ca Inisghts on Being a Musician – ELESVEE

Thinking Beyond Your Years

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As infants, we all start out incompetent, non-viable living beings. Why do we have to grow up so slowly? Even in college, almost all of our days are controlled by others, mostly adults, but sometimes even by our peers. Which groups hold us back and what can we do to grow up… ourselves?

Music is a relationship. Sometimes we’re faced with hard decisions regarding our relationships. These decisions are presented to us as if each side is the most important. After all, how do you choose between obligations and desires? Or obligations and other obligations? Who wins and how often? There’s no formula to solve this problem. You end up choosing one way and alienating or aggravating the other. What then follows is a series of days, weeks, months, or years where we aren’t the ones in control of our lives, but we instead bend over backward to try and appease all sides, ultimately failing to make anyone happy.  What’s all this got to do with your music?

It’s about how you balance school, family, friends, and organizations? There isn’t one answer to this question. But each person MUST explore the relationships between themselves and each of these facets to gain or regain control of one’s activities and aspirations. Once you can understand your relationship with each of these components, you can prioritize and strengthen the relationships so that when you need to make a difficult decision, there’s understanding on the other end.

Microphone IconAll this made for long days, but every component was satisfied because I learned how to budget time and make personal sacrifices, not relational sacrifices.

My sophomore year of college was arguably the busiest and most stressful time that I had at UT. I was taking an average of 17 hours of classes; I was spending every Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday evening at marching band rehearsals, then spending all day Saturday at the games; I was pledging a fraternity, meeting several nights a week to rehearse 4-part fraternity songs; I was waking up at 6am on Sunday morning to hitch a ride with a friend to rehearse with my church band for the 10am service; I was struggling with unsolvable family issues, and to top it off, I was in a relationship. Looking back, I’m amazed that I ever got sleep (though there were definitely nights that were more like naps). But the reason that I got through that year successfully was because I understood the relationships I had within each component. I knew how much time I needed to spend on homework, how to budget time around rehearsals, how to be prepared for fraternity meetings, how to coordinate with my church band, and how to keep my girlfriend happy. And none of these experiences had to be cheapened just because I was busy with other things. All this made for long days, but every component was satisfied because I learned how to budget time and make personal sacrifices, not relational sacrifices.

A typical Tuesday meant waking up at 8am, going to class until 4pm, doing homework until 6pm, rehearsing until 8pm, going to meetings until 11pm and constantly communicating with friends, family, and the girlfriend throughout the day to express that everything was important to me and no one was being forgotten.

So if there’s a conflict that comes up in your life, how do you decide which way to go? Do you show up unprepared for a rehearsal or meeting because you desperately needed that extra 30 minutes of sleep? Or do you skip the sleep and grab a coffee so that you can be ready to go when the meeting starts?

Sometimes the personal sacrifice you make is the greatest gift you can give a relationship. Just be sure to take care of yourself as well.  Your music will appreciate the effort.

How to Avoid the Russian Winter

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How-To-Avoid-The-Russian-WinterSo, we all know the music business is difficult, at best. Music is global, but so is weather. Until you’ve survived a Russian winter, you might not appreciate how lucky you are being a musician. So, how can a Russian Winter inform us to enjoy a successful and global music career?

Russian Winter is something that I actually miss a lot, living in Texas. I love the wintery festivities – riding a snowmobile, going to a banya – russian sauna, eating crepes with caviar after and all that stereotypical fun stuff. But today we’re going to talk about something different.

You might have heard this Russian saying before: “there is no bad weather – there are just not enough clothes”. At the first sight, it might sound very simple and not so metaphorical, but if you think about it, it could be interpreted in such a way that it becomes very much applicable to many other laws of life. Being able to adapt to certain situations or environments is in the human nature and we do adapt and overcome different challenges or difficulties on a daily basis without even realizing it.

Microphone IconAll that matters is being yourself and making what you love to make – for me it is music.

The fact is, we can not escape certain things or can we change them. Bad weather or bad news can definitely ruin our day, but what do we do when we look out the window and see that it’s raining? We grab an umbrella before we go outside – we adapt. When it is just one of those mornings when we get up on the wrong side of bed – some of us will try to listen to a good tune that will pump up our mood, others will drink an extra cup of tea to get their thoughts together – everyone has their own ways. In any case, we adapt and develop our own mechanisms that help us cope with stress and overcome some of the misfortunes that might happen from time to time.

Composer/Producer Olesya Kolos prepared for the Russian Winter AND the Music Industry!

Composer/Producer Olesya Kolos prepared for the Russian Winter AND the Music Industry!

One of these mechanisms that many people love, including myself, is music. It can effect our mood, evoke emotions. It can be disturbing, as well as healing, depending on a meaning we are giving to it. That is why music is so important to me. It makes me happy to see that a piece I produced made someone’s day better, brought a smile to someone’s face, or helped overcome a certain rocky period of someone’s life. Music is the only language that can be understood internationally, and by the end of the day, it does not matter how tense a political situation is in the world or whether it is pouring rain outside. All that matters is being yourself and making what you love to make – for me it is music.

Yes, we don’t know what the future holds. We face instability a lot, especially in music, and especially in the beginning of our careers, when we are too apprehensive, usually from the lack of experience. But difficulties are here to make our lives fuller. Hard times come and go, as bad weather does. Life is unpredictable and can throw you off your feet instantaneously, but you have to be ready for it: Ready to overcome another challenge, ready to break your own records, ready to improve and become your-better-self! The most important thing is not to give up. The Russian winter is real, so I suggest you take the sage advice from the people who live there: “Wear the right clothes.” Your music career will be warmly successful.

The Voice: The Instrument of Joy

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The-Voice-instrument-of-joy The voice is a conduit for miracles to reach down from heaven and kiss earth. Language barriers are eradicated. The coldest of hearts are warmed. The lonely become united. Who am I to be created as an instrument for joy?

I am in a foreign country on a mission. I do not speak their language so I cannot use words, but we both understand the language of music. When I sing words that I believe with every fiber of my being, when I am moved to tears and brought to my knees, they know exactly what I am saying. In that moment, we have exceeded language barriers and conversed on a spiritual level. Who am I to hold the key to unlock every language?

Microphone IconMy soul longs to connect each heart like a string so no one will feel isolated. The only string that I know will wrap around every person’s heart is a song.

I am standing elevated in a place where I see a multitude of people. I am able to see cold hearts. They reject the idea of warmth. But unbeknownst to them, I have a fire inside me, and I am about to wrap them up in it. Music is the flame that consumes but does not burn. What was once inconceivable to the cold is made a reality, and now they never want to leave it. Who am I to lead people to the greatest fire?

I am in a crowded room but it is filled with silence. Each person feels alone even though they are surrounded. My soul longs to connect each heart like a string so no one will feel isolated. The only string that I know will wrap around every persons heart is a song. I boldly sing a simple melody and the person to my left joins me. We smile because our hearts are now strung together with a tune. This exponentially continues until each person in the room is lifting their voices and connected in harmony. Who am I to unite to lonely?

I am created for something bigger than myself. If I begin to think I am the one who is to be praised for the miracle of music, I will surely forget how to sing. I am merely an instrument. And what is an instrument without a musician to play it?

The Viola Chronicles!

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Nobody talks about the viola and how it relates to the vocal arts. Well, maybe it’s time to do that, right now.

People rarely see classical musicians stepping outside the lines, and I have to say, it is not entirely their fault. See, the world of classical music is restricting in more ways than one. Not only does it enforce an inside-the-box mentality, where a lot of its musicians just read exactly what is on the page in front of them, but only 3% of the entire population are avid classical music listeners and concert attenders. So what about the other 97%?

Alice Ping performs the William Walton Viola Concerto with the University of Texas at Austin Orchestra directed by Maestro Gerhardt Zimmermann

Alice Ping performs the William Walton Viola Concerto with the University of Texas at Austin Orchestra directed by Maestro Gerhardt Zimmermann

Now, don’t get me wrong, my passion for classical music is an earnest one; the soaring melodies of Mozart and the dense harmonic saturation of Beethoven are not wasted on me. But, I have been lucky enough to see outside this bubble; to collaborate with other musicians in different settings and different musical genres, forcing me to no longer rely on sheet music, but to trust my ears and my instincts.

In this way, singing and playing the viola are not at all different. Each presents its own challenges, of course, but both require attention to detail and, literally, open ears. I have been so fortunate to be able to combine these two worlds, maintaining my strong ties to classical music by applying to schools like Juilliard for graduate school, all the while stepping into the recording studio the next day to cut a track.

Some may wonder how it is I balance these two parts of my life. I often like to keep them separated, distant from one another, so I can pour all of my energy into whatever I am currently doing without worrying about the other side of things. I’ve developed a knack for this kind of compartmentalization. But, now I’m starting to think it’s time to blend the two together. This, I think, is how we can start to reach that other 97% of the population.

Classical music has never been an accessible form of entertainment. It has always targeted the “elite,” the higher classes, and many think it uppity and only for those willing to shell out the big bucks for a box seat at the MET. But this is entirely untrue! It is time we start appealing to the masses, adapting our mindset while broadening theirs.

The popular arts are so much more attainable and easy to comprehend, so why can’t we bridge the two? Combine a Bach Cello Suite with Taylor Swift, or Mendelssohn Violin Concerto with Beyonce. The possibilities are endless. I have every intention of pursuing the field of classical music and pop vocals in the future, separately if I have to. But, how cool would it be if I could do both at the same time??

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Count Your Way to the Top

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Hello there! I am Hortencia Campbell, but you may call me ‘Tenci’ because who needs excessive formalities anyway? Since you’re on this page, you’re probably at least a little bit curious of who I am. For starters (and a brief lack of modesty), I am a goofy, light-hearted young woman with a powerful stage presence, a soul-stirring voice, and a sharp business mind.

From my days as a small Jamaican girl with afro pigtails darting around like a ball of energy to present day, I have sprouted a deeply-rooted passion for vocal performance and various other performing arts. From high school choirs, talent shows, the creation and performance of 7-min musicals to impromptu producer collectives, gospel choirs, ensembles, other performance as a solo artist, ben blessed to extend my musical repertoire. Additionally, I developed my leadership skills further through approximately four years of experience in mentoring and teaching others as a result of serving as a STEM Academic Coach, Peer Mentor, and Teaching Assistant for students at the University of Texas at Austin. Besides this, I serve as a Campus Ambassador for both GRAMMY U, the student arm of The Recording Academy (creators of the GRAMMY Awards). I have especially been blessed with the opportunity to strengthen my vocal abilities as a member of Gary Powell’s elite recording group, Ensemble 109, for the latter portion of my college career. These experiences afforded me the opportunity to further musically explore genres such as R&B, Soul, Folk, Gospel, Jazz, Blues, Neosoul, Pop, Classical Choral and Reggae music (among others).

Microphone IconTenci’s Master’s degree in accounting is strangely not boring. I think she finds it an important tool in helping sing with reckless, yet surprizingly accurate and nuanced musical improvisation. What’s to be learned from this odd partnership going on in Tenci’s brain? Plenty, I’m sure. ~ Gary Powell

It was my experience with the Music World Entertainment record label, however, that struck me with the realization of my mission in life. I visited the Music World Entertainment’s corporate office with an organization for aspiring leaders my senior year of high school. Here, my team and I created our own mock record label and presented them to Mathew Knowles, the CEO and owner of Music World Entertainment, and his employees. The next day, my group was to give a presentation on the issues facing the music industry before a panel of judges and the other competing groups. As we toiled through research and jammed out to music and created skits for our presentation, I came to the realization that if anything could unite nations and spread joy, it is music. Upon winning competition and prize, joy and shock dueled the butterflies within my stomach for dominance as tears of joy clung to my cheeks! The entire experience was engulfed in passion. That day, I realized exactly what my life mission was: to bring forth positivity and global unity through the spread of music, humanitarianism, and knowledge.

Currently, I am finishing up a masters degree in Accounting and in the process of getting my Certified Public Accountant license (surprise!). Next fall, I will be further developing my business expertise as a media and entertainment tax accountant for Ernst & Young (EY) in Los Angeles, California as I craft a career in music. I aim to utilize my strong business and musical background to build a prosperous music enterprise that bridges the gap between popular and underground music genres and revamps the passion for dynamic substance in popular music content. I care so much about this mission of mine because music is embedded within my very essence, and I aspire to bring peace to the people of the world through my endeavors in the music business.

I am forever grateful for being able to do what I have done, and I know that I will make a difference in peoples’ lives wherever I go. One day, just as soon as my name leaves a person’s lips, a smile and a deep sense of admiration will follow because of what I have done and will do. I would be honored to aid you in your musical journey in any way I can. Let’s get started!