Fox’s “The Masked Singer”

Recently, Fox’s season one of “The Masked Singer” came to a close. While I am not a fan of reality TV, I enjoyed the concept of listening to the contestants ability to sing (or not) without a preconceived notion of who they are and what their past was.

I really enjoyed getting to listen to each contestant. Some were really great, and some were…lets just say not so good, but I was able to make that judgement based on how they sounded, not what they looked like or what their past might have been. I often do this at home; I am not really in the know of famous artists or their background, but if I hear a song and I like it, I will then figure out who the artist is and then buy the song. We tend to prejudge people based on their looks, their fame, and their background. But, if you went in with a blindfold and just listened, like “The Masked Singer” basically does, then you may discover all kinds of music that you love, but may have never experienced otherwise.

Again, I am not a fan of the screaming, yelling, and judging that often comes with these competition reality shows, so I would often just watch the singing and reveal parts of the show and skip everything else. But if you’re into reality shows, especially singing competition like shows, this is right up your ally.

I’d say the costumes were really fun too. Some of them were a little more traditional looking, and some got really creative. There was a monster, peacock, bee, lion, alien, rabbit, raven, unicorn, poodle, deer, pineapple, and a hippo. My personal favorite was the lion.

The top three, monster, peacock, and bee, were my favorite. This makes sense considering that they are all singing professionals. The peacock was blatantly obvious to my from the moment he started singing in the first episode. I won’t spoil the reveal in case you have not seen it, but would like to. The bee was probably my favorite, for her singing was usually tugging at my heart-strings. The monsters reveal was a complete surprise to nearly everybody. He can sing, but I think I would have prejudged him, if I knew who he was or his music before he performed.

All in all, it can be a fun watch; if you’re up for it. You can find online at places like Hulu or YouTube. You can also expand your listening horizons by doing a blind listening exercise with a friend or with the radio. This is one reality show that I enjoyed and appreciate. If you enjoyed this post, be sure to give a like, and if there was one thing you took away from this, or future posts you’d like me to share, leave your thoughts in the comments section. Thanks.

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Should you use LANDR’s article to write your music bio?

When I was browsing the internet for articles to review, I came across Leticia Trandafir’s “How to Write an Effective Music Bio: The Musicians Guide” and thought this could benefit many musicians. I believe that every musician should have a bio ready for any event or fan to read, and Trandafir’s article serves as a great guide. Though, I would not follow everything to a t. Here are the beneficial and unfavorable things I found while reading.

1. The Specifics

Sometimes it is extremely difficult for people, especially musicians to write about themselves. This article not only gives the tip to jot down basic info and milestones, but there is also explicit prompts to help guide your thoughts. It also gives some specific structural tips, like writing in the third person, make it neutral/factual, and read it for flow. It’s a little strange to me, but people tend to think you are more professional if your bio sounds like someone else wrote it.

2. The Structure

I also approve on how specific the article gets on structuring your bio. In the past, I have been told that your bio should be about one page long. Sure, that sets a framework, but if you have a bio on a website, then you’re dealing with pages that can go on forever or different sized screens. This article not only specifies how long the bio should be, but also how long it should be in comparison to where you put it. The three types of bios are basically: a one-liner for social media, a 1-paragraph promotional version (150-200 words), and a 3-paragraph full bio (max 300-400 words). The only things that I do not agree on is updating your bio once a month, and your third paragraph being entirely what you are currently working on. If you want to give an update once a month, start a blog or newsletter; a bio should be set in stone, unless you’ve made a new milestone.

3. Inspiration and Tips from Experts

Many good articles give examples of what they’re writing about to help inspire you. Trandafir’s is no different. She gives several links to artist bios. What makes her article really stand out is the tips given by several people who have read hundreds of artist bios. They are worth the read and can help you better understand what to do.

So, if you are wanting some tips on how to write your music bio, or you are just intrigued, than go to LANDR and read the article yourself. I may have to rework my own bio.

Lindsey Stirling’s Warmer in the Winter Review

Yes, this song has been out for over a year now, but Lindsey Stirling release a YouTube video a few weeks ago. This post will go over my review of the video and song.

Starting with the video, I thought that it was brilliantly done. The song itself has a jazzy vibe to it, and what better way to feature that then to showcase a ’50’s style movie set. In 50’s films, they did a lot of set changes on one stage, much like what we saw in this video. Another feature that emphasizes this jazzy tune, is the swing dancing done throughout the video. Swing dancing and big bands were a very big thing back then. This video reminded me of films like “Singin’ in the Rain,” which I love with the choreography, sets, and one take shots.

Looking at the song itself, I throughly enjoy it. Lindsey did a great job of creating a tune that features a jazz style while still having that faint hint of today’s pop culture; much like “La La Land.” It was kind of surprising how well the trombone feature worked with the violin, as you don’t hear the two together often, but it sounded nice. I also thought Stirling’s lyrics were cleverly thought out making the song relatable to almost everyone. It makes for a fun, catchy, and humorous song. The one negative thing I have to say about the whole thing is how little the violin is featured. For anyone who does not know Lindsey Stirling, she got her claim to fame as a dancing violinist, which was inpiring to many young instrumentalists, like me. So for the violin being mostly undertones in the song and featured for maybe forty seconds of the over three-minute video, may be a little discouraging to those who not only play an instrument, but hope for others to be inspired to play an instrument.

Aside from the one bit of criticism, this video is well worth watching. You can watch here. Feel free to leave your likes and thoughts below.

Classic FM Article Review

I love Classic FM (classicfm.com). This website allows me and others to read all sorts of posts about classical music. However, an article I read recently was geared toward today’s classical musicians, versus the usual music appreciators. The article is “6 Things Musicians Should Be Doing on Social Media in 2018.” I thought I review what they had to say.

The first thing was to “be yourself.” They do a great job clarifying that being yourself is easier said then done. Many artists are influenced by other highly successful artists who became successful because of social media. But when you are not yourself, it is harder to convey your message or emotions.

The second thing was “talk to your audience.” I agree that social media followers love to watch music videos and interact with the musician. I like the idea of opening the intimate world music to audience members, but they seem to miss the idea of why followers love interacting. It gives them affirmation that you are real, you are human.

The third thing was “be patient.” This section was very short, but very good. Being in a world of instant gratification, it can be easy to get discouraged. But becoming a known musician on social media takes time, just like the training it takes to become a great musician. My favorite quote from the article is from Drew Alexander Forde, “It takes 30 years to be considered an ’emerging artist.’ Be patient and simply strive to become 1% better every day.”

The fourth? “Post content that makes you happy.” Basically, if you are not motivated, than your followers won’t be and lose interest. Happiness and joy are contagious.

The fifth one is probably the most difficult for me. “Don’t be afraid to post ‘imperfect’ content.” Posting a live performance is one thing; you’ve already been working awhile on your content. But posting your practice sessions is what truly scares me. To see me when I am most vulnerable as a musician. However, what is intimidating to me, may be inspiring to others. I might consider giving it a try.

The final thing Classic FM stated was “Dare to be different.” Basically, go with what you are passionate about. Go with your intuition or gut feeling. If you want to do a classical rendition of an Eminem song, do it!

All in all, it was a well researched, thought provoking article. I found that about half of this article I intuitively knew and the other half was truly inspiring. If you want to read the original post from Classic FM, you can check it out here. Please feel free to give a like and leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

New Headphones Review

My past experiences with headphones are ones that were either given to me or came with some electronic device. However, as a musician who is trying to establish herself, and may be doing her own recording, I thought that I would buy a pair of quality headphones.

I’m no electronics expert, but after doing a lot of research, I bought a pair of Audio-Technica’s, the M50x model. They are a closed back headphone that has been reviewed as a good headphone for recording and editing. To me, I was blown away the first time I heard music come out of them. The M50x’s have a crisp, clean sound with a lot of depth. You can clearly hear the treble, bass, and all the parts in between. In other words, you can hear each part distinctly, but they still mesh together well. It is like listening to music on a good stereo system, that is designed for your ears alone. My cheap headphones sound dull in comparison.

Aside from the sound, the Audio-Technical M50x’s have other great features. They are probably the most comfortable headphones I have owned. My other headphones would make my ears hurt after awhile from resting on or in my ears, but with the padded headband and ear cups, the Audio-Technica’s are super comfortable. They also cancel a lot of the surrounding sounds out, allowing you to be fully emersed in the crystal clear music. The M50x’s also come with three interchangeable jacks, making it convenient to the musician who needs multiple types of plugins.

My final thoughts are that the Audio-Technical M50x’s are aesthetically pleasing to look at, as well as on the more affordable side for anyone on a budget. All in all, I would say that these comfortable, quality sounding headphones are well worth their price.

If you have had a similar experience with quality headphones or are intrigued by this model, feel free to give your likes and comments below.

AGT: Courtney Hadwin Review

I do not really watch television anymore, but when I was browsing YouTube the other day, I stumbled across a trending video. The video was of “America’s Got Talent” contestant Courtney Hadwin singing Steppenwolf’s “Born to Be Wild” and I just thought that I would share my thoughts.

1. Great Singing
Courtney has a very unique, raspy singing voice that suits well with this song as well as a couple of other performances. On top of that, she has great technique that allows her to project her voice and sing on pitch most of the time. I say most of the time, but I would say that she performed more accurately than a lot of popular singers at a live performance.

2. A Little Awkward on Stage
Watching her movements around the stage seemed a little awkward to me. Though some movements were typical, like the bend over or back on a held pitch or throwing down the mic stand, other movements reminded me of singers from back in the 70’s. Although, I think that is one reason why she is captivating to watch.

3. Passion
Her passion for singing is overflowing. It brings me much joy to see such enthusiasm that rouses the crowd. She does not need special costumes or special stage effects. Her singing alone mesmerizes the audience.

In conclusion, Courntey Hadwin has a bright career ahead of her as a passionate singer. As a shy girl who has a fire for making music, I can totally relate. I am rooting for her and I would be interested to see what her future brings. You can find the video here.

Seattle Women’s Steel Pan Project Review

Virginia Mason Bellevue Medical Center’s “Live at Lunch” series is a 10-week noon to 1:30 concert series in downtown Bellevue, showcasing local bands for free. The Seattle Women’s Steel Pan Project is a group that focuses on the art of steel pan (also known as steel drum) music from the Trinidad area. The location was in the out-door plaza of Bellevue Connection, which is in the heart of downtown in Bellevue, Washington.

The Seattle Women’s Steel Pan Project (we’ll call them SWSPP) had six musicians playing on a variety of pitched steel drums (Soprano, Alto, etc.), drum set, and auxiliary percussion (i.e. congas, shakers, tambourine, etc.), with some members switching instruments. The Caribbean styled music that the SWSPP played was pretty much the same concept for almost every song. Each piece established a recurring section/melody or two and had some other sections in between. As each piece would progress, the recurring sections would be more embellished, either from building chord progressions, adding notes in between the main melody, or adding instruments. Every song was performed memorized, which is impressive. Though not all pieces were announced, the second piece, “Pan Women,” was very enjoyable. The group was very well synced together in syncopated rhythms with some chord building and embellishments toward the end of the song. “I Love Haiti” was another piece that stuck out. From it’s minor to major switches, to clashing chords, and improvisation toward the end, the piece gave some enjoyable elements that you do not hear in many songs. The sixth piece (no name announced), was the only piece with no steel pans. This fast, sophisticated, driving piece probably had the best interaction between musicians, featuring the drum set player improvising on (I think) djembe. I also enjoyed “Coming Home” for its very pop like, yet Caribbean like sound. Some other pieces were, “Blues for Us,” Distant Lover,” “Moving On,” and “Which Way Out.”

Because I do not see it often, it is always a pleasure to watch steel pan performed live. However, with the venue being a rather new location for hosting performers and being lunch hour, it served more as background music for a relatively small crowd. This meant that there was much talking during songs and little clapping at the end of songs. There was even a couple dancing. It just seemed that many people did not stop to appreciate and acknowledge the time the performers put in. But, even the performers were dressed more casually then their other performances seen on YouTube. Again, I did enjoy the SWSPP’s performance. The instruments were well balanced, as long as some did not get close to microphones; they had a nice acoustic sound and is consistent to their other live performances that were recorded and put onto YouTube. I did not find a studio recording to compare to. They seemed more technical then musical. It would have been much more interesting if there were elements like more dynamics, but maybe they were staying true to the style. My final bit of criticism is that spoken parts, such as announcements, should be practiced as much as the music. That way, if there are less “ums,” than a group, such as the SWSPP, would sound even more professional.

All in all, the Seattle Women’s Steel Pan Project was a fun, great, casual performance that many people would enjoy.