Speak Now, Or Forever Hold Your Anger

I’ve recently come to the realization that I’m a very negative person. To be totally honest, I don’t know that I’ve ever had a very bubbly personality to begin with. It may seem so on the outside, but I don’t remember the last time I haven’t had some thought or worry persistently gnawing at the back of my mind. I’m not a confident person. My hair is frizzy and I can never get the back to straighten or curl the way I’d like for it to (maybe in the future, I’ll need to marry a hairdresser so that I have one less thing to worry about). I’ve gained a lot of weight, especially in my face. So now, I don’t even like being in pictures because I feel awful about my eyes disappearing behind my chubby cheeks. I never do my fingernails, so every speck of dirt that gets caught under them is all too visible. My calves and knees are almost as thick as my thighs, so my legs have basically no shape to them. I have bags under my eyes that won’t go away no matter what I do. Let’s also not forget about my incredibly loud and obnoxious laugh, because oh my god, it’s terrible.

These are some of the things that I find myself stressing about at various moments throughout the day. But recently, my world has gotten a little rocked. And this has helped me realize, I am a very negative person. I never realized it before because I had someone who I loved very much and who loved me back. And I was so happy with this person, that I never even noticed the constant negative things I would say. I was happy on the inside, but I didn’t portray that on the outside. I was so distracted by my own happiness that I didn’t realize what I looked like to others. Now that I’m alone with my own thoughts more often, I realize how hard I beat myself up over things I can’t change. I’ve noticed that one small thing will happen, and I’ll dwell on it all day, sometimes longer. That’s not healthy, especially not for someone who is about to have to learn to be on her own for the first time in her adult life. It’s dark, and honestly, that’s terrifying.

So I told myself that I might have the potential to change this.

One of the little things I look forward to every day is Facebook Memories. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I like thinking back to the day my ex took that picture of me playing my guitar on the hood of my car in the Temple Mall parking lot because I heard a song and just HAD to learn it immediately. Or maybe I like it because of the laughs I get at all the cringe-y things I said 8 years ago.I’m a huge fan of memories, and when I was in high school, I used to take a Post-It note every day (this didn’t last but a couple of months, because I eventually forgot about it) and write something that happened, good or bad. My plan was to go back and look at every day the next year and remember “oh yeah, one year ago today I made over $70 in tips in a 3 hour shift.” Little things, but I just like remembering everything.

I keep a daily journal of all the sales I make per day. I set a goal to hit each day, and I usually have plenty of space left on each page (I’m not a very organized person, but I like each day to have its own page, it’s just easier for me to find when I’m trying to look back). So since I have so much space left on each page, I decided to try something. I told myself that every time something good happens, I want to write it down. I thought about going back to my high school routine and writing one thing per day, good or bad. But I wanted to make it different this time. So I’ve gotten in the habit of writing every single tiny good thing that happens. Someone laughed at my joke. I hit my sales goal before lunch today. The lady ringing me up at HEB told me I was pretty. Someone liked my dress and someone else liked my shoes. Tiny things, but still things.

Y’all, I can’t fathom how much better I feel at the end of the day when I do this. I find myself not even being able to remember the little thing that someone did to piss me off that morning. But you know what? My boss said she liked my hair in braids. My best friend told me he was proud of me. I got to have dinner with an old high school friend. I laughed. I go to bed happy and wake up looking forward to the day’s possibilities.

All that being said, some people just can’t stand people who want to help themselves.

Recently, the office where I work changed our hours from 8-5 to 9-5. That’s 5 hours less pay per week. BUT this new way of thinking has me seeing that that’s 5 hours of extra sleep, and really, I’ll take all the sleep I can get. So the day our hours change, I’m talking to my “best friend” and he asks how I’m doing. I say I’m great, because I feel well rested because our hours got cut down a little and I got to sleep a little extra. His response? “That’s not good!” Huh? So he starts going in on how there could be several reasons as to why our hours got cut. Basically implying that it was something that my coworkers and I were doing wrong and that it was our fault. Essentially, turning it into a negative thing. This is just the kind of person he is. He over-analyzes like crazy and sometimes that’s fine. But this particular day, I’d had enough. I asked him to look at it from a positive side with me, a task that has never been easy for me to do. At least I got more sleep, and I feel better! I told him he’s looking at it negatively. And then he responds with “That’s just how you choose to perceive it.”

That’s when I got irritated. I explained the whole situation. I reminded him once again that I’m going through a kind of difficult phase at the moment. So when I try to look at things from a positive perspective, which is hard for me, I would appreciate some help in it. I’m naturally negative, and if I surround myself with negative people, what the hell else is going to happen? Let’s be real. So I let it be known that I was frustrated about that. Because I’m trying so hard. And I don’t want someone else’s negativity dragging me down and making me overthink the wrong sides of situations again. I didn’t-and quite frankly, I still don’t-think I was in the wrong for wanting my “best friend” to be supportive when I explained that I was in a dark place and needed to be surrounded with positive attitudes so that I can work my way up to living on my own comfortably and being with myself all the time, and overall bettering myself. That’s what friends are for, right? I don’t ask for much. I don’t have many days where I have to go to someone and break down on them. I’ll ask someone if they wanna grab dinner or a drink. And if a sore subject comes up, I’ll talk about it. But my main focus is to laugh and to have a good time with the people I love, and forget about all my crap. Because in those moments, none of that stuff matters. The last thing I want to be to anybody is a burden. And I don’t think that asking someone to refrain from trying to convince me that there’s a negative side to every situation is too much to ask, and I don’t think that really even makes me a burden. I’m not asking you to drive 30 minutes to see me and making you feel bad when you can’t, which you’ve already done to me several times since finding out what I’m going through. I’m not asking you to help me financially. I’m not asking you to help me move my things to a new place. I’m just asking you to try to keep a more positive mindset while I work on myself, so that I can be an even better friend. And what was his response to my message?

Absolutely. Nothing.

He opened my message and never responded, a tiny thing that he freaks out on me all the time for, not taking into consideration that I have work and school and I’m going through some emotional issues, and I’m having to work on moving, and getting my crap together. And he leaves me on “read” because I asked him to not drag me down. And every time I’ve messaged him since then, he’s opened it and not responded.

It’s been almost two weeks.

I want to feel bad. I want to look at myself in the mirror and say “Now on top of everything else, you’re a bad friend.” I want to want to apologize.

But I don’t feel bad. I don’t feel guilty. I don’t think I’m a bad friend. I’m the friend that’ll tell you I love you, but still call you out on your crap. I don’t want to apologize. I said those things for me. I was not going to benefit from that negativity, and I realized that and caught it early. And I’m so beyond proud of myself for recognizing toxicity and cutting it off before letting it get to me. If I lost a friend over that, maybe he wasn’t a good one to begin with. I have to come first in my world, especially now. And I’m proud of myself for finally realizing that. And if others can’t accept that, and they can’t understand or cooperate with me when I’m trying to make myself into an even better person, then byeeee.

I’ll still be negative for a while. Like I said, I’m not a confident person. My hair is frizzy and I can never get the back to straighten or curl the way I’d like for it to. But I’m making attempts to fix my hair, and that’s a little step of self-care. I’ve gained weight, especially in my face. But I don’t look so sick anymore. I don’t paint my fingernails, so you can always see dirt under them. But I keep them short and unpainted because of my guitar, and look at that, that’s a talent and a hobby all in one. My calves and knees are almost as thick as my thighs. But they look awesome in heels and a knee-length dress. I have bags under my eyes. And maybe they’re there because I’m always tired. But maybe I’m always tired because I’m a hard worker. And that laugh, blech. But it’s a laugh. And every time I want to cringe at the decibel and the timbre of it, I think of the fact that someone somewhere was able to temporarily make me forget about all the bad things happening, and they made me laugh. Even if it only takes that negativity away for a moment,  somebody had that power (sometimes it’s me, because let’s be real, I can be funny as hell every now and again). And they might have even done it on purpose because they cared and they wanted to see a smile or hear a laugh out of me. So every negative thought I have, I want it to be accompanied by a positive attitude from now on. And if anyone out there is not willing to accept a better me (or a better you, to whoever is reading this), who needs them?

An Empty Glass

Hi all!

Tonight I wanted to talk about a subject that’s very interesting to me: self-care. This may be a bit of a controversial subject for those who know me personally, but I disregarded this subject for many years and the longer I have to think about it, the more I realize just how much of an effect it had on me-both good and bad (don’t worry, I’ll explain).

For starters, I’d like to mention that I have no hard feelings toward anyone who has “wronged” me in the past. If anybody has, it is partially because I allowed them to, and therefore I don’t hold any blame over their heads anymore.

Up until I was 21 years old, my main philosophy was to put others first without any real regard for myself, though I unfortunately didn’t realize this until just shortly under two years ago. My vocal coach doesn’t like the particular sound of my voice. It’s my responsibility to change my voice to fit her preferences. My friend is disappointed with her marriage. It’s my responsibility to make her feel better. Another friend isn’t happy with her job, or her school. It’s my responsibility to make sure that she makes the most out of the job she has as well as all of the classes she’s taking. I have three jobs and a full-time school schedule, but my fiance has to work and no one else can watch his toddler, so it’s my responsibility to either watch him or pay for the babysitter to keep him for two and a half hours while I’m at my vocal/piano lessons. But since I have so many things going on, how am I supposed to find the time to manage the responsibility of taking care of my classes? And my health? And my…what’s the word…happiness? Self-care? Something along those lines?

Since my junior year of high school (and really before then, if I’m being totally honest with myself as well as the rest of you), I’ve dreamed of graduating from Berklee College of Music in Boston. But since it was all the way in Massachusetts, and to be honest, I’m way too close to my mom, dad, stepdad, and brothers (I’d make it more general and say family, but I have family about an hour from Boston as well so that doesn’t really narrow it down), I decided to attend UMHB so that I could be closer to my direct family. For a while, I really did enjoy UMHB, honest. But my second year, I got involved with a particular guy.

Again, I don’t want to use this as a bad situation, because I really did learn a lot from this situation. I learned a new way to love, I realized what my true passions were, and honestly if it weren’t for this situation, I wouldn’t be where I am now. So I don’t want to make this out to be an entirely terrible thing. In all honesty, it was probably for the best. It just did cause a lot of heartache that I wasn’t prepared for.

About 6 months into the relationship, me and this guy and his almost-two-year-old son moved into a duplex together. It was about ten minutes from my mom’s house and only about thirty minutes from my school. How perfect was that?

Shortly after we moved in, we wanted to have said guy’s mother over for dinner. She came over, and as she and I were in the living room with my boyfriend’s son, she mentioned to me that I really wouldn’t be able to move to any big music cities to pursue my dream unless I wanted to leave my boyfriend and his son behind, since he and his ex had a court agreement to stay in the same county until the son was 18 years of age. I was so shocked, that I didn’t know what to say other than “yeah I know, that’s why I want to pursue a career that could keep me closer to home.”

Can someone remind me why the fuck I said that?

This tied me to an unintentional agreement for almost a year and a half. Less than a month after we moved in together, I decided I was going to leave UMHB and pursue cosmetology school.

Again, excuse my language (and absolutely no disrespect to anyone in cosmetology because I know that I couldn’t do it even if I tried-it just isn’t something I ever thought I’d do):

But what the FUCK.

I mean, cosmetology school was cheaper. I would have to spend less money and I could travel a smaller amount of time so I’d be able to spend more time with my boyfriend and, BONUS, I could even watch my boyfriend’s kid more often so he wouldn’t have to pay the babysitter! How awesome!

I applied to a cosmetology school. I got accepted. I randomly decided one day, just out of pure curiosity, to check to see if online music degrees were a thing. This way, I could pursue a degree in what I really wanted, and still be able to take the babysitter burden off of my boyfriend. I decided to Google “online music degree.” And lo and behold, what’s the first thing that pops up? Berklee Online.

I’ll never forget the day I texted my mom (who was not too happy with the idea of me attending cosmetology school–of course, now that I’m no longer blinded, I realize she was only against it because she knew better than anyone how passionate I was about music) and let her know about the online degree program through Berklee. She knew how much I admired Berklee, and when I let her know that I wanted to apply, and that I intended on taking my admission decision as a deciding factor between music and cosmetology, she couldn’t have been more ecstatic, despite some of the disagreements we had gotten into over the past few weeks about me switching schools.

July 24th, 2016, I was accepted into the Bachelors Degree Program at Berklee College of Music. The #4 music conservatory in the US, and I was accepted.

Shortly after I got accepted, I decided I wanted to leave my jobs at Papa Murphy’s, Prima Pasta, and Luigi’s Italian Restaurant (yes, I was working three jobs and raising a kid that wasn’t mine-I figured I owed myself the opportunity to just work one job at a time-I had also just turned 20 years old) and decided to work at Guitar Center in Killeen, TX. I met some of my best friends there, other than one of the operations guys who just seemed to be in a bad mood all the time. Let’s just save a little time and call him Angry Ops Guy.

I worked there for about a year. About three months after I started, my first semester at Berklee ended, and in the two week period between the fall and winter semesters, that guy and I got engaged on Christmas Eve.

What the fuck.

While I was working at GC, my then fiance started working a new job, working overnights every third week. Since we got his child every other week, this meant that every six weeks, I had the child overnight for an entire work week. While my fiance was working, while I was working, and while I was going to school. When I think about how often I nap nowadays, I honest to God don’t know how I managed to stay awake from 7 am every day to about 2-3 am, waking up still every hour to check on my fiance’s son, while also knocking out a full work schedule + commuting as well as a full school schedule. Honestly…how did I do it?

I started feeling neglected. Even when my fiance was home. By the time he would get home, I would have to either go to bed to get to work on time the next morning, or he would get home at about the same time that I was about to leave for work. And it really wasn’t his fault, he was doing the best he could to support us, he really was. But honestly, what’s the point in being able to pay the rent and all other bills for your family, if you can’t even spend time with your family?

Even so, his side of the family always came before mine. Christmas Eve was spent at his mother’s house, because it was a complete necessity to propose there. It wouldn’t have been the same anywhere else? *Disclaimer, it was romantic and all, but I’m my mom and my dad’s only daughter and I sort of feel as though that was taken away from my own family just to please his, who has three daughters and three sons*.

I also don’t want to forget to mention all of the open mic nights that were missed purely based on “I’m too tired,” or “I don’t like their food” or “well I was planning on going to *insert town* with *insert name of person he didn’t invite to my show*.”

The more I realized how much my music and my passions were suffering just to satisfy his own, the closer I became to my friends at Guitar Center-particularly, Angry Ops Guy. Turns out, he wasn’t as much of an ass as he appeared to be.

He started to make me realize how much my music was worth. Those of you who know me know that I am my music, so in turn, he was making me feel amazing about myself as a whole. I tried to shake it off, I really did. But the weekend before I was about to leave GC for a closer job, I couldn’t stop myself, and I blurted out over a drunken phone call to Angry Ops Guy just how much he meant to me. I knew it wasn’t mutual, but I didn’t even have to work with him any more since we were both off all weekend, he was off at 3 on Monday, and I didn’t work til 3 on Monday-what did I have to lose? I would never have to see him again.

“Are you kidding? It’s completely, 100 % mutual.”

Well, fuck.

Long story short, I left my fiance for Angry Ops Guy. Though I felt neglected by my ex, it wasn’t his fault. Judging by the rest of his family, how the majority of them always acted towards me, and how a select few of them still act towards me, I’ve decided to assume that he just didn’t know any better. And that’s okay. I’m not mad at him. I truly loved him and though it’s not in the same way, I always will in the way that I wish him nothing but the best. I could say that he took advantage of me, but I knew what I signed up for, and though leaving behind the child was hands down the hardest part of walking away, I know it was for the best for everyone involved. I’d love to be honest and say that I didn’t cheat, and physically, I didn’t. But to be honest, mentally and emotionally, maybe I did. And though I still care for that man very much and I’m so beyond sorry that it involved hurting him, I’m not really that sorry for finally taking care of myself.

Angry Ops Guy has missed a total of three of my shows in the past two years, and those three were only because he had practice with another band he was playing with (which honestly, is kind of something I take pride in, so I can’t even be mad at it). And every day, he pushes me. Every day, he reminds me that I’m worth something. Every day, he makes me feel recognized and appreciated.

Moral of the story: you can’t pour from an empty glass. I give my all to my relationship with Angry Ops Guy every day, but every single day, he returns it, no question. He loves and appreciates my family and I his, and he never lets me question my worth, my value, or my purpose. And the idea of spending the rest of this life proving that to him finally feels like more of an opportunity rather than a chore.

Sometimes, opposites attract. But in my case, I know in my heart that I’m meant to be with somebody who is just like me, and who maximizes the best parts of me.

Take care of yourselves out there babes, and never forget who you are or what you’re worth.

Wow, $15?!

Hey all!

Those of you who read my last post know that last night was concert night at one of the places I work! We had Taylor Branch and The Lone Star Ramblers open up for Kody West, and we had a packed house! We also featured a raffle for a free pair of Hey Dude shoes given to us by one of the local retail venues in town. That being said, we had several people at the door showing a decent amount of shock when we announced to them how much the cover charge is. I would like to address some of my favorite questions that I’ve had come through the doors on concert nights.

“Ten dollars? Are you serious? Why’s it so much?”
“Three dollars for a Budweiser? Well I’ll never make that mistake again.” (do you mean paying the three dollars for it, or choosing Budweiser? Because ew.)
“Wow, twelve dollars? For real?” *insert exasperated sigh while reaching in the wallet*
“You have to have my ID? I’m not even drinking.”
“You’re really gonna make me go all the way out to my car and grab my ID?”
“You’re still gonna charge us each $12? There’s only like 20 minutes left of the show.”

The thing is, there are so may people out there who are so quick to throw away hundreds of dollars to go see concerts for artists and bands who tour all over the nation and all over the world. People that aren’t going to have the time to sit and talk to you after the show, unless you spend another arm and another leg to get backstage passes, and even then, good luck with that line. But for local artists? And even artists who have toured all over Texas? Why so expensive?

My answers to these questions:

-This was from one of the band members of a headliner once, who came to me to purchase tickets for his kids who were coming to see the show. The band receives a cut of the door, and this particular artist holds more talent in his pinky finger alone than what ten dollars could justify. The people that were complaining about the price to me that night were quickly informed of the talent of the band and the worth of the tickets.
-Seriously…Budweiser? (Serious note though, the kitchen is closed now and the venue has to make some money, too)
-Yes, twelve dollars. You have an acoustic artist that traveled three hours to be here, to open up for the Season 6 runner up on The Voice. You’ll be getting your money’s worth, don’t worry.
-Yes, TABC requires me to see your ID since we do have a bar.
-Yes, TABC requires me to see your ID since we do have a bar.
-Yes, I’m still going to charge you a total of $24 for two people even though you decided to show up 20 minutes before the show is over. That is not in my control, nor is it my fault that you decided to show up this late. If you’d showed up earlier and seen both bands, you might have a better understanding of why we’re charging $12 a head.
-Yes, $15. Think of it this way-$5 to see the opener (who kicks ass), $5 to see the headliner (with 8.1k likes on Facebook alone), and $5 to enter a raffle for a FREE pair of shoes. Not to mention the great night out making memories with friends? Priceless.

In all seriousness, these musicians put in a lot of time and effort. Several of these artists and bands have to work a main job to earn a living–partially because there are so many people that aren’t willing to shell out $10-$15 to see some live music. The artists that are playing sold out shows in giant amphitheaters and huge venues aren’t relying as heavily on one single person. There are people that would rather spend hundreds of dollars to drive several hours to see someone live that either they won’t get to meet, or probably won’t remember them the next day. Not because these big artists are terrible people or anything, but because they meet so many people and have so much going on. Meanwhile, these same people don’t want to spend $15 to see a local artist fifteen minutes from where they live, where the members are some of the easiest people to talk to, and they have excellent memories and recollections of who they met and what they talked about at each concert. We’re too busy maintaining our support for people who don’t really need it, to start building up people we see on a daily basis to the point where they can get recognized and they can eventually work their way up to the sold out venues and amphitheaters.

That’s my biggest rant for working the concerts at the restaurant (second biggest being the few people that act as though they’re better than you because they get to have fun at a concert while you’re stuck waiting on them and getting them beer–I’m not only getting into the concert for free, but I’m also earning money while I do it, so who’s the real winner?). We always have incredible shows and the turnouts get better and better every week. Overall, I really love my job and as a musician, I love getting to meet and talk to all of the different artists that come through. Though sometimes the ignorance/arrogance gets pretty frustrating, I really am kind of a winner at the end of each concert night.

With all that off my chest, please be sure to keep an open mind at the shows you go to or consider going to. The bartenders/door people don’t set the prices and we don’t make the rules, we’re just trying to do our jobs so that a) the band is able to leave each night with the money they’ve earned, and b) if TABC should happen to walk through and started checking for IDs, our venue doesn’t get shut down because we decided to let you through knowing that you didn’t have yours on you. The artists aren’t trying to be greedy, they’re trying to make their money’s worth after all a) the time spent rehearsing, loading in, loading out, and traveling, and b) the money spent on equipment used to entertain the crowds, gas, food, and still making a profit. And last but not least, the venue is not trying to screw you out of all your money, they’re trying to a) make enough money to keep providing the restaurant with great food, the bar with great drinks, and the venue with great music, and b) build and maintain a comfortable and relaxing environment to keep our regular customers, and still build our following and spread the word about our great place to other locals and potential future regular customers.

Thanks for reading, and remember: treat your bartenders, your local musicians, and your local venues with respect. With a narrow mind, it may seem expensive or unnecessary. But if you can look at the big picture, we only do what we do to make our customers, our clients, and our audiences as happy as possible!


P.S. Taylor Branch and Kody West ROCKED last night!!!!! 😉

“Fun”-Filled Fridays!

Good evening, y’all!

As I’m sitting here waiting for my second shift of the day to start, I’ve been trying to figure out what to write about, so shout-out to my other half-who probably won’t read this ;)-for giving me a topic idea for tonight’s post! My weeks usually go something like this:

Monday-Wednesday– 8-5 job, evenings are used for homework and/or practice, sometimes video-posting on my Facebook music page *cough* Bailey Shea Music *cough*. (This is what evenings are used for if I’m not working one of my other side jobs)
Thursdays– 8-5 job, 6:30-whenever: shows at one of my side jobs.
Fridays– 8-5 job, 6-midnight or later: working at whatever concert is playing at my other side job.
Saturdays and Sundays are usually used for family time (if I’m not working), and/or homework, IF the family time isn’t interrupted by pressing due dates for assignments that I didn’t have a chance to get to during the week.

This week has looked a little like this:

Monday: Work 8-5, read about a half of one out of four chapters I needed to read for this week’s school because “I still have the rest of the week, it’s only Monday!”
Tuesday: Work 8-5 (with a Hot Pocket followed by a totally necessary nap on my lunch break), re-read that first half of the chapter because “I forgot what I read.”
Wednesday: Work 8-5, with a Lions Club meeting on lunch (there went a chance to get some homework knocked out, but nonetheless I much preferred the meeting), then practice from 6:30-about 10:30(ish?) with a band of our friends that Kory (my S/O) has been playing with recently (knocked out about a chapter and a half while they were practicing-and yes, that includes re-re-reading the first half of the first chapter).
Thursday: Work 8-5, my weekly gig at 6:30, immediately followed by a mad dash to another band practice about 20 minutes away.
Tonight: Work 8-5, ran home to grab my homework, followed by yet another mad dash (accompanied by some SERIOUS road rage) to my other job for tonight’s concert, which consists of Taylor Branch and The Lone Star Ramblers (the band Kory has been playing with-always a great time to see my dude onstage doing what he loves!) opening up for Kody West! Oh, and did I mention I’ll be doing a bit of harmony with Taylor tonight? No? Because it should be a pretty damn good time.

With everything that goes on, it gets a little hard sometimes with working a full time job, 1-2 side jobs, trying to maintain and build a following for my music and my photography venture, and doing online school, which usually includes about 2 hours worth of required live chats at different times throughout the week (usually when I’m at work, or sometimes a show). Oh, and what’s that other thing…I think they call it sleep? I try to keep a decent balance of that too.

Ideally, online school sounds like a dream for a busy life. And in reality, it is. However, it does get a little difficult when you realize that basically, you have to teach yourself a big part of that. As in you have to have enough self-discipline to basically tell yourself on a daily basis, “Quit binge-watching The Office and get your sh*t done.”

With all this going on, Kory thought it would be an interesting post to talk about how I manage to get it all done every week! This is how:

I usually don’t. I’m terrible at adulting. I’m also accepting tips on how to maintain a busy life. Help a girl out?

Thanks for listening to my ranting (as if it’s different from every other day)!


Picking Up Where I Left Off?

Hi all!

So I started this blog a little over four years ago, and I hate to admit that I haven’t posted on it in almost three- can you tell consistency isn’t my strong suit? Anyway, I’m not exactly sure where to start with this post (or where to go with it, quite frankly), so I’ll just start out with a little history about what’s happened over the last few years, and I guess I’ll wing the rest.

I attended UMHB for two years for a Music Education degree three semesters, and a BA in Music for my last semester. My Theory II class is actually the reason I started this blog, since we were assigned to write a few blog posts for each semester through Theory classes II-IV. I ended up really loving the chance to let out all my thoughts (and sometimes frustrations, see previous blog post “Does Anybody Even Read These Things?”) and I’m sort of kicking myself now for not keeping it going. Over the course of the second and last year that I spent at UMHB, I found myself dreading class every day. No, not “that one” class. Every. Single. Class. I didn’t really fit in with my classmates. I don’t think so, at least. I didn’t have a voice like all the others. I still don’t, and I don’t think I ever will. That became my biggest fear at UMHB. “I could fail my private lesson classes, simply because I don’t have vibrato like every other person here at UMHB does.” Yes. That was a real topic of conversation between my private vocal lesson professor and me, in more private lessons than what I could count on both hands. Side note: criticism-induced tears aren’t exactly great for enhancing vocal performance, either.

I’m not the kind of person that reacts extremely to just any kind of criticism. It’s taken me a long time to really come to terms with the fact that I think I had every right to be upset about what happened at UMHB. I’m not the kind of person who needs a safe space because somebody offended me. Words don’t typically hurt me (I mean Jesus, being the only girl growing up, you should meet the brothers and cousins I had to toughen me up all these years-the words were the easy parts). If I’m doing something wrong, tell me. And if you’re my teacher, teach me how to fix it. I was told in one of my lessons word for word after I got done performing one of my pieces, “I can sit here and tell you everything that was wrong in that performance, but there’s really no point because nothing I say to you is going to get through to you to the point where you’ll make the changes. You can stay for the rest of the lesson and keep performing your pieces for me if you’d like, but I won’t be giving you my input. Or we can end the lesson here and we can start over next week.” I grabbed my bag, I didn’t say a word, and I left Presser Hall in tears.

I’ve spent the past couple of years trying to justify those words. Maybe she’s right. I didn’t have vibrato. I couldn’t just teach myself how to do it. I didn’t sound like all these other people at UMHB with the incredible vibrato and ranges and total control over their registers. What was wrong with me?

The longer I think about it, the easier it is to blow all of that off. I don’t ever want to forget that moment, because those words have become my fuel. What kind of teacher says things like that? You can’t just tell someone to “have vibrato” and boom, it happens. It’s not like that. You take the right techniques that are supposed to enhance those flaws and weaknesses and you teach the student how to engage the right muscles, the right feelings, the right emotions. Who was this one person to tell me that I was basically helpless simply because I couldn’t teach myself a technique that she was supposed to help teach me? Fun fact though: the next semester (and my last semester), I was transferred to a different vocal coach. I was able to access my vibrato at the second lesson with her. SECOND. She quickly became one of my favorite people at UMHB, and one of the only reasons I didn’t want to leave.

Sometimes I wish I had gotten to enjoy the “college experience” a little bit more. Don’t get me wrong, leaving was entirely my choice, nobody took that away from me. But sometimes I do wish I’d stayed. But if I had, what would I have accomplished? A degree in a field that I don’t want to go into? A voice that’s totally different from my natural one? (I’m STILL trying to get my voice back to the way it was before I went through all the classical training. Some of the techniques were fantastic, but I’m just not one of those people that sounds great with a rich, full, “operatic” voice.) I’d probably still be working part-time waitressing jobs and living in an apartment that I can’t afford, an hour away from my family and friends.

I’m now going to school through the online program at the #4 music conservatory in the US. I’m on my sixth (or maybe seventh?) semester, and I actually enjoy the work. I’m able to work full time and play music, and I can alter my class load to fit my budget. The degree programs are so versatile and there are so many to choose from (can I just be like Crawl from “Son-In-Law” and obtain, like, twenty degrees?). I’m currently going for Music Business, but I still get to take classes in production, composition, and all kinds of different topics. I’m taking an Audio Fundamentals for Recording class, which is so frustrating and challenging, that I’ve come to love it-it’s really accessed my competitive/perfectionist side, and I think it’s even toned down my procrastinator side (trust me, this is NOT something you want to wait until the last minute for!). I’m also taking a Legal Aspects in the Music Industry course, which has been awesome so far. I’m only 4 weeks into this semester, but it’s gone over copyright, publishing, etc. If you’d told me while I was at UMHB that I would eventually be studying law, I would’ve called you nuts (ewww, “law?” Boringggg).

Berklee Online has been so great to me. I took a Concert Touring class a few years ago which I was also crazy about. Care to venture what the final assignment was? Go to a concert. Yes, I was literally graded to go to a CONCERT for my final assignment/grade (I’ll make another post about Chicago and The Doobie Brothers live in some other post eventually, because WOW).

It was supposed to be a short and sweet post, but I guess I actually did have a decent idea of what to write about. Hopefully the upcoming entries can come to me this naturally, too! Thanks for reading, and let me know what you want to hear about!

How do I end this?


Hold Back The River

My second blog post assignment this semester was to analyze a contemporary song and how it uses different aspects of theory to emphasize it’s meaning and even affect the impact it can have on the listener. The song I chose was “Hold Back The River” by James Bay. I love everything about this song. This song is about taking our attention away from all the chaos and stress that we face every day and just taking time to really focus on the people we love and care about, and spend time with them.

This song starts out with a vi chord in the verses, but with a recurring exchange between the minor vi and the major IV in the verses, it almost sounds as if it’s being pulled towards a major tonal center. The major IV chord is very prominent in this song. In fact, the chorus even starts with a IV chord. Though there are several different variations of chord progressions for the chorus, in each possible option the IV chord resolves to tonic, determining a real key. A minor ii chord is even thrown into the bridge to really deceive the listeners.

I think my favorite theoretical aspect used in this song is the use of various registers and timbres in the artist’s voice. Both verses, the first chorus, and the first bridge are in a lower octave, presenting a relatively calm mood. The instrumentation for the first verse is very simple, just a little guitar and very light percussion. His voice isn’t necessarily quiet, but you can definitely tell he is holding back (no pun intended). The instrumentation gets a little louder in the second verse and he starts to use a little more air in his vocals, producing a stronger sound. The second chorus is the same melody as the first, only it’s an octave higher. The instrumentation continues to pick up a little more, and he uses the same vocal strength he used in the first verse, but he throws in a falsetto-sounding timbre, providing a vocal quality that almost sounds sort of vulnerable. After this chorus, he goes into the first section of the bridge and he drops down the octave again, using the same calming timbre as the first verse and almost all instrumentation is gone. He then repeats the bridge again but an octave higher, and though this part is in the same range as the second chorus, instead of using his falsetto he goes into full chest voice and sings very strong. After the repeated bridge is the third chorus, still in the same register as the second chorus, but with the same full sound as the second bridge to where he doesn’t sound vulnerable anymore, but as if he’s begging whoever he’s speaking to to forget about everything else going on and enjoy their time together. “Hold back the river, let me look in your eyes; hold back the river so I can stop for a minute and be by your side, hold back the river, hold back.”

This is without a doubt my favorite song. I play this at every gig I do and though I don’t do this song justice, it really gets the crowd going because of it’s powerful message and arrangement.


Forever, He is Glorified

Hello readers!

For my first blog post of the semester, I was assigned to write about the Biblical perspectives of music and determine how it should or shouldn’t be used in worship.

There are many instances in the Bible where music is used to praise the Lord. In Chronicles 23:5, David says, “Four thousand are to be gatekeepers and four thousand are to praise the Lord with the musical instruments I have provided for that purpose.” This verse goes to show that even then, people thought music should be used in worship. In my opinion, music is a huge part of praise. When I go to church, usually the first thing that really catches my attention is the music. Being a musician, music can move me and speak to me in ways nothing else can. It can be incredibly touching, and if a song opening up a church service makes me want to raise my hands and sing at the top of my lungs, it’s much more likely to catch my attention long enough to stay very interested in whatever sermon I’m listening to that day. If I hear the same 2 hymnals every time I go to church, it won’t keep my interest long. If you play even just one song that sends chills down my spine and really makes me realize in that particular moment how amazing my God is, that’s really all it takes for me. I wouldn’t want to go to a church service where we don’t all join together at the beginning to sing together and praise our Father together. It’s one thing to all be in the same building at the same time learning about the same God. But there’s something truly special about having the opportunity to communicate and join up together to proclaim our love and gratefulness for our God.

“We sing Hallelujah, the Lamb has overcome.”-Kari Jobe, Forever

Does Anybody Read These Things?

Have you ever gotten one of those jigsaw puzzles that has hundreds of little pieces that all look pretty much exactly the same? Most people start with the corners and the edges, working their way in. For the most part, getting the border is relatively easy. For starters, there’s one side missing on each edge piece, plus it helps that there are usually less outer pieces. But how do you start filling it in with the middle pieces? You have this huge pile of puzzle pieces just sitting there, and some look relative to each other, but others look totally different, yet there’s still really no good starting point.

This is basically how I feel this semester. I’ve gotten a lot of the basics out of the way. Cool. Where do I go from there? The thousand little puzzle pieces in my head are all the questions I have. There are so many answers and solutions I need, but I have no idea which question to even start looking for the answer to. Should I switch from Music Ed to a B.A. in music? How can I get my averages back up from the one exam that I did terrible on at the beginning of the semester? Why do some of these things that we’re so heavily reprimanded for in our theory classes or private lessons seem to work so well a lot of times outside of class? Why do I constantly feel like I’m just a project? Like I need to be molded and shaped to sound and write exactly like all of my peers.

I feel all this pressure about having to open my mouth to half the size of my face when I sing, and how I have to have vibrato or I’m going to fail. A vi chord can’t go to a V chord in theory, even though I’ve used it plenty of times in my four and a half years of guitar playing. iii chords are heavily frowned upon by a lot of people, even though I can’t count how many times I’ve played a G-bm-em-C progression and it’s worked. It’s the relative minor of the dominant, why shouldn’t it?

I feel like we are being limited. We’re told to be creative when writing compositions and be ourselves and be expressive when we sing or play. But how can we be creative when we have so many guidelines telling us what to do? How can we be ourselves if we’re just constantly being told what we’re doing wrong? All this time, I’ve liked my voice and the way it sounds. All this time, I’ve liked the way it sounds when certain chords go to certain chords. All this time, I’ve been creative with my music, so how come when I finally decide to pursue a career in it, my creativity gets limited?

I’ve had so much on my plate this semester, along with probably every other college student out there. I commend anybody out there who has control over everything right now. UMHB is an amazing school, but I guess this semester I’ve come to realize my limits are just a lot smaller than I’ve always thought they were.

The “Why’s” of Music

Hello readers!

For my third blog post of this semester, I was asked to write about the “why” questions of my music career. Personally, I don’t believe I really have any “why” questions pertaining to music. I’ve never wondered why I was called to music. I’ve never wondered why I listen to certain songs at certain times. I’ve never wondered why I wanted so bad to learn how to play the guitar or how to sing. I think the main question I have when it comes to my music is “how?” How do I write a song on my own? How do I learn to take an instrument apart and put it back together again so that I’m able to fix my own if something ever happens to it? How in the world do I make time to learn all the instruments I want to learn?

Before my time at UMHB is up, I want to know more about music than I ever dreamed possible. I want to know how certain songs are able to speak to us in ways that we can’t comprehend. I want to know how we can get chills from some songs and not others. I want to know how a song linked to someone or something special, no matter how long ago, can bring back memories that are so vivid to us it feels like it was just yesterday. Overall, I just want to know how music is one of the few things that in some way can speak to just about everybody.

I still have so many questions about my music career. Where am I going? How am I going to get there? Who am I going to be in this world? What will people always remember me by when they hear my name? No matter how many questions I have over this topic, I know in my heart that music will always be my calling, and I personally don’t feel like I need to know why. I’m perfectly satisfied with just knowing music is what I’m meant to do.

Thanks for reading!

Bailey Shea

Music in Worship

Hello readers!

For my second blog post of the semester, I was assigned to write about how I’ve been affected through music in worship. Many times I’ve led my church with old hymnals, and many others I’ve been the audience members. Music in worship is always such an intense, captivating experience for me regardless of which role I play.

This semester, I started going to a church in Belton every Wednesday night with my roommates called Vista. The service always starts with two people leading us all in a song or two and every song moves me. The power of the lyrics blended with the dynamics and emotion behind the music itself, and not to mention the love of God that everybody around me always shares. Every time they play and sing I look around and observe all the other students there. You’d be absolutely AMAZED at how many people have their hands raised, eyes closed, singing at the top of their lungs not caring what they sound like, simply because they are singing for God, and that’s all that matters. This past week, they sang a song called “One Thing Remains,” and I literally had chills all over, and tears in my eyes from the emotion I felt from everybody else in the room. I can’t put into words how amazing it is to see everybody join together to praise our God. I think music is an enjoyable thing for most people as it is, and when you match music itself with songs for a Divine Power, the results are absolutely overpowering. Music is often one of my favorite parts of worship. Maybe I like the way it seems to speak to me so clearly, or maybe it’s the way everybody swallows their pride and shouts it as loud as they can. Maybe it’s seeing how it affects other people. Maybe it’s all of these things together. I strongly believe music is an incredibly important part of worship, because of the way it moves me and others around me, because of the way it brings us together, because of the power it has to send chills down our spine and bring tears to our eyes, because of the way it makes us feel free from everything, and most importantly, because of the message it sends to us to remind us we are loved.