I Quit My Day Job A Year Ago

This post was originally published at Pyragraph and is reposted here with kind permission.

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Backstage in NYC

A year ago I quit my day job. It was easy to make the announcement and write the first part of my story, because I was excited! However, writing this follow-up has been a lot more challenging.

A little background: The day-job I quit was part-time. It was secure and it complimented my creative career as a musician and poet. So, I was conflicted about leaving. However, I knew that if I stayed any longer, I would never take the chance to see what was behind the other door—the door that led to working on music and writing exclusively, the door that led to me working as a freelancer and calling my own shots. I was miserable with the thought of never knowing what that would feel like.

For various reasons, the clock was ticking. If I was going to jump, it had to be now.

How did I prepare for this? I talked to other full-time musicians and I crafted a business plan. Then, I seriously talked my five-fold business plan over with at least a dozen people, as well as a representative at Seattle Small Business Association. I got green lights. I created an active teaching studio. Also, I became a Certified Clinical Musician (someone who plays particular therapeutic styles of music at the bedside of the sick and dying). The plan was that the day job hours would be taken over by therapeutic work, more or less. Since putting my plan into practice, I still think it’s solid in theory, but several factors beyond my control caused a certain amount of failure.

An important nuance I’ve had to take note of is seasonal fluctuations in work. I have wedding gigs in the summer, but not many students. This past year has shown moments of good fortune—touring with amazing musicians to New York with the successful show, Now I’m Fine—contrasted by disappointments when efforts don’t pay off—I did an intense two-day trade show for state healthcare workers expecting to drum up new clinical music work, but got empty leads, which left me physically and mentally drained.

There have been lots of challenges this first year on my own, but they’ve only pushed me to try something new and get comfortable with making mistakes when they happen.

New things I’ve tried this year and succeeded at:

  • Recording original tunes in studio and at home (in progress)
  • Making a music video
  • Bartered harp lessons for other needed services
  • Led healing harp tones guided meditation workshop

Fallen short:

  • Getting 3-5 therapeutic music accounts (I’ve succeeded so far at only gaining two)
  • Rejected grants

Future goals:

  • Skype harp lessons
  • Self-publishing a multi-instrument album
  • Leading more group workshops
  • More therapeutic music accounts

In one year’s time, I’d say I’m not as rosey-eyed, that is, I may not have taken into account how the highs and lows are much more extreme, which can be more exciting and more scary. Yet still, I’m optimistic by nature, so I always have that working to my advantage. I am very comfortable with turning down offers that are not respectable or reciprocal. I also happen to live in a wealthy city, where there are many resources for artists and people who will pay for artistic services.

My choice to work freelance has really been about my need to fulfill a dream. In his poem, “Harlem,” Langston Hughes asks:

What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?

I knew my dreams would lose their strength, or worse yet, cease to exist, if I didn’t answer to their calling. That is what this career choice has been about, because working in the arts is more than just “making a living,” it’s a lifestyle. I like seeing where the mystery unfolds, even if it’s a little terrifying. It’s my path and I own it.

La Vie En Rose

Edith Piaf made La Vie En Rose one of the most memorable French songs of the 20th Century. This is my solo harp version. Enjoy!

Wedding Music in Seattle: Top 6 Seattle Wedding Musicians

harp-for-weddingsPeak season for weddings starts in June and wedding ceremony locations in WA State are abundant. Having lived in Seattle for 15 years, I have many favorite locations to play wedding ceremony music. I also planned my own wedding here in 2008. As a wedding harpist, I have a solid tool kit for how to work as a wedding musician. My opinions on wedding ceremony music and wedding reception music come from nearly 20 years of experience.

Although my first (humble!) opinion would be to consider harp music for your ceremony, harp may not be what you are looking for. I know and play with a diverse and talented community of musicians in Seattle. I’d like to recommend some other wedding musicians to you in this article. If you are looking for quality wedding ceremony music or wedding reception music, this article highlights my favorite Seattle musicians for your day!

Wedding Ceremony Music and Wedding Reception Music Recommendations

1429004677_10537974_383542475103625_5414674626190059505_o1) Vocal Band, The Lonely Coast – Friends (Valerie Holt & Anne Mathews) perform sublime close-harmony duets. They sing lullabies, folk and traditional music from Europe and the Americas. They have been blending voices for over a decade and it shows! If you want singing at your wedding that is heartfelt and unique, The Lonely Coast will be one of your most memorable investments. In addition to many private events, they have sung on public stages in the King County Library System, outdoor festivals and beyond.

Wedding Ceremony Music by Josh Rawlings

2) Pianist, Josh Rawlings – This co-owner of J&J Music is a highly talented pianist and good friend. He and I have played harp & piano duets at The Sorrento Hotel and Overlake Country Club to name a few venues. Josh has toured with Alan Stone and is an Earshot Golden Ear Award recipient. If that was not enough, he received a Grammy for playing on Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ “the Heist.”

wedding music with Jason Parker 3) Trumpeter, Jason Parker – The other half of J&J Music, Jason is an excellent jazz player and band leader. I’ve known Jason through the Seattle music community for several years, and he’s always wearing a smile. He is the band leader of The Jason Parker Quartet, which has recently won “Best Wedding Bands” in KING 5’s “Best Of Western Washington” poll in 2015, and was nominated in 2013 and 2014 at #3. See the many testimonials he and his ensemble has received playing for people’s wedding day.

wedding band with Shane Peck4) Cover Band, The NinesMy friend Shane Peck is the drummer for The Nines. He is an exceptional musician! For a few years, we played in a band together called Pretty Abandoned. Currently, Shane plays in several bands; his main wedding band is The Nines. The Nines are the 2015 WINNER “Best Reception Band” in Seattle Bride Magazine. This band puts on great public and private shows. On their website, they share a tremendously diverse songlist, a FAQ page, and past client reviews.

Cellist Maria5) Cellist, Maria Scherer Wilson – Maria and I have a harp & cello duo. We have played for many weddings together in the Seattle area. Additionally, we regularly work together on other improvisational, experimental and chamber performances, such as Ahamefule Oluo’s comedy/musical show, Now I’m Fine. Maria has also worked with artists such as Florence Henderson, Jody Watley, Eyvind Kang, Jherek Bischoff, and Cat Power and she plays in other chamber combinations for weddings.

6) Guitarist, Julian Catford, has pWedding Music by Julian Catforderformed in Mallorca, Spain, Scotland, Tahiti, and Mexico. He has accompanied Rosemary Clooney and Cab Calloway! As one of Seattle’s top guitarists, his specializes in playing classical, Spanish, Brazilian, gypsy jazz and swing and flamenco music. I met Julian while working at the Musicians Association of Seattle where we are both members, and we’ve both participated as vendors for many years at the Seattle Wedding Show. Julian is recipient of the Wedding Wire Couples Choice Award in 2014.

About the author:
Monica Schley, CCMHarpist Monica Schley is a classically-trained musician, specializing in new music, chamber, improvisation, avant-garde, jazz and rock. She has collaborated as a composer and performer for several multi-media public shows and has worked with artists such as Butch Morris, Ahamefule J. Oluo, Jherek Bischoff, Secret Chiefs 3, Eyvand Kang, Christina Vantzou, Hey Marsailles, and Kanye West. Currently, she composes, sings and performs in her modern chamber pop trio, The Daphnes and is a Certified Clinical Musician, playing harp in hospitals and hospice. Her poetry has appeared over a dozen literary magazines and her chapbook “Black Eden: Nocturnes” (Pudding House Press) was published in 2010. She is a contributing writer at Pyragraph.com. She has received support from the Espy Foundation. Monica has played for over 350 weddings.

18

02 2016

Fire & Ice

Here’s a new ditty for the day: Fire & Ice. This solo harp excerpt is from a longer vocal and multi-instrumental track I’m working on. Today, I have only a few hours to record and I wanted to hear some instant results!

I started writing the piece on a snowy December day and eventually added lyrics. You can listen to The Daphnes singing it (at the end of this stream from February 8, 2016)

Who are we but ice / Part of the snow
Who are you to ask / Don’t you know
That we were stars once / And we were on fire
http://monicaschley.com/

I did a little research and Robert Frost wrote a poem of the same name. Nice that he’s got the name to go along with it. His poem is brief too:

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
– Robert Frost

 

16

02 2016

Now I’m Fine

I just returned home to Seattle after a week of playing music in New York. I play harp in Ahamefule Oluo’s monologue/musical, Now I’m Fine. Words cannot describe the amazing week we had performing across the country! For me, something about it was life changing, life affirming. This trip’s capacity to open something up in me makes me feel like anything is possible. It was fun and exhilarating and I got to play with the best musicians that I know.

Photo of the year (in my opinion!) for Aham Oluo's "Now I'm Fine" (L. to R. - Monica Schley, Evan Flory-Barnes, Bryant Moore, Ahamefule J. Oluo, Soulchilde Bluesun)

Photo: Kelly O: “Now I’m Fine” (L. to R. – Monica Schley, Evan Flory-Barnes, Bryant Moore, Ahamefule J. Oluo, Soulchilde)

I’ve been playing Aham’s music since about 2006. I met him when we were in another band together. He said he was writing some tunes and asked me if I’d like to join his band too? Aham is forthright, a trait I greatly admire, so I immediately agreed.

When I got the music, I fell in love with the groove of the songs. Even though compositions were for a modern brass band, and I am a harpist, I knew it could work. We laugh now, because you could barely hear me on our first gigs (this was before I had my Dusty Strings pick-up put in).

This group has taught me so much about how to hear my instrument with fresh ears. It has taught me how to be a better improviser and how to just have fun and PLAY. Beyond that, the talent of my peers in this group is extremely inspiring. I am wowed and grateful.

The show received so much positive attention while we were in New York. Reviews came pouring in from the New York Times, from Time Out NY.  After this NYC trip, I now feel bursting with optimism, creativity and motivation. I am so happy for Aham and what he’s created and worked so very hard at. These days, no one makes it in the entertainment industry without busting their butt. And he does.

He's got some 'splainin' to do

He’s got some ‘splainin’ to do. In studio for Now I’m Fine album (2015)

Its a long story on how the show got to what it now is. For that, you’ll just have to come and see for yourself! We are playing a special ONE NIGHT ONLY show in Seattle’s oldest theater, The Moore on April 2, 2016.

22

01 2016

The Daphnes on Sonarchy Radio

My trio, The Daphnes, just finished our best show yet at the Sunset Tavern this week! The good news continues. Now you can hear a live performance of The Daphnes without leaving the comforts of your home!
The holiday season is a crazy-busy time. You want to go hear some live music, but the weather is taking a toll on your ambition. You can’t muster the energy to get off the couch. I have a solution!
You can listen to The Daphnes on Sonarchy Radio three different ways.
1. Tune into KEXP 90.3FM (Seattle, WA) at midnight PST on Sun 12/27/15
2. Subscribe to the podcast http://www.kexp.org/podcasting/podcasting.asp#sonarchy
3. Streaming any ol’ time you want after the broadcast date
http://feeds.kexp.org/kexp/sonarchyradio
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20

12 2015

Client Compliments

“Thank you so much for the soulful music. You were a wonderful asset to our performance!”
Melissa McCall (teacher at Bright Water School)

“Your spiritual, haunting harp and vocals are great!
– June Sekiguchi (curator)

“I like your song list.”
Mimi Boothby (mother of the groom)

“Thank you very much for playing at our wedding. The sound of your harp complimented the chapel atmosphere, and everyone said it was a beautiful ceremony. Thanks again!”
CK & Greg Ruby (bride and groom)

“You were so beautiful. We can’t thank you enough for the beauty that you brought to our wedding and the memories we will have of the event for the rest of our lives. It was just as I imagined when I thought about what I wanted our day to be like. I’m glad that I was able to hear you play the whole time. Thank you for touching my life the way you did I will always remember you.”
Cathi and Rick (bride and groom)

“Our family was soooo thrilled! Thank you!”
Jo Kinney (private event client)

“We very much enjoyed your performance.”
Allie Lemieux (Reeve Shima Attorneys)

“We still have people mentioning your performance at Hugo House in October. You were amazing and I think your music and your poetry that night touched a lot of people.”
Annette Spaulding-Convey (Crab Creek Review Editor)

“Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. You brightened our afternoon and made our day!”
Wardwell Residents

“My dad took this photo while it had a filter on it (without knowing why the color looked off). I think it’s beautiful. Thanks for your lovely music and for talking with me afterwards. I don’t think I will soon forget you.”
Erin Pesut (sister of the groom)

Concentrating at the Conservatory

Sourpuss! – Concentrating at the Conservatory

With A Little Help

Previously published in With A Little Help, Inc. blog with kind permission by author Sarel Rowe.

Monica Schley, CCM

Monica Schley, CCM

“My work as a therapeutic harpist is a service and not a performance. I don’t expect any kind of recognition,” multi-talented Seattle musician Monica Schley explained when she sat down to discuss her experience as a Certified Clinical Musician. Most of Schley’s musical roles, such as her chamber-pop band, The Daphnes, or role in the experimental pop opera, “Now I’m Fine,” involve performance and entertainment but through her service as a therapeutic musician, she says, she’s found “soul purpose” and improved aspects of her musicianship.

Schley began her journey with the harp at the age of 14. Since then she’s gained mastery of her instrument and acquired a wide repertoire of music which will  soon debut on her first full length album “Keep the Night Dark.” Her experience spans classical, chamber, rock, jazz, improvisation and avant-garde. She teaches, composes, and has collaborated with dozens of musicians. Three years ago she did something different. She enrolled in a course in clinical musicianship accredited by the National Standards Board for Therapeutic Musicians. In addition to the coursework she served an intensive internship playing roughly 40 hours in hospitals and kidney dialysis centers and 20 hours in hospice. This is the first year she’s been practicing with full certification. As a therapeutic harpist, Schley says, her ability to memorize music has improved and “It really opened up my ears to how I connect music and sound.”

Schley has played for over 250 patients and each environment calls for a unique marriage of sound and music. “If I go into a room with an oxygen machine or beeping I’m going to play in that scale to avoid disharmony,” she explained. “Like any doctor, I want to make things better and not cause any anxiety.  I enjoy that about what I do. I’m attuned to sound. If I’m playing for someone recovering from surgery I choose something with a regular beat and play chord progressions that are soothing. When someone is passing on simplicity is sometimes the best thing. Sometimes I play just one note.”

Schley brings a small 22 string harp with a guitar strap to her therapeutic sessions.  She plays for various lengths of time depending on the audience. “What I do is passive,” she said. “I’m never asking anyone to do anything. Sometimes I introduce myself. Sometimes I just play.” Unlike her experience with entertainment and performance, therapeutic music isn’t meant to elicit any audience response except healing and the feedback she does receive is positive. “Monica has shared her incredible harp music with our patients and staff, bringing relaxation, therapy and healing to us all,” writes an R.N. Therapeutic harp benefits everyone listening to it including staff, medical professionals and family. “A lot of the time a family member is in the room and they may enjoy it as well. Sometimes family doesn’t realize—they need it too,” Schley said.

According to the National Standards Board for Therapeutic Musicians therapeutic music enhances a patient’s environment to make it more conducive to healing. “Whether you’re aware of it or not sound goes into your body and organs,” Schley explained. Curing is done by the medical community but healing is facilitated by addressing the emotional, spiritual, mental and physical aspects of life which can be done with the universal language of music. Therapeutic music can relieve stress and tension, augment pain management, reduce blood pressure, aid mental focus, ease transitions, or accelerate healing among other benefits. “I’m happy to be able to use my skill to help people,” Schley said. Clinical musicianship “has helped me in so many ways to be a more compassionate and better person. It’s truly meaningful work.”

Contact me for more information about my services

01

11 2015

Making Art and Mothering

This post was originally published at Pyragraph and is reposted here with kind permission.

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She nursed on the muse at first,
then became her own mother
—Erica Jong, from Self-Portrait

Four years ago, I was digging deep into the music world around me. I was getting calls from jazz, classical and pop ensembles for a regular variety of work and I had just published a book of poetry. I was quite busy and planning for a near future of more of that. Four years ago, I also became a mother. I had no idea what I was about to get into!

Call me naive, but I just wasn’t prepared for the onset of colic in a newborn to last over four months. Every day from 5-8pm my little baby would scream her head off no matter what we did. I thought she was breaking. It was so exhausting that my husband and I began to dread the “witching hour,” as we later learned it is called. That type of mothering dipped severely into my creative flow. I was paralyzed by serious duty, and like so many other artists without an expressive outlet, I got depressed.

Life has definitely improved since that dark winter.

It might have taken me a few years to notice, but I am embracing the fact that though my time to produce/work on my craft has diminished as a mother, the quality of my work and focus on it seems to have increased and improved. I don’t get as much time as I used to, so I make better use of it.

When I was a brand new parent, I was struck with awe at how little time I had for self-care, let alone time to practice my instrument. I searched online for resources from other mothers who are musicians. Indeed, I am not alone out there, but it was difficult to find the self-help/buck-up-kid words I longed for. I needed a mother for my artist me!

About that same time, a mother/musician acquaintance of mine who was living out of the country, started posting on her Facebook page exactly what she did, hour-by-hour, with her two-year-old each day. It was her practice to write out a daily journal of time spent with child/art/family merged together. I thought that was beautiful, and looking back, reading her passages was sort of a turning point for me. I started to do the same in my own private journal—there were good days, challenging days, ideal days, disaster days, and goals to strive for. It also helped me see how I was actually spending my time.

Present day good news: I have a happy four-year-old. I consider that to be the supreme guidepost of any success. Also, my duties have eased up, as she goes to preschool and plays in her imaginary worlds at home. Time has definitely expanded for my creativity to live alongside my mothering duties and I am grateful. Every now and then, I still find it helpful to write out a daily log.

Here’s a recent example of one of our days.

  • 7:00—Woke before the others
  • 7:10—Wrote in my journal
  • 7:30—Made coffee and granola w/berries for the family and me
  • 8:10—Got kiddo dressed
  • 8:45—Prepared sheet music for a rehearsal, tuned and practiced (child playing by herself)
  • 9:30—Went to Musicians’ Union office to photocopy and connect with colleagues (with kiddo)
  • 10:30—Arrived home to rehearse w/ violinist who also has a kiddo—children played; adults played
  • 12:00—Finished rehearsal and hung out for a bit
  • 12:30—Friends left; hubby came home; we all ate lunch together
  • 1:00-1:20—Cleaned up dishes, kitchen and child
  • 1:20-1:45—Hubby took kiddo on a walk so I could message clients/make phone calls
  • 1:45—Got ready to thrift shop and run errands with kiddo
  • 1:55—Abort mission! Bee sting! Child stepped on a bee on the walk!
  • 2:00—Nursed wounded child; applied baking soda compress; ice cream; cartoons
  • 2:20-4:30—Kiddo said she wanted to stay home; worked closely on an activity book together
  • 4:30-6pm—Prepared dinner, ate and cleaned up
  • 6:00-6:30pm—More client emails, writing and invoices
  • 7:00—Drove downtown as a family to hear a musician friend’s house concert
  • 9:15—Dropped off semi-overdue children’s library books
  • 9:30—At home; kiddo fell asleep in the car and plopped peacefully into bed
  • 9:45-11:45—Typed up song lyrics and poems, worked on a writing submission, listened to Self-Employed Happy Hour (a Pyragraph Podcast!), practiced my instrument
  • 11:45-12:00—Read in bed

20

10 2015

What is Therapeutic Music?

I am a Certified Therapeutic Musician. You might ask, what is therapeutic music? And where is it used? You can read the answers to these questions, hear what this kind of music sounds like and more, at my Therapeutic Healing Page Here.

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09 2015