Category Archives: touring life

Thinking Small

1973-36e8716be4ecc8a2518a440ddd0a9a88I was lucky enough to receive an invitation to return to the beautiful Mohonk Mountain House (pictured here) to perform a concert. Located upstate New York, this beautiful inn is surrounded by acres and acres of preservation land. There are gorgeous gardens to walk through, a maze to get lost in (or find yourself in), hikes to take, boats to row, rocks to climb, bike paths to ride on, golf balls to be hit, a picnic lodge, spa, and my favorite: porches where you can sit and read or just watch the sunset. Having only one full day there this year, we decided to do as much as possible. I always enjoy a hike to “Skytop” which ends with an amazing view. This year we approached it on a foggy morning and enjoyed a different kind of scenery.IMG_2455

After being at this beautiful place over a dozen times, I surprised myself by trying something completely new to me, “rock scrambling.” Meghan, who works in our Kosson Talent agency office (kossontalent.com), told me her former college roommate happened to work at Mohonk and led “rock scramble” adventures. I thought I’d give it a try since I wanted to meet Meghan’s friend. We met Alex with a group of about 10 other adventurers at 10am at the bottom of the staircase. We were given a brief orientation and then tightened our hiking boot laces and were off. Had I seen photographs ahead of time of what we were about to climb, I never would have signed up. Alex showed us a vertical wall of rocks that we would climb to achieve great views of the valley below. When I hesitated, she looked at me and said “think small.”

My whole life I have been training myself to THINK BIG. To follow my dreams. To not limit myself, to grow, stretch and do beyond what I thought I could do. And yet, in this situation, looking at the big picture was just intimidating, and well…scary. Alex continued, “Look at your next step. Think of where your hand will go. Where your foot will go. If you make one small move at a time, you will be ok.” She was right. I figured out where to place my shoulder, when I needed to scoot over a rock on my butt, when I needed to stretch out my arm to grab a ridge, and bring my foot to the next good foot hold. Before I knew it, I was on TOP of the mountain and could see turkey vultures circling at eye level over the valley below us. When I looked down, I couldn’t believe I had climbed over all those rocks. I had done the “rock scramble,” and I could never had done it by “thinking big.” I had to THINK SMALL.

IMG_2398So it is with touring. Looking at my schedule people often ask me how I can do it all. Well I can’t do it all at once…but I can go to one place at a time. Instead of thinking about the entire concert program, I just need to play one composition at a time…one measure at a time. So next time you are feeling overwhelmed, try thinking “small.” You’ll be on top in no time.

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First Grade Re-visited

IMG_0650I remember first grade more vividly than other school years. Where  Kindergarten was full of play, first grade was serious business…or at least it seemed that way to me. I missed my mother. Some days I cried. Embarrassment over being weepy made me cry even more. I was an anxious first grader. But I cheered up at music time. We’d gather around the piano in Mrs. Schwartz’s classroom and sing our hearts out. Rounds of “Row, Row Row Your Boat,” and “This Land is Your Land,” “My Grandfather’s Clock.” I’d sing all the way home. This week I went back to first grade. Nine times. I visited eight elementary schools in southern California as part of a grant secured by The Carpenter Center for the Arts. The kids seemed to really enjoy to learn how the piano worked, what it sounded like, how I played it and its history. They had a zillion questions. Their curiosity reminded me how amazing the 6-7 year old brain is: full of wonder.

Steinway & Sons was gracious enough to send me 1000 sheets of stickers to give out to the kids. Some of them say “Future Steinway Artist” on them. You never know.

Today, on my last day of the residency program, all 1055 kids took a field trip to the beautiful performing arts center and I performed an hour-long concert for them on the beautiful Steinway grand. I will cherish their enthusiasm and kindness always.

Anticipation

Another Time Another PlaceI am writing you from my host’s home in Salt Lake City Utah. Last night the lovely pianist Michele McLaughlin hosted a house concert in her beautiful home and a few dozen people came out to hear us play. We told stories and played her gorgeous Fazioli piano which overlooks the valley. It was the perfect “piano parlour soiree” and the appropriate setting for me to premiere work from my newest collection of piano solos, “Another Time, Another Place.” Some members of the audience had driven all the way from Idaho, Montana to enjoy this intimate piano experience, and that it was. During intermission those gathered here nibbled on refreshments and mingled and told us their stories. I received hugs from almost everyone. One person had recently lost her brother unexpectedly and in the tears she shed during “After All,” she found healing. Another told me that each Christmas for the past 15 years her family has gathered around to the sounds of “In the Heart of Winter,” and another told me that he was “dragged here” and reluctant to go to a piano concert but was oh so glad he did because now he just felt better. And that’s what it’s all about. I feel better too—when I compose music and share it with you.

Two more days until my CD is launched and I can’t wait for you to hear it. Here is an interview I did that you might enjoy. http://www.ambientvisions.com/

xo Robin

My Life: One Folder at a Time

on tour in snow Eileen's houseI have a folder for just about everything. Since musician life can feel chaotic, I suppose having a folder for everything just makes me feel better, more organized. I label my folders using a label-maker. Makes me feel like a pro. My files are color-coded. Here I am holding a yellow one which means I am holding a tour file from 2013 (the 2013 concert info were put into yellow folders—this year I am using orange for 2015 concert dates.) What’s in the orange folders? Gig info: name/address of venue, concert contract, emergency numbers, plane tickets, directions, hotel confirmations, rental car info, those sort of things. Some touring musicians put together a touring “book”. I worry about having a book for a tour—what if I misplace it? With one folder per show, if I misplace one folder, I don’t lose the info for the entire tour. Everything is backed up at home with “agentman husband” who is a phone call away, and that comes in handy, because now and then my GPS tries to kill me and I need advice.

I should go through all my folders and recycle their contents. But I can’t. My entire touring history is in these—concert programs, newspaper articles, where I stayed, notes on the piano I played. These folders remind me that my life has been one long and wonderful tour.

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