Some days, weeks, months, moments, are hard. And sometimes a song can lift your spirits. Not always, but sometimes!
My whole life I’ve been told to be less. Teased for being upset the boys wouldn’t pass me the ball in peewee basketball..told to be careful with my tone in highschool band leadership training because even though I was right, my tone of voice was judgemental…told to calm down, told it’s not a big deal, told to relax, told to follow, told that all I know how to do is fight and when there’s nothing left to fight I’ll just fall over.
Now I find I’m fighting myself.
All of these memories rush through me when I feel called to stand up for something, and it’s paralyzing. It mixes in with my critical understanding of the world, and I see myself shrinking, being confined, and I want to fight it so badly….but it seems I believe the messaging now. It’s inundating presence has finally seeped through, and I worry if I speak out I’m being aggressive…again.
All of these memories rush over me when I try to create, when I yearn for creative collaboration with peers. Have I been so unpleasant to be around that now no one wants to make music with me? If I were a better musician, more attractive, or just quiet, would they put up with me? Not even would they want me. I’m so desperate I just wanted to be tolerated!
I didn’t used to be this way.
Years of being told to be less, seem to have done a number.
I used to be brave. take chances. I used to take up space.
Why am I believing these memories? How are they serving me? Are they protecting me? Maybe it’s time to let them go, and find a medium between who I was and who I am…a person influenced by passion yet that can taking a moment to breathe and see a bigger picture.
Is this possible?
P.S. On the thought of collaborating, I recognize that in reality it’s likely not about me. Please don’t mistake my vulnerability and insecurity above for hubris that everything is about me. It’s quite possible the fact of the matter is I’m no longer in school and therefore no longer in forced situations with different people all with various musical endeavors to complete. I’m in my 30s, and everyone is busy. If I want to create with folks, I’m going to have to make that happen…and I’m trying, really. But every time something doesn’t pan out it takes me a minute to lick my wounds and get back out there asking folks who are just as busy as me to share their time and energy.
P.P.S. I’m participating in a local baking competition that is a fundraiser for a non-profit here in Pontiac. I’m hella scared. I love baking, and am in the process of turning it into a side hustle, but if you can think of my imposter feelings as a musician (something I have decades of training and experience in), imagine my feels going into this with like actual culinary folk…help!
It’s a Death by Chocolate event, and I’m making some pretty killer cupcakes. I hope they’re good enough to hang with the others’ bakes at the event!
Time and Space
Yesterday I walked past my vibraphone set up and realized I haven’t made music for myself in about a month. This made me sigh. I’m hoping I can find some time and mental space to create this weekend.
What about you, dear reader? Do you find yourself with time and energy to create anything these days, be it musical, visual, physical, culinary, or otherwise?
Maybe this is all over sharing.
Since July 30th I’ve been trying to put together another post to share. In August I came pretty close, but chickened out. I wonder if others feel this feel. It’s like simultaneously feeling strong and weak? Confident and terrified? Intelligent and ignorant? I’ve been told that I come across as very self-assured. It feels so very odd to me when people say that because I know that I am constantly questioning myself, always doubting whether to speak, to act, to write, to perform, to create…I’m so tired of being in this space. It’s exhausting.
To that end, I’m going to try and put some of it out there. I’m going to try and be brave.
I’ve been feeling some big feels lately…like I don’t know what’s next, which for me is terrifying. I’ve been questioning my career, wanting to be an “aritst” but feeling like I’m not good enough for the label. Ruminating on how there are so many injustices in our society, and feeling guilty I’m not fighting for them all, while at the same time coming up against some serious burnout in the field I’m currently in.
I sometimes day dream about running away from it all and opening a bakery. I can’t quite figure out what in my brain thinks being a small business owner would be more peaceful. Lol. (Side note: I do lean towards wanting to turn my hobby of baking into a side hustle. I’m waiting to see how that all plays out with a few projects in motion)
Anyways, I don’t want to burnout…but after over a decade of music school I find that I’m way better at emotionally beating up on myself than taking care of myself. How do people do that self-care thing I’ve heard so much about? What is a, how you say “break?” Seriously though, I take 15 minutes to watch a Sailor Moon episode and eat my lunch, and I’m over here calling myself lazy.
For the record, I’m working on this with professional help, but I haven’t been able to reach a place of peace yet. For years, I’ve believed that I’m not funny, definitely never considered myself attractive, and I’ve always felt like I’m not particularly talented/intelligent. In all of the ensembles and studios I’ve been in, I never was “the best” player. I was always amazed at the brilliance of those around me, my friends especially, and wondered why they let me tag along. As a result, I’ve told myself that my value as a person comes from being a “hard worker.” I had (have?) convinced myself that people only keep me around because I’m reliable, because I “have my shit together,” but not because they actually like, respect, or enjoy my presence. It’s ridiculous. I know. And I’m trying to undo that harmful self-talk, but it goes deep…and well…is a daily struggle.
(Even while typing this, my internal self-talk said “Is it ridiculous though?” Jesus, I’ve got work to do.)
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to perform for a small crowd here in Pontiac with Consuming Arts. We weren’t the main event, but I was stoked to be out there trying to do the thing. During our set, I shared a little more than I think I ever have publicly on the state I was in writing music a while back, and afterwards multiple people thanked me for being so open as they expressed feeling similarly. Fast forward to grabbing a bite to eat after the show. Somewhere between picking a place to sit, and the prime rib sandwich this thought pings in my mind “Why did you say all that stuff, Tia? You’re so stupid and whiny. No one actually cares about you, and now they just think you’re weak and crazy.” Do they? I have no idea? Do I think that about myself? Most definitely. Do I know I shouldn’t think that about myself, and can in fact point to an overwhelming amount of evidence disproving it, but I still feel in my heart of hearts that it is true? Also most definitely.
Maybe this is all over sharing. Then again, maybe it’s an attempt at being genuine in a world full of theatrics. I’m not sure where this is going, but I’m likely to get too scared to post again if I don’t wrap it up soon.
I’m not giving up. I’m not 100%, or really even 50% okay, but I intend to keep keepin’ on. I’m doing the work on myself. I’m exercising. I’m making attempts to be creative, develop relationships, and not think the worst of the world. I need help with that sometimes…seeing beauty around me, recognizing it within myself. But I’m trying.
…One week later…
Back. Only one week this time. That seems more respectable. For now I’m approaching this as somewhat of a public journal. I’ll throw my thoughts out into the void and see what sticks. I’m still terrified of the internet, where nothing ever really dies and to be fat and a woman is a mortal sin, but I’m feeling brave at the moment so here goes?
I’ve been writing music.
I’ve had ideas and instead of letting those ideas sit in my head and dissipate or be squashed by fear of doing the “wrong” thing, I actually played them, wrote them down (electronically of course), and even shared them with a few people. This is huge for me.
I know. Wild, right?
And also…not at all.
As a music educator, I’ve held this stance for about 5 years, but applying it to myself and my own artistic output….that is a lesson that hasn’t really stuck. I’m trying to break down that conditioning within myself though. I may have years and years of training as a technician of other people’s music, but that is not all that I am. I may have finally found my footing as an educator in the place I now call home, but that is not all that I am. Composing = creating I can create. I can compose. I’m a…composer?
That doesn’t quite fit right just yet.
I’ll keep trying it on for size every once in a while, but for now I think I’ll try and focus on the actual creating and growing in comfort with that.
More on teaching and repertoire next time..unless my brain dictates otherwise. In the meantime, feel free to checkout an excerpt of the piece I wrote “Unsure” with my duo partner and friend, Chelsea! Follow us on the socials @consumingarts
…4 Years Later…
Are blogs still a thing? The internet says “yes, but…” and to be honest, I’m not sure I have the mental capacity to go down the rabbit hole of that “but..” Needless to say, I find myself on this website I created, 4 years later, the same and a very changed person. I’ve since completed that DMA I was embarking on, as well as a 2nd masters, and now have a full time job (where I previously worked hourly/freelance) as Program Manager, Social Media Coordinator, and Lead Percussion Teacher for the social change through music program, Accent Pontiac (AP).
The fog of grad school has mostly lifted, but there’s still a lot of habits I formed to make it through that persist. I can’t seem to shake that imposter syndrome, the pushing to constantly be productive (also part of capitalism) is real strong, and ya know that little global pandemic we’re still living through is making’ the old noggin a tad on the messy side.
I’m not sure what’s coming for me. I do not know if my next entry will be in 4 days, or another 4 years. I’m trying my hand right now at finding a balance between Dr. Tia, as the amazing young musicians at AP call me, and Tia just me. I feel like somewhere over the last couple of years I’ve lost who I am as an individual person and artist. I’m looking to find that again. I’ve written some music over the past year. I’ve even shared with a few people. I’m hoping to get more comfortable doing that, and more comfortable being vulnerable.
I think of myself as a fighter, often. Fighting racism, fighting the patriarchy, fighting the dishes that so quickly can pile up, and I think so deeply on things. I get lost in those thoughts. I get overwhelmed at how large the issues facing our society loom. I’ve got so much schooling and even experience under my belt, and I still just feel helpless in the face of it all sometimes…more than sometimes…most times…if I’m being honest. My reaction to feeling helpless for so, so long has been to work harder, to dig deeper, to get up earlier, that if I were just more “on top of it” I could have solved that last problem. If I anticipated better, I could have given the kids a better experience. If I exercised more and were thinner, more people would make music with me. Oop…there’s that messy noggin again. Maybe I’ll make space to get in to some real things here…instead of just fight them. Maybe I’ll find it within myself to be open. Or maybe I’ll run and hide because the internet is a terrifying place for a fat woman…for any woman?
I want to create. Music. I want to perform. I want to teach. I want to be a part of not actively making my corner of this planet a worse place to live.
I’m in an uncomfortable place right now, mentally. Maybe writing will help me through it.
Maybe it will help someone else too.
Another school year, another degree
The Fall semester is here yet once again. Summer has come and gone. This past summer was full of many musical moments with students and performing alike. The camps were fun, the waking up after the sun had risen was arguably even better, but it’s back to that grind of graduate school. This semester is different though. I haven’t announced this publicly anywhere yet. I think part of me was still unsure it was real. But, I’m starting a second masters this Fall as I work towards completing my doctorate at MSU. I am now also working on a masters in Musicology – and very excited about it, I might add…nervous…but excited. I’ll graduate some day, but for now I’m going to dig in and learn as much as I can.
M.I. Concerts – TONIGHT, 7:30PM
The past month has been crazy getting this show together along with the usual hustle and bustle of school, teaching, the election, and just living in general. BUT show day has finally arrived. I really hope you’ll be able to make it tonight, or will tune-in to the livestream (planning to “go live” on facebook). So if you haven’t done so yet, head over to facebook and “like” the M.I. Concerts page so that you can find the live stream later today! I think tonight’s show is going to be a great success, giving those Michiganders who, like me, have a had a less than stellar time since last Tuesday a little reminder of the excitement, possibility, and bonds that Michigan has to offer.
M.I. Concerts is from the community and for the community, Michigan inspired and Musically driven. I hope you’ll join me along with my very talented and hardworking colleagues this evening for some contemporary chamber music in a bar…because that may be a little of what so many of us need right now. The arts and friendship. Let’s celebrate local. Let’s celebrate good beer. Let’s celebrate music. Let’s celebrate the power of just being in the same room with other people. Lets celebrate nature and industry, relaxation and a hard day’s work. Let’s celebrate Michigan.
See ya TONIGHT at the Lansing Brewing Co. (518 E. SHIAWASSEE STREET, LANSING, MI) for the very first M.I. Concerts event at 7:30pm!
Sorry for the recent radio silence on my page here. I’ve been busy!! For those of you who don’t know, I’ve got this really neat project going on that I’m trying to get of the ground, M.I. Concerts. It’s a contemporary chamber music series with a mission is to create and nourish new music through events that are Michigan-centric from the composers and performers to the venues and inspiration. M.I. Concerts brings music to the people by curating events in places like breweries, art galleries, and coffee shops. Please, please PLEASE like the M.I. Concerts page, and share it with your friends! Let’s get some love generated for New Music in Michigan!
The very first (of hopefully many) M.I. Concerts event is next month at the Lansing Brewing Company on Thursday, 11/17/2016 at 7:30pm. Admission is free! Please come out to support the Arts in Michigan, get yourself a wonderfully crafted beer, and enjoy some music created by your fellow Michiganders!
I hope to see you there,
I’m very excited to be collaborating again with Chelsea Koziatek at another one of her Consuming Arts events!
Delicious Food, Wonderful Music, and all local!
Enjoy a meal provided by Red Haven’s locally-sourced restaurant inspired by the performed music. Local composers and musicians include Philip Rice, Justin Rito, Tim Patterson, Chelsea Koziatek, Tia Harvey, Suzanna Feldkamp, Jennifer Pittman, and Sam Davies.
There is a reception at 6:30pm and the dinner will begin at 7:00pm. The ticket cost does not include tax or gratuity. There will be four courses served with paired drinks plus the reception.
Each dish was artisically designed by chefs at Red Haven to accompany the performed music.