Sunday, August 04, 2013

How much do I practice ? How do I get jobs? How do I find time for family and friends?

About a month ago a guy wrote to me through LinkedIn and asked me a few questions regarding my new career. I decided to post them here on my last blogpost. Now he wrote to me again and I love these questions as they make me reflect on things. I posted his new questions and my answers below. I hope you'll enjoy following our dialogue ;) 


Hey Nina!

Practice, practice, practice. I used to play guitar and one thing that was taught to me early on is if you want to get good you need to practice all the time. Maybe a few mins each day but you need to keep at it so you not only become better but so you don't regress in your skills. Does that apply to you with your music? Is singing something you need to practice all the time? 

How do you arrange for places to perform? Meaning do you approach venues to play? Or do people approach you? Or a bit of both?

This is a personal question so no worries at all if you don't want to answer this one. In between all your practicing, travel, and performing do you find time to keep your personal relationships alive and well? I'm sure artists can sometimes find it hard to keep a relationship healthy and alive when free time is almost non-existent. Have you been able to find that balance between work and play?

Mr X

Hi Mr X,

Ahh, I love your questions.

So to answer your first question about how much I practice and how I keep progressing. Well, you are right. It takes practice to get here, but not only on an instrument or through singing – also through mentally focusing on your goal every day. It is all about telling yourself your are well on the way and you can do this and as you practice a little every day you are keeping the focus too. I don’t sing every day, but I do something every single day to come closer to my goal which is to live of my music. It can be playing my song on the piano, so I am better at singing and playing simultaneously; it can be composing a new song; contacting people who I want to work with; performing at open mikes to test new songs and improve my skill of singing and playing the piano for an audience. I am grateful for my talent and I will do everything I can to live of it. I feel I have been blessed with a gift and I have this to use it. We all have a talent, be it creative or not, but this talent was given to us individually to be used – not to be hidden away as we try to make ends meet through a job that is draining us.

I don’t practice my singing everyday but up to a show I intensify practicing so it becomes daily. I don’t do singing exercies, but maybe I should? I have not felt the need for it at the moment. If I do practice anything it is being authentic when I sing and just letting my voice be “neutral” and full of emotion. I tell a story through my music and I practice keeping it real rather than beautiful and perfect. I practice daring to show imperfection and before I go on stage I pray (yes, I send up a prayer) that I can remove my “ego” from the show and not think about if I make a mistake or not and this enables me to enjoy the performance and be fully there. It makes me feel calm as I am there to give people an experience and not to boost my ego ;) Yet, when this is said I do feel butterflies before going on stage and I do like to know it went well after.

In regards to how I get my jobs. Well, once I decided to go “all in” the opportunities to perform seem to come to me. I believe that the reason is that the more people can see you “live” your music and do what you can yourself to get your music out “there” the more people want to work with you. I made my own musicvideo for Better off Alone (my first solo single) and that was not sooo good. But my determination showed that I wanted it my music career so much so my sister’s husband arranged for his creative team to produce a real music video for me. This lead to me being booked for a few shows in Germany and Denmark. Determination and keeping a positive attitude and helping others and playing promotion jobs for free in the beginning gets you further. Don't be afraid of doing something for others as a favor or for free. It will always come back to you in a good way later. I believe this! Actually all my jobs have come to me (yet, I have been working focused and determined to get to this point) and now it’s time for me to do some more PR myself too too keep the “energy” at a high level.  

How do I keep time to nurse my family and friends while I work on my career? I guess it is not that different from any other career? I don’t work all hours, I actually think I work less than when I had my own online marketing company. Maybe I work the same amount of hours but because I love what I do I get energy from it and have more energy to nurse my relationships. A boring job you have a few hours a week can drain you so much that you don’t have energy to be social. Moreover, it is about priorities. I always valued my friends and family a lot and it has never occurred to me that I would neglect them because of a career. When I was in a relationship and had my own company in Denmark I saw friends and family very often too. However, I can’t be social every day after a day of work. I am a person who needs to “pull back” quite often to “internalize” all my experiences and reflect; read books; chill and just be me. This keeps me grounded and focused. However, when all of this is said I used to be good at feeling guilty when I did not work while being self-employed and I still can get this feeling but no way near as often as before. I guess it is because I do more of what I love now ;) I learned that guilt is a major block to success and it simply drains you from energy, so I am really doing what I can to leave this old habit behind for good.

Everyone, no matter how busy you are, should find time for family and friends. It is up to you how you use your time. It’s all about finding the balance I guess. Naturally if you are on tour you can’t see your family and friends so much (unless they come along or visit), but when you are home again you can catch up and for me quality time with my loved ones is better than quantity time. I decided to move to Berlin to realize my music dream so, naturally I don't see my Danish friends and family in Denmark as much as I could wish, but with Skype, email etc and cheap flights to Copenhagen I get by ;) Naturally you need to see each other to really "nurse" the relationship as Skype etc only serves as a substitute for sharing the same physical space for some time. It can never replace having a real chat and a nice warm love felt hug. 

I hope that was a good answer to your questions and to finish off in good music "pr" style here is a picture from my show at REWE Family Festival here in Berlin, where I performed my song "Better off Alone" yesterday. Ahhh, I had such a great time. 

Thanx for reading along - I hope it serves as a form of inspiration to you ;)

Love to you all,  Nina x 

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