Artist Highlight | For Mallory

Hello and welcome to my newest music series: Artist Highlight!

I generally wanted a space to talk about a single musician or band a month, but back in early April, when I went up north to visit with my family, my cousin’s daughter brought her violin and played us some songs she’s been learning in her class. She did a really great job and after the performance I asked her how she was able to play it and she explained to us in great detail. I hope she continues to play the violin or maybe switch/take on another instrument later on, if she ever does this, I hope it’s the cello! I love the cello just as much as I love the violin.

A little later I asked her if she’d ever heard of Lindsey Stirling before, and she told me no, which really puzzled me but then again, it didn’t, because in school, she’s probably forced to know classic works and nursery rhymes at this stage, so in a way to help introduce her and everybody else who happens to read this, to other violinists!


Let’s start with the lovely Lindsey Stirling.

I didn’t find out about her through America’s Got Talent in 2010, I actually found her on YouTube like most people–but I think I would have enjoyed seeing her on the show a lot! Anyways, the first song I heard was “Crystalize” of course and remember seeing the music video, thinking these two really work together. Although her music was considered hip hop on the show, for this song she had kicked up the dubstep hype that was going around at that time. I was hooked to her channel my whole senior year and honestly believe she cemented my drive for modern symphonic music.

Before Lindsey came into my life, the first violinist I was ever “introduced’ to was back in 2004, this year at its core was a changing time for me. I had just started on my hip hop phase and so I was listening to a lot of unique beats on my own without being heavily influenced by my mother. The song in question was Twista’s “Overnight Celebrity” as it features an actual violist on the track, Miri Ben-Air. I remember watching the music video for the song and was stuck by the fact there was a woman violinist. It seems kind of scary that this was the second time I was listening to two very different genres of music together and absolutely loving and wanting more of it. I had begun this a year before when Evanescence’s debut album came out in 2003.

After the song disappeared, I didn’t find anything like it again until around late 2007 or early 2008. I had found these two girl groups from England, bond and eScala. They were not your average girl groups of that time, they never actually sang, they were a string quartet. This was my first show that if you’re a part of a group, you don’t a singer. Unfortunately, by the time I had found both of them, they were on hiatus and honestly haven’t released anything new for a couple of decades.

Later on in my life, this would sort of happen again as I had discovered Apocalyptica, which was originally a tribute band for Metallica out of Finland! They have three celloists and one drummer and they make symphonic metal music. I’ve talked a bit about them over the years. They have a lot of cool songs like “Broken Pieces” with Lacey Sturm and “White Room” with Papa Roach’s Jacoby Shaddix.

There is another group I found back in 2015 I think, it was when the symphonic metal band Kamelot came out with “Silverthorn” as it was the band’s first album with a new singer. They had a song called “My Confession” and they featured the German group Eklipse and even though they were all woman, I wouldn’t consider them a pop-y, although they have done some covers of David Guetta’s “Titanium” with Sia, and ‘Cry Me a River” by Justin Timberlake, they do like to take risks and create renditions of popular rock songs, and my favorite is still “Weak Fantasy by Nightwish.

Back in 2017, when I was on Netflix, I had found the Han Zimmer: Live in Prague and was just stunned by the fact that this huge music producer was getting together with his longtime friends and putting on shows for everyone. I mean, he performed at Lollapalooza a couple of years ago! How in the heck does that happen?! Anyways, the show itself was absolutely amazing and I will not lie, I totally cried when Lebo M came out to perform some of “The Lion King” songs on stage! There were a lot of elements I enjoyed but I really fell in love with the violinist Rusanda Panfill and celloist Tina Guo. You may already know Tina’s work without even know it as she is the one who did the Wonder Woman main theme. These ladies really play beautifully and definitely recommend that concert to anyone.

I was never truly able to learn to read music nor do I feel the need to play any instrument, but it doesn’t mean I don’t love seeing other artists become so passionate with their work though, it’s so interesting to see these musicians put everything into their work. Whenever I watch concerts on YouTube, I love to see them basically one eye on the maestro and the other on the sheets on the podium in front of them. They tend to have some intense facial expressions and they always seems to change with whatever tempo they are playing at that moment.

If you would like to check out the artists I’ve mentioned and/or any others (because I had an even bigger list to start, but we’d be here forever!) that fit in this post, click here to the Spotify playlist!

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Life Lately | Hello Spring!

Howdy!

Since this is the last full week of April, I thought it was only right to blog about life.

Last week I mentioned that it’s been a whole month since I had blogged at all, and I don’t really know why I decided to do take such a long break but it happened. This year I manged to come up with three separate series, two of them are on here and the other on my blog’s Facebook page. I did a lot of work to get everything organized that I think I started to expect a lot of myself that the pressure mounted so much that I began to feel overwhelmed by everything, but once I stopped blogging for a couple of days, I just all of a sudden felt better about things and I didn’t look back.

I’d like to say I got a lot of other things done while I was on my hiatus, but I didn’t. I think the only real thing I worked on the whole time was my “name pairings” Pinterest board! I didn’t take advantage of the time off to read or anything so that’s one thing that makes me angry, because that would have been a perfect hobby to do! I didn’t even watch that very many movies or TV shows either. I was pretty much consumed by Pinterest! It’s so sad to say out loud and of course read it on here too!

One thing that I’ve been really enjoying lately is our weather. Well, technically we had a few strange days where it was producing late spring weather, where the temperatures were like in the 60-70’s and unfortunately, our new house does not have an air conditioner yet. So, for a large number of days we had to rely on opening our windows and leaving our fans on all day long just to cool down. For 4 days alone, my room’s temperature was around 78-80 degrees! At night, it was miserable because when I have my fan pointed one way, but if I wanted to lay on the other side I was hot as hell! I actually spent one day completely in a short sleeve shirt with a pair of very tight shorts. On the day I wrote this post, the temperature had calmed down so much that it was 39 degrees outside! It was also very comfortable in my room too!

A feature about our house that I am starting to really enjoy is I get to see the morning sun. I’m such a nature girl at heart, so the morning sun makes me extremely happy! Now there is one bad thing about my room. Since it’s placed so far back, I am around a lot of trees so whenever it storms, I am in a constant state of paranoia because we have some very tall trees in our backyard and we have had some limbs crash down in various places in the past. One large branch was responsible for tearing a hole in our trampoline! So, being surrounded by trees has its bad notes too.

I have been spending a lot of my time hanging out with my nephew Nolan. He’s grown so much since my last update. I have thought about creating another one, but it’ll be his birthday in about two months so I have decided to hold off until then, but I doesn’t mean I can’t share anything with you though.

Do you remember when he was like three or four months old and he was obsessed with my hands? Well, now he’s starting to fall in love with my feet! When he was around two months and he used to sit in this seat, and he would watch me get a drink and put on my blanket – I literally told him once that I would treat him how I do that. At seven months old, the little goofball learned how to put on his own blanket with his feet! He’s such a smart cookie. He loves grabbing things with his feet, and I’m surprised with myself because I figured I would be offended by the fact he was using his feet to do stuff, but I’m not. I’m just proud to see him paying that much attention to what I do because I think it’s just part of my daily life, I don’t like to think of it as a special thing, but he’s made me think about it differently now.

Whenever he was really little though, I was often upset that I wasn’t able to hold my cutie pie (my nickname for him!) the only way I was allowed to be up close with him was when mom or Blondie would bring him into my room, to take a nap on my bed. We would wrap up in fleece blankets and while he got to sleep next to me, I was making mental images of my little buddy. Now he’s somewhat mobile, since he can army crawl around I haven’t had that one-on-one time with him. Well, he recently exchanged that with giving Auntie Meggie many, many hugs! Yes, he is a big hugger! I love it. In a way, I think that makes up for the fact that I couldn’t physically hold him as a itty-bitty baby too.

Well I think I’m done for now. What is your favorite thing about spring? What is your favorite activity out of your normal routine that you like to do?

What Can I Do?

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A couple of weeks ago, I joined the #SpoonieSpeak chat and the theme was inspired by a my blogger friend Sarah’s post about misconceptions about people with disabilities. The chat and group of people who tend to join in every week have become a part of me and even though my problems are more physical, these people understand almost everything about what I have to deal with on a daily basis. There’s pain, both emotionally and physically that comes with living with any disability and they are very supportive and there for you when you need someone.

The last question that was asked was “when you are able to, how does taking care of your appearance mean to you?” I was very honest with my answer, I mentioned that I’m not able to dress myself, wash my own hair, and do my makeup. As much as I enjoy getting my hair washed and dressing up in casual wear, I look forward to going out and being able to do my OOTD posts, that part makes me feel good, but there’s still a part of me that wishes I wasn’t so depended on somebody else to help me get dresses, wash myself, etc I mean these are things that everybody can do, but I can’t. One tweeter commented that I should focus on being pampered, but again very honest reply, I’ve always hated being pampered, spoiled whatever. I want somebody’s time but I don’t need to be showered with attention. We don’t need to give my ego that much power!

People just assume I do it all with my toes, but in reality I can’t. There are STILL a lot that I cannot do on my own and I absolutely hate it! However, there are a couple of things that I have learned to let go, like the getting up my bed/couch on my own, that will be something I’ll just never be able to do again. In a strange way though, this whole thing is like if one door closes, another one opens. I don’t have the strength in my body to push myself up off the floor but I can teach myself to do other things like when my mom goes to transfer me from the couch to my push wheelchair, I can stand on my tippy toes and not only hold myself up against but also pull myself into her so we can successfully go from one place to the other. I think that by itself is pretty cool!

I’m always asking myself what else is there for me to do?

I feel as though I’m learning to do new things as little kids learning how to adjust not being able to use their hands or use a wheelchair for the first time. I don’t want to do things just to do them. The things I’ve been learning to do lately are things that I’ve been curious about in the last few years, like when I’m older and have a family of my own or living at an assistant living place, can I use a vacuum? Can I open my own boxes, cans, jars? Can I put my own trash bag on the can? These things have been carefully planned out in my head and I can say I’ve tried my feet out on almost every single one and I’m still learning. That’s all I can do is learn. The decorating my birthday cake with my aunt was another wonder in the back of my head, I’ve been wanting to cook and bake for almost two years now. I wanted to make/decorate a cake because if I have a partner and/or have kids I don’t want to go out and buy an already made cake, I want to do it myself and that’s why I want to continue to learn to do more in that area.

I want to do a lot of things in my life, nobody is going to tell me what I can and cannot do. If you do say “she can’t do that” just as a warning, I’ll only take that as a challenge! The point of this post is that I don’t want to learn things to get praise or admirers. I’m adapting to my surrounding that’s what I’ve had to do my whole life.

Learning Music

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My nana’s old keyboard. It has 5 octaves, all kinds of buttons for all kinds of sounds. It is digital and is over three ft. long. I think somebody put the lettering on to learn it. it is 30 years old and my great-grandma played it until she was 92 or so.

 

Growing up, it wasn’t just my parents who would get us all into music. As much as my parents would like to think they have voices of angels, they’re wrong. Even though my dad could probably do an awesome metal scream and growl, if he took the time to train his voice. Both of my grandparents on my mom’s side know how to play instruments. My papaw knows how to play the piano and saxophone. My dad also knows how to play the saxophone. So explains my love for the sound of a saxophone! My nana is the one who’s been marching band the longest. She has so many things from her time playing in different school orchestras, yes they had those back in the day! She played the violin, viola, cornette, piano, and trumpet while in her school bands. Technically, my mom played the flute in high school. My Uncle Rick knows how to play both bass and electric guitar, trust me we have the pictures to prove it too! He has expressed to get back into playing recently. ┬áSo we’re basically a musical family!

You couldn’t join band until you got into middle school. When we were making arrangements to transfer at the end of fifth grade, my mom thought it would be a good idea to get me into band as well. Since I loved music so much, they thought it would give me something to do and another challenge for me to master. My cousin Kristi was going to sign up for it too, so they thought it would be perfect to get the both of us into the same class. I remember that afternoon so well. I would get out of class maybe 5 to 10 minutes early before everybody else. My mom and nana would come and pick me up from school, this day they were staying a little longer to see what I would be able to play in band. They tried to get me to play the trombone and that was just a disaster! Literally five months earlier, I had my back surgeries so they were trying to see what I thought the strength to do since I was still recovering. I can’t bend my knees very well and so when they tried to get me to do it, there was no use! I couldn’t reach nor could I blow through the damn thingy either. We settled on this keyboard thing that I have no clue what is was. My cousin Kristi got to play the flute.

I remember trying to practice keys with my nana and even back then I used to cry if I didn’t feel comfortable doing something. I was NEVER good at learning or comprehending music notes. We would play little music note games in Elementary and I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the ideal person to have on a team. I sucked! I barely got through two practices with my nana before I looked at both and went, I can’t do it. Luckily, they understood and I never had to do it again. I was and still am perfectly fine with that decision. Kristi kept up with her lessons for all three years of middle school, when we entered high school she was in marching band and jazz band. It felt good to know somebody in band. At our school, band was better than the sports program. When I was in eighth grade I decided to sign up for swing choir. I just wanted to see if I’d like it. I mean, at that time singing was kind of new to me. I had this new strong lungs that we’re being crushed by my own spine. I actually had the strength to hold in a breath and go high with it. That was my musical outlet at the time.

When my sister entered middle school, she was put into band too. She got the honor of playing the trumpet. I was a freshman in high school when she started sixth grade. She was doing double duty as she was doing cheerleading as well. She kept up with it until her sophomore year of high school. She and Kristi played in band at Kristi and I’s graduation. It was a family affair! Blondie had a very special gift that was apparently past down by papaw: they can play by ear. She also knows how to play the piano. On some days, we’d hear her play a familiar song in the living room. She would bring her iPod over with her and she’d go and back in finding the right keys and try to play it out. One Christmas, somebody got her own keyboard so she could play around with it. She used it religiously and it would be the reason why I’d be in our parent’s room without any music on just listening to her play. When she was in eighth grade too, she also joined swing choir. We were both sopranos.

I’m pretty sure after some time, Blondie finally returned my nana’s trumpet to her. Yup, she used her exact trumpet! Kristi used my mom’s for some time before getting a new one in which I know she still has. Blondie plays the piano every once in a while. She only does it when everybody’s busy dong something else so they can’t hear her. My nana stopped playing the piano several years, now it’s only my papaw who plays the piano in the living room. He’s been having some trouble with his hands lately, especially the tips of his fingers. He can’t feel if he’s touching the keys or not. It’s really kind of sad, because in all honesty he’s the reason why I love piano music pieces. You won’t hear me listening to Mozart or like that, but more modern music. I always rolling into my choir classes and listening to our director just going into a fit. I could have sat there watching him all day long. I used to sit on my papaw all the time as a kid and will still do it from time to time now. I hope later on in life, we continue to teach our children music and get them as interested as possible!