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Saturday, June 20, 2015

Summer Playlist 2015

Summer 2015 playlist

It's been a while since I've done a playlist. My last one was about a month ago for a guest post on Jingle Jangle Jungle. So I'm happy to be back home sharing some favorites for the Summer! There's something special in that moment when you're cruising around town and you turn on the radio to hear "your song" playing. Suddenly the resonating melody and the sunshine carry you away into another world. And that's exactly what this Summer playlist is supposed to do.

The process of choosing music for a playlist forces me to think about what I listen to in terms of differentiating what I like and why I like it. This particular playlist has required me to focus on more of the popular music of right now, which according to this article is becoming increasingly difficult for me. It's like kryptonite! These days the jams are hardly recognizable to me, but I still managed to get yet another mix of older favorites and what's in today. I hope the list can be appreciated by most.

Knowing that one is getting old hurts. I'm now committed to listening to the radio a whole lot more in order to keep my musical whits about me. But I need help getting caught up: Tell me what songs I'm missing out on in the comments. Or send them to me on Twitter @love_kristyn!

P.S. Grace Potter is my spirit animal.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Last Minute Genius and The Best Band Practice Ever!

ideas inspiration band practice
I've already explained my lack of inspiration of the last couple weeks. Thankfully I've learned it is not uncommon for creatives to have a sort of ebb and flow when it comes to specific projects. I have been assured that I'll be back to writing like it's nothing in no time. Until then I need to keep working on making the band experience the best it can be at the moment. I did have a little stroke of genius last night at band practice which made for an amazing 30 minutes. Maybe me dull streak is coming to an end - yay!

Queens Over Kings is performing on Saturday as the entertainment for our neighborhood block party. Glam, I know. But it gives us yet another chance to have fun, share what we love, and practice being in front of people. And we need to practice that just like practicing our music. There are different ways to deal with being on stage. For example, finding your own confidence. Last night a performance exercise hit me that is as much clever as it was effective in taking our stage presence up a notch.

Cover songs are easy to do which is why most bands start out this way. The audience knows the music and so you get the expected responses. The less easy songs are original compositions. I've been working on this specifically as the "eye candy" of the band (not my words). Last night's rehearsal focused on our three original songs and how we could make them more fun to play. We played each song individually in three rounds:

Round 1: Find the Groove - Identify what it is about the song that is the easiest to hear, identify with, dance to. Have only the necessary instruments play, no more than two, and practice reacting to the beat.

Round 2: Connect with the Crowd - Add another instrument and practice looking out into the crowd. How would you acknowledge someone that has found the same groove as you or invite someone in to your groove? Make eye contact as much as you can without being creepy... Sing directly to an audience member, nod in their direction, smile!

Round 3: Be One with your Band Mates - Have each member of the band choose another member of the band to practice looking at or dancing with. Be silly and over the top so you get used to being open and flexible, and keep trying whatever comes to mind.

Randomize, rinse, repeat, and you have perfection. You know what they say, "You play how you practice." At the end of an intense half hour we were sweating from playing hard, smiling from having fun, and totally satisfied with how cool our songs are. This is a huge improvement from just two months ago. I'm so looking forward to this weekend and getting the audience going!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Opening Act for Jamie Grace

It should be no surprise that we're a religious crew. Among our long list of influences is Christian Contemporary music. We like to keep it clean and family friendly :) A few years ago we were able to perform at the WGTS 91.9FM Family Fun Festival. WGTS is a radio station in the Washington, DC area focused on playing music the whole family can listen to, especially keeping it safe for the kids. The headliner that year was Jamie Grace. She was a new artist with a well-known song titled "Hold Me."
Jamie Grace WGTS Family Fun Festival 2012Have you ever dreamed of opening for someone whose music you cover? We did once and it was as surreal as you might imagine. I remember walking up to Jamie, shaking her hand, and thinking "Omg omg omg...She sings the song we sing... It's her song!" I wanted to bust out with her in harmony right there. Totally should have. Next time.
Jamie Grace Opening Act 2012Queens Over Kings family band
Queens Over Kings WGTS Family Fun Festival 2012Queens Over Kings 2012
Queens Over Kings Jamie Grace 2012
This was way back in 2012. Look at how little the kiddos are! Have you ever met someone famous/you admire? Share your stories!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Loren's Tips for How to Be Confident

Hope everyone is having a good weekend! I've got another guest post for you which I am surprised and excited about. This time I brought in Loren, my "baby" brother and bassist for Queens Over Kings. He's wise beyond his years talking about how to be confident. See you Tuesday when I talk some updates!

how to be confidnet

There will always be a time when we are consumed by nervous thoughts running through our heads. Think big speaking projects, playing instruments in a performance, or simply introducing yourself to new people. These things tend to draw a lot of premeditated thoughts even if you’ve prepared. Anxiety can easily set in and we start experiencing the stereotypical “bad things” that normally give us the feeling of dread before we present ourselves. Where did all our confidence go? What do you do in that moment? As a person who doesn’t like to be, let alone want to be, the center of attention, confidence can be difficult to find. Today I thought to share how I gain and maintain confidence, specifically when I’m on stage with Queens Over Kings. 

Confidence was never my strong suit. Obviously I’m a musician, but that doesn’t mean I’ve mastered the feelings of being on stage. I’ve definitely had those moments where I’ve messed up a rhythm or missed a note thanks to nerves. Oh, and school presentations? Yeah I’m not really good at those either. I’m pretty sure that everyone has had an issue with confidence at one time or another. My most recent trial of confidence was while working on one of our songs, “Always (All Ways).” For a change of pace it was recommended that I do a bass solo. Now I do not volunteer for solos in the first place, so this was new to me. I am fine sitting on the back line. But I had to do it. I just didn’t know how.

Reaching the point where you decide how to be confident is important. However it’s not always easy to do again and again. It might be easier if you find what works and then do it every time you need it. I've got a few suggestions.
  1. Listen to Music - Of course I'm going to suggest this one. Choose a song that either calms your nerves or gets you pumped up. I was always confident in my abilities without putting them in others’ faces. But the bass solo? I just didn’t feel like it. I started to focus on lyrics from our first original song, “Lock & Key.” I can’t count the ways, but I sure can count the miles... Basically it hit me that if I was comfortable with my talents standing in the back, then I should be comfortable up front too.
  2. Portray A Positive Attitude - Come up with a confidence pose. Think about a pose in which you feel the most important or confident. It sounds silly - believe me I thought it was too - but it’s something Kristyn says makes a big difference for her. Maybe something similar would work for you.
  3. Pick A Place - Pick a quiet room or “happy place” that you can make yours. I often go to my bedroom. It’s the best place to get away from everything (and when sharing living space with 12 people you have to find a place to hide somewhere). Your happy place could either be in your house, or maybe it’s out back under that one tree. It doesn’t really matter where it is, what really matters is whether or not it makes you feel comfortable.
My bass solo is a work in progress but I’m becoming more comfortable with it thanks to time and trying to do better with self confidence. I’m realizing that I can’t sit around and do nothing because I have something to contribute too. I consider confidence a life saver of sorts because it makes a final product that much better. You earned success after all the work you put in! Best wishes to all of you lovely people out there. Think of these ideas next time you have to go out there and remember that you're awesome. I hope this message brought some form of confidence to you.

self confidence

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Kristyn here. I'm really good at Googling, dreaming, and thinking outside the box. Someday I'm going to save all the puppies and perform on a Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade float.

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