A Day of Quiet Bliss – Day 29 NaBloPoMo 2015

It was very overcast and quite humid in Hobart most of today. Although I was supposed to go to an event nearby, I decided to stay home and potter around the garden. The girls were very pleased because this meant lots of extra treats for them and they rewarded me with eggs as usual. Boudica Bunny is also eating enormous amounts at the moment and all the babies are out and starting to get the hang of this eating solid food caper.

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I potted up more basil, chillies and Green Shiso (Perilla fruitescans var. crispa), a wonderful Japanese annual herb, which I primarily use in stir fries and salads. I’ve grown it in the past but never had such a fabulous strike rate as I did with this year’s seed supply. It’s looking wonderful and already has that unmistakable flavour and aroma. I find it likes a rich potting mix and lots of warmth for quick growth, similar to basil.

And then there was the completion of half the “corner of shame”. This is a classic before and after situation.

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Before

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After

Admittedly, we’re only half way there but that’s a lot further than we were a few weeks ago!

After removing the worst of the perennial weeds, I put some dolomite limestone over the area and covered it with several layers of cardboard.  Then we laid some cotton mats, donated by family members, that were old and worn and heading for the rubbish tip. (I think half our garden is recycled!)

A thick layer of coarse sand went over that and it was topped with some well composted native bark mulch, which I’ve found considerably less acidic than pine bark mulch. We did the same thing behind the chicken house and I’ve planted two Australian Tea-Trees (Leptospermum sp.) there to provide some extra wind protection for the ladies who lay.

The weeds will grow back – but not as quickly or as vigorously as they have in the past. I want to plant a couple of English Lavender here in the next few days and I’m planning to put netting or shade cloth above the fence to give a little more height for growing climbers in tubs and privacy both for and from our neighbours. Next spring, this is the likely spot for my beehive, angled in towards the garden.

I also finished the garlic crop, which has been curing inside the last two weeks. It’s now cleaned up, the tails have been clipped and it’s in three plaits, hanging off the laundry/kitchen door. It’s quite a decent amount this season, considering I’ve used and given away at least half a dozen or so heads already – and there’s more in the ground that needs pulling!

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Tomorrow is back to music work and teaching, the beginning of my birthday week, first day of my next university semester and the last day of NaBloPoMo – and I’m picking up my birthday present to myself tomorrow too 😀

 

 

ASA Update

ASA July 2015 Poster

ASA July 2015 Poster

Hello friends,
I’m pleased to announce the Australian Songwriters Association Tasmania are returning at a new venue – The Homestead in Elizabeth Street on Tuesday July 21st.
I’m incredibly honored to be the feature artist that night – which also means I’ll be under examination by MC Matt Dean prior to my set. If you want to hear me rabbit on about my craft, performing and mentoring please come along. As with all ASA Wax Lyrical nights, this is a free show.
At the moment, I’m trying to find out if we can film the interview so those of you who are interested but don’t live here can get an opportunity to see and hear what I’m about.
Meanwhile, there’s more gigs to talk about soon!
Take care,
Debra ❤

Back on the Line! Playing Catch-up with a Virtual Life

After six months with just my trusty mobile phone, I’m extremely happy to announce that I’ve got a home broadband connection again. Despite having the WordPress app on my phone, it’s just not the same as this interface on my laptop.

It’s good to be back – but now the big job of catching up begins! So much has been happening this southern summer, and as always, some of it’s been good and some of it’s been really bad.

On the “utterly brilliant” end of the spectrum, I’ve finished my first fully online unit through Griffith University. Despite only having my mobile for connection, I managed a surprising high distinction and I have to thank some beautiful friends in Hobart for letting me leach their net regularly to stay on top of things. Thank you Lauren and Patsi ❤ you two are wonderful! I’m well into my second unit now and starting to really enjoy the challenge of study again.

In the next few weeks, I’ll be finalising digital stuff for my most recent recording and playing catch up with getting cd’s out and about. And for those of you in southern Tasmania, I’m playing at the next ASA show on Wednesday, 9th April. Once again, we’re at The Night Owl in Liverpool Street, Hobart.

ASA 9th April poster

I’ll also have details to reveal soon about a new songwriting/recording/documentary project, plus a live, all-girl punk band I’m playing with called Straddlepuss.

And finally, being back online with a fibre connection means I can at long last offer Skype music lessons to you all. I can’t believe it was October last year when I first wrote about this and it’s taken until now to get it off the ground! If you’re interested, fill out the contact form – and the first lesson is free 😉

There’s been sadness too but I’m not dwelling on that today.

Today is a day for cheering!

Take care friends,

Debra ❤

Seasons Greetings – A Wonderful Christmas Present!

The Gorgeous Jax

The Gorgeous Jax

To begin with, irrespective of what you believe (or don’t believe) I wish you all a peaceful, relaxed holiday season. I’ve been having a great time, taking some time off with family and friends. But I’ve been pretty lax with keeping up with my blog – sorry!

Probably one of the best presents I’ve ever had was dumped in my lap recently. As a mentor and music teacher, you always wish the best for your charges but this is just outstanding 🙂

I’m very proud and pleased that JAX has made it to Number 6 on the Triple J Unearthed Pop charts.

For those of you outside of Australia, this is something to truly celebrate, I really can’t begin to describe how proud I am of this up and coming artist! The song she’s uploaded “Swallow” is a really excellent pop song with quite a mature, dark lyric. This young woman is an inspiration to us all, to stick at it and follow your dreams!

I encourage you all to go to the site and have a listen – “Swallow” is available for free download.

Meanwhile, play nicely, stay safe and have a great end to 2013!

Debra xx

Looking Forward to 2014!

It’s been an exciting year for me but I’m really looking forward to 2014.

For starters, I’m on track to have The Lucky Six ready for release as a digital download early in the new year. If there’s enough interest, I’ll consider a CD release later in the year 😉

And, my previous digital release,The Woman on the Edge of the World has been so warmly received, that plans are well underway for a limited CD version. Each copy will contain full liner notes, my original artwork and photography and will be numbered and signed by me.

We’re planning this to be 100 copies only available through me. So if you’re interested, get in touch to pre-order!

Also, next year I’ll still be teaching privately in Hobart and taking some distance students via Skype. Plus, I have a wonderful session I run each week, writing and making music with a group of disabled people.

Life is full – and I love it that way 😀

Back to University and Beautiful Friends

Well, today is momentous. I am now officially back at University! I’m a little scared still but very excited about getting back into scan reading mountains of papers and books for references, making coherent arguments in essays and referencing it all correctly – oh dear, what have I done??!!! No, seriously – it’ll be fun once I get back into the swing 😉

Thanks to my beautiful friends Lauren and Patsi, I’ve been able to log on and join in the discussion board and download extra material that Griffith University didn’t post to me. Yes, I still don’t have a dedicated internet connection at home and sadly, I haven’t been able to keep up with my NaBloPoMo committments, but I’m doing my best.

Over the weekend, I also had some great times with other beautiful friends, namely Jax and Malcolm Battersby. Mal and I played a really nice gig at the Richmond Festival. It was the inaugural Songwriters Concert at the festival and we got to work with some great local artists and the organiser – champion of original music, Roger Joseph.

The other truly beautiful thing is I heard a new song Jax’s written (as yet untitled) and it’s just gorgeous. I understand she’s going to debut it live at the ASA December 11th gig and I can’t wait to hear it again! I heard a rough from Belfry Studio but once the mix is finalised, it’ll be up on Jax’s Triple J Unearthed page. It’s so satisfying to see someone with so much raw talent start to blossom into a confident and accomplished writer and recording artist – it’s really inspirational!

All in all, a very satisfying time in my life – despite the lack of home internet.

Take care everyone and have a wonderful day too, wherever you are

Debra 🙂

Mal & Jax 24 Nov 2013

Online Music Lessons Available in 2014

On Stage at Casbah Cafe

On Stage at Casbah Cafe

Due to enquiries from interstate and overseas, I’m setting up online music lessons from January 2014 on Skype. And for those of you who fill out the following contact form – the first lesson is free!

(Please note: I value your privacy and all information provided will never be passed on to any third party or displayed anywhere by me without your permission.)

Take care everyone!

Debra 😀

Mentoring – What Makes The World Go Round

On Stage at Casbah Cafe

On Stage at Casbah Cafe

As a songwriter and performer, I think there’s nothing better than actually getting on a stage and plying my craft. But as a teacher, there’s nothing better than to see the results of my work, as a student stands on a stage for the first time.

Mentoring can take so many different forms in creative arts. Some of the most productive things can come out of a casual chat over coffee rather than a formal session. Just a quiet word from the right person has been like gold sometimes, reassuring me that my path is true. I’ve found particular people who’ve been wonderful in assisting me in areas that I didn’t have that much knowledge in, such as finance and bookkeeping, understanding how the live music industry can be radically different in non english speaking countries and the never-ending ferris wheel of public liability insurance.

Sometimes it’s been as simple as an exchange of networks or as complex as a full “how to” on a particular area – but I suggest don’t feel compelled to act on all advice given! In my opinion, the best mentors always will say “well, that’s my thoughts but it’s your decision”, rather than “you must do this”!

No matter how you go about it, it’s important. Singer/songwriters are for the most part involved in a solitary existence, both a creators and performers. We stand on the stage alone, singing songs we wrote alone. Outside input, particularly from folks who’ve done or are still doing similar things can be gold!

Recently, I had the joy of mentoring one of my students Cassie O’Keefe. We played on the same bill at Casbah Cafe’s regular Women Songwriters’ night in Hobart and it was (as Cassie put it) her first grown up gig. Yes, she made mistakes but she carried herself onstage with honesty and dignity and has learned a great deal from the experience.

At 17, this girl has a wonderful future ahead of her as a performer and songwriter and if you’re in Hobart next month, Cassie will be playing again at Casbah Cafe on Thursday 11th July.

Cassie at Casbah Cafe

Cassie at Casbah Cafe

For me, mentors have been a part of my entire life and have taken many guises. I attribute a lot of my success to good advice and assistance from people who have and still care about my professional development. I’m interested in hearing your stories about mentoring too – let me know what you think. For me it’s the stuff that makes the road just that much easier and makes my world go round.

Take care and see you soon,

Deb 😀

Performing v Teaching – The Great Divide

“I Want It All!!!”

Every since I can remember there’s always been a debate as to what musicians should do – perform or teach.

As a small child I recall being present when my father (possibly the finest musician I’ve ever met) was discussing with a couple of performer friends the merits of his teaching work, who were shaking their heads sadly. The implication was that he’d somehow sold out by going down the teaching route. He was still performing at that stage too!

I don’t remember this but apparently they asked me what I wanted to do when I grew up and (true to form) said I wanted it all!

The story goes like this. If you teach, you must be a second rate performer and if you perform you can’t ever be a decent teacher. Personally, I’ve always found it a vacuous argument – I do both and have done for many years. How well I do them is a matter of conjecture of course, but I have managed to balance the two – and I believe I am a better performer and music educator for the experience.

I know most of my students would tell you that they come to me because I am a performer and understand what it takes to be that kind of musician.

Recently, I had a phone call from a family member, who took the teaching route after graduating from a prestigious Australian music conservatorium. She teaches at an International School in South East Asia and many people I know would be jealous of her career and lifestyle. Nevertheless, a touring musician made a thoughtless remark at a concert she recently attended that amounted  to saying teaching was second rate compared to the exciting life of touring.

Touring is hard work. Yes, it’s exciting going to new places and playing to new audiences but very risky financially, physically very draining and (no matter what anyone says) can be grindingly dull when you’ve played so many dates you can’t recall what town you’re in anymore. These days I try and break up my performance schedule with a little time off, a day for relaxation and sleep and just playing tourist or catching up with friends or family. Fellow Tasmanian musicians The Sign are a good case in point. Currently touring in the US, they’re making it a road-trip holiday and family get together plus a very slick and professional music tour. Smart people!

In many respects I think teaching is the harder gig. One-to-one or groups, students hang on your every note and word, and they’re very happy to question if  you do anything that might contradict what you’re trying to get across! The process of educating for me is a different kind of performance, with it’s own specific skill set. And it must be said that just because someone is a brilliant live performer that does not follow that they will be an equally brilliant educator!

For me the old “those who can, do – those who can’t, teach” chestnut just doesn’t stack up – I love both and will continue to educate and perform to the very best of my ability.

If you want to read more, this 2007 blog from professional double bass player & educator Jason Heath is recommended.

I’ll finish by quoting US classical pianist Joshua Nemith;

The path to a narrow musical career is paved with good intentions. Today, more than ever, that path needs to widen rather than permanently branch into two unconnected avenues: educators who are not performers, and performers who are not educators.

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