Brazilian music

2018 Recap + How I'm Approaching 2019 Differently

Welcome to 2019!

Welcome to 2019, happy to be here!

Before I get into planning the new year, it’s really important to look back on the year we’re finishing, and acknowledge all that was learned and accomplished (even if you feel like you didn’t do that much, I bet that it’s a lot more than you thought!) I’m posting my highlights, not as a brag or an encouragement for comparison, but to set an example that we all deserve to recognize our accomplishments and be proud of ourselves!

2018 was a really big year for me, crazy and challenging, but overall a good one. Here’s some of what I did:

WORK

PERSONAL / TRAVEL

  • Celebrated my 35th birthday + Tom’s graduation (after 4.5 years in school) on the same day!

  • Denver to celebrate a friend’s 40th birthday

  • New York City to see the installation at MoMA PS1 that Tom helped with

  • Cabin weekend in Northern Minnesota

  • New Orleans to attend Being Boss NOLA

  • Door County, Wisconsin for a wedding during the peak of fall color

  • San Francisco Bay Area for a gig and to visit family

  • Celebrated my 12th anniversary w/Tom!

  • Purged a lot of stuff from the apartment, which was years overdue and felt amazing!

LOW MOMENTS

(I share these in the name of keeping it real - it’s definitely not all highlights around here)

  • Being on my own for almost the entire Kickstarter - Tom was gone in NYC, working on the aforementioned MoMA PS1 installation

  • Sick with the worst cold I’ve had in years while recording my album

  • Felt burnout / “post-partum depression” after album release, which coincided with the sudden onset of winter and seasonal affective disorder

  • Tons of moments of “can I do this?”, “how am I going to do this?”, and other self-doubting thoughts (they’re not very Instagrammable, but we all have them!)

FIRSTS

  • First time feeling positive about winter, by getting outside for a walk most days (it made me happier than going to the gym)

  • Started writing my first piano trio

  • First in-person breathwork experience - I participated in a circle at Constellation Acupuncture with Amy Kuretsky on New Year’s Day

  • First craniosacral therapy (I’ve never been more relaxed - my friend Sara is made of magic!)

  • First time being a podcast guest (on the Essential Omnivore podcast, hosted by my awesome nutritionist Lucia Hawley)

  • First time getting cupping

  • Finally got comfortable with talking at performances

  • First sheet music sale

  • First time dying my hair - purple highlights!

  • First Kickstarter

  • First radio interview (on Jazz88, to talk about my album)

  • First album

  • First Facebook Live video that was entirely spoken (on holiday self-care)

CONNECT (My 2018 word of the year)

I really embraced this word of the year by collaborating with and meeting lots of other cool musicians and artists, some of whom even became good friends! I also attended some great events such as the Minnesota Music Coalition Summit, New Music Gathering, Giant Steps, and Dissonance’s Unhappy Holidays.

Looking back on this list, it’s really clear to me that I did too much in 2018 - I don’t regret having done any of this stuff, but I worked too hard! I am feeling pulled toward being more present/intuition-focused, and away from tying my worth to achievement (oof, that's going to be a process.)⠀

So what’s in store for 2019?

I’m approaching this year very differently than past years.

After all that I did last year, I have a strong desire to simplify, in terms of things I’m doing, and in the material and digital realms. In the past, I have often treated new year planning and goal setting like arriving hangry at a delicious buffet - I always overdo it!

I don’t normally plan for a whole year at once, but this year I am being very choosy, so only things that truly feel good and right will make my list. (And permission to change our minds whenever we want is implied!)

In support of these goals, I also joined Mara Glatzel’s yearlong circle called Cycle, “conscious planning for women who want to get shit done without sacrificing their self-care” - rest is not optional! The first retreat was last weekend, and I’m already really excited about being part of this community. (This is not an ad, I just really love Mara’s work and have found it so helpful.)

So, appropriately...

This year my word of the year is JOY.

  • Joy as a goal instead of a byproduct.

  • Doing things that feel good just for the sake of feeling good (something that I often ignore in favor of getting the next thing done, and the next, and the next…)

  • Making music that brings me joy, which I can then spread to others

  • Helping others find their own joy

Feeling good is not frivolous - it helps us show up for the important people in our lives, and do work that impacts others positively.

I do have a short list of things I’m excited about doing this year:

TASKS

HABITS (small changes work!)

  • Re-starting a daily practice and/or composing habit that feels good

  • Reducing my mental input (consuming too much information on the internet is like the mental equivalent of eating too much) by utilizing the Screen Time feature on my phone, and not picking it up immediately in the morning

  • Setting aside time in the morning for journaling and meditation - I know that I need more space in my life for thinking and processing

But, I also plan to check in with myself regularly to make sure that my goals still feel aligned with what I want and need - no “shoulds” allowed, unless they’re practical things in service of goals I’m excited about.

If all of this new year talk doesn’t resonate with you, that’s okay, you do you. I fully believe that the new year can be a fresh start, but shouldn’t elicit pressure or frustration. If you’re feeling a fresh start next week, or on a random Thursday in March, go for it - I’m wishing you an inspiring start to 2019!

If you chose a word of the year, share it in the comments, or share something you’re excited about doing in 2019!

End-of-Summer Update + Navigating Transition

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Hey everyone! I know, long time no blog (except for sheet music releases and Kickstarter stuff) - all summer, in fact!

If you’ve missed the style of writing from my usual blog posts, you can still hear from me every week in my newsletter that’s chock-full of supportive real talk about staying well while doing creative work. Sign up at the bottom of the page!

Now that we’re past the ceremonial beginning of fall, I thought I’d pop in to let you know what I’ve been up to.

If you follow me on social media, I know you couldn’t have missed the Kickstarter for my upcoming album Florescer.

(Spoiler: we did it! The project was funded, which I am SO grateful for - thanks very much to everyone who contributed!) I also did a really fun online concert to celebrate the last hour, which you can watch here:

If you did miss the Kickstarter, don’t worry, because the official album release date is coming up soon on October 24, and you’ll be able to buy and stream it through all of the usual places - stay tuned for more details on that.

And, if you’re in Minneapolis/St. Paul, you’re invited to my album release show on October 18, featuring all of the guest musicians on the album (Tim O’Keefe, percussion, Jenny Klukken, marimba, and Laura Harada, violin). I’m also planning on live-streaming it. More details here.

If you want to stay in the loop on the album and upcoming gigs, be sure to hop on my gig mailing list here!

So, what else did I do all summer?

A lot, it turns out! No wonder this summer seemed to go faster than ever. Workwise, I:

(NON-WORK) FUN STUFF

  • traveled to Denver to celebrate a good friend’s 40th birthday

  • traveled to New York to see Dream the Combine’s installation at MoMA PS1, which Tom spent most of June helping install, saw some college friends, and got to have a lesson with my teacher Vitor Gonçalves.

  • visited Tom’s family cabin in Hackensack, MN

  • drove to Iowa for a friend’s wedding

  • spent as much time with family and friends as possible

  • saw some great music: Ivan Lins, Bobby McFerrin, Matra, Hamilton de Holanda + Roberta Sá, and the Twin Cities Jazz Composers Workshop premiere concert

September is always a pretty crazy month, with the beginning of the school year, but this year promises to be even more so, as I wrap up Kickstarter rewards and prepare for my album release. I’m also going to New Orleans to attend the Being Boss Vacation at the end of the month, which is coming up fast! I’m really excited to connect with more fellow creative entrepreneurs, and keep living out my word of the year (CONNECT!)

NAVIGATING TRANSITION

All in all, it feels like a really big transition time right now:

  • I’m adjusting to a new school year, in a new teaching space

  • The seasons are changing (yet teasing us with warm weather, right when I was ready to be cool and cozy)

  • Tom is a few weeks into a new job

  • Etc.

I’m reminding myself:

  • That transitions of various sizes are constantly happening and take mental energy

  • That bigger and/or simultaneous transitions take even more energy

  • Even “good” transitions can be hard, and that’s fine

  • I need to cut myself some slack, generally, and especially during these times

  • I don’t need to start anything else new during a transition time, unless it’s something I really need

  • I can (and should!) do extra nice things for myself when I’m feeling out of sorts

  • I don’t need anyone’s permission for that...and neither do you!

If you need permission to go a little easier on yourself, here it is!

Are you going through any challenging transitions right now, school year, seasonal, or otherwise? How do you deal with it? Let me know in the comments. (You got this.)

Album Title Reveal!

I am so excited that my album finally has a title: 

Florescer (Bloom)

A few nights ago, I was really tired, had just gone to bed, and of course, that moment was when my overactive brain chose to prevent me from sleeping! (Don’t you love that?) Unlike most times this has happened, however, it was actually productive! I couldn’t get the word “bloom” out of my head, and images of hand-drawn flower art kept popping in.

The next morning, it still sounded like a good idea, and also sounded cool when translated to Portuguese, which feels appropriate for an album of Brazilian music. Then, I read that May 29 (this Kickstarter’s launch day) was the Full Flower Moon, the usual name for a full moon in May. The deal was sealed.

Though I might be a little biased because I was born in May, it’s my favorite month, because of the arrival of greenery and beautiful blooming trees. The Hasses also tend to be botanically gifted people (which I strive to be) - my dad has even co-authored a book about roses - so flowers seem baked into my DNA.

I also find myself using metaphors about planting seeds and growing things all of the time, and, of course, this quote is one of my favorites, which regularly inspires me to get moving on my goals:

If you haven’t already, please back this Kickstarter to help it grow and bloom, and make the album a reality!

Thanks in advance for your support - if you can't support financially, sharing on social media is great, too!

If you want to stay in the loop on the album and upcoming gigs, be sure to hop on my mailing list here!

My Creativity Manifesto + Amazing News!

As I ponder my new projects (one of which has to do with the amazing news at the end of this post!), and ways that my work might pivot in the coming year, I’ve been pondering big questions like, “What do I stand for?” and “What do I know to be true?”

I’ve had this document going for a couple years now, but I kept postponing posting it because it never felt done. I realize now that, of course, it didn’t feel done because a personal creativity manifesto is the kind of thing that’s always evolving!

I also feel like I need to elaborate on each point, but each one could probably become its own post (some have already, and some will in the future). So, I’m sharing the current version, in list format. (See #35: Done is better than perfect, plus I’m all about sharing my process!) These are the things that I know to be true for myself (and many of these statements are pretty universal):

Everyone is creative (even you).

No one needs permission to create, or to call themself an artist, writer, musician, composer, etc.! We decide how (or how not) to label ourselves.

It’s valuable to think of myself as creative - we miss out on some ways to be creative if we don’t think we are.

Creativity has much less to do with talent than with consistent effort (supported by healthy habits).

I have time to be creative, even if I think I don’t. I just also have to be creative with my time.

People are also doing amazing creative things without realizing it - creativity shows up in so many places besides art.

Don’t worry about creating something completely original that’s never been done before - work is original because it comes from a unique individual.

Just make lots of things, some will be better than others - we have to make some bad stuff to get to the good stuff (and if we persist, we definitely will).

Since creativity is a practice, different types of creativity feed the others, and the whole person (don't forget about physical movement).

Draw inspiration from other disciplines and creative careers. The creative process is endlessly fascinating, in any format.

CREATIVITY IS SELF-CARE.

I need to play and write music, or I start to feel a bit depressed and drained of life.

Self-care is essential - not taking care of oneself is like slash-and-burn agriculture - nothing will grow if there are no nutrients left in the soil.

Creating a sense of ease/flow around my creative habit helps “fertilize the soil”.

Wellness and creativity depend on each other. I will continue to explore this interdependency.

I don’t always have to know what I’m doing, in fact, maybe sometimes it’s better not to!

I need enough white space in my schedule to support and make time for creativity. The “hustle” can make creativity (and my life force!) dry up.

I need more time to process things, whether daily events, things I’m writing about, big successes/failures, or how to approach a project.

Even though being an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person) can be difficult, sensitivity is also a super power for my life as a musician.

Creativity can happen in small bits at a time. Small bits add up to large things.

Even if I feel fragmented (because the variety of a “mosaic of jobs” is a reality and a survival strategy), pieces can be rearranged to make something new and profound (or, the path may not be clear, but it sorts itself out, bit by bit).  

Prioritize joy - it’s most worth doing work that I’m excited about - creation is hard work but hard work can feel easy.

It’s important to me to share music, and hopefully bring others joy in the process (especially Brazilian music!)

I love working on my own, but also love making music with other people. As an introvert, I have to balance the two wisely.

I need to be disciplined (as in forming a daily composing habit) but keep it fun enough that the work has room to breathe (also a balancing act).

I will support peers in their creative projects (especially women) - by going to shows, sharing info/links, etc. (I'm doing weekly Sunday Shout-Outs on Instagram.)

It’s really important for me to create a welcoming space for others to share their work, and to encourage others’ creativity.

I will never: make someone feel bad about what they’ve created, discriminate based on style of music (or anything else), or pressure or guilt people around their creative habits.

I want everyone to be able to feel: welcomed, inspired, capable, excited to make things, nurtured by keeping a creative habit, fearless (or fearful but doing it anyway), open to sharing their goals, and encouraging of others (a rising tide lifts all boats).

We are all works in progress - art AND life are experiments. We all have permission to figure it out as we go (because that’s actually how it works).

Action > inaction (especially via overthinking and “research” as procrastination.)

There’s no shame in utilizing external accountability if needed (yes, I’m an Obliger). 

I will share my process and journey openly, in hopes of helping others feel less alone.

I would rather make something more slowly to remain in accordance with my values BUT...

Done is better than perfect.

Where I am currently is right where I’m supposed to be in my career/life/etc.

Creating the work is ultimately more important to me than any self-doubts or fraudy feelings, so I have to work through those by focusing on my mindset.

I am committed to my personal evolution as a human and a musician (human comes first). This list will also keep evolving!

COMING SOON: MY FIRST ALBUM!

And now for the amazing news: I am thrilled to announce that I've received a grant through MacPhail Center for Music (one of the places I teach), funded by the McKnight Foundation, toward recording my first album this summer! All three of these original compositions in Brazilian styles will be included, in addition to a bunch of my arrangements of Brazilian songs, and the whole album will include Tim O'Keefe on percussion, among other guests. I'll be raising additional funds to complete the project, so look for that crowdfunding campaign in the near future, to pre-order the album!

I invite you to think about what’s in your personal creativity manifesto AKA what you stand for as an artist. I bet you have more thoughts on this than you realize!

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind? Let me know in the comments!

2017 Recap + Welcome 2018!

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Welcome to 2018!

And, congratulations, we made it through 2017! (Phew.)

I certainly am happy to turn the page on the calendar - 2017 was a difficult yet rewarding year of growth, in which I did lots of cool things but also dealt with burnout and a lot of anxiety. After trying everything holistic that I could think of to help, I finally decided to try going on meds, and after some extra rest and big lifestyle changes, by the end of summer, I was feeling a lot better - I had to actually listen to my body when it told me what it needed, again and again. I think this stuff is important to mention (#endthestigma), because we all struggle behind our highlight reels that we show to the world on social media - you’re not alone! And, every time we go through a big period of struggle, it brings us to the next, more evolved version of ourselves, which I’m always grateful for afterward.

Some firsts from this year:

  • Getting a studio to teach private lessons at MacPhail (a long time coming!)

  • Seeing Hermeto Pascoal and his band at SFJazz in April

  • Creating and facilitating a set of composition prompts for creative musicians, which is now a free 5 day-course (more about that below!)

  • Starting a regular networking happy hour for women musicians in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area with my friend Lauren Husting

  • Receiving my certification from MTNA and became a Nationally Certified Teacher of Music

  • Attending the Giant Steps conference here in Minneapolis - so inspiring!

  • Prioritizing rest and self-care for real (instead of just talking about it a lot and not giving myself what I need)

  • Trying breathwork as a way to turn my mind off (it works) and connect to myself

  • Going back to eating meat again after 14 years without it (with some excellent help from Lucia of Essential Omnivore!)

  • Getting really into drawing, so much that I decided to get one printed!

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Other highlights:

  • Performing 3 sambas that I arranged for solo piano at a MacPhail faculty recital (what I learned from that process: here and here)

  • Choro rodas with local and visiting friends

  • Playing more Brazilian gigs on piano, especially at the National Flute Association Convention with Jane Lenoir and Tim O’Keefe

  • Finishing 2 100 Day Projects of writing 8 measures of music per day

  • Performing my own music several times

  • My 6th time at California Brazil Camp - ensembles with Hermeto Pascoal, Jovino Santos Neto, Vitor Gonçalves, and Alessandro Penezzi!

  • Seeing Anat Cohen and Choro Aventuroso (including my teacher Vitor) at the Twin Cities Jazz Fest in June

  • My 11th anniversary with Tom (celebrated with sushi and sculptures)

  • Growing new friendships with a few awesome women musician/artists

  • To my surprise, I also somehow managed to read 54+ books this year (and I didn’t start tracking my reading until March, so it was probably more like 60!)

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Also, in 2017 I picked two words to focus on for the year, guided by Susannah Conway’s workbook Find Your Word: LISTEN and INTENT (see last year's recap post for explanation). Those words kind of worked for me last year, but they didn’t really stay at the forefront of my mind, although I think that I still made some changes in those areas.

New Year’s resolutions get a lot of flak, but as long as they’re specific and actionable (actual goals), I’m into it - I’ll take any fresh-start energy I can get. All of the reflection that I did in 2017 has enabled me to have more clarity about what I want from 2018, and to feel more ready to begin (or really, continue).

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Ways that I want to CONNECT this year:

  • To my own intuition and purpose

  • To the expansive feeling I get when I’m doing things that bring me joy (in work and in life)

  • To a sense of ease and lightness

  • Being mindful and present in my interactions with others

  • Forming meaningful connections with other musicians and composers (especially women)

  • Showing my work as fearlessly as possible

  • Letting go of things that don’t give me meaningful connection or help me get closer to how I want to feel (hello, mindless scrolling!)

I’m not the type to plan out my whole year at once, but here are some of my big goals for 2018:

  • Revamp my morning routine to always include meditation and journaling (probably 10 minutes of each) before I exercise

  • Record an album of my Brazilian arrangements and compositions (finally) and crowdfund it

  • Collaborate with more women musicians (already talking with a few people)

  • Launch a sheet music store of my compositions and arrangements (this one I’m committed to doing by the end of January!)

  • Publish 1 piece per month for the rest of the year

  • Start writing more pieces for instruments other than my own (and start writing a trio for my trio)

  • Start using my voice more (literally) - starting with Instagram Stories

  • Leave time for fun and hobbies (reading more fiction and graphic novels, drawing, crafting, etc.)

And one I already completed this week:

Launch my free 5-day course of bite-size composition prompts

If you're a musician who has thought about writing but didn't know where to start, if you're looking for some idea generation, or camaraderie with other creative musicians, this is for you. If you're interested, sign up below and join us!

I have a good feeling about this year - I’m wishing you an inspiring start to 2018! 

If you chose a word for the year or have music-related goals you're excited about, share them in the comments!