The last week we’ve been on tour with the band Altitudes&Attitude. Joe plays the drums on their Europe tour. For most of the time we’re even touring with Slash from Guns n’ Roses featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators. It’s been an exciting week. Being in another city every day and seeing the life of a touring musician first hand. Of course Joe and I were traveling and sleeping in our van (Super comfortable!) and even though I wasn’t on stage performing I was an important part of the group because I helped setting up the drums and filmed all the backstage but also on-stage material.
I had been a bit confused at the first day of the tour which was basically the rehearsal day. After helping set up the drums and having filmed a few clips I felt like “the wife of the drummer” and not an artist myself anymore. That was very strange. I felt useless as a person since I had nothing to do while the band was making music. So I decided to leave the room. Luckily there was a little Café with huge windows, so I sat down with a coffee and enjoyed the sunshine on my skin. I felt better already. And then I decided to be more than what I felt I was in the rehearsal room. I wanted to be creative and work towards our goal to create our own music and play it all over the world. So I stole a napkin from the neighbor table and started to write and within a few minutes the whole napkin was full with lyrics (ironically about how I can’t write lyrics). This made me very happy. To create. And as much as it seems to be part of an artist to always doubt your abilities, these moments also show me how much I need to trust in myself and the creativity that literally wants to come out of me.
– When I prepared for the entrance test of the conservatory I created a greeting on my phone for myself (at that time I didn’t have a smartphone and that was something you could customize – how time changes). The greeting was “You really got the music in you!” This way my phone would remind me of how it was inevitable that I would study music. It would find its way out. One way or another. –
After the rehearsal day the tour really started and I helped wherever I could and started to love this whole way of living. Get up, drive into another city, eat, set up, sound check, discuss last details in the dressing room (What should I film? Should I make a picture in front of the audience? Is there a specific part in the song I should focus on bass/drums/guitar/singer? Etc…), play the gig, put all the gear back into the van, eat, go through video material, take as many food and drinks from the dressing room as possible (Best part! – It’s free!) and crash in the van tired and happy. Repeat next day. I loved that. Having a purpose and the purpose is to bring music to the people.
Another huge thing I realized at this tour is that I love Rock! I never thought about that but the more I think about it the more it makes sense. I was sitting in the audience room listening to the band sound checking and sometimes they would play AC/DC and Tom Sawyer by Rush (I first thought it’s a female singer, but Joe told me it’s actually a man! Oops…) to test the speaker and I was just blown away. I don’t know much about Rock music (even though my Dad is a huge fan) but every song they played was just awesome to me. I told Joe that we need to do Rock music. He was surprised but happy. He did so much Rock music in his career and I can learn so much from him. I told him to show me everything he knows about Rock. I started reading the Wikipedia article about Rock music to get a basic understanding of it but they’re so many different styles of Rock music. I found a radio channel that is playing Classic Rock all day and I’m addicted. Whenever possible I’m infusing that music into my ears.
It just all makes sense now. I always said even though I’m studying Opera singing that I like Pop music. But I was also often bored by Pop music because it was following patterns a lot and many songs where alike and the lyrics not very inspiring. I listened to Hip Hop but also couldn’t do that non stop. R&B, Soul, Jazz, Opera… I thought maybe I just need the diversity. I always thought that Rock is something for men with long hair on motorcycles. That’s why I never considered it could be my music. But since I’m listening to it I feel all the energy that lies in the music. I was standing in the Zenith in Paris watching Slash and the band on stage and said to Joe “I wanna do exactly this!”. It’s like Pop music but harder with all the musicianship in it. Musicians show their talent on each instrument and it is about exactly that. It’s about creating and being an artist, a musician, and NOT about playing the most comfortable melody so that the song gets the highest ranking in the charts. It’s not supposed to be smooth. It’s supposed to be rough and inspiring and make you think and make you move! It’s all I ever searched for in music!
All the times Opera directors where telling me I should do less on stage they where wrong. I was simply on the wrong stage. On stage as a Rock musician it’s exactly what you need. It’s pure energy. I remember when I was 10 singing along with “Highway to Hell” and crazily jumping around on the couch in our living room because I didn’t know where to put all that energy the song set free in me.
Also my interest in artists like David Bowie or Kate Bush makes sense now. I like “different”. I remember as a kid and teenager being fascinated by people with colorful hair (I loved fire red!), tattoos, colorful nails and edgy clothes. I loved this way of living. Not to care what others think about your appearance and just wearing all the things you like.
My image was always the blond, kind, neat Linda who does what she’s been told. I was the nice and lovely Opera singer. I fit into the image and then again I didn’t because something was bothering these Opera agents that they were always careful to hire me. I was different somehow and they didn’t know how. And I was so scared of doing something wrong (I had a great childhood, don’t know where that comes from) that I never stepped out of the line. I went the way of the least resistance which was doing Opera. That’s what I knew and what I was good at. I never needed to work hard for that. That’s also why I feel a bit scared now. Is it realistic for an almost 30 year old woman to start making Rock music? I just started playing the piano again (which is less common than the guitar in that kind of music, but if Freddie Mercury played the piano and wrote great Rock songs, so can I, right? 😉 ) and am not very familiar with even the most popular Rock bands (well, I heard most of their names but I have no idea which song belongs to whom). But here comes my joker: JOE! I trust his musicianship so much and he’s so talented and well versed with ANY style, that we can totally make Rock music. I’m excited to start working on our songs with him. For house concerts of course we need to have unplugged versions, but I’m absolute positive we can make great Rock records. Plus our different backgrounds will make our collaborations even more colorful because each of us brings in new elements. To mix this all together will create super interesting songs that are different and new. And I love different 🙂
Last Sunday we played at the Christmas Concert of the Frauenchor Erkrath in the Stadthalle Erkrath. While Linda has performed in this concert for almost 20 years, it was the first time we both participated together. In addition, it was Linda’s debut performance on the piano (read about her piano preparations in our Blog: Pt.I and Pt.II).
We’re super happy that it went so well and wanted to share two selections from our performance. We hope you enjoy!
One month ago I wrote about starting to play the piano again and I’d just like to sum up my progress.
It’s been very fruitful and fun for me. I practiced the exercises I’d attached to the other blog entry and started to be more precise and strict with myself. Now I’m using the metronome with basically every exercise to refine my timing and to make my scales more smooth. It’s important to me, that the finger change is not hearable while I play. Furthermore I discovered that I would always look at my left hand while I play scales. So I tried to look at my right hand instead and it appeared that I was making far more mistakes with my left hand. My eyes had become a security web. So I started to practice with looking at my right hand. But after a while my right hand would make mistakes if I had looked at my left hand again. So I decided to practice the scales with my eyes closed. So far I’m pretty “fluent” with C-Major and a-minor, G-Major and e-minor, F-Major and d-minor, and currently I’m trying to master D-Major and b-minor.
I also discovered that my ring finger and my middle finger are not bending back anymore. They stay in a nice round shape. Only my pinkies have problems with the round shape. It looks like they fall into some kind of cramp and need to be stiff with the tip bent in to press the key down. But I’m confident, that this will eventually vanish as well 🙂
There is an interval exercise that has been an extra good help for my muscles. I tried to keep my hands as still as possible so that the fingers are doing most of the work. In addition to practicing with the metronome, for this particular exercise I use a timer as well to make sure that each finger gets the same “work-out time”. I started with 30 seconds and now do 60 or even 90 seconds per finger. It seems like the “posture” of my fingers evolves on its own through that.
I remembered that I had some exercises from my piano teacher at the Conservatory and I was able to find them. This is like a next level. I’m attaching them for everyone who likes those kind of finger exercises. For me practicing is almost like meditating. I love it!
Beginning in 2009, the “Lokalzeit Düsseldorf” (a local news program broadcasted in Düsseldorf and surrounding areas) has followed Linda during her studies and the start of her singing career. Most recently, they have produced a video about the two of us; discussing our unique story and our plans to travel and perform throughout Europe!
We hope you enjoy
Recently I started practicing piano again in preparation for our gig on December 16th.
I started taking lessons when I was 5 or 6 years old and stopped when I was 13 or 14. My mom says that I was really good and if I had continued I might now be just as good on the piano as Joe is. Parents tell you that you will regret stopping the lessons at that age of puberty when you’re just too lazy to practice. No kid will listen of course because they are the ones who have to do the work. But in the end the parents are right. Every adult who learned an instrument and stopped playing it at a certain age regrets it afterwards since they know what they could be capable of now.
I guess I’m proud to say that I am taking a turn there now. Instead of thinking about how good I could’ve become and feeling sorry for myself I’ve started to practice and re-learn the piano. I have some exercises that I created for my piano students last year and now I am the one benefitting from them. I figured it’s not enough to just learn the parts for the concert. I want to train the muscles in my fingers and slowly build up the skills to really play the piano. Now I am practicing every day and often an hour goes by without me even realizing because it is just so much fun! That was so different when I was a kid. 🤔
For anybody who feels inspired to do the same, below is a link to a PDF-file with some useful exercises to build up the muscles and independence of your fingers. 😉
Yesterday we saw Bohemian Rhapsody (in Germany it was released on Oct. 31st so we got an early start 😉 ) and we really, really liked it. The movie shows how Queen came to be, grew bigger, and particularly how Freddie Mercury evolved throughout this whole time. We liked how the movie tastefully hints at certain details (such as the crazy parties and Mercury’s sexual life) without being too graphic. It focuses on the music and the development of the band members and the characters around them. It was great to see how the dynamic of the band was on stage as well as in the studio, and even in private as friends. I also thought that it was a very interesting choice to let the movie start and end at the Live Aid Concert in 1985 (which by the way is an exact copy of the original; every movement was recreated just as it really happened!). Some information about Freddie Mercury’s life after Live Aid and his death (1991) are mentioned during the end credits next to pictures of the real Freddie Mercury.
Still, this movie is very inspiring since it shows how hard and passionately Queen worked their way to the top of the music industry. I was reminded of a quote by Quincy Jones who said, “I think you have to dream so big, that you can’t get an ego. ‘Cause you’ll never fulfill all those dreams. There’s always more to come and learn.” In this movie you continually see Queen attempting to reinvent themselves and do what had never been done before. Not only is Freddie Mercury (with his extraordinary taste in clothes and powerful stage presence) a huge part of the creative process, but also Brian May, Roger Taylor, and John Deacon. All of the band members needed each others input and were searching for that extra bit of different that made their music so exceptional. The whole band and their dynamics are portrayed in such a likable way, that as musicians, we left the cinema full of gratitude to be able to do the best job in the world.
It’s a fun movie with a lot of touching, entertaining, and funny scenes. It also features top-notch actors (who seemingly play their instruments) and of course many selections from Queen’s extensive catalogue. If you’re a fan of their music, you’re sure to enjoy this film!