The Music Sparkle ✨🎶

Caffeine and Confidence

I do love my cup of coffee in the mornings, in fact I have two cups in the morning. Not huge cups of coffee and not strong coffee but I do love my caffeine fix. If you follow me on social media you probably know that I absolutely adore a skinny cappuccino and that’s a real treat to have one of those.

Confidence, well, that’s something I’m not so good at having on a daily basis. Some days I get up and I feel like I can take on the world and other days I wonder what on earth am I doing following a dream. Shouldn’t I just stop messing about and get a ‘proper’ job? The inner dialogue is incredible at times. Isn’t it amazing how we can talk ourselves in and out of doing things? Things become harder than we thought they would be so we say ‘oh well, this is too much work and for what, I’ll probably fail’ but what if we succeed and we have given up with the finishing line in the distance but just out of sight?

I have waivered over the past few months with the music career. I found researching the music licensing quite difficult. There was so much to read, so many takes on what should or shouldn’t be done. Thankfully I had decided to join the Musicians Union https://musiciansunion.org.uk/ some months ago and it was one of the best things I have done so far in my musical journey. The information is clear and precise and there is a lot of helpful information. I have also availed of some of their free webinars which have been invaluable to me as someone who has never been in the music industry before. I discovered which organisations I needed to join and why. I decided that rather than trying to do a little bit of everything at the same time, I should tackle one task at a time, in order. I was getting overwhelmed with everything, losing focus and getting downright confused. Taking things a step at a time worked for me.

I joined PPL https://www.ppluk.com/ which is the UK music licensing organisation and started to make my way through the membership process. The website is easy to navigate and again, lots of useful information. It is free to join (which is a bonus) and I know a lot of people would just tick ‘I agree’ to the various agreements you need to complete and sign but I have to read each one, every single term and condition and if I didn’t understand one I would research it. In my head I kept saying that with 130,000 members everything must be sound, I still had to check. Must be down to my prior roles in international law firms and my accountancy training. I just had to check. However, this became a long drawn out process for me. So much to read and research. Then when it came to completing the forms it was decision time. Did I want UK and Ireland or Worldwide? If I wanted to include Europe, France have a different music licensing system and I needed to select which one I wanted to collect royalties on my behalf. More research. I got that far and left the process for a while…

When I returned, my membership process had now split into three parts; performer, audio and video. More terms and conditions. At one stage I thought I had made a total balls up of the process and rang the membership enquires line. The lady I spoke to was fabulous. Very helpful, very friendly and she was interested in my story. I continued with the process, submitted everything and 24 hours later I received the emails to confirm that I was now a full member and licensed to play my music and videos containing my music. Oh my goodness, the excitement is unreal. It was so worth digging down into the research and learning about what I was doing. I also received my ISRC tag which is the unique identifier for each of my songs so that PPL can collect any royalites due on my behalf. And this is where I return to confidence. All through this process, which took me quite a while on and off, I wondered what I was doing and why was I doing it. When the memberships came through it gave me a huge confidence boost. I was a step closer to getting my music out there, to launching myself as a musician, a singer, a songwriter, on the world. It gave me the boost to start believing in myself more.

The next step is uploading my music to PPL and also choosing a music aggregation company in order to make my music available for purchase and streaming on the various music platforms. I had a look yesterday at ‘uploading your repertoire’. Let’s get the coffee on and I’ll come back to that!

Never underestimate the power of caffeine and confidence.

With love and sparkles xxx

The Music Sparkle ✨🎶

Confidence

Photo taken 21 2 21

Last year I really pushed the comfort zone and did three Facebook live performances, two for thirty minutes and the final one for an hour. I was nervous, scared, excited, thrilled and I thoroughly enjoyed each one. I had between twenty and thirty people watching the lives and afterwards the saved videos had hundreds of views and such wonderful, encouraging comments. During the lockdowns of 2020 and 2021 I regularly did a ‘Happy Monday’ chat on Instagram. I didn’t chat about anything in particular. A little like my blog, I would just chat away about whatever came to mind. Again, I would receive numerous messages telling me how I brightened up a day, or I made someone laugh or just that they enjoyed the chat as if I was just chatting away to them. All good, I was delighted and then it all stopped and I have no idea why. Was it because life started to open up again and there was less time spent at home? Why did I no longer have five minutes to chat, ten minutes to record myself singing a song and post it online? Or did I just stop believing in my ability to do these things?

Note to self.

I admit that the weight I gained over the last six months of last year did not help me with getting out there singing. I’m not a super confident person but I can blag it and appear confident and then I get into my stride and I’m ok. However I appear to have lost the ability to even blag it. As you may have read from previous posts I have taken my diet and fitness in hand and I’m getting there. I have so many plans in my head for the things I want to do yet I always find an excuse not to do them. My hair isn’t done or I’m not wearing make up so I won’t sing into the phone. That didn’t stop me in 2020, I just did it. I have my self penned songs recorded and I have chosen one to release as a single. I want to get some professional photos done for the single artwork and just to put out there to promote my music. I have researched photographers, video makers, music aggregators and music licencing and yet I have done nothing about these things. I’m wondering what I am afraid of? I know this isn’t any easy profession and I know I have to work hard and I’m not afraid of that. I love singing and from the feedback I get, people love me to sing. I can visualise myself up there, on a stage singing my heart out and being so happy doing it, yet I’m scared to actually do it. Is it a case that I am more comfortable with the dream than actually making it happen? The thought of actually taking the steps to make this dream come true fills me with delight, excitement and sheer sparkle and yet that little voice of fear saying ‘what makes you think people want to see/hear/listen to you’ is getting more attention in my brain than the positive thoughts.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

I really do want to sing it out with my whole heart and soul, I want my moment in the spotlight, I want to see and hear people singing and dancing along with me. I want to share my music, I want to give people happiness, a giggle and to make them feel good. So, I suppose I really do need to get out of my own way and make things happen. Ok world, get ready, I’m coming…

With love and sparkles xxx

The Music Sparkle ✨🎶

Gone Live

I can’t believe it’s been two months since my last post, the time is flying by and as usual, busy, busy days. It sure is correct that the older you get the faster time goes and surprisingly even in these days of lockdown and restrictions, the time has passed very quickly.

Anyway, I was planning on writing a post about how my first FB live session went and I still will include this information and also tell you how the second FB live session went. Yes, I’ve done two!! Go me and pushing the comfort zone in all directions.

My first ever publicity poster!

I was so excited when the lady that runs The Virtual Club Bar group on FB sent me the above photograph for sharing the event. It was really happening. The day before the event I managed to get a bit of a cold with a sore throat. Typical. I drank lots of honey and lemon and a few Lemsips to ensure I had some kind of voice on the day. Oh I was nerve wracked the thirty minutes before I went live. I was so excited and so scared. I pressed the “go live” button and that was it, I was on. I had selected eight songs and I started off with the first one and although I couldn’t see comments I could see lots of hearts and thumbs up floating across the screen which helped so much. I knocked my microphone over half way through but I kept going. I do have a habit of losing myself in the music and forgetting where I am in a song and that happened to me during “I’d Really Love To See You Tonight”, I kept talking, restarted the backing track and off I went again. I have often said to my lovely vocal coach that my USP will be the audience wondering if I will come in on the right note, at the right time and if I can remember the lyrics because I do drift away into a world of musical daydreams.

Celebrate Good Times Come On!

By the time my 30 minutes was up I was nothing short of exhilarated, I’d done it, my very first gig in a virtual kind of way. My throat just about held up to the last song. It was well received as I was asked back and I did another 30 minutes, without microphones falling or forgetting where I was in the song, on March 14th and I was delighted with the comments and feedback. Somehow I managed to save this particular FB live session to my phone and I have uploaded it to You Tube so if you have half hour free at any point, tune in and let me know what you think.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WlqpXf1z_vo&t=23s

The Second Poster.

I have been asked back a third time this time for an hour on Sunday 25th April at 5pm so I am currently working on my set list for that. “Rose Garden” appears to be a firm favourite for people and I’m going to start including more Country and Irish songs as I get more confident. This has been great practice so far for when I may be able to take to an actual stage. The head will be gone off me with nerves when I get that far.

Praying and Manifesting.

Singing is something I always wanted to do and never ever thought I would. After a career in Industry leading to the Corporate world and then giving it up to be a carer for Mom and Dad, I never allowed myself to think that I could make this happen. Yet here we are. I didn’t give up on the dream, I pray, I push myself, I dare to feel the fear and have a go. What have we got to lose but a bit of pride if things don’t go as planned. I know I will regret not having a go at this. I love singing so much, my guitar playing is coming along and I receive such lovely comments from people that it spurs me on. Never ever give up on your dream, you can manifest it, you need to work for it and you can do it.

With love and sparkles xxx

The Music Sparkle ✨🎶

Music Diva

It has been a while since I blogged about what I’m doing with my music. If you don’t follow me on Instagram or FB you won’t have seen my various leaps of faith over the past year. You may remember that I had started to learn to play guitar. My sessions were very start and stop due to my caring role and then the sudden passing of my parents last year. I returned to the vocal coaching and guitar sessions towards the end of last year. Just before lockdown was imposed here in the UK, my guitar tutor informed me that he felt I was ready to attend an acoustic night and feel the waters of performing live. I was happy I was finally at that stage of my learning and I was also so scared. The thought of actually getting up on stage to sing and play guitar…absolutely terrifying. And then came lockdown, great weather and the gardening.

Leap of faith time.

As lockdown ensured all live gigs were cancelled, social media, especially FB, was alive with people performing. Singing, playing instruments, comedy sketches, art work, you get the drift. I decided that now was the perfect time to try some of this for myself. How hard could it be to sing into the phone? Actually, it was nerve wracking. The number of times I had to say to myself “you don’t have to post this online, it’s just a practice run”. Sometimes it took hours to sing and record a song. I would lose my way in the song (sometimes I get carried away with the melody and forget the lyrics). Sometimes I forget to come in at the right point in the song, sometimes I sing in the wrong key. I can tell I’m going to be a very interesting act when the time comes.

I made a start and my first effort sounded ok (I’m terrible at self praise), I looked like a statue on the video. My friends all gave very positive comments and messaged me to say “why aren’t you smiling?” or “why aren’t you moving?”. It was difficult enough for me to stand there and sing into the phone, remember the lyrics and come in at the right point of the intro never mind move or smile.

However, each song I sang I became a little more confident. I shared my songs to various groups on Facebook and I was blown away with the amount of views and lovely comments I would receive. I started to receive messages with requests and I’m making my way through the list. I’m so enjoying that people want to hear me sing!

I have a wobble now and again, a crisis of confidence, wonder what on earth I’m doing, think that I’m not good enough. Then I have a word with myself and tell myself to just go for it, do what makes me happy and if I want to sing, play guitar and be sparkly then I should just do it. It’s so easy to measure yourself against what someone else is doing, or how others appear to get shared everywhere and I’m plodding along. But plodding along is good, I have a lot to learn about the music industry and how it works and what I need to do, the next steps. I’ll get there. A lovely lady once said to me to take the long road up the mountain, the scenic view, it’ll be better for me when I reach the top.

Another piece of advice I was given is about believing in myself because if I didn’t, nobody else would.

It’s up to me to do this!!

I have written some songs which I am working on with my guitar tutor. It really is the most amazing feeling to hear the music that was in my head come to life. I’m loving practising the songs on the guitar. We are even talking about getting into the studio next Spring and recording a CD. This is the stuff dreams are made of, well that my dreams are made of.

Find me on https://www.facebook.com/DawnMaxwellMusic

Or https://www.instagram.com/aurora_sparkles/

Not forgetting https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVHLg_2erVoITLESQY5trTw?

With love and sparkles xx

The Music Sparkle ✨🎶

The Show Must Go On?

Well with everything that has happened and is happening in my life, the music has well and truly taken more than a backseat.  I think it’s probably in another vehicle, on another road in a completely different City to me – that’s how distant and disengaged I have been from my music.  Lots of very well meaning friends have said “get back to your singing you’ll feel better”, or “pick up your guitar and strum” you’ll feel better.  I tried. I didn’t feel better.  Music was a huge part of my life with my Mom and Dad, there wasn’t a day that there wasn’t a radio on, You Tube on, Keep it Country on, and all of us singing at one time or another during the day.  We loved the music.  My parents were so proud of me for following my dream but the dream doesn’t hold the same promise anymore.

My lovely guitar tutor on my first session with him recently suggested that we leave my usual genres of Country Music and Irish Music alone for a while.  It could be too sad for me.  So in order to get back to playing guitar and relearning the chords, we’ll try different genres.  Great idea!!  I did the same when I returned to my vocal coach and I sang some hits from the 1970’s. “Cherish” by Kool and the Gang.  “Native New Yorker” from Odyssey.  1980’s and a beautiful song from Sade “Smooth Operator” and a more recent hit from Bryan Adams “You belong to me”.  This was liberating and dare I say it, I enjoyed singing again.

I bought myself a new guitar book which has a range of songs within it.  I printed off some other songs from the internet which just happen to be Country…it would appear I can’t leave Country Music alone.  However, I am sitting a strumming this week for half an hour a day, the chords are returning and the tops of my fingers really hurt again as they harden up with the pushing down on the strings. (I have an acoustic guitar which has metal strings).

I returned to the choir recently although I sat in the back row and didn’t really sing out as my voice is still stressed, it will return in time.  I have lost a lot of confidence.  I know myself I am not the woman I was; confident, independent, fearless.  The trauma of the year so far has stripped me of me.  My confidence has been bolstered though when I looked at my You Tube channel Dawn Maxwell Music and seen that there has been a lot of activity recently with people watching/listening to the few videos I have on there. That made me happy.

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The new Guitar book. Some are way too advanced for me yet but looking through the book I can see quite a few that I do know the chords so I will have a go at those and yes, there are a few country songs in there!

I have been told by many people that if you are into your music, then the music will help you heal.  I’m beginning to think they are right.  If I take it slowly, not push myself, stay away from the songs that break my heart for now, maybe, just maybe it is time for the show to go on.

With love, sparkles and country music xx

The Music Sparkle ✨🎶

Here it is!

I wrote in my blog post yesterday that I would share my cover version of the Randy Crawford classic “Almaz” so here it is…

https://youtu.be/G89N3onMDJY

I’m both excited and nervous about sharing this, there is something a little scary about putting yourself out there but I love singing and I just wanted to share this beautiful song. I really hope you enjoy it.

With love and sparkles xxx