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A while ago I posted this photo of my mother, who joined me during an east coast concert tour. It was so lovely having her with me for company and conversation. She has been “in the wings” for me as long as I can remember.

These past two years I have been in the wings for my daughter while she explored her college options. We visited schools and then visited them again. And again. We traveled together for auditions (she is planning on majoring in music performance) and jumped up and down as the acceptance letters began to come in. Choosing a school is hard. There are so many things to consider. My job was to be supportive and stay in the wings; my husband and I both knew this was a decision she would need to come to on her own. This, perhaps, was the hardest part! This week, Valerie made her decision. She will be attending a beautiful small private college and majoring in music. We are so proud of her. It seems like just yesterday that I was composing the piece, “Until You Come Home,” when she first left to start first grade. And here we are.

To all the mamas and the papas in the wings cheering your kids on, here’s to you! It’s not always an easy job, but it is the best one.

above: our daughter, Valerie, practicing for a concerto competition (she won!)

 

 

 

 

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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Whadda Ya Know?

I was talking with a girlfriend the other day and she said, “How do you know so much about gardening?” and I laughed and told her I really didn’t know anything about gardening. And that made her laugh, because to her I am some sort of garden expert. I guess there is so much to learn about a subject as big as gardening that I never figured I knew much of anything at all. I am not a master gardener (yet) and I still make plenty of mistakes. I would probably give the same answer if someone asked me if I knew much about music. I’d probably say, “No, I don’t know much about music,” because given the enormity of the subject, I know very little.

We are never through with learning, but we might surprise ourselves with how much we have picked up along the way and how much knowledge we have accumulated.

So think of something you know about: cooking, canning, gardening, repairs, crafts, music—-and share it with a friend, through social media, with a family member. Post on Pinterest, share a recipe, seeds or a tip. Whaddayaknow? Tell me: robin@robinspielberg.com229071_1099425938057_4668175_n

Mama in the Wings

10945715_10204750138265511_1760951984559363177_nI opened for songwriting legend Jimmy Webb this weekend. You know his songs: By The Time I Get to Phoenix, Wichita Lineman, McArthur Park, Galveston. The concert was in NJ so I stayed with my mom, and she came with me to the theater. We leave early because I have the soundcheck at 5pm. In the car she listens to a pre-release copy of my new recording. After the first piece she tells me “Someone is going to ice skate to this one.” That makes me happy as I can’t think of a better compliment.

When mom is in the dressing room I know to expect inspection. “Why is there nail polish in your make-up bag,” she asks. “You don’t wear it.”

“It’s there in case I get a run in my stockings or something,” I tell her.

“But it’s red. You need clear polish if that should happen.”  I take note.

“What are you playing tonight?” she asks.

“Not sure…I just worked with the piano. I was waiting to assess it. Now I can figure it out. Got any ideas?”

Of course she does. Mom helps me make the set list. She changes the sequence. She comments on my hair. She likes me to leave it naturally curly rather than use the flat iron. She approves of my bra. Mom has opinions. All of them are very useful. She watches the show and I join her during Jimmy’s set. She hangs out by the CD table to see what’s selling. When someone is confused as to which album to buy, she let’s them know that hands down, “Memories of Utopia” is the quintessential Robin Spielberg experience.

It might seem strange that after all these years I still turn to my mother for help with set lists and what to wear on stage, but the truth is, she is just so darn good at these things! Thanks mom.

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The End of the Year

I am home for the first weekend in a long while, and as I write this I am already in my ‘cozy’ PJs (it is only 6pm)!  I have one more concert to play before the year ends; for those of you who live in FL, (or if you are a “snowbird” who finds refuge from the cold there this time of year), I will be in West Palm Beach at the Kravis Center this 12/20.

Here is my year-end newsletter with a peek into next year’s album release.IMG_3991PHOTO: At Cedarhouse Sound & Mastering with Owner/Engineer Gerry Putnam and Fran Putnam

 

The Best Laid Plans…

…of mice and men often go astray, and best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft a-gley.” – from the Poem by Robert Burns, “To a Mouse”

Things can often go wrong even though you have carefully planned what you are going to do.

NASA launched a rocket today filled with supplies and experiments headed to the International Space Station. Twitter lit up with tweets about where to look in the sky after the launch. Alarms were set and countdowns were made. And then the launch.

The rocket blew up shortly after take off. All that work. Five thousand pounds of supplies and gear—poof. Fortunately there was no loss of human life, but my heart aches just thinking about all that PLANNING.

I was talking with a group of musician colleagues the other day. We were talking about what it meant to be “tour ready”. I mentioned my lists: what to pack, what to play, where to stay, where to eat, what CDs to bring, set lists, rehearsal schedules, load-in times. And then there was laughter. Because we all know what it means to have “the best laid plans.” My experience tells me that inevitably things will not go as planned. I’ll get lost. A flight might be late. My rental car might break down. The tech crew won’t be ready for my arrival. The hotel clerk won’t have any record of my reservation. All this despite my lists and my attention to detail.

It’s not what happens to us in our lives that counts, but how we react to the things that happen. I am embarrassed to say that I did not always handle unexpected changes with grace. I cursed under my breath, I was rude to the airline reservations clerk, I was annoyed by the long line at the rental car counter. But now? Now I breathe. Now I see that changes occur and these changes do not have to lead to upset, but, rather, to another experience. I don’t know ahead of time what that experience will be, but now I know I am up for it.

I hope everyone at NASA will breathe, recover and simple try again.

xo Robin

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Here’s to the Grads

It’s that time of year—-graduation and senior prom photos are all over Facebook; and parents everywhere are asking where did the time go. In a few years, I’ll be one of them. But until then, congratulations to all the graduates out there!  xo Robin

 

 

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