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Creatively Blocked? You don’t have to suffer alone! 

Harpist, composer and singer Esther Swift is internationally recognised for her contribution to the pedal harp and her distinct compositions and songwriting style.  She is a leader in creative collaboration in Scotland having worked with The Unthanks, Aidan O’Rourke, Chris Wood and Siobhan Wilson, among others. She plays in acclaimed duo Twelfth Day, and writes and performs with respected group Clouds Harp Quartet, as well as regularly performing her solo material.She has been commissioned to write music for Chamber Music Scotland, Manchester Jazz Festival, Edinburgh International Book Festival, Ayrshire Opera and The Scottish Forestry Commission, among others.


  • how to stay creative when you are stuck at home 
  • a surprising way to not get admin overwhelm
  • how to use negative emotions and 'put them through the art'
  • how to find a balance between commissions and writing your own songs
  • how to make rehearsal fun


Esther Swift Official Website

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Speaker 2: Welcome to another episode of dare to be seen. I am your host and today's episode features harpists composer and singer Esther Swift. Esther is internationally recognized for her contribution to the pedal harp and are distinct compositions and songwriting styles. She is a leader in creative collaboration in Scotland. Having worked with the thanks, Aiden, Rook, Chris word, and Shavonne Wilson among others. She plays in a claim do a 12th day and writes and performs with respected group cloud's harp quartet, as well as regularly performing or solo material. She's been commissioned to write music for chamber music, Scotland, Manchester, jazz festival, Edinburgh, international book, festival, Aisha opera, and the Scottish forestry commission among others. But before we meet our guests today, I would like to invite you to go to tiny to be seen pod where you will be able to download for free my best selling book there to be seen from stage fright to Sage presence, where you will discover how to turn your stage nerves into authentic confidence. So you can perform at your best, even if you are an introvert or you've been out of the game for awhile. And now here's our guest for today.

Speaker 1: scary confronting in a lot of ways to be critical of yourself, but a productive way.

Speaker 3: To allow yourself to be open to new experiences all the time, almost daily

Speaker 2: Today in the studio, Esther Swift, I'm really excited to have you Esther, because you're such a seasoned musicians. You've done so many things. I don't even know where to start. So, how have you been, so how have you been in this, and this very, very difficult period. I know that you, you mentioned just before we started this interview that you, have a podcast about, the difficulties that musicians have been going through specifically since the beginning of this pandemic. So how have you been navigating this times

Speaker 3: Hi. Yeah. thanks. First of all, so much for having me, at least that's great to, to be here today on a very rainy that's in pertain. yeah, it's been up and down. I mean, I think like all of my friends I've had really lovely things come out of this experience and, and really hard things to, I mean, my summer was, was due to be really busy, probably my busiest summer yet in terms of festival gigs, and a mixture of stuff with my Jew, which is 12 stage you. and actually we, we play with drums and bass sometimes as well as just harping fiddle. Yeah. And also with my quartet, CalArts hardcore tech, where we're going to have like a run of shows and as Esther Swift, the solo, I was going to be playing a lot as well. So, so is he in very different too, like, well, I w I was really excited to be kind of, kind of a really exciting varied suburb.

Speaker 3: it's been a very, still quiet reflective summer and spring instead. and that has been good in terms of, I've had a couple of commissions, that I've had like slightly rolling deadlines during this time. So I've had this space to really consider those and, and write, and it's been quite cathartic writing music in this period, and sort of expressing myself in that way. whilst just staying in my house slowly, going a bit mad. but like the music that I've been making has been quite often about small observations, like tiny, things like the growing, growing of seedlings or, just like reflection sort of small observations on walks that I've had. so it'd be nice to zoom in on like microscopic observations, during this time, but I've certainly had productive days and I've had unproductive days, so yeah, very often though.

Speaker 2: Right, right, right. And then has that changed from how it would be before, you know what I mean I know that a lot of, of us, have some routines that we can go through that help with the, with the going into the right brain, if you like, you know, going into a creative space and others, just leave it up to chance, you know, for you, do you have a routine or something that you do that puts you in that right frame of mind

Speaker 3: Well, you know, it's been good for me to think about my routine because I haven't ever really thought about my process too deeply actually, because I guess they've been really lucky and I've just traveled a lot. So I've had the chance to, to get inspired by my environment a lot. And the people that I I've played music with and I've played music group, so many different people around the world, which all feeds into my own, like creativity in my art, but, and yeah, my environment as well, feeds into that. And so I guess my routine has been something yeah. That I've really tried to implement in, in this kind of still the last few months. and I find like it's maybe a bit of a cliche to say, but just getting out of your own head, walking out side in nature.

Speaker 3: and just having like last time, sitting with your thoughts sort of helps move the energy through my body. and, I find it, yeah, I useful way to, to get the creative juices flowing. I also really like just doing something that's like unrelated to my practice as musicians. So like writing, I love writing and, just like exploring words in general. like I, I love writing just whatever comes out in my head, just like a series of bubbles, babbling words, and that quite often of, for real formalizes an idea for a song or I'm a piece of music or like painting is something else that I love. And yeah, I love being active as well, in climbing Hills and, also, you know, what, one of the, one of my main sources of inspiration is talking to people, talking to inspiring musicians and my community. And so I think I really missed that during lockdown. So, so yeah, just, it's good to be aware. It's certainly made me more aware of, of my, my schedule and what I need in my life to feel creative and inspired. And

Speaker 4: I, the, in your podcast, you interview and you have these mini interviews with other musicians and you podcast for anyone that doesn't know it's called figuring out how to be at home for musicians. so have you found that there are commonalities, you know, have you found that people that have had similar experiences or, and how have they, dealt with the issues that you've just mentioned

Speaker 3: Yeah. You know what, that's such a beautiful thing for me to link up with other musicians in these last few months who are going through this same thing. I mean, there's a commonality, like a global commonality going on right now and we're all in it together. And so there's a shared experience, which has been really comforting. and yeah, there's been a lot of similarities and that we've, we've discovered through the sharing of ideas and, sharing of each other's processes. and I think most people, most musicians, I know particularly those who tour regularly get, gather their inspiration from their experiences outside of their home, from yeah, other people and, jamming with different musicians, and also audience that's being cracked come and, source of inspiration, you know, just people are so generous to support musicians, and they give you their time and energy.

Speaker 3: I'm Lemmy and it's just an amazing, it's such a privilege, to be able to do that and to sort of survive doing that. and yeah, I think I didn't really realize before how much I gained from that, that generosity that my audience and I suppose my fan base, our fan base, gives me, so yeah, I can't wait to go back to that. And that is certainly like the overriding message through all the people we've interviewed for the podcast is that we just can't wait to get back to work and be with our fans and be in the same room, as people be able to share air and, like feel each other's body language, you know, it's, it's so much more distinct children than just like zoom concerts, zoom festivals are. So I've done quite a few as well.

Speaker 3: how's that been doing zone festivals, just being really great that they've been, something, you know, that have been opened up, because of this time. And I think it's exciting. It's an exciting medium, and it's one that is still very new to us. And we're all still learning about how like the pros and cons apart works. I mean, it's, it's quite one dimensional in one respect, but it's also opens up possibility for global collaboration, which is really exciting. It also opens up like more kind of electronic potential for the music. but it also limits the sound quality a lot. It's obviously, you need to have really, really good internet, really good sound equipment in order for it to kind of function well, you need to have a really good supportive, like technical team, I think, in order for things to, to work smoothly. So there've been good and bad experiences coming out of that. but I'm just really grateful that I've, I've been involved in that discussion and that learning process. it's been a challenge at times as it has for all of us, but, it's a process or a learning together, to combat this, like this, like a screens, these screens between us.

Speaker 4: Absolutely. And, you know, when you first started writing music, what do you feel, happened for you that made you love music You know, how did love your love for music actually surface in your life In the first instance,

Speaker 3: It was always very instinctual for me. And I kind of sang with my, my parents, are just incredible people. they're really open minded and they always just encouraged music making and like artistic expression in the house. And when I was young and I saw him from when I was like, partly I sang before I could speak and like used to like make up songs and sing them to my parents, my brothers, I'm not sure if they were willing to perceive them, but I saw them anyway. and so, yeah, it was very instinctual. It was, like a really open environment from a very young age. And, I joined a choir and whenever it was really, we, I think I was like six or seven. and then I played the violin and the piano from both the same age. and I played, I was really lucky cause, I was like in these two worlds at one world and from peoples in the Scottish borders.

Speaker 3: And so this first world was traditional music, particularly border ballads, folk music, tunes. And I had a Jew with my neighbor, here's the fiddle player as well called shut-up horse. So we like jammed together a lot in, in like folk folk music and themes, and people's original are thriving, out there and then panic and boarders and have loads of cool music activities going on, reserves apparel. And then also, when I was nine, I went to, st Mary's music skill and I was in bruh. so that was like, I was a car or the cathedral smears cathedral from the age of nine. And that was why when I started playing the, and that it was like just such an incredible, like eyeopening introduction to the world, like in inverted commas, classical music, because, you know, I, I had the daily, opportunity to sing in this huge cathedral, and staying as a, an acquire and learn how to read music and acquire and learn how to, be in a choir and like the social and music-making the singing together thing, has just been completely like the foundations for my musical life actually.

Speaker 3: And it was, it was such a, like good regimented, experience of being a musician because we had to get up really early every morning and sing for an hour before school learn the music for the service and the evening. And so there was that like, you know, discipline was a big part of my life from the age of nine. And so that's, you know, that was the, I guess, all as long as well as introducing me to loads of just absolutely amazing music by, by, like sacred musicians, choral musicians, I mean, I'm not religious myself, but this music is just unbelievably beautiful and it's been made for this space, this like has this, old ancient space. And it was just so nice to feel like I was a part of that. So as well as, you know, me immersed in this music, it was also kind of the start of my journey to discipline and to practice then my relationship with practice in general, and how important that that is.

Speaker 3: And, it's been a really, kind of like ever evolving relationship my relationship with my practice, and like my relationship with my instrument. and yeah, just like keeping on top of that. It's, I started early and it's still a challenge to practice and, to return to my instrument, to return to the same thing all the time when it's, you know, things are difficult is there's a joy to it and, but there's also a duty to it. so yeah, th the dance of, of discipline and practice has been one that I loved. and yeah,

Speaker 4: Yeah, because being a musician is not just about the moment that you feel inspired as it's also just it's craft as well.

Speaker 3: Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. That's, that's really true. I think, you know, the craft side of music is just the daring. It, you just do it, you just, it's about just doing it every day and implementing it into your life and returning to it, even when you don't want to. you know, I don't think, I think there's a lot to be gained from that, from that discipline. and also it just opens up the potential for loads of really interesting creative output, because if you're going to your instrument, like in all aspects of your life, when you're feeling, no matter how you're feeling at any point in your life, then it's, I feel like it's a genuine expression of what you're going through. and it becomes, yeah, just more flowing and easier in a way and more instinctual. Yeah. So,

Speaker 4: Well, what I'm hearing is that, you know, you're putting your, your feelings on where you're in your experiences through the art, and it's almost like an excavating your soul, you know, and to what's going to emerge from there. And that, that's your inspiration. And I'm wondering, you know, have you ever been creatively blocked or is that not an issue for you at all

Speaker 3: Actively blocked Yeah, certainly. I mean, I'd say the only times I've felt like unable to make music is when I'm stagnant. So, or when I'm really busy, it sort of goes to either extremes them. So for example, there was a time in lockdown where I can write music, but I could practice. I could still practice things. I know that makes sense. It's still read music obviously and, and play music. I couldn't create music. I find it. I just didn't find the inspiration was to me. but then also in the past, I felt really saturated with like session gigs and, playing other people's music and like the necessity for survival as a musician, which is a massive one, you know, we have to do lose if I'm like corporate work and take on work for the money because, you know, well, that's obviously a side of the job that's, that's necessary in order to do the thing that you maybe like particularly want to do, which is the creative side of it.

Speaker 5: Yeah. But, well, how did you come out of the block then What was something that you did in particular that helped you Well,

Speaker 3: The two things that the, the busy-ness thing has been something I've considered a lot over the last two years in particular, sort of, for one, once I turned 30, I was like, okay, I need to make sure that I am prioritizing my creativity, like to, in, in a really mindful way. so that I feel fulfilled enough with my creativity and I'm also making enough money. And I'm also, sustaining myself in that way, because I think like that's a really satisfying thing as well, to be able to sustain yourself as a musician. it's, it's, it's very rewarding just to be able to play music prototype. and so I, I looked at my life and I just looked at where I was putting my energies, and what I was getting out of those experiences. And I tried to just, yeah, schedule my time much more clearly, and prioritize my creativity.

Speaker 3: and I also, I mean, I don't know if this is this, obviously isn't like a business podcast, but I opt my fees for like wedding gigs and things, which actually really helped me for, for how I sort of valued myself, like, cause, I just like recognize the value of my time. and like, yeah. if I, you know, got the wedding prep, I kind of wanted to cut back on, on playing wise in cakes and make sure that the wedding gigs that I did do, I felt really good about, you know, I'd spent a lot of time thinking about the music, for the wedding and thinking about, like the, yeah, just making sure everything was taken care of really thoroughly and properly. And I was, mindfully doing it instead of just focusing on them, like the next one and the next, you know what I mean

Speaker 3: I also spent a lot of time, looking for opportunities for, composing opportunities. And so I had quite a few exciting opportunities, that came out of that, including writing a big band piece, which is called the light gatherer, for, for harps string trio, drum, kit, piano, horns two horns. And that was like probably a real turning point. when I look back for me, because I realized that that was one of my real passions just to, to get an opportunity like that and get paid to really, really spend time, like crafting this like significant piece of work. And so, yeah, that was like an hour long piece that I did for Manchester jazz festival. and it says seven Carolyn Duffy poems to music. and Caroline Delphia is one of my favorite poets. and so it was a project that's sort of been bubbling in the back of my mind for a number of years. So to realize that dream, felt really amazing, and, set, set the bar, I think, for what has happened since then and what I want out of my life since then. And so, yeah, I, I've had a few other exciting commissions since then and I'm looking for more and it's just like trying to make sure that I have time to look for those commissions and yeah. To, to invest in, in my composition. Right.

Speaker 2: So it's like, it sounds like it's about also striking a balance between commissions and you're writing your own songs. Is that something that, comes easy to you What, what, what are you any tips that you'd like to give us our listeners well, for me, I mean, I'm perhaps

Speaker 3: A little bit different from, from some other musicians because I really thrive on, on variety. I don't really want to pin myself to one thing too much. So I've got all those different projects going on all the time and that serve apart in my identity as an artist is that, I'd like to, yeah. Like to move and, keep my brain really active in that sense. but with that comes a lot of organization. So, I'm always thinking about the future and thinking about what I want to be doing, next year and in five years and reorganizing that in my head as well. Like depending on what happens in my life, like obviously this last few months there's been a massive reorganization for us all. yeah, I've, I've worked really hard on that and spent a lot of time just considering what I want my future to look like.

Speaker 3: I spend a lot of time, like just doing administrative jobs for my other bands as well. I spent a lot of time, having meetings, talking to people about, about what I want to do, because I find if you have meetings with, with them, I don't know, agents or mentors or, people who work in the industry in some capacity, and just your, your community, I guess, people, you know, that, you get inspired by and who are interested in what you do. I find it really useful having meetings and articulating your, your, your art and your journey. And, like it's a really useful way to like formalize your ideas, because you have to articulate yourself to someone else. So they are articulating yourself to someone else, is a really productive thing in itself. Yeah. And I think the other thing is, I don't know if any of your listeners are, are solo artists probably quite a few of us are.

Speaker 3: And, I, I think that is, is a big challenge because it's quite isolated anyway. it can be a very isolated experience working for yourself, feeling like you're alone, forgetting about all of your support network. and I find it really useful actually working with my friends, my fellow solar artist, friends, and just doing administrative tasks together. That's a really nice way to motivate each other. but yeah, it's, it's nice to just remind yourself of your community, when you're in that like isolated world and just make sure that you yes, socialize, and have meetings, even if, if, if you don't feel like it. And if you think that you would benefit from just, you know, head down being in the household date. I think, yeah, for me, I just know that if I have too much time on my own, it sort of becomes the opposite of productive. It becomes, I just slow down and I just thrive off other people and their energy and their ideas. and so, yeah, I'd say try and arrange meetings, even if it's just a big up yourself with your pal, is there a really, like useful thing to do I think

Speaker 4: So. Have you been doing that on zoom during the new hand, his time Or has it been like in, in person socially distance to meetings Yeah.

Speaker 3: Yeah, both, quite a lot on zoom. and, yeah, with my Juul, we, we, check in with each other at least two times a week, three times a week normally, and for like a two hour meeting and we'll just do like administration work together.

Speaker 4: That's fantastic. And I have thought of that.

Speaker 3: Yeah. It's really nice. Yeah. It's, it's nice just to like, know that you're working at the same time together. and yeah, I've had, a few like made in you a few new friends within the Edinburgh music scene actually during lockdown. And my partner is really involved in the Denver scene. So, he's introduced me to a load of new musicians that I didn't know about. So that's been really nice to see you invest more in my local music scene, which I've sort of been a little bit absent format actually, because I've been touring so much, and putting out like in different parts of the world more than in Asbury. So,

Speaker 4: Yeah, and I mean, I know you're not touring now, but since you are a touring musician, what would you say is the most fulfilling part about, being a touring musician

Speaker 3: I think, Oh, it's, it's so inspiring and such a privilege to get to know different, different people around the world and I'm learning about their community. And it's so amazing seeing like, particularly like maybe voluntary rung, art centers and music halls around the world that are run on love and the love of music and the love of life art. and you know, people just, you turn up, you maybe been on the bus all day or being driving, you know, a lot of the day and you turn up and like people, you know, open their arms to you. They give you food, they want to sit and listen to you, play music. It's amazing. It's like, it's just like blows my mind sometimes generosity of people with that. And, like how, how, how people give you the time of day and they want to hear your ideas.

Speaker 3: and like just holding space, you know, and like holding the ritual of a live music event or like a live event is, is so, like connecting in such a deep way. And to, to people that like you don't know at all, and you get to connect to them in this really deep, like what feels like a really meaningful way. and you get to do that, you know, on a regular basis and it's, yeah, so fulfilling, so enriching. and a real honor, and I think we were talking about this actually last night, and there's also like an element of power with that, which is quite a lot of responsibility, but it's something you should, I think we shouldn't take lightly as performing artists because, there's, you know, there's, there's obviously a lot of difficult parts of the job, like being tired all the time.

Speaker 3: and you late nights, a lot of the time, a lot for like driving roads, a lot of sleepy and dodgy hotels or wherever. and sometimes, you know, you might not get what you asked for the gig or things might get difficult with, with them or awkward somehow, talking to people, but all of those things kind of pale in comparison with, for awards. and like just reminding ourselves that there is a power there and we need to honor that power and take it seriously and be responsible with it. and, look after our funds and people that want to hear live music.

Speaker 4: Could you tell me more about, you know, how, how can this problem be abused You know, what are your concerns there

Speaker 3: I think I just mean that, when people, sometimes you perhaps you'll get, disgruntled about being tired or you'll take for granted the fact that you're on stage and maybe like there's a danger, certainly a danger for like, I dunno,

Speaker 4: Good to get in the way.

Speaker 3: And, because, you know, you're, you're given this platform the stage, you can maybe consider that you've got something important to say, just automatically because you have this platform, but I guess it's just remembering that because you have, this is sort of the opposite way around because you have this platform, then you have to be, have something important to say, or you had to like seek something really like

Speaker 4: Yes.

Speaker 3: Old people and respond to people in that moment. Be really aware of that moment. And, yeah, just, yeah, inquisitive and open minded to, to that.

Speaker 4: Yeah, in a way you are serving your audience by being there, you know, rather than it being an ego trip of I'm more important than you and becoming complacent, you know, I can see that could happen. Yeah.

Speaker 3: Strange thing, you know, like playing live music, getting to go on stage and being looked at all the time. It can get it's, it's a very strange thing to do on a regular basis that they, I mean, do you ever get nervous

Speaker 4: These days or is it something, you know, that's never happened to you or something of the past

Speaker 3: No, I certainly get nervous Italia. Well, I've had, I've been quite nervous doing zoom gigs at first. I was really nervous doing them because, it's like, yeah, you don't get any feedback at all. For me, it's kind of hard to know what they're thinking. When you think you're worried, you worry that maybe they're just ignoring you. I don't have anything to say two years of it. but yeah, I mean, I do get nervous a lot. sometimes, I mean, there's no sort of rhyme or reason to my nerves. sometimes they just come on and sometimes they, they are non-existent. Yeah.

Speaker 2: So when they do come on, do you have a way to deal with them that,

Speaker 3: I guess I'm quite well equipped narrowed to just powering through, I try to just them act, act more when I'm nervous. So, like make myself look as big as possible. Yeah. Or, or like, and just like over, like maybe like be a bit over theatrical to like overcompensate, if that makes sense. And also I've been working quite a lot on breathing when I'm on stage, because it's really easy to forget to read. And that's where the shakes come in. cause like, yeah, like I used to get terrible shakes. and then, that obviously means that you're, you're playing is, can get like, not so smooth. and so, I've been working on with breathing and just like trying to measure your breathing before you go on stage is really good. feel really grounded and, and satisfied with like the placement of, yourself on stage as well. Like just shifting yourself to make sure you're really comfortable there. and also just like humanizing the experience I think for yourself. So just remembering that people don't want perfection, I think like people love humans, you know, they love to see the real, genuine, authentic version of you. I think that's why people are interested in like music because it's not perfect. I think, you know, it wouldn't be live if it was perfect. Yeah.

Speaker 2: Yeah. There will be listening to a, you know, a record. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. And the breathing. Yeah. I found myself, you know, I, I had a big problem with performance anxiety for years and one of the things that helped me, among many was breathing, you know, taking a deep breath before getting on stage, walking in on the stage and breathing out, then breathing again, looking at the audience and then breathing out, starting, you know, and it's like giving yourself the time to actually take in what's happening. Absolutely.

Speaker 3: Yeah. Cause things are speed up. So when they, when you're onstage, like naturally I think I play faster. Yeah. I like my brain kind of goes or like wears away really fast. So if you can counter that by just breathing like, and not being afraid of audible breathing, I think that's quite an empowering thing actually. cause sometimes I, I, I'm just very, I get self conscious, I suppose, so I don't want to make a noise other than the music, but it's okay to breathe. Everyone makes noise when they breathe. It's okay to breathe. Yes. Yeah.

Speaker 2: I was interested also in what you said earlier about, practice and, I guess, you know, just a question came into my mind about rehearsals, because you know, I, I've met a few people who really hate rehearsing, you know, they find it boring or, or, you know, very hard to, you know, slog through and, but you said, you know, practice for you is actually fun. And then there's something that you enjoy. So how do you make practice fun

Speaker 3: Oh, that's a great question. well I think it's about always seeking more depth. I think you have to be curious about your own music and again, it's like an ego thing. It's like you remove yourself from what's come before and from what your like, idea of what the music should it be before. and you focus on what needs to be done in that moment. it's it's about like always putting your ears first. so I mean, practice doesn't need to be repetition. Right. I think that's like the difference between, like people think you just need to do the same thing every day and that's what practices, but, or that's what rehearsal is, but it's about finding, finding more depth, like the seeking are more depths, opening your ears up to, the possibility and also like the physical side of practice as well, like am really, like relating to the physical state of your practice. So, seeing what your fingers like can do that makes them sound different, really engaging with the physical side of like a warmup. So moving your body, and making sure that you feel really comfortable, in different settings. and also like, I mean, this is probably quite nerdy, but I'm obsessed with metronomes

Speaker 3: Practicing with metronomes and like treating them like a Jew, a partner, and like using different, like metronome beats for different beats of the bar relating to them in loads of different ways. and like you can use the, to practice, swing rhythm, you can use them to practice scales. You can use them to like, practice off beats and, it's just like, it's a really nice way to engage your, your ears, directly. but yeah, I'd say that. I mean, practice for me is like, yeah, this constant struggle sometimes is something that I'm used to struggling with, but it is a struggle and it's like any practice I get, I guess it's like yoga or meditation or the practice of, scheduling your life or any kind of practice that you want to implement in your life. Any kind of like daily, like ritual that you are looking for in your life is it's just about doing it, persevering with it, engaging with it and with your brain and your body in the moment. Right. and yeah, I think it's, it's just about coming back to it over and over, and if you're bored with it, I think, that's a sign that you're not engaging with it enough and that you need to question what, you're the sound that you're making, because if you're a board with the side that you're making, then you know, like the, it is the other people.

Speaker 2: Well, that is very, very true. I never thought of that or no, change it up a bit and pay attention to what you're doing. I like how you're thinking about the physical side as well, because I think we forget a lot about it.

Speaker 3: Yeah. Oh, I mean, this is all just me, you know, like prophesizing, because I certainly feel bored myself when I'm practicing sometimes. Especially like, if there's, I'll tell you what, maybe it's not boredom, maybe that's the wrong word, but if I know that I have something to practice, that I maybe don't know that well, and that haven't got insight that well, and then I guess it's just like facing that challenge of all of the things, all of the new things, the new questions, the new emotions that I'm going to feel when I really invest the time and energy into learning this thing. And like just kind of overcoming that barrier of,

Speaker 2: Wait a minute. So are you saying that you're thinking about the benefits basically, you're thinking this is how, imagine how amazing I'm going to feel once I've learned to these fees Is that

Speaker 3: Yeah, well, I was actually saying the opposite, so the barrier, but yeah, that is certainly something that you should think you should like think positive and, think about how you'll feel after you've gained all this knowledge. But I was saying that, you know, the barrier between you and all of that, like facing that, all of that stuff can be just quite daunting and overwhelming sometimes. And having, having to look at yourself, and engage with something on a deep level can be quite a scary thing and, confronting in a lot of ways. so yeah, just like that hurdle can be hard. That's the hard direct for me.

Speaker 2: Right. There's one I can relate to that, you know, apart from of singing and playing guitar, I play drums. And, sometimes when there is a particular difficult, passage, you know, one of the things that I do is I actually do two things. One is I actually start repeating in my mind, it's easy, it's easy, it's easy. And the other thing I do is slow down to a crawl and you know, like I'm a child who cannot play offs. Yeah. They're very slowly, slowly ramp it up. But you know, with three King almost tricking my brain, I use a metronome as well, tricking my brain, you know, it's only five beats more.

Speaker 3: Yeah, this is great. Like thinking like a child, this is something that I always try to come back to. It sort of makes you more playful with it, I think. And I'm like freeze up, freeze up your, kind of adult brain with all of its loaded, expectations. yeah. And something that, another top tip that I got recently is that, you know, like the emotional relationship that you have with your practice is really interesting. So, someone said that you should, you should work yourself. the day before, like the day before you went to go and perform something, you should work yourself until you feel like really frustrated and that you can play it, get to that point because we all need to get to that point where you feel like, you know, this, this like, Oh, I know, good. And I can't play this. It's not in terms not friends make or whatever, and then go to bed, leave it once you get to that point. And then like the next day you can play it much better. You sort of come to terms with the emotional roller coaster. Yeah.

Speaker 2: Yeah. Actually I have done that. And the other thing actually, psychologically that happens is that, you know, when you, when you go to sleep, especially in the early hours of the morning, that's when your brain starts making new connections about what you've learned the day before. So that's, partly to blame or to thank for this, you know, these resolved, basically when you go back, you will be able to do the, you know, to go through that piece for sure. Better than the day before. For sure. Yeah.

Speaker 3: And that ties in with the creativity thing, because, I think when we create like the spaciousness is as important as the actual sort of sitting down at the computer or at the counter, or however you create and doing it, I think like the consolidation period, like the distilling periods and like the marinating periods is like as important, if not more important to just like, you know, let those ideas that are, that are gonna stay, stay in your brain and let the other ones fall out of your brain. Cause I think that's the challenge actually. Well, for me, and probably for a lot of people is that we have these ideas coming to us all the time and like you have to Wade through them somehow and work out which one's thick and which ones don't and like most of them don't, you know And so you have to dismiss them. You have to kind of, yeah. Just, just see which ones stick and have that like disassociation for a moment and be able to let them go. Yeah.

Speaker 2: Yeah. I know that when I write a song, I usually have to kind of run it all in one sitting at least the bare bones of it, because otherwise I'll forget all about it. But one of the things that I do is I record as I go, like, so say I do a section one, section two, section three, you know, and I, I record it as I go and then, but then the day after I go back and kind of before I listened to that, I try to redo it because sometimes I get new ideas the second time over.

Speaker 3: Yeah. I think that's, that's a really cool way to do it. Like, you know, the voice memo thing on the iPhone, if you have an iPhone, it's like, it's so useful. Cause you can just record something and then listen back to it whenever you want. And from the recording you get like so much about the emotion of it, you get like the feel for it, you get the speeds and you get like the kind of like Headspace that you were in from, as much as the actual like notes themselves. so yeah, like I totally agree. That's such a great way to, to learn and like to improve your songs and, to return to your material. I mean, sometimes I, I really like just, just having a really, really quick, if I've, if I know I've got deadline and I've got like a, a piece to write and I've got like a, say four movements or something, that I need to write, so I need four ideas, minimum, you know, I'll have like our super quick brainstorm and just play whatever pops into my head and just record that. And then like, come back to that in a week or something. and like already that distilling period, has been really useful and I've maybe like thought about those ideas and like, I come back to those ideas and like, I feel like they've developed already. That makes yeah,

Speaker 2: Yeah, yeah, yeah. You know, way, it reminds me of the process of writing, you know, your first draft, your second draft, you know, first draft it's like, you know, just let's dump some ideas on this piece of paper and not worry too much about it. And then, you know, refine, refine, refine, refine until you're happy with it. But yeah, in that process, you need to be ready to discard what doesn't work without getting too attached to it.

Speaker 3: Yeah. Like it's all, I mean, it's all just about the ego is returned to that light loads, but it's just so interesting. Like that's the are of practice, like make challenges your ego a lot because you have to be critical of yourself, but in a productive way. Yeah. All the time. so you have to let your light, your kind of previous self goal, open up to new experiences, like, and have the capacity for that as well, have the capacity to allow yourself to be open to new experiences all the time, almost daily. So I feel really lucky to have that in my life as is sort of my version of vegetation. I think,

Speaker 2: You know, what I play my drums are definitely feel like a meditating because if I think about it too much, I'm not going to be able to do it. If I don't concentrate, I can't do it. It's like you gotta be in this sort of state in between where you're challenged enough, so you're not bored, but it's not so difficult that it's frustrating. And, and I think also when it is frustrating, yes, it's good to do what you said before, but also I think it's important to not beat yourself up, you know, to really stop that critical part as like, you're no good. You're no good because then otherwise you're not going to go back.

Speaker 3: Definitely. Yeah. That's the big danger. The beating yourself up a voice that comes back is, I think, yeah, that, that voice, really stops us. Doesn't it And it puts too much pressure on like what we haven't done instead of what we have done, what our capabilities are. So, so yeah, it's, it's being open to, to the learning process and saying yes to things or something. My friend, the other day he was saying she was getting into, you probably know Kate young, she's a phenomenal musician. Yeah. And, she was saying she has been practicing like the art of the yes. Spiral. And so you just like, basically tell yourself, like, instead of being critical at all by herself, you just tell yourself that, yes, this is great. This is the best thing. Just continually say, like tell yourself that this is the best thing. And then you get into the sort of flow state of like positivity. Yeah. It's quite interesting.

Speaker 2: That's a good Dante dull, if you are stuck in a negative spiral for sure. And one of the things that can be done as well as never comparing yourself to other people or, you know, it's just important to kind of go, okay, you know, am I in the grand scheme of things progressing So it doesn't matter. Even if you know, today I'm terrible and yesterday I was amazing and tomorrow be terrible again. And then amazing. Again, it's more like, okay, overall, if I look at myself, I don't know, three years ago, you know, as I progressed. Exactly. Yeah.

Speaker 3: I think that's, yeah. The comparison thing is a real danger in our society at the moment with the, social media, being such a big part of people's identity and people's lives like, and the weight of that, like seeing people and their achievements and their very sort of superficial level of achievements on social media, and like this shiny version of themselves and that like, I mean also producing that shiny version of yourself for social media. I think that, can, can be a really dangerous thing for people who are kind of naturally comparative and, worry about themselves against other people, as you say, there's space for all of us and we're all unique and we all have, so much to learn from each other. And, we can, yeah, we can learn from ourselves as well. And it's about recognizing that and just, yeah, like trying to, to challenge those voices that tell us to that kind of encourage us to compare ourselves with others, see ourselves as less in any way.

Speaker 2: And also seeing, you know, the old game of some kind of competition because the mom and you started seeing that that way. Well, you can't really win. Can you, you know, because there's always going to be somebody else who's got more support and more money and more than whatever, you know, he's younger and thinner and whatever may be.

Speaker 3: Yeah, exactly. I mean, yeah. And that's, that's amazing. They've, they've done something that, you know, they've, managed to get to a spot that is really good for them, but maybe they haven't, you know, maybe there's something that we're not seeing and maybe they're miserable or, I mean, it's, it's, we're all going through different journeys of self discovery all the time and we have different priorities and we have different things that bring us joy and different challenges. So yeah. So yeah, like humanizing those people and humanizing ourselves.

Speaker 2: Yeah. Another assuming anything either, because it's so easy, you know, to assume from a picture, Oh, this person's a perfect life is like really well, you don't really know that, do you Yeah. I think it's time to, to just show our listener, your wonderful music. And, you, you were saying you go into play for us today, a song that is called this space. So before you sing it and play it on, on your arm, can you tell us

Speaker 3: Yeah, I'd love to, so, well there's some was written during work, Darren, actually, and it's called this space, so it's a bad person space. and I wrote it for the Scotsman sessions actually, and I was part of the Scotsman sessions in their first week and they neither have been running for a good few months. They've got loads of amazing, Scottish artists involved and it's basically an opportunity to play, play a song or a piece of music, that you've written during this period. And there's like a little interview that goes with it as well. So, the song is about the challenge of space, what it means to us, and yeah, like how it can be a really good thing as well, basically. Awesome. Alright. Whenever you're ready.

Speaker 2: That was my guest whom I like to thank once again for coming to the show every week, I'll be chatting to fantastic in the performers to uncover what it really takes to be a female independent singer songwriter in this day and age and how we can support one another to keep shining our light onto the world through our creative endeavors. So make sure you don't miss out by subscribing today to be seen and follow us on slash there to be seen pod. I've been your host Elizah DiNapoli AKA. Lisa will pass. Thank you for listening. And please do rate and review the show. I'd love to hear your thoughts unless you hate me. In which case you can skip that bit.

Speaker 1: That's all for this episode of dare to be seen. Join the conversation on to be seen podcast and help create an empowering community of independent female singer songwriters who support one another for show notes, resources and information on today's episode, visit tiny to be seen. I remember to shine your own unique light onto the world. It needs it.

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