September 11th: The First Week of Preschool

So my son is now officially in preschool (I kind of see it is pre preschool) three times a week. The transition has been smooth overall. There’s a couple of small tantrums when I leave him there or pick him up (he was upset that he had to leave some things at the school yesterday), but nothing major. The preschool he attends is a Waldorf style school. I’m not totally sold on the whole “Waldorf Lifestyle”, but the teachers at the school are wonderful, caring, and respectful of the children’s personal space and personality types. At this age Waldorf schools focus primarily on play, imagination, being a contributing member of a group, and developing positive relationships, which I think is perfect for my son at his age. Mostly I was looking for him to have a friendly and welcoming atmosphere in which to learn to play with other children, especially since he’s basically been locked up at home with the Covid situation.

His sleep schedule is still a bit all over the place, so when he’s tired that makes things more complicated. He occasionally takes a nap in the afternoon, which is just fine by me, but then he doesn’t want to go to sleep at night. Or, if he doesn’t take a nap, he starts getting grumpy and difficult around five at night. Overall, he’s making big strides in his language skills, toilet training, and being more independent. Seeing him develop more and more into an independent and unique person recently has been an interesting and exciting process to be involved in. This does lead to more small arguments and tantrums, but that’s just part of growing up and developing his own personality. Being upset sometimes is fine as long as it doesn’t go too far. But, I think I’m starting to feel a bit burned out from staying at home with him all this time, but hopefully I can recenter myself now that I have more time to myself. Also, as more time goes by, he won’t need me to hover over him as much.

As for what I’ll be doing with my new free time, there are certainly home projects to work on and general cleaning to do, but I’d like to focus much of my energy on songwriting and music. I guess will see how that goes soon enough!

I hope everyone has a great weekend!

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Music Time: So Why Song Writing?

I’ll need to think of a better title for these types of blogs in the future…

About three years ago I started writing my first song. I’d never written anything before (music or lyrics), beside maybe mentally composing something in my mind. I never had much interest in doing it before either. As I’ve said previously, I’ve always liked music, but I didn’t have any interest in writing it due to a combination of factors (no money potential, not talented enough, not a great writer in general, too many musicians already, etc.). I did mention that I started becoming interested in the process after I took an online course (I just thought it might be fun to try), but I can’t explain why I’ve had a sudden change in my mind specifically. I like the idea of working from home at my own speed, especially with a child, and there is a certain “coolness” factor to it, but beyond that I can’t say for certain. Maybe I’m hoping it’s a way to connect to people with similar interests, maybe it’s a way of proving to myself that I can build something out of almost nothing (or just do something unique), or maybe I just think being in a band would be a fun experience. I think I have some musical talent as well, but I’ve never had any concrete way to measure that.

I have often thought about finding a medium to present interesting ideas and concepts to an audience in a way that’s engaging, and I do think music can be a way to engage people’s minds on several different levels. Music, especially pop music, has a lot concepts that can be analyzed, scrutinized, and “flipped on their head” in an interesting way, that I find appealing. I’m also never going to write a novel or draw a comic book with my particular skill set, so I’m going to stick with something I might be good at. A song can be a self contained entity that doesn’t need anything else to prop it up. It can be about a feeling, a moment, or a story all by itself. Not to mention, there’s (arguably) much less work that goes into a song than a novel (depending on many factors of course). Or maybe, it’s my impression that a song (or a performance) doesn’t have to be perfect, but you can’t have a novel full of typos. Song writing also appeals to me because I get to fiddle with a bunch of interesting computer technology, and I can run lots of that technology from my home computer. I can’t be a “music professional” with my current set up, but as a casual “hobbyist” music creator, being able to do things all on my own is a big draw, especially as a stay at home dad. The investment cost is low for entry into the world of music compared to some other activities. I don’t have to go to the bank to get a hundred thousand dollar loan to get started. So if nothing comes of this in the end, it’s not a huge financial problem that I’ll regret later.

Another potential reason for starting anything new at my age is this feeling I sometimes get from other people that thirty somethings are already locked into a path and can’t do anything new. I’m not trying to “disrupt” anything here, but showing how that idea is flawed does give me some motivation. If in the end nothing life changing comes from any of this, I’ll still (hopefully) have a couple of finished semi professional sounding songs, and I can always look at those and think: I learned how to do it, and I did it. Maybe that can be inspiring to someone else, or maybe that can be just inspiring to me.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful day! And never be afraid to try something new! But… don’t feel bad if you don’t have time at the moment either.

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August 18: Being Social and Preschool

So I’m already failing at doing a blog post every week. Let’s call it every week… ish? Still, it’s much better than once a month like I was doing before (or once every couple years prior to that). It’s still progress overall compared to what I use to do. I was also out visiting friends all weekend so, for once in quite a long time, I was actually out being social and not at home all weekend. It was a great trip overall, but being around other people wears me out, and I always have trouble sleeping in an unknown place. There’s nothing people do in particular to wear me out, I just feel like I need to expend lots of mental energy to participate in conversations and adjust to an environment that isn’t my home. I’m sure that many of us haven’t flexed our “social muscle” in a long time due to covid. It can be difficult work when you’re so use to being in your own space for so long. Also, the dynamics of your young child playing with other kids can be difficult to navigate. Questions constantly arise like: when do you step in during arguments, how rough can your child be, how do you solve disputes, how much do you need to watch over them, and things like that.

Speaking on my son, he’s starting his first day of “pre” preschool this week (a week of summer camp). I’m nervous when I think about things like, did I pack all the things he needs, how will he behave around other kids, will he be respectful of his teachers, and will he be willing to play with other kids. He generally seems reluctant to play with other kids. Often he plays in the vicinity of other kids nearby if he knows them well enough (like playing with different toys but in the same room), but he doesn’t have much interest in organized games. That’s part of the reason why he’s going in to preschool, so he can have the opportunity to play with other kids and do more social group activities. Of course it’s going to be rainy all week, because that’s just how things go some times.

I’ll find out how everything went soon enough I suppose! I’m not too worried about things going badly, it’s just a new experience, and one where I have no control over what happens after having almost total control for so long.

I hope everyone is having a great day and week!

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August 4th: Still Tired, but Trying to Push Through

So I’m going to attempt to write something for the blog at least once a week. As usual, I cannot guarantee this will happen, but we’ll see how it goes! Often it’s difficult for me to commit to something like that because the weeks seem to go by so fast some times, which is strange considering the individual days seem to go by very slowly some days.

I’ve been extremely tired recently. My Mother has been sick the last few weeks, which gets more and more scary / stressful as she gets older, and I realize that one of these days she might not be able to get healthy again. And that’s on top of the usual craziness of maintaining a home with an active three year old in it. I’m probably still a bit sick as well, but I think that my condition is improving. Luckily I still haven’t had any problem sleeping at night. I had terrible insomnia a few years ago, and I never want to experience that sensation of being not quite sure if I actually slept or not again.

My son will be starting preschool next month, so I’m excited and a bit nervous about that. I think he will do fine, but it’s impossible to say for certain. I’m also a bit nervous about how I plan on using that new found free time. Am I required to use that time to be productive by working on music or cleaning up the house, or can I use that time to relax for a bit? As usual, there’s no real right or wrong answer, so being flexible and realistic about what I can accomplish is probably the most important thing. Then there’s the even bigger issue further down the road of seeking full time employment some day. I’m not stressing out about that too much right now, but it’s in the back of my mind. I suppose I’ve got until first grade to become a successful song writer. No pressure!!!

Speaking of music, I’m still working on several different pieces. Today I was working on coming up with some lyrics for a song to perform at an open mic night. I want to create something that’s simple, accessible, lighthearted, and fun to perform in front of an audience. I’m not certain if anyone even does open mic night in my area (I live in a rural / suburban-ish area, it’s not nowhere, but it ain’t exactly somewhere). I think doing something like an open mic night could be good to find people with a similar interest in music, and it can be beneficial to go outside of your comfort zone once in awhile. I don’t actually have that much interest in performing my music live, but it can’t hurt to explore every possibility. And, there’s a good chance I’ll have to do some of it live in the future, since that’s what musicians do.

So I hope everyone is having a great week, and hopefully I’ll be back again next week!

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July 25: It’s Hot Outside, Ugh

I can’t believe it’s already almost August, but the summer heat is brutal this year, so I’m perfectly alright with the time going by quickly. I suppose you notice the heat much more when you’re chasing after a little boy all the time. He doesn’t seem to mind the heat that much and will keep running around until he’s bright red and covered with sweat. He still constantly wants to go outside, but some days it’s just way too hot for Daddy to be chasing him around. Especially since Daddy seems to have picked up a summer cold, which apparently is a thing this year.

I’ve mostly been keeping busy with my son, as usual, but I’ve had a decent amount of time recently to work on some of my music as well. One of the songs I’ve been working on for over a year now feels like it’s almost complete. It’s the first song I’ve ever written, and I think it’s pretty good (or, at least it’s not terrible). There’s a handful of other songs I’ve also been working on off and on, as well as continuing to learn about general music production. I’d definitely like to go over that entire process in the future (as well as many other musical things) when I have more free time (if I ever have more free time). And of course, share some of that music publicly. That’s going to be a whole new set of challenges right there. I’m barely on social media, and I don’t upload things to sites like YouTube or Instagram.

But for now, I’ll try to focus on taking care of things one step at a time, and not let my focus drift too far away. Thanks for reading and have a great week!

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July 5th, Sick of Being Sick

So everyone has been sick at my home for the last several days. Happy Fourth of July? At least my wife had vacation today so she was under no obligation to go to work. This was my first time being sick at the same time as my son. I guess that’s a first of sorts? Or some father and son couch sitting and nosing blowing bonding time? My son doesn’t seem to understand what being sick is though. He still tries to run around and do all the activities he normally does, and then he eventually starts coughing and has to stop for a bit. He also keeps asking me if he’s better yet. I tell him no and that he really should rest, but that doesn’t seem to faze him at all. But, I’m way too tired to try to stop him or debate the point with him. Sigh… well hopefully we all get better soon so I can go back to chasing him when I’m half awake, instead of when I can barely get up.

I hope everyone out there had a great Fourth of July weekend and is staying healthy!

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June 30: Piano Lessons, It’s Never to Late to Try Something New

I think my new goal for the blog should be to just try to write something on a regular basis and not necessarily worry about having a definite theme, topic, or post length. This blog is supposed to be about me and my life, and I’ve always wanted some of these posts to serve as a bit of an online journal. Life does often include just random things that happen to us. We’ll see what happens. There’s still time to reflect on life even in the more mundane moments.

With that said, this post is about taking a potentially big step forward. I recently signed up to take lessons from a local piano teacher. I’ve been playing piano off and on for the last several years, but I’ve just been going through workbooks on my own. Since the Covid pandemic is now getting under control in my area (at least I REALLY hope it is this time), I thought this was a good time to go out and do something constructive with my free time. Being mostly self taught means that I’ve never had anyone observe or critique my technique. I didn’t want to continue playing with potentially flawed technique, which could make things more difficult as I try to attempt more difficult pieces. I think it would be greatly beneficial to start recognizing and removing bad habits now rather than later. I can also use lots of help in terms of musical expression. I could potentially be playing the correct notes in pieces but not getting any of the expression or phrasing right, otherwise known as, actually playing music.

This means I’ll be adding yet another activity to my busy days, but I’m excited about further developing my technique and skills. I think it’s good for me to go out there and try something new, even if I’m a bit uncomfortable and nervous about it. I don’t personally have any goals to become an amazing piano performer, but I’d like to get competent and comfortable enough playing that maybe some day I’ll be confident enough to play in front of a small crowd at an open mic night or something like that. I’d also like for piano to be featured in future music I might write, so understanding the instrument and performance better will only make me stronger when writing those parts.

Thanks for reading and have a great rest of the week!

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June 6th Blog: Possibly more time but still so much to do

So once again it’s been quite awhile since my last post. I’m hoping to get a bit more regular some day, but hoping doesn’t mean I suddenly have more free time. I had a lot less time to myself over the last two months or so since a family member of mine has been unable to help watch my son, and they have also needed some additional help themselves. It wasn’t anything too serious, they just had trouble getting around after their surgery. But now things are more or less back to normal so I have more free time to work on my music and other hobbies! Except it’s spring / summer time now, so I have more yard and house work to take care of. That’s just how things go I guess.

Speaking of warmer weather, one of my other hobbies is gardening. I’d mostly call myself a plant purchaser and plant planter though. I see plants I like, and I buy them and plant them in my yard. Many of my plants were chosen because they were on the sale or clearance table, or my mother gave them to me from her yard. I don’t have much of a plan for my yard besides that, but there is certainly much more going on in my yard than my neighbor’s, who mostly just have grass and a couple shrubs with mulch. I do some basic maintenance (weeding, mulching, trimming overgrown plants), but I don’t do much in the way of conditioning and treatment (soil conditioning, fertilizing, shrub shaping, etc.).

There’s also some home maintenance to get done that’s been sitting on my to do list for the last several months. So, as the title says, there’s a bit more time, but still so much to be done. Overall I’m getting some projects crossed off my list, taking care of things and home, and generally doing alright.

Hope everyone else is doing well too!

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Life Updates for March 21st

So I did finally finish a brief introduction about my self, which covered a little bit of history about my life and interests in music. I thought some reflecting on my past would be a good way to start the revamped blog. I haven’t actually finished any songs at this point, but I’m glad that I’ve been able to make some steady progress over the last few years, especially with everything else going on in my life. I still have a long way to go before I can call myself a “musician” or a “song writer”, but I think the fact that I’ve stuck with it this long is something to be proud of. I don’t have a clear vision of what the goal of all of this is, but I’d be alright with world famous millionaire. Maybe just a state famous multi hundred thousandaire.

I’d still like to take some time to dig into some of the things I’ve worked on previously. I’m not exactly sure how to balance writing about updates on current projects and reflecting on past work. I’m still in the “figuring it out” phase of this blog in regards to many of its elements. Maybe mixing old stories with new stories would be a good approach, but I don’t want to get stuck talking about the past for too long. At this point I’m just going to try to keep on writing posts when I can.

Things are going alright in life overall. My son is still, not surprisingly, very active. He currently wants to spend almost all day running around outside. That’s not a problem in theory (especially instead of watching TV all day), but I get tired, physically and mentally, well before he does. Thank goodness he still takes naps, because I don’t think I’m even capable of keeping up with him all day. It’s an exciting life phase for me to experience though. We can go outside and ride our bikes or scooters together, walk to a cafĂ© to share a baked good (or reluctantly share one in his case), and do other activities that he is now more able to actively engage in. He’s also greatly improving his communication skills. I can now ask him questions or for opinions and he generally seems to comprehend what I’m saying. He’s still, probably, intentionally ignoring me some times, but more and more every day he’s turning into a functional, independent human. Progress still can be quite slow, but seeing his transformation from a fully dependent baby to a self functioning child is fascinating to me. There are, of course, new challenges that come along with his new personality and new found sense of self, so I’ll still be frequently learning as I go, and trying to stay patient and flexible.

I probably also need to think up a better title for these… Thanks for reading and I hope you have a wonderful day!

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A Continuation of a Brief Introduction (or not so brief)

As I wrote previously, I had almost no interest in pursuing writing music in a long term or professional capacity when I was growing up. I’ve always had a fondness for music and instruments, but I thought pursuing that career would require tons of effort that could amount to little reward. I didn’t enjoy making music enough to potentially sacrifice other less risky opportunities. I also grew up in a time before modern convinces such as YouTube and inexpensive home recording studios were easily available to everyone. Now anyone with a microphone and a computer can record a song and post it to the internet. Of course, that also creates other challenges, such as how to stand out when it’s easier for everyone else to do what you are doing, but that’s something I’ll worry about later. Unfortunately I never got the chance to join a band or small performing group when I was younger either. My high school friends were more in to video games and computers.

My current interest in song writing started as a result of exploring free online classes through Coursera. I had taken classes in topics such as graphic design, philosophy, and computer coding, but I was basically open to trying anything. I happened upon a song writing class taught by Pat Pattison from Berkley’s College of Music. I still don’t know much about who are the big stars in the music writing world to this day, but I’m assuming that since he worked at Berkley, he was probably at least pretty good. I found his approach to writing songs very engaging and practical. It had a well developed method and definite process to it. I was initially worried that the class would involve too much of that out there, abstract, “musiciany” stuff, so I was pleasantly surprised. I studied engineering in college, and I’ve always had an engineer’s mindset for learning and solving problems, so I work better with a set process, parameters, and goals in mind. There are, of course, more abstract parts to writing music, but this gave me a solid idea of where to begin the process. Since then I’ve worked through several of the Berkley Music College work books, most of which were helpful and intuitive. These publications and classes made me realize that there can be a grounded and methodical approach to song writing that I wasn’t aware of before. Granted, I didn’t know much about writing music at all before that.

So over the past few years I’ve been learning about music production on a computer (software, equipment, workflow, etc.), attempting to write some lyrics and music, practicing piano, and mentally developing processes for how to approach every aspect of song writing. I’ve also been trying to think about what style of music would suite me best and would bring me the most enjoyment to make. I’m definitely not going to be a rapper or country superstar, but even within the realms of pop or rock there are lots of different styles and approaches. I certainly have artists that I admire (Billy Joel and The Beatles for instance) for their musical ability, but that doesn’t mean that their style would necessarily fit mine. I didn’t start writing music with the intention of talking or writing about anything in particular, but I do have some ideas about what I might like to say. I don’t have any particular end goals in mind, so I suppose we’ll just have to see where this takes me. I do want to make this blog part of that journey. Considering my other obligations to my son and the rest of my family, I can’t guarantee that this will be a quick journey, but I still have plenty of time left in my life to explore something new and potentially life altering. And if it’s just slightly life altering, that’s fine too.

Thanks for reading and I hope everyone has a great day!

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