Witness

music notes

blue music notes on sunny sky

 

I went searching today. I was remembering an old writer’s saying: write what you know. So much of what I’ve been writing has been nothing at all that I know anything remotely about, and while I don’t consider myself a writer, and was mostly fine with not taking myself too seriously, I  also don’t like sucking. If I can do better, even if what I’m writing isn’t real, just stuff spewed out for someone else who wants some particular and meaningless thing, that I could still do a better job, and thought perhaps the place to start would be to only write about what I know when I’m not writing for someone else…so I went exploring. I found my way to the pages here with connections to music and I read and listened, and remembered.

Some time ago I took myself out of all of it… I stopped performing, I stopped practicing, I stopped singing…I stopped listening. I sidelined myself, for many well-remembered reasons, and for a long time that was ok. I was happy out of the interaction, out of the engagement, out of the connection, the constant necessity for connection. I needed to be silent. I wanted to be still and separate, and out from under all the pressure, constantly, pressuring, and mostly self-imposed. I needed to lick my wounds awhile and figure out who I was if I wasn’t the girl with the beautiful voice. Who I was beyond that, who I was… who was I?

And so I sat back and I watched, and rarely commented, and the world passed and I still sat by, just watching.

Then last spring something started changing, a slight shift, somewhere, and sudden, there I was engaging, slightly. I started these fledgling attempts to write things, probably mostly because I needed, or wanted to be heard by someone, somewhere again, even if it was from behind the safety of my little laptop in my tiny room and despite the fact that I may not have anything important or even interesting to say…but these last few have been silent months, too. Vocal in words, and I think for a while that was also enough. Then today I went searching and as I read the posts about music and listened to the music that inspired the beautiful poems and stories, two things hit me and cut me quick, and  I’m still reeling. These two simultaneous thoughts that buckled my knees and devastated me to the floor, and this unabated unending stream of tears poured out and shook me of my energy, like a ragdoll splayed out on the sidewalk, half stuck where she’s landed from someone’s careless toss. These two things, I thought:

I Am the Witness. I am the silent witness of my own life. When I removed myself from the world, I also removed myself from me…which is the 2nd part of what hit me:

This notion I’ve had that I could somehow divorce myself from music, that it was a foreign thing, and maybe only something I borrowed and not a part of who I was, was utter nonsense. There isn’t a separation between the artist and the art. I am not me without the part of me that is fully a part of music. My soul sings constantly, silently, inwardly. I am always moved from the center, and the deep and when I connect and when I allow myself those moments I am home, and bereft, and filled with such longing and love and pain like I’ve abandoned my child, because what I did abandon was myself. I can’t be separate from the part of myself that is the core of me. That’s like cutting myself in half and pretending I’m still walking around a whole person and not this missing person. Not even half a person, but a nonperson. I may not want to be this person sometimes, or work hard to convince myself  I don’t, but if that were really true why when I stumble back upon myself do I miss me so much?

I don’t want to be the witness anymore. I don’t want to be the silent nonperson whose been abandoned by herself. I want my voice back. I want to connect, to feel and hear, to know…and be a part of, at least the music itself and not necessarily even for anyone else, except that abandoned part of me, maybe… but maybe not. Maybe it’s time to stop being afraid of myself, of how other people might make me feel, and realize there are worse things. Walking around without my own self for 3 years is worse. So much worse, and I’m more resilient than I  sometimes remember. So, I’m letting it all back in. I’m letting the music in, I’m letting me back in and I will stop trying to redefine myself as something other than who I am which is me, Tisha, the musician, the artist, the singer, the mother, the activist, the alcoholic, the manic depressive, the daughter, the friend.

That’s all me, I can’t wish any one part away without losing my entire self. So, no more witnessing life, no more abandoning, leaving my soul silent and bereft in some exile self-imposed and pointless, gut wrenching and alone and just oh so lonely and disappointing, where there’s nothing but the abyss and the cliff, that tempts and pulls and coaxes and convinces it doesn’t matter anyway because everything is meaningless and always pointless,  the voice that replaced my beautiful musical soul, the soul that loves and is passionate and feels and cares and tries, and fails and gets up and tries again. The one that devastates and hurts and lets everyone down and then picks us up again with the sheer forcefulness of her will, my will, and the insistence of my heart. A mixed bag of jumbled flaws and sharp edges, strangely odd disconnects, and a wildness that scares even me.

T.

 

 

What You Need to Know Traveling from Berlin to Rome

Berlin-Free-tours-by-foot

Full of rich artistic traditions, and home to some of Europe’s most prominent historical landmarks and profound world events, Berlin is the culturally vibrant city linking progressive German innovation  with its colorful and complex past.

Not only a place full of stunning architecture, legendary concert halls and grandiose institutions steeped in artistic excellence, Berlin is also an example of  modern-day Germany and its efforts to redefine itself. berlin-76509_960_720The reconstruction of the Reichstag Capital building is a purposeful redesign, an all glass dome addition  centered prominently atop the legendary building’s roof, offering a 360- degree unfettered view of the  main floor of parliament, and all the daily goings-on of  its elected officials. This transparent access to government symbolizes a new open and inclusive Germany, whose citizens can stand witness to governmental practices, unobstructed, a deliberate step away from the country’s secret and oppressive political past.

The vibrant city of Berlin is currently undergoing an airport expansion that will dramatically alter flight and transit access in and out of the city. Tegel Airport, just 8 miles north of  Berlin and currently the 3rd largest airport in Germany, will soon be replaced by the New Brandenburg Airport. Under construction next to the Shonefeld Airport, it sits just 11 miles south of the city center. ber2With 52+ airlines already flying in and out of Berlin, there will be plenty of airline carrier options that offer frequent flights from Berlin to Rome, including Swiss, Air France, and Ryanair.  Brandenburg Airport and Shonefeld Airports will both operate international and domestic flights once the expansion is complete.

Traveling to Rome

Shonefeld Airport’s several transit options are located right outside the airports 4-gate terminal, and an S-Bahn train station is within easy walking distance. Smaller than Tegel Airport, Shonefeld will remain open and offer overflow service for adjacent Brandenburg Airport. Both will continue frequent flights from Berlin to Rome, with Brandenburg Airport soon becoming the 15th largest international airport in the world.

Once construction is complete, Brandenburg Airport will replace Tegel Airport as Berlin’s main hub for international flights in and out of the city. The 6-floor building  will adjoin 2 parallel runways, with quick onsite access to S-Bahn train service, located just below the main terminal. Regional, long-distance, and airport express trains will make frequent airport stops for easy access to flight connections out of Berlin, in addition to direct routes  by car, taxi or bus to and from the city center.Italy-Colosseum-In-Rome

Reaching Rome

One of the oldest cities in existence, Rome holds some of ancient Europe’s epic historical sites. Once holding up to 50,000 spectators, the largest amphitheater of its time, Rome’s Coliseum still ranks high among  the favorite and  frequently visited tourist spots in Europe, along with the frequent Catholic pilgrimage to visit the omnipresent Vatican City for a glimpse of the Pope.trevi

Trevi Fountain’s depiction of Neptune’s conch-like chariot led by 2 seahorses, an homage to the volatile duality of the sea,  and 17th century St. Peter’s Basilica, the largest Roman Catholic Church ever built all reside within Rome’s city limits. Each is a comfortable walk  from Rome’s city center. Or, you can hop on one of the several trains or buses operating routes throughout the city. Travel from any of Rome’s airports is an easy car or taxi ride away, with public transportation options existing at each.

Getting to the city center

Rome has two airports near the central part of the city.free basilica The smaller, budget-friendly Ciampino Airport offers regular deals on cheap flights from Berlin to Rome for travelers who want to save a few dollars.

In addition to the convenient and regular transit available at both airports by car, taxi or bus, Rome’s main Fiumicino Airport also has convenient and regular train service aboard the Leonardo Express. Only a 30-minute ride to Rome’s main Termini Station, the Leonardo Express runs twice an hour to and from the airport. FL1 trains also run every 15 minutes,  however, with multiple stops and a train transfer on route to Rome, it is not the most efficient way to get to the city’s center. Unless you’re renting a car or prepared to pay a hefty mile rate via Taxi, Leonardoardo Express is the fastest, as well as the most economical route to the heart of Rome.

The 7 Most Effective Muscle, Strength & Body Building Supplements

There is a lot of information out there about what supplements are best for body building. Sorting through the myriad of options can be daunting, and may still leave you unsure which supplements to choose. Different ones serve different purposes, so it’s important to know which ones are best for your personal fitness goals. Here’s a look at 7 of the most effective types of supplements for increasing muscle mass and body strength:

Creatine:

Probably the most popular form of supplement for muscle and body strength building, Creatine is a natural “Osmotically Active “substance, which means it increases the amount of water in muscles used to stimulate protein synthesis. Creatine phosphate in the body becomes adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which creates the energy muscles use during training, making it great for short energy spurts. This rapid energy increase lets you work out harder and more often, and improves overall muscle growth as a result. Creatine supplements, found in powders, tablets, energy bars and drinks, are a great pre-workout energy booster, enhancing training for rapid muscle growth.

Branched-Chain Amino Acids:

There are three branched-chain amino acids: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. These amino acids can increase how fast and how much muscle the body builds. They also compete with tryptophan pathways, which trigger serotonin levels that increase feelings of fatigue. By replacing some of that tryptophan, branched-chain amino acids give you longer lasting energy during workouts. They also strengthen mental focus while helping create lean muscle mass. Because these amino acids are rapidly absorbed into the body, they become an immediate energy resource. Valine and isoleucine are also glycogenic amino acids, which are particularly effective in fighting fatigue during workouts. Branched-chain amino acids are great for prolonged workouts without fatigue, and for increasing the speed and intensity of muscle mass building.

Leucine Amino Acids:

Leucine amino acids deserve their own discussion as a muscle building supplement. In addition to their fatigue fighting attributes similar to other branched-chain amino acids, leucine amino acids are often considered the “switch” that turns on rapid muscle growth. Leucine amino acids activate mTOR (mechanistic target of rapamycin) muscle pathways. Because mTOR pathways are so receptive to leucine amino acids, they are able to stimulate muscle growth much more effectively than other essential amino acids can. Leucine is best used not only during workouts but after training. It’s muscle growing abilities last anywhere from one hour to 24 hours after a workout, so consuming leucine amino acids directly after exercise will help prolong muscle growth. Taking leucine before bed also helps post workout muscle recovery, while still maximizing fat loss needed to achieve lean muscle mass.

Whey Protein:

This complete protein is a byproduct derived from milk while making cheese. Whey contains all 9 essential amino acids and is low in lactose. Since whey tends to be high in leucine and other branched chain amino acids, it is also particularly adept at building muscles quickly, while still decreasing muscle and body fat. Whey protein also reduces hunger, making it an even better option for those wanting to lose weight and increase lean muscles. Whey protein is generally a flavored powder added to protein shakes that keep you full for longer periods of time after exercising. For those looking to increase muscle mass while losing weight, this is a great protein supplement option.

Micellar Casein:

Rich in essential amino acids, micellar casein proteins are a very effective muscle protein synthesis (MPS) supplement. Although nearly identical to whey protein, casein works differently in that it slows down the absorption rate of amino acids, creating prolonged MPS periods. This makes it a great supplement to take before bed or prior to extended periods of exercise without refueling. Due to its high calcium content, it is also a good choice for losing weight while building strong muscles. This high-quality protein source is good for vegetarian and low meat diets that still need to maintain high levels of daily protein intake.

Oats:

Oats are considered a “good” carbohydrate, ideal for turning fat into muscle during training. Good carbohydrates are effective for weight loss and leave you feeling full longer than other proteins do. Oats increase energy during workouts and contain many of the essential vitamins needed for maintaining overall body health. Traditional steel-cut oats contain less sodium and retain more of the oat’s essential vitamins and nutrients than instant oatmeal does, making them the healthier choice. Oats should be fully digested before exercise to ensure their energy is used to build muscle, not digest food. If eaten alone, allow two hours to completely digest before exercising. If consumed with other foods, wait at least four hours before working out in order to maximize energy and protein synthesis. Oats are a great low-calorie protein source, helpful for people with high protein diets that need to stay within daily calorie limits.

Omega 3 Fish Oils:

Omega 3 fatty acids are usually found in fish, though many people prefer to take them in supplement form. This way they can avoid consuming the high levels of mercury often found in fish. While not specifically a muscle building supplement, omega 3 fish oils have other health benefits that contribute to strength building and overall muscle health. Omega 3 oils help to improve cholesterol and there is evidence they also stabilize the level of serotonin being created. This can boost your mood and overall sense of well-being while decreasing stress. Omega 3 fatty acids aid in maintaining strong bones as well. By decreasing osteoporosis, they help prolong bone density and maintain muscle and body strength that continues well into later life.

Knowing your muscle strength and body building goals will help determine which supplements are best for your workout needs. These 7 options give the most effective choices  and still cover a variety of other health and wellness requirements as well. The right supplement can go a long way toward improving your efforts to reach those muscle strength and body building goals. Get started incorporating them into your daily health and fitness routines today.

 

 

 

 

3 Music Theory Fundamentals Every Singer Needs to Know:

xbw-young-girl-at-piano.gif.pagespeed.ic.lAKfhFC1wsYou’ve probably heard them before, the glib one-liner’s about singers, especially sopranos, being terrible musicians. If you are an opera singer like myself, you may have heard worse. Operatic sopranos have long-standing reputations as Divas with large egos, (and bodies), who bellow around unmusically, shrieking at the top of their lungs, sucking up all the excess air in the room with overbearing, unmusical incompetence…

At least, that’s the impression we’re given, especially by people who don’t like opera. I’m sure there are some singers out there who accurately fit that description. However, they are far from typical, and the egotistical opera-singing Diva is a dying breed. In fact, opera singers today, especially sopranos, are held to ever-elevated standards of musical excellence.

Still, there’s a trend brewing with musicians today that don’t read music. Many have no interest in learning any theory at all and think it’s unnecessary for their music careers. They have all the technology they need now, to assist their abilities. Why bother learning how to do what good software and a recording studio can do?

…I find this line of thinking very disturbing. To me, this is like deciding to teach Italian without actually learning the language. Sure, you could memorize some beginner lesson plans, fake your way through a basic class or two, especially if you had native Italian speakers as friends. They might teach you a word, or maybe a couple simple phrases. You could pass this off to your students, but you’d have no grasp of the language. You probably wouldn’t know how to conjugate a verb, or even that Italian verbs were conjugated. You wouldn’t know that verb conjugations are multiple, and follow certain patterns that create a number of alternate words, determined by identifying articles, past participles, and a host of other grammatical rules you’d know nothing about because, hey, you don’t need any of THAT to teach Italian. In fact, you probably could pick up the language just by watching a bunch of Italian movies, so you might as well throw the whole lesson book out…

Seriously, budding musicians, especially singers, need to learn the tools of their trade. Music theory is its own language, one that opens and unravels music as we discover it, giving us access to nuances, intricacies, and infinite possibilities. It’s also the roadmap composers use to show us what they’ve intended. We need the roadmap to know how to bring their music to life.

Learning how to read music is not unimportant, it’s pivotal. It’s necessary. And it’s helpful!! Having to memorize everything, or relying on learn-by-ear methods isn’t even accessible for most people. Even especially-gifted musicians who have the rare ability (and I do mean rare) of hearing, and intuitively understanding the music and can reproduce it by ear perfectly, is a musical anomaly. Even those few often learn at least some music theory, if only to help the rest of us poor slobs who have to read music with our eyes and our ears, before committing it to memory or reproducing it accurately. Because music theory is also the roadmap we use with each other to ensure we’re all on the same page, musically speaking. It’s the primary form of communication between musicians, which I’m sure is irritating for people who don’t understand what the hell they’re saying.

But I digress…

There are at least 5 music theory fundamentals that every musician should learn. They not only make it easier to understand music, they make it easier on the rest of us who can get impatient at times when musical progress is delayed because someone, somewhere doesn’t know how to count, or find their note, or hear their key, or remember where or when to come in, or that they’re singing sharp or flat, or forgot to follow the Coda back to the beginning, and missed the second ending…it can get annoying.

Here are 5 music fundamentals that every musician should know:

1. The Music Staff & Clefs:

That roadmap I was talking about is what you see when you’re looking at a piece of written music. What’s written is a language called music theory, and its rules and symbols are applied to something we call the Music Staff:

music staff

Each line and space  of the music staff have a letter name that corresponds with a note creating a certain pitch. We’ll get back to that later. For now, we’re focusing on clefs. That twirly thing you see at the front of the staff is called a Treble clef, or “g” clef (the “g” because it circles around the staff line named g).There are other clefs that you should earn, but this blog is too long already. Let’s move on.

2. Time Signatures & Note Value:

Time Signatures are placed after the clef, on the staff, and they determine note value (or time/ beat value), and how much time, or beats, are in each measure. A measure is a space on the staff between two lines. For example:

treble-clef-G-clef

The line you see in the middle of the staff indicates where the first measure ends. The top number of the time signature tells us how many beats (or how much time) is in each measure. In this example of 4/4 time, there are 4 beats in each measure. The bottom number determines what note gets the beat- in other words, the time value of each note. To understand this better, here is a list of notes with their value in relation to each other:

rests-and-notes-how-many-beats

Since each measure in 4/4 time gets 4 beats, and the Quarter Note  gets one beat, then the quarter note gets the beat because 4 quarter notes will equal 4 beats, the amount we need in each measure. This is often the case, however not always, which is why it’s important to learn your time signatures and note values.

3. Musical Scale Note Names:

The other important music fundamental  to learn is the names of the notes on a musical scale. The musical scale is comprised of a pattern of notes that repeat every 8 notes:

notenames

As you can see from the example starting on the note C, seven notes follow, and the pattern repeats. (You may also have noticed the scale uses letters A through G of the alphabet. To start the musical scale with the note A requires using sharps or flats, and would take several discussions filling a number of blogs to explain their key signatures. The key of C has no sharps or flats, making it the simplest place to start and avoid confusion).
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If you spend the time necessary to learn and apply these basic music fundamentals, you will have at least a rudimentary understanding of how things work in music, and what you’re looking at on a piece of sheet music. It also sets the foundation for all the other musical things you need to know if this is your chosen career. I hope this was helpful for some of you. Even if it wasn’t, at least you have something to reference if you need it. Good luck, music lovers and music students!  (You’re probably going to need it…)


 

Just How Much Is That Open Executive Role Costing Your Company?

vacancyOne of your leading Sales Managers just informed you he’s decided to take early retirement and will be leaving at the end of the month. After 20 years in the residential building sales industry, he’s decided to relinquish his highest generating sales executive role for the calmer, leisurely life of world traveler he’s always imagined living. Unfortunately, that traveling starts in two weeks, leaving you little time to find a replacement. This was probably not the Monday morning you were anticipating!  Continue reading →

The Secret

“There is a secret to being a supporter of Bernie Sanders. It is something that totally escapes the thinking of most Democrats and Republicans. It is the mental understanding that Sanders is fighting a war that most people are not.  It is the war between corporations and the people. Unless you are fighting this war as well, you cannot possibly understand how important it is to vote for Bernie over Hillary. This is not about Hillary or Bernie, it is about fighting your real enemies, the multi – national corporations who are trying to control this nation and the world. You ignore this war at your own peril.”        ~ Randolph Greer 

This quote by Randolph Greer really captured me. Lately in my experiences talking with non-Bernie supporters, I have been disheartened at times, because we’re not having the same conversation. Non-supporters are often talking about candidates- how this one stood on that issue, how alike Sanders and Clinton are on votes cast in the Senate, how she’s a woman and it is time to finally break that glass ceiling… Continue reading →