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March Madness - part 1 - Gift of Music, new added focus for our learning group, collaboration and ou

March was a frenzy of important events for me and I could feel all the positive energy in a big way. I am blogging about it so I can keep a record of it. but I also find writing really helps me to pause and reflect on what I've learned from each event and how it is helping me to get where I want to go in my musical goals. I will start by relating them in chronological order but I may jump around with my ideas and concepts.

On March 2nd, I sang for the first time in an uncontrolled setting ( I will talk more about what I mean by this term later) - at a restaurant -Mercato West - for a Celebration of Life event for our previous neighbour, Brian Fero, who passed away in November 2018. I wanted to give the gift of music by singing my favourite song, " What a Wonderful World". I needed an accompanist so I asked Stephen Demaer, a group member who is an awesome guitarist. I knew that he is very busy as he is taking his music degree at U of C, teaching guitar and piano, taking RCM exams, and performing but I thought I would ask him anyway. I thought there would be a good chance that he would say no which I would understand but there might be a slight chance that he would say yes. I was so happy that it was the latter. On the day of the event, I went to Long and McQuade to rent a Bose S1pro speaker and stand. I already had my Sennheiser E835 microphone and stand which I had purchased as my Xmas gift to myself so I was all set. On the day of the event, the only thing that I forgot was to warm up my voice so my voice did not sound its best and also wished I had held my microphone so I could move more naturally as I sung the song. However, all in all, I was happy with what I achieved and give myself a pat on the back for making it happen. I handled all the technical aspects of making this happen -renting the speaker/stand and transporting it along with my microphone and stand to the restaurant. Also, I worked on the musical aspects of making it happen - working on the song with my new voice teacher, Mandy Morris, at a couple of lessons, practicing on my own with Irealpro and asking Stephen to be my accompanist and rehearsing with Stephen for 2 hours on the Friday prior to the event.

When I go to a recital or a jam session, the hardware is already set up. At a jam session, the musicians are already hired so you don't have to worry about getting an accompanist. So I call these controlled settings as we as musicians don't have to worry about the technical aspects or looking for accompanists (accompanists are usually chosen for us at music school recitals.) But in this case, I took care of all the aspects and I learned so much from doing it. It made the whole process of singing or performing in public that much more accessible and achievable for me so that I can see myself doing it in the future. This had led me to think of two things: 1) how I came to be in this place of preparedness and 2) how important it is that we as musicians learn to collaborate with other musicians. So the former made me think about my own path of solo singing - learning from Deanne Matley, performing at the vocal jazz jam sessions that she organized with Johanna Sillanpaa, my participation in two seminars offered at her 2018 summer vocal workshop and my participation in her 2019 winter weekend vocal workshop, her leaving Calgary to live in Montreal which lead me to find Mandy Morris as my next teacher. (It was at the vocal workshop seminars that I learned more about microphones which gave me the information to choose my own microphone.) I also remember an idea that Margaret Dahlberg discussed with me when she was my piano teacher and that was that I could rent some really great audio equipment for a weekend for very low prices from Long and McQuade. So I have taken this path of solo vocal jazz singing and have learned along the way what needs to happen and how to make it happen. I did take a long celebratory reflection of this when I realized the enormity of it.

Now my collaboration with Stephen on this song made it possible to sing this song. I was pretty sure that the only person who would have been able to help me was Stephen and I am glad that he was willing to be my accompanist. But this made me pause and think how important it is that our group have a variety of musicians learning different instruments so we can collaborate and create duos and trios. Stephen and I created a duo of guitar and voice. But I would like to collaborate and do other duos and trios with different

musicians. So I realize that the next order for me as the president of this group is to grow our membership not only to recruit fellow pianists which was my initial intention but to grow the different types of musicians in our group so that our members can learn to collaborate with each other. This will bring learning to a whole different level and let us branch out into music collaboration as a new focus. I have already sent an e-mail to Nirvana Nirvan to do a year end promotional talk about our group to her violinists. And I hope to be able to enlist Edel to help me to talk at more music schools so we can build momentum and grow our membership.

Last but not least, I realized at our March group meeting that it will be one year since our first March meeting last year so I thought we should stop and celebrate and also get a social gathering together which was one of Elena's wishes. So I am hosting a group potluck which will be this coming Sunday. Everything is going smoothly and I am looking forward to this social event where I will talk about our new focus and hopefully brainstorm about more ideas so we can keep moving forward.

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