However, If you’re an iTunes user then you can also buy my music there.
However, If you’re an iTunes user then you can also buy my music there.
Here’s an amazing blog written by my sister, Leila Harper. She’s a professional private trainer and if there’s anything you ever wanted to know about health and body healing, she’s the one. I found this blog especially informative because as a guitarist I do suffer from a lot of back pain due to the way I play guitar while seated. So, if you’re a guitarist or simply suffer from back pain then this blog will prove of great benefit to you as well.
“I have a lot of extremely talented and amazing musicians in my family including 2 brothers, a sister in law, Zinnia who’s got a voice like no other and, a brilliant concert pianist for a mother, Professor Nancy Harper. I noticed over the years how my brothers, Eric Harper who is a great guitarist would often practices for hours hunched over his guitar and Kristian who also spends quite a bit of time hunched over his instruments and later would complain of back pain. Growing up in such a musically driven and talented family I had the privilege of not only getting to meet but also to hear many talented musicians playing various concerts around the world, so amazing and a blessing but, a common complaint I’ve heard amongst them is how many of them suffer from back pain because of the hours of practice in seated positions over their instruments. So I thought I’d address the issue and hopefully help to rectify this complaint and feel better by learning how musicians can prevent back pain.
Have you ever given thought as to why posture is so important or why your parents always told you to stand up straight and pull your shoulders back? No, it wasn’t just to be annoying, it was actually good sound advice even if they weren’t fully aware of why. Ideal posture is the position of the body which the musculoskeletal system functions at its most optimum. According to Corrective exercise and high-performance exercise expert Paul Chek“In Ideal posture there exists optimal length-tension relationships between agonists, antagonists neutralizer and stabilizer musculature. Ideal posture encourages maintenance of concentric joint motion and an optimal instantaneous axis of rotation.” Pianists spend many hours during the week in a position that actually is not natural to the body – sitting. The body is meant to move and be fluid but sitting for many hours while practicing your instrument can lead to back injury and pain if not corrected and strengthened.
Bad posture while sitting can lead to a myriad of muscular imbalances including but not limited to what’s called an Upper Cross Syndrome where there is an imbalance between the flexors and extensors of the trunk and lower cross syndrome which creates an imbalance in the lower body. This is often seen in people who spend a lot of time hunched over a computer for most of their working day or musicians who practice for many hours a day. Lumbar disc pressure is increased from 100 which is normal, to 185 when seated bent forward with the hands out. Now imagine what that pressure does to the lumbar spine after many years of practicing the piano?! Ouch! The body is meant to move not sit for such long periods of time.
Strengthening the core is very important because it protects the central nervous system and internal organs. The bony spinal column keeps the spinal cord, the rib cage and the strong outer abdominal muscles act as a protector to the internal organs from external blows or trauma. If the body is exercised correctly the internal organs are mobilized which helps keep your organs from sticking together, improves fluid flow through the organs and helps maintain normal bowel habits. However, when important core muscles stop functioning correctly due to poor diet, stress, or posture the support for internal organs is lessened and their function decreased. When the body is exercised correctly with fluid movements pressure changes occur in the core that assists the heart and the extremity muscles to circulate blood and lymphatic fluid throughout the body. So, if the core does not function well, the heart will have to work harder and the fluids become stagnant.
In addition to doing the right strengthening exercises and stretches for your back it’s important to keep the digestive system healthy with good quality unprocessed or packaged foods due to inflammation of the gut which may also give you back pain. If there is inflammation in the gut due to a poor diet it is unlikely any core work will be effective. Pain or inflammation of the digestive organs (gut) will reflex to the abdominals thereby leaving important stabilizer muscles unable to work properly and weak plus your gut will remain pouched. The body is a whole organic unit that works in concert to keep it healthy and functioning properly. Putting the best fuel into it will help keep the organs, muscles, and joints happy.
Doing the following program for stretching and strengthening will help keep the back strong and happy which leads to better concerts and recitals. The body is a complex machine and there is a lot more that goes into keeping it strong and healthy including doing a proper assessment and addressing individual issues however, for our purposes here I will simply give a few stretches and strengthening exercises to help you along the way to a stronger back and better posture. Stretches should be done at night after a hot shower for those who are really tight and lack flexibility.”
1. Side neck stretch and rotation
2. Pectoral minor stretch (small muscle beneath the pec major muscle that will round your shoulders forward when they get tight.)
1. McKenzie Press-up
3. Prone cobra
Wow! What can I say but “wow”! Did I mention “WOW”!? Ya, it was that good. And a huge heartfelt thanks to everyone who helped me organize this past Summer tour because I couldn’t have done it without you. I mean, 24 shows in 29 days. (That’s not a lot of time for rest and relaxation.) I went through 6 different States and a one-stop surprise show in Mexico. (Yes, that was my first time in Mexico) Te amo México! The fans were amazing. The response was incredible. I sold out of all my CDs before even reaching my last State. But that’s ok because I made up for it in the long run. I got to see old friends. Meet new ones. Hang out with family. Reestablish old bonds. So many fond memories. I grossed over $10,000 in just 29 days. Not bad in my books. (I’m not normally this open with numbers but I think it’s important that other musicians can see the potential for touring). And all of this as a solo act. Imagine what we could do if I added more musicians to the roster.
Which I guess my next goal…
Yes it’s here! My 2nd tour in 4 years! And I’m freakin’ pumped! So let’s get to the juicy details. Here are the dates:
Sunday, June 8th at Justice & Robin’s house in Seattle, WA
Monday, June 9th at the Simmons Residence in Seattle, WA
Tuesday, June 10th at the Robinson-Steiner Residence in Redmond, WA
Wednesday, June 11 at the WA Baha’i History Museum located at 4341 University Way NE # 210, Seattle, WA 98103
Thursday, June 12th at the Bertis Residence in Spokane Valley, WA
Friday, June 13th at the Field Residence in Portland, OR
Monday, June 16th at the Johnson Residence in Rocklin, Northern California
Tuesday, June 17th at the Baha’i Center located at 10213 Foothill Blvd. Suite 100 in Rancho Cucamonga, CA
Friday, June 20th at the Bayat Residence in San Clemente
Saturday, June 21st in Orange County, CA at the Yazdi Residence
Sunday, June 22nd at the Salata Residence in San Diego, CA
Wednesday, June 25th at the Baha’i Center located at 6910 E. Shea Blvd. in Scottsdale, AZ
Thursday, June 26th in Juarez, Mexico
Friday, June 27th at the Menking Residence in Las Cruces, NM
Saturday, June 28th at the Miller Residence in Albuquerque, NM
Sunday, June 29th at the Howell Residence in Hobbs, NM
Monday, June 30th at the Jezari Residence in El Paso, TX
Wednesday, July 2nd at the Welter Residence in China Spring, TX (Near Waco)
Friday, July 4th at the Assaf Residence in Hockley, TX (Near Houston)
Saturday, July 5th at the Parsi Residence in College Station, TX
And though they may have worked just as hard on those songs as they did on their “hit” songs, they somehow hit a special kind of mystical chord with the former mentioned songs. I guess that’s why they’re called “hits”.
In this new digital age where people have the amazing option to choose what song to download the music industry creates greater and greater pressure on musicians to only write hits. But here’s where I think they’re wrong. You see, the way to writing a hit song is to write a bunch of bad songs. Not intentionally bad. Just write a lot of songs. And through the mess and daily practice of writing and writing and writing you’ll inevitably come up with something that strikes a chord in someone’s heart so powerfully that that person will feel inclined to share it with their friends.
And the most important of all, is that none of those hits would have stood out as well if it weren’t for the bad ones. Contrast is what makes a hit. Because if everyone only wrote hits what would then be a hit?
1) The end of a corroded and broken system.
2) The rise of a healthy and empowering-to-all system.
In the 1st, we see things like Monsanto and Walmart. We see homicide overrun in the news. People killing each other for sneakers. We see the Sudanese crisis, climate crisis, drug wars in Mexico and a complete disregard for spirituality through the gross consumption of material things.
In the 2nd, we see the internet and access to free information. Never before in history has humanity been so educated. We see parents educating their kids to see for themselves and not through the eyes of others. If you look at the past 100 years you see that the average life span has more than doubled. The average income has tripled and the child mortality rate has gone down more that 10x. Cost of food has gone down 10x. Cost of electricity down 20x. Cost of communications down 1000x. On a community level we see people stepping out of their comfort zones to do something different…to make a difference.
There’s never been a better time to be alive. If you don’t like Monsanto then you can grow your own garden. If you don’t like being a robot in the music industry you can create your own industry. And it’s so cheap to do it. If you don’t like the school where your child goes because the education is mediocre and banal and shows a blind eye to bullying then you can even create your own school. We’ve never had such freedom before and it’s only just beginning.
So I think we just have to choose. Do we want to remain “safe” in the old system (which is actually turning into the unsafe move) or do we want to be bold and not ask permission to make a difference to someone.
Isn’t it interesting how you can barely know someone at all and yet, despite that, you can still have a profound connection to them. Well, that was my relationship to my grandfather.
We used to call him “Abuelo” (Spanish for “Grandfather”). The reason is that my folks used to live in Argentina before I was born. My mom was pregnant with me. And my brother and sister, both alive and older than me, were already speaking Spanish as their first language.
A difficult pregnancy caused my parents to return to the US. Abuelo, a doctor in a small town in Arkansas, quite unexpectedly delivered me by an emergency C section, when complications with my delivery set in. He later said he thought I and my mom would have died in Argentina. Sure enough, my umbilical cord was wrapped around my neck and was choking me.
As we grew up we would visit my Abuelo and Abuela for the holidays. I remember he loved to cook and would whistle while he hatched his gourmet concoctions in the kitchen. I also remember how much he loved sports. You could always catch him after dinner sitting in front of the TV to watch football.
At dinner table there were only two acceptable subjects: Sports and the weather. Needless to say I wasn’t interested in either of them. And with the limited selection of topics to talk about combined with the infrequency of visits I think that contributed to me not really knowing him all that well. And yet, I was surprised how, when I found out he passed away 3 years ago today, I was so filled with grief and sadness that I was moved to tears.
So, as a farewell gift to him to send him on his way I wrote this song. I hope you enjoy it. It certainly captures the love I had for him and the connection we both had.
I never understood why musicians have to compete with each other in order to “make it”. I’ve always made this argument that art and music are unique on their own and competing doesn’t make any sense. Do snowflakes compete for beauty? No, it’s unique on its own and it’s its uniqueness that makes it even more beautiful.
Perhaps the need to compete back when there were when only a small handful of record labels to choose from was true. But in today’s market, with the internet and free exposure at your fingertips, do you really need to be like everyone else anymore? Be weird. Get lost in your own personal uniqueness.
I think Seth Godin covered it brilliantly here.
“Every age hath its own problem, and every soul its particular aspiration. The remedy the world needeth in its present-day afflictions can never be the same as that which a subsequent age may require. Be anxiously concerned with the needs of the age ye live in, and center your deliberations on its exigencies and requirements.” – Bahá’u’lláh
I never in my life thought I would say this but I’m going to say it here, online, and uncensored and for all the world to read. This message is for all Independent Performing Musicians. And the message is this:
GIVE YOUR MUSIC AWAY FOR FREE!
Whew! Even when I type this I’m scared of those words. I’m so hard-wired to think that my music should be my main source of income. That giving it away for free is not only a crime to my fellow musicians but it also diminishes the value in people’s minds.
Well, I finally get it. And it took me 13 years. Wow! I’m slow. A light bulb has gone off in my brain and I finally see things clearly. Very clearly.
It basically comes down to this: The internet is today what radio was back in the 50s, 60s, 70s and so forth. You could turn on the radio and discover a new band. Or listen to your favourite artist. And it was all free for you as a consumer to do so. Well, now you, the independent musician, have the option to place your music online and offer it for free to all your fans. Isn’t that what youtube sites like soundcloud are all about? And if you made it so easy for them to not only listen to you online for free but made it very easy for them to share your music for free your voice would spread. And I mean it would spread like wildfire.
The quote above tells you that “every age has its own problem…” and to “centre your deliberations on it exigencies and requirements”. This is the Information Age. We just recently, in the past 20 years, came out of the Industrial Age. The exigencies or the needs of this age is for information and ideas to flow naturally and freely. Because information is simply education and education should be free for all and offered universally regardless of creed, status, nationality, race, or gender.
If you have a great idea and share it, it will spread. There are countless examples online that it’s pointless to list them here. And the best part of all this is that music is simply an idea. And if you make great music, it will spread. And to prove I’m serious about this idea, I’m going to be giving away ALL music HERE on this site on the 25th of December. This is my Christmas gift to you. All I ask in return is that you share the wealth.
So now you have to make the choice. Do you want to be ubiquitous or obscure?
According to Amy Cuddy in her TED Talk your body language can actually shape how you feel and think about yourself. In her talk she asks the question “Can power posing for a few minutes every day really change your life in meaningful ways?”
She then goes on to prove, scientifically, that if you stand like Wonder Woman (that would be Superman for the dudes) for 2 minutes every day you can actually increase your confidence by 20% and also lower your stress levels by 25%.
I tried it and I have to admit, it actually really works.
So, even if you’re not feeling confident and you’re down in the dumps, try it out for 2 minutes for a few days and see if you don’t start feeling better about yourself.
Step 2: Charge $35 per song submission. (Entrants can submit as many songs as they want but each song costs $35.)
Step 3: Set the award to $10k in cash and merchandise. (The merchandise is critical because not only do most musicians want and need gear but you can get these same gear companies to endorse your songwriting competition by telling them about the amazing exposure/tax write-off they’ll get.)
Step 4: Tell all your musician buddies. (Get testimonials from famous musicians. This will add credibility to your competition.)
Step 5: Once you’ve accumulated $20,000 keep $10k for yourself and announce the winner. (Voilá! You’ve just made $10k.)
Step 6: Repeat every year and the more entries you get continue to raise the winning amount and thus increasing your income.
Songwriting competitions where you have to pay to win something is gambling. On top of that who’s to say one person’s song is better than another’s? The arts are such a relative and personal thing that the only person who we should be competing with is ourselves. The person we should be seeking approval from is also ourselves.
I’ve won my fair share of songwriting competitions and none of them have increased my fan base. Nor have they increased my income or my popularity. They were just a nice boost to the ego but nothing tangible was ever gained from them in the end.
The financial odds are much more in your favour to start a competition than to actually try and win one. And sure, we all want to win in this life, but winning over our lesser selves will prove to be much more rewarding in the long run than to win over someone else in a crowded and soul-robbing songwriting competition.