick pony (or maybe I am worried about feeling that way, eh).

So, we ended up deep in a cave in Kentucky, which I really wish I had thought of sooner, because both of my parents loved it.  Grant and I had been there together twice before, but I didn’t even know it existed, muchless how close it was, before I met him, so maybe I could be forgiven for this one.

We also went down to The Factory in Franklin, and much to my father’s chagrin, we stumbled upon a huge bead show.  But it just gave the rest of us a fabulous excuse to gorge ourselves on cake batter flavored house-made ice cream while my mom perused. And perused. And perused.  Only to come back with two itty bitty strings of beads.

Like I said, at least there was ice cream.

And, yeah, this happened.

factory

 

As much of an introvert as I tend to be, I genuinely love having people stay in our home.  It gives me an excuse to bake caramel rolls for breakfast, and eat out, and run around town, and show off my brand new curtains.  I do, I just love getting to treat people well and make sure they’re fed and comfy and happy.  It’s even better when those people are your parents.

Posted in explore, personal | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

50 Years

I’m going to spend the next week or two making videos for the songs from “Homemade.”  Because… maybe you want to know what they sound like before you download them.  Or maybe you just like seeing me bop along to cutesy ukulele pop.  I don’t know, but why should I deny you the option to find out? :)

 

Posted in homemade, music | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Songwriting Notes

At the risk of being one of those people who writes more about her website than actually providing interesting content on a regular basis, let me tell you about some interesting content I’ve added to my website. :)

I recently reorganized the “Music” section so that the “home” music page contains links to download my projects ($1 each!).  There are several sub-pages which include album covers, track listing, and “liner”/songwriting notes.

I JUST finished all of the songwriting notes, so I especially wanted to call your attention to the Homemade page. Because of course I did.

If you haven’t picked it up yet… it’s a dollar! :)

Posted in homemade, music | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment