Category Archives: Personal Improvement

Which Piano Skills for Singers course is right for me?

Now that there are FOUR courses live at Piano Skills for Singers, I have been getting a lot of questions about which course to choose.  This quick little list should help you get started choosing the perfect course to help you get secure at the keyboard.  If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to email me at brenda(at) pianoandvoicewithbrenda (dot) com. I’m here to help!

Level 1 is for you if:

  • You have never played piano before
  • You haven’t taken piano lessons in a long time
  • You want a simple starting point
  • You want to get back into a practice routine and regain some technical fluidity

Level 2 is for you if:

  • You have completed Level 1
  • You have piano experience, but there are a lot of gaps in your ability
  • You need to learn how to play chords
  • You need to learn how to create your own accompaniments
  • You need to learn how to play voice exercises in 12 keys easily

Jazz Piano Accompaniment is for you if:

  • You have taken Level 2
  • You are a classically trained pianist and want to learn jazz
  • You want to learn how to play from a fake book
  • You can play chords and you want to play authentic jazz accompaniment

*If you can’t play chords fluidly, you can purchase the “Learn to Play Chords Symbols” course at a deep discount.

Piano Improvisation for Everyone! is for you if:

  • You are a classically trained pianist who wants to learn how to improvise
  • You are looking for a fresh new way to explore your creativity at the keyboard
  • You are a piano teacher looking for a new bag of tricks to share with your students
  • You want to develop your technical fluidity on the piano in a more creative way
  • You are a jazz player who wants to develop a deeper connection to improvisation
  • You are a circle singer or vocal improviser who is looking for a deeper toolkit
  • You are a songwriter or a composer looking for more inspiration

Do you have to be a singer to take Piano Skills for Singers?

Absolutely not!  Although these courses are geared towards singers, anyone would benefit from these well organized and easy-to-use courses.  Sign up now – all courses are 50% off through May 1st, 2020!

Level 1:  $99 NOW $49, Level 2:  $199 NOW $99, Jazz Piano Accompaniment:  $179 NOW $89

If you need help deciding which Piano Skills for Singers Course is right for you, please email me at brendaearle30@gmail.com and I’ll help you!

Take the OMG out of DIY

I know I’m not alone when I say that there are a lot of things in business and life that I have zero affinity for.  I’m not a tech person, my administrative skills are so-so at best and I am not a naturally organized person.  At the start of last year, I made a big list of a bunch of dream projects that I have been wanting to tackle for a long time and I realized that there was one thing separating me from achieving them:  they would all require skills I don’t have.

I considered my options.   I could either:

1.  hire someone to do them or 2. Figure it out on my own.

Not having thousands of dollars at my disposal, I had no choice but to take the “figure it out” route.

Somehow in the last 18 months, I have managed to tackle several impossible-it-will-never-ever-happen tasks in a pretty successful way.  I learned how to record video and audio, how to edit multicamera videos, resulting in a successful online course and dozens of videos posted on my YouTube channel.  I also managed to do all of my own publicity and radio distribution for a new album, which got 10x more press and radio interest then my last album, which I paid a professional publicist thousands of dollars to promote.

Now I’m not bragging (well, maybe just a little…), I’m just trying to promote the idea that if I can do it, literally anyone else on Earth can.  It took some serious elbow grease, and some swearing at the computer and vowing never to take on a project like this again, but even though they felt totally undoable, these projects actually got done.  I’m going to share a few tips on how you too can tackle some of your dream projects in a DIY fashion.

  1. Figure out what skills and equipment you need. 

In order to tackle promoting my new album, I needed to gain some administrative skills that I didn’t have.  I learned that in order to send mass emails, you needed something called a “mail merge”.  For my video work, I researched which cameras and software would be effective and easy to use for my purposes.

  1. Ask for help.

Do you have a friend who is an expert at a skill you lack?  Ask them for tips on how to get started.  My friend Jan is an admin wiz and she was super helpful in answering a few questions about how to get started creating and Excel spreadsheet.

  1. Give yourself lots of time.

You’ll need time to get comfortable as you work through these new skills and you will make a lot of mistakes along the way.  Don’t give yourself a too-tight deadline, as it will take some time to use these new skills.

  1. Take an online course.

As I was getting my mind around learning how to do my own publicity, I heard of a fantastic online course called JazzFuel.  Taught by one of the top jazz managers in Europe, I learned step-by-step to prepare and execute this huge project.  It was time and money well spent!

  1. Don’t forget YouTube.

You can pretty much learn anything on YouTube as there are video tutorials for pretty much any topic under the sun.  I taught myself the video editing software Final Cut Pro using a variety of YouTube videos.

  1. Take notes as you go.

I have kept elaborate records of each step of my DIY learning, from which YouTube links I used, to step-by-step directions on how to do everything from setting up the audio on a video shoot to how to print mailing labels.  I keep all of this in a file on my computer called “How to do things” and saves me hours of time.  You can also make notes on what worked and what didn’t work, so you don’t have to repeat the same mistakes for the next project.

As we move into a new year (and new decade), everyone is starting to think about what is on the horizon.  Consider what you would be able to achieve if you weren’t hindered by the skills that you lack.  What would you accomplish if you could DIY?

Summer Reading List (and my new favorite app!)

One of my goals for 2019 has been to devote more of my time to reading.  This goes along with my digital detox, where I have chosen to spend less time mindlessly scrolling and bingewatching, and finally tackle the massive list of books I’ve been wanting to get through.  I have always been a huge reader (an old boyfriend once looked at my bookshelves and said, “Have you read any of these?”  The answer – all of them)

How am I keeping up this pace?  I am tackling my bookshelf one book at a time, and I have recently become obsessed with the Libby app.  The Libby app is a direct line to read e-books from the public library.  You can borrow and place holds on books and read them on your e-reader.  I replaced the Facebook app on my phone with the Libby app and now whenever I’m waiting in line, taking the bus or sitting at the park while my son runs around, I can read instead of mindlessly scrolling.

(I also snagged 2 free months on Kindle Unlimited, which means I have another place to score the books I need for free.  Yippy!)

My 7 year old son is a voracious reader and keeping him in books was costing us a holy fortune.  So, I downloaded the Libby and Amazon Kindle app and he is able to search and download the books that he likes.  This had made travelling a lot easier, since we no longer need a suitcase just for his reading material. (If only there were an app that covered Legos!). My husband has also upped his reading game, and is now reading some of the books that I have finished.  If this keeps up, we’ll have to cancel cable!

Just for fun, I have posted the list of books that I plan to read this summer, noting which ones I have already read.  I will be adding to this constantly all summer. Long live the Libby app!

Personal Improvement

Daring Greatly – Brene Brown

The Gifts of Imperfection – Brene Brown

The Confidence Code – Katty Kay

The Year of Less – Joshua Becker

How Children Succeed – Paul Tough

Your Money or Your Life – Vicki Robin

Grit – Angela Duckworth

What If This Were Enough? – Heather Havrilesky

Shrill – Lindy West

The Year of Less – Cait Flanders

How To Break Up With Your Phone – Catherine Price

Business

Eat That Frog! – Brian Tracy

Do It Marketing – David Newman

The One Week Marketing Plan- Mark Satterfield

30-Minute Social Media Marketing – Susan Gunelius

Off The Clock! – Laura Vanderkam

168 Hours – Laura Vanderkam

Juliet’s School of Possibilities – Laura Vanderkam

Biography

Becoming – Michelle Obama

Born A Crime – Trevor Noah

Daily Rituals – Women at Work

Q – The Autobiography of Quincy Jones

Good Things Happen Slowly – Fred Hersch

Fiction

Little Bee – Chris Cleave

Educated – Tara Westover

The Perfect Nanny – Leila Slimani

The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Year of Magical Thinking – Joan Didion

Less – Andrew Sean Greer

My Year of Rest and Relaxation – Ottessa Moshfegh

Non Fiction

Gut – Giulia Enders

Sapiens, A Brief History of Humankind – Yuval Noah Harari

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry – Neil deGrasse Tyson