Playing Tip: RELAX and Just Be You

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This is a shorty so here goes.....

In the world of music and being a musician, performer, composer and teacher, I often see people who are trying to play like someone else. I’ll admit, I’ve fallen into this trap as well especially as a performer.  I remember times in the not so distant past, trying to play didgeridoo like this person or that person and falling flat on my face. It’s a special brand of self-torture I think we all engage in from time to time. Especially when we find someone who excites us so much we want to do what they’re doing. The truth is, we can’t do what they do, in the way they do it. And we shouldn’t. It leaves little room to find our own voice. I think there are a couple of reasons why we engage in trying to play like someone else. One is healthy and the other is not. It seems the healthy way is to play like your hero so you can use these skills as a springboard to explore your own voice and gifts. The unhealthy way is to keep playing like your hero in hopes of sounding like them. Enter the special brand of self-torture of feeling so unsatisfied with your own playing that often times you feel like quitting. So what can one do to get out of this trap if we find ourselves in it? I offer this tip.....

Just sit for a moment, let yourself breathe and your mind relax and then, when you really feel ready, just let yourself simply play your instrument and truly love what you hear.

That’s it. It’s that simple.

We live in a complicated world where we feel that to make things more complicated than they are is the way to success. The harder we work at something, the more we feel we’re accomplishing something. Actually, the opposite it true. If we can get ourselves to relax into what we’re doing and just love what we are hearing and allow ourselves to be where we’re at (i.e. engaging in non self-judgment or in “beginners mind”) then we stand a chance to finding that voice from within that is trying to express itself through you. This works as much in life as it does in making music. So if you find yourself trying to sound like so and so because the are sooooo cool, you can do that but let it be place where you can use it as a jumping off point to find your own expression.

Nuff said. Now go make some beautiful noise and love THAT!

Peace,

Pam

 

DIDGETREE NECKLACES: THE NEXT GENERATION

 The first two charms made from ironwood

The first two charms made from ironwood

 

 

So eventually this was bound to happen - I started carving the little DidgeTree charms out of wood for the past few days and the results are turning out beautiful. I love the idea of working with natural materials that are available all around me. Up until now, I had been working with a material called Apoxie Sculpt which is a two-part epoxy clay that I paint up to look like wood but I have to say, the real deal is so much more satisfying to work with. So, over the next few weeks, I'll be phasing out the Apoxie Sculpt and phasing in the wood. It just seems to make more sense. If you want to check out the available DidgeTree necklaces you can find them in my Etsy shop.

Many thanks and Peace All! 

 

Three Things That Make Me Happiest

I wanted to share an entry from my journal with you. I was pondering what make me happiest and basically there are three things. This is what they are.

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BEING IN NATURE

I am most happy when I'm in nature. At the moment, nature is the most honest and real thing to me. I don't mind being around people but sometimes I pick up energy from others and I don't always know how to let it go. Or i feel like I'm being silently judged for whatever reason. I don't feel that with nature. I can just be me and it's alright. There are no unnecessary judgments in the forest. Just pure isness.

 

 

 

 

 

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BEING CREATIVE

The second thing that makes me most happy is being creative. THIS is what i live for. The act of creating is balancing, centering and whole. It's my meditation. When i'm creating, all of the energies (human and otherwise) converge into the timeless now. Nothing else matters. What comes out of it can either be appreciated or not. This doesn't matter either because I love what I do and I put that love into what I do. It's the only way I know how to operate when it comes to creating. The high I get off of it is intoxicating. 

 

 

 

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LIVING LIFE SIMPLY

The third thing is living life simply. This is the best way I can think of to be. It's also what keeps me clear on what I really want from life. To really know what makes me happiest. I've never needed anything fancy like a big house or an expensive car or stocks or sparkling jewelry. It's all pretty but I'm just not into any of that. I'm perfectly happy sweet music, a candle and a stick of aromatic incense. A great cup of tea is heaven. A plate of yummy Indian food knocks it out of the ball park for me. Listening to birds, smelling the forest, a great conversation with a friend, walking barefoot, wrapping a cheerful scarf around my neck, all of these are some of what I love. Even just thinking about the things I love makes me smile because it's enough. It can all be very simple if we let it be.

So what makes you happiest? What really turns your crank? It's totally worth it to take the time to find out if you don't know yet. And if you do know what it is that makes you happy, just do that. It only makes sense, right?

Take care everyone!

Much Love,

Pam

Easing Work Flow: Six Simple Things I'm Learning from Didgeridoo

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When I practice, perform or record with didgeridoo or work on making a didgeridoo, I can be really focused on what I’m doing because I enjoy it so much that nothing else matters. But then there are those times when I can get so caught up in the "HOW AM I GOING TO GET ALL THIS DONE??!!" mindset that it nearly destroys the joy I take in being a creative entrepreneur and artist.  This is a leftover mindset I learned in my many other past jobs where I constantly had to think ahead, multi-task and hurry through the work. In short, I've become a bonafide workaholic. Can you relate?  If so, here are six things that didgeridoo is teaching me to help keep things simple and make my workload a little easier.

1. Just relax and do what's in front of you

Just this alone is a game changer. Practicing of didgeridoo (or any instrument for that matter) helps to narrow the focus to what you are working on in that moment by breaking things down into manageable, bite-sized chunks. 

2. Don't worry about the "how"

I can relate this to learning circular breathing. The more you focus on the "how" of anything the less likely you are able to do it because the mind can get so wrapped around the axle in thinking how it all "should" work. If this happens just go back to tip #1. 

3. Just simply enjoy what you’re doing in the moment

Who knew you could learn this from a hollow tube then transfer this experience to your work life? Focusing on the joy and experiencing the benefits of playing has helped me to enjoy the more tedious tasks of my business by focusing on the benefits of those tasks instead of thinking of them as odious. 

4. Take your time. Breathe.

This is a BIGGIE for me and it may be for you too. In this world, where we hurry to accomplish as much as we can, we can end up missing the whole point of doing the work in the first place. Learning to use breath with didgeridoo has taught me to simply hit the pause button and go outside for a break. 

5. The best work will get done in its own time

And not a moment before. Working on songs for didge (or any other instrument) is a process that really can't be forced when you're doing your best work. This is the practice of patience and just knowing that the work will get done. 

6. When you finish, you have every right to pause and smile for a job well done

This is pretty self-explanatory but sometimes in workshops I have people take their right hand and pat themselves on the back for getting through a workout. You've worked hard to finish the job so why not give yourself a pat on the back for it? You earned it. 

So there you have it. Six simple things you can do to help make the workload a little easier. In my own practice of these, I find that some are easier than others. For those that are a little harder for me, I stay patient and just know, eventually, I will get there when the time is right. It's not always easy but it's getting easier as i begin to shake the work-a-day mindset. Feel free to share some of your ideas or observations in the comments below. I’d love to hear them. Also, if you find this helpful, share it with your friends. Especially those whom you think may be workaholics. 

Many thanks for reading and take it easy

Love,

Pam

P.S.CALL TO ACTION! If you really liked what I have to offer here and want more of it, consider hoping over Patreon and supporting it by becoming a patron! Your contribution helps to bring more articles like this, music, videos and so much more! Thank YOU!! Smmmmoooch! :-) 

REDISCOVERING VISION: GALAXIE MANDALAS AND THEIR BEAUTIFUL EFFECT ON MY LIFE

I started drawing at the age of three when I drew my first horse with crayon. Many of us can remember this about ourselves - how we endeavored in art or music as a way of expression. After a long absence, I'm getting back into drawing beginning with these. I call them Galaxie Mandalas. I've been drawing them for a few years now but have only recently started to pursue them in serious practice. Like all other mandalas, they have been a source of meditation for me. they have also been a source of pleasure. To be able to step back after a few hours of work on these, it's really sweet to see what transpires on paper. 

These two Mandalas are the beginning. The one with all the curls doesn't have a name yet and has been more of a practice session in drawing on a larger piece of paper. But the one with the feathers (which is still a work in progress) has been medicine for me. This has been a powerful experience drawing this one. The eagle and owl feathers, the thirteen circles arcing towards the corners and every little dot have meaning to me. It's the wisdom of owl, the power of eagle, the Thirteen Grandmothers and all of the tiny dots that are all of Us who inhabit this planet. 

Later on down the road, I may consider lithographing or somehow making copies of these for purchase so others can enjoy the visualization of what could be. But for now, these photos are a small sampling of what is transpiring in life (in addition to music of course). If you think you would like a copy of one of these, do let me know by sending me an email. If I get enough response then I can make some limited edition copies for folks. Also, feel free to leave a comment below. I'd love to hear from you!
Many thanks and much Love Everyone,

Pam

NOTE: The quality of the photos don't really do these justice in capturing the subtleties or the softness. For that, I apologize.  

The Shaman Child

The Shaman Child was originally written in March of 2016 as a song, as prayer of finding one's way back to remembering who they are why they came here. It is my song and prayer and I believe the song and prayer of many in this moment. May you enjoy, find connection and be inspired by it. It is for all of us. If you wish to support more work like this along with the music, please consider becoming a patron. It helps me to bring more work like this to the world. I thank you and send you blessings! 

 

She is my teacher, my guide. But I left her in the forest long ago for a foreign life that I was told I wanted. I did not know what damage I would do with this action – this neglect. Sure, I would check in on her from time to time and find her sitting there, covered with her blanket. She seemed to be chanting. It seemed a very private moment to me so I left her alone......and continued my journey. Numb. Unfeeling. Indifferent. It’s been very long for me - full of sleepless nights of questions of “How” and “Why?” Trying to figure my way through troubles. Falling down  Getting up. Falling down again.......I am very tired.

Now, that existence is falling apart, crumbling like a wall that can no longer bear its own weight. I am uncertain and sometimes scared. I want to run away but feelings of responsibility linger even though I don’t know what I can do. I don’t want to be covered with the dust of this wall and die choking. I become still and I hear her voice calling me. I go to the forest now and I am walking and walking until I find my way back to my child. She is there, this Shaman Child, sitting and chanting, wrapped in her blanket. I become still again and listen. I hear her song. It is a prayer. A prayer for me to come back.

My heart splits and opens and I feel the softness within. She feels my presence and stops. She stands up and faces me. We look at each other for a moment. Silent. She is dirty faced, scratched and messy haired. She has bruises here and there and her clothing and blanket are tattered and torn. But she is a beautiful child – this Soul that has been aching for my presence. My energy. She is at once, afraid, strong, loving, angry, wary and weary. But she is forgiving.....

She looks into me with her clear eyes and conveys how much she has missed and loves me. She trusts that I will stay this time and opens her arms to welcome me back. The softness inside me makes me go to her. We fall arm in arm and hold each other. We cry together in relief.....in union....in Love. There….in the middle of the forest…..

      We are here.

             We are Blessed

                      We are Love.

                               We are home…..

 

Pamela Mortensen,  27 March, 2016 (revised 3 March 2018)

Four Things You Can Do to Ease Your Music Practice

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So, there you are practicing your instrument and BANG things start to go south. Fingers aren't going where they want, lips aren't doing what you want them to or your voice slips into an intonation that could possibly be used for an alien movie soundtrack. So you try harder but it seems like the harder you try the more bound up things get. F.R.U.S.T.R.A.T.I.O.N! We've all been there so here are four easy things you can do to help ease things up a bit.

  1. Breathe in slowly and breath out slowly three times. Be aware of breathing low feeling like your filling your belly like a balloon instead of using your shoulders. If your shoulders try to horn in, just relax them. 
  2. Bend over and let you arms hang and relax. Then very slowly come back up while you observe your breath. If you are older and feel you can't bend that far, do your best. The important part is breathing. 
  3. Shake your hands, arms, feet, legs to shake all the tension out. Just let it all go. 

Now, go back to your instrument or singing and see what happens. Chances are you'll feel a little more relaxed. You'll breathe a little better and breathing through what you're doing often helps you get through that snag. 

So, what happens if these don't work? 

4. If you find that things still aren't working, just stop what you're doing and go get a cookie......Seriously. 

Ok, you don't have to eat a cookie but stopping in the middle of frustration and letting things go frees you up to come back to it later on. Don't let anyone fool you into thinking that you have to keep going. You don't. Knowing when to stop is as an important part of practice as the doing. Here's why. It will give your body and mind the time it needs to process the techniques you're learning and it gives you time to calm down so when you come back later, you'll be a little bit better at what you're practicing. 

So, these are a few of the things I do in my own practice. I hope you find them helpful in yours. Let us all know by sharing your experience by leaving a comment below! You never know what others may find helpful. 

Happy practicing and keep making beautiful noise!

The Power of Music at Work

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Like many musicians, I have often been hit by muse, sat down, made or learned a piece of music and have come away feeling lighter and more at ease with the world. It’s really easy for me to get caught up in the creative fire of things, grabbing my power tools (i.e. a didgeridoo, Kurzweil keyboard, mixer and microphone) and pushing my sleeves up and going to work. I love that! My McDonald’s bred work ethic kicks in and bam, I’ve got a song. But what happens after the fact is where I run into some difficulties. Trying to “sell” people on the music has always been a wall that I’ve consistently run up against.  Like any other artist, I am not a natural born marketer and have to really work at trying to get it right. I try to list the benefits of the music I make when I'm releasing new work or works but often it comes off sounding like the sell job I'm trying to avoid. That’s where this article can come in to kind of explain the deeper purpose of what I do and hopefully communicating it in a concise way. So here goes. 

So what do you think of when I say “the power of music at work?” This was something that came to me when I was writing my Patreon bio the other day and I thought “this is an interesting phrase.” We have all heard the phrase “the power of music” but the “at work” part is something new. Music really is a workhorse of an art. I can’t think of any other art that has the power to move on all levels the way music does. That’s not saying other arts don’t have power, they do but music seems to be more powerful for us than most. It's in the background working away affecting us even when we're not aware of it. It's that tune that gets stuck in our heads and makes us smile every time we hear it. And it's that mantra that generates a calm and sane energy in a world that is all too often chaotic, crazy and disconnected.  I know from my own experience, playing and learning music at early age has helped to keep me connected to my essence or my higher self. I can solve problems a bit better and I can function a bit better after playing or composing for an hour or two. When I don’t play music for lack of time or whatever the reason, I get cranky. Seriously. I know many of who read this and who play music can relate. This is what I mean by “the power of music at work.” Here is how I can best sum it up:

Music is the kind of art that rolls its sleeves up and digs around in the dirt to help grow a garden for the mind and soul to thrive in. It grabs a screwdriver in one hand and a hammer in the other to help build a better home, a safer home by providing shelter for the spirit. It’s the rhythm that moves the body and spirit to dance our dance and the melody to sing our songs. And it’s the warm blanket that wraps around us to comfort and soothe us in times of despair, vulnerability and sorrow. It reaches in and grabs us in many different ways and helps us release the joy, the anxiety, the laughter, the pensiveness and all of the other thousands of ways we can feel. When we hear our favorite songs, we are moved into feeling better. When we play music we love, we experience connection with ourselves and others. When we feel better and feel that connection, we function better  and when we can function better, we can tap into our own power and clarity and open the gates to let creativity and imagination flow in. And when we can open the gates of creativity and imagination, there is nothing we can’t do. This is why I make music. To help both myself and others create a safe and inviting space to transform and transmute our world into a the place we would rather live in.

I honestly can't think of a better way to be of service.

Many thanks for reading! If you wish to share this, please do. I really appreciate it.

Be well,

Pam

Postcards From Mexico

This past October, I traveled to Mexico City to attend and participate in the 4th annual Festival Mexicano de Didgeridoo y Trompeta Maya. I had an amazing time meeting so many warm and welcoming people, seeing a part of the world I’ve never been in before, hearing so much beautiful music and feeling the sweet vibes from everyone who was there. If there is a single festival centered around didgeridoo I can recommend going to for sharing, learning and just plain loving, this is it. 

The festival is the loving gift of Omar De la Tejera, a gifted and devoted didgeridoo player, teacher and crafter from Xalapa, Mexico. I met Omar a couple of years ago when he came to America to attend the InDidjInUs Didgeridoo Gathering in Oregon. The deep love affair with didgeridoo and its vibration that Omar expressed then was (and continues to be) inspiring. It’s because of Omar and his vision of healing and opening the heart in a part of the world that has so many challenges that I found myself traveling to Mexico to be a part of this festival. I'm glad I did. 

Among the people I met are amazing spirits like Liliane Soares from Brazil who is inspiring a movement of women didgeridoo players at the same time inspiring a collaboration between feminine and masculine energies for a more balanced world. Didge Sisters Tania Veetmaya, Tania Moonsarat and Karo Nacho who played their music with a beautiful vibration that gently touched the spirit. Camilo Para from Columbia an amazing multi instrumentalist and teacher who's sense of humor is infectious. Markus Meurer from Austria, who played with his bandmates, Szabi (on jaw harp) and Döme (beatboxing) from Airtist that had us all dancing and celebrating with such an enthusiastic energy I thought none of us would ever come back to earth. Szabi’s beautiful partner Kristina, who wrapped us all in her sweet energy and presence. Anabel Hernandez who’s magical presence and divine love helped me to balance while I was starting to get sick towards the end of my trip. Thank you my Sister for your light and love and for taking the time to meet me at the airport to say farewell. And our amazing hosts Eduardo Castillo and his roommates, Anna, Juan, Miguel and Vlad who were so generous and so welcoming in sharing their home with those of us who traveled from afar. I can't thank all of you enough! 

There were so many other amazing players, teachers and crafters from Argentina, Mexico and Columbia who came and shared their gifts with us. Sebastian, Elias, Carlos, Javier, Havo, Denisse, Matias, Marianna and so many more whose names escape me at the moment and who all shared their wonderful gifts of experience, warmth and generosity. I can easily say I left a much richer person having met and heard all of them. Thank you!

As I mentioned before, Mexico, like many countries, is in a time of great challenge and change. It's a beautiful city in many ways even though there is still so much struggle economically, politically and education wise. I appreciate the chance to be there to witness the struggle and be a part of a group of people devoted to helping to transmute it.  This is what playing didgeridoo, or any other instrument for that matter can do - providing connection through music.  Many, many thanks to Omar for his vision and for having me to the festival. It really means a lot and I really look forward to coming back!

See you all next year!

So, I thought I would share with you some of the photos from the didgeridoo festival and trip. I hope you enjoy these postcards. Many thanks again to everyone who helped to make this journey possible. I’m honored to have been a part of it!

The Patreon Connection: Exploring Online Patron Support

  To connect to my Patreon page just click the image above

To connect to my Patreon page just click the image above

As an independent artist, it's always a challenge to find ways of getting the music I make out there and find support for that music. For musicians, some avenues can include Youtube, websites, CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon Music and a whole host of other online platforms not to mention performing and touring.  Since I've never had the experience of being signed to a label, I've relied mostly on performing, personal connection and a DIY online presence through this website, social media and download sites to get the music out there. I've engaged in subscription services like Taxi (and independent A&R for film music), Music Marketing Manifesto and checked out more DIY tips for musicians than I care to admit. There is a LOT of great information out there but it can be overwhelming not to mention time consuming. Since the massive changes that the music industry has undergone over the last twenty years or so, there is no shortage of an ever-evolving plethora of avenues for content creators to get their work out there. Patreon is one of those avenues.

I heard about Patreon about two years ago while taking a webinar.  Patreon is a platform where patrons and creators can connect to bring music, art, dance, comics, great ideas or what have you to an audience. It's kind of like Kickstarter but instead of funding one project, Patreon is an ongoing effort where patrons opt in at "X" amount of dollars a month to support creators in their ever day work.  This great news for creators and independent artists because it smooths out and otherwise sporadic, if not unreliable, income base that most creators experience. So, if you're an independent artist or content creator, you may want to check out Patreon as a possible avenue for your work. For patrons, it can raise some question like:

"This sounds great but isn't it a bit like online begging?"

If a creator works things right on their profile page then, no, it wouldn't be online begging. The reason why are the rewards that patrons get for their money. These rewards can vary greatly but ultimately, it's up to the patron to decide if they are worth contributing to. This is where the term ROI comes into play. For those of you who are not really into economic speak ROI is "return on investment." There is considerable investment on both sides. From an creator's standpoint, the investment is time, effort and thought that goes into making a viable package that hopefully appeals to potential patrons. It's also the time and effort into making doable deliverables (i.e. music downloads, high quality photos, helpful blog posts, tutorials that help patrons, etc).  From a patron standpoint, those deliverables have to be worth it and on time if a timeline is specified. If a creator can't deliver then they run the risk of losing patrons and gaining a bad reputation. The end game is that creators and patrons work together in bringing more art into a world that can definitely use it. This is especially vital now in a world that is changing so fast and can be very stressful. 

I've been on Patreon now for almost two years and have learned some valuable lessons, the biggest of which is maintaining a consistency. I admit that I am not the most consistent or willing marketer of my wares on the planet but getting a patron here and losing a patron there has taught me that being consistent in getting content out there and letting people know about it is vital to success. With that said, I've been taking some time to focus on narrowing things down to a few avenues to bring in a more consistent income with the music I make and I've chosen Patreon as one of those avenues. This is because it gives me a different way of getting the music out there. For example, the "traditional" way of buying music has been through either purchasing a CD at performances or online or downloading albums on the web. The way I've worked Patreon however, is for $5 a month, patrons who have signed up can download a new song each week. Just prior to releasing these songs, I will put out a video of the piece in my patron feed so patrons can hear it. It's simple and easy and folks who have signed up can get the music before it's available anywhere else. If you can't afford $5 a month then I also have a $1 a month tier where you get featured videos, tutorials on making music, photos and blog posts on didgeridoo, composition, creating musical content and more (the $5 a month tier gets all this too plus the weekly downloads).  Patrons can adjust their contribution to fit their budget and can opt out any time.

I have no idea if this strategy will work. It all depends on how all of you like to get their music. I know some of you will really be into this and some of you would rather buy a CD or a download. But it's one more way of getting the music out there. The pledges I receive from Patreon has so far have helped to maintain a web presence but I would like to do much more. Some of my goals are to purchase musical instruments for ever expanding creative ideas, upgrade equipment to bring better quality sound to album production and to grow my audience through email, ad purchases and memberships. down the road, I would love to start creating multi-media events with a message. More on that later. All of this leads up to to the end game of putting the best quality music I can out there to help make this a better and happier world for you, my audience. I know it sounds a little cheesy but this is my ultimate ROI. As an independent artist, I can't really think of any better way to  be of service. 

Thank you so much for reading this. I know it was a long haul but I hope you find this information helpful either as a supporter or as a creator. I'm grateful to those of you who have signed up already or who have found other ways of supporting the work I do. I seriously couldn't do the work without that support so thank you, thank you, thank you! I really appreciate it! 

If you want to check out my Patreon page you can do so by clicking here or the Patreon logo above. If you found this article helpful or if you have any other questions , send me an email at didgegnome6@gmail.com and let me know. 

Many thanks and take care Everyone! Peace!

Your Didge Servant, Pam