How To Survive Your First Cruise

There are many different types of vacations one can take. Taking a cruise for me was out of the question. My fear of water and inability to swim took major part in that. So you may ask yourself, “Why did I decide to go on a cruise?” The answer is simple, for the love of music.

How did music lead me to a cruise?

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Photo By: Nancy Alatorre

Now that’s an excellent question. Well, there is this awesome cruise called ParAhoy with my all time favorite band, Paramore! Imagine getting the opportunity to spend four days around your favorite band, surrounded by other amazing musicians heading to a magical island in Mexico also known as Cozumel! How could I say no? So I packed up my floaties (not literally) and I prepared to set sail.

Choosing the right cruise for you.

In the cruise industry there are many different types of cruises. Ex: Luxury, adventure, theme, family vacation and music. The first thing you want to decide when toying with the idea of taking a cruise is picking the right type of cruise for you. Things to look for are, length of the cruise and of course the destination. The last thing you want is to be stuck on a boat in the middle of the ocean regretting your decision. For me the choice was simple, music. I can’t imagine going on any other type of cruise.

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Photo By: Nancy Alatorre

So, what do I pack?

Being prepared for your cruise is probably the most important thing of all. I was a bit lost when it came to packing for my cruise. Luckily for me I had many coworkers that had been on cruises before. Here are a couple of things I suggest that helped me throughout my voyage.

  1. Travel Documents.
    • I kept having recurring dreams that I was going to forget my passport. That’s the last thing you need when you are about to board your ship. I would suggest keeping these documents close to you.
  2. Appropriate clothing.
    • Make sure you pack for your destination. Ex: Bathing suits;dressy clothes.
  3. Camera
    • Although we all like to live in the moment, we also like to have something to look back on and share our favorite memories. You can keep it simple. I used my iPhone to document my journey.
  4. And last but not least Poo~Pourri
    • Poo-per what? I know it sounds a bit odd at first but trust me, you’ll thank me later.

Get out of your comfort zone, have some FUN!

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Photo By: Nancy Alatorre

One of the great things about going to a place you’ve never been before are the unknown adventures that await you. Here is where I would suggest you be open to the unknown and trying new things. While in Cozumel I was planning on just taking a taxi to the beach and hanging out with all the other tourists. Instead I decided to get a little crazy and rent a Jeep. I started my journey touring the island, top down and wind in my face. In the middle of my trip I encountered a massive storm. I had to decide quick if I was going to take it on head first or turn around. I decided to pull over, put the top back on my Jeep and take it on. Some may say that might have not been the best idea, but in my experience it was amazing! Granted, probably not the safest thing to have done but it lead me to one of the best views.

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Photo By: Nancy Alatorre

One of the biggest take aways from this whole trip was the amazing people that I met. I feel that it’s important for people to be kind and be open to making new friends.

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It’s amazing to me how music can unite people from all over the world. Everyone coming together in one place because of one common factor, the love of music. I hope to one day as a musician be able to unite people the same way. Now that I’ve told you a bit about my experience with my fist cruise, what artist would you love to see perform on a cruise? If you have gone a music cruise, share your experience below, I’d love to hear about it!

How Your Life Can Change From Taking A Risk

Have you ever wanted to do something but, were too afraid of failing? Yeah, I’ve definitely been there. For me, that “something” was music. As a kid I always dreamt of the day where I would build up the confidence to play in front of people. It all started when I watched my dad sing and play his guitar. I thought it was the coolest thing ever! I decided one day to pick up a guitar and give it a shot.

I made up my mind, lets go! 

After spending a couple years learning how to play the guitar, I made some musically talented friends along the way. One of them invited me to jam out with him. At fist I was hesitant, having performance anxiety doesn’t work in your favor when the purpose of a jam session is to play in front of another person. I decided to take a risk and against all odds managed not to pass out from my high level of uneasiness. After that day I realized the majority of the battle I was fighting was all in my head.

Crisis averted, what’s next? 

A couple of jam sessions later I got talked into playing with my friend at an open mic. At first my immediate response was a hard no. One thing was playing in front of one person but, the idea of playing in front of a group of people in public was a disaster waiting to happen. Every inch of my body was shaking just with the thought of it. I sat there for a while and for some reason I got this unknown courage and agreed to play cajon (box shaped percussion instrument) with him on stage. In my mind I figured that no one would really be focusing on me since I wasn’t actually singing. I spent the entire time on that stage looking straight at the ground and keeping the beat. Not the best stage presence but it got the job done.

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Hey! It’s me looking at the ground! Photo Credit: Echoo

I started something, now watch me run!

After playing on stage for the first time in front of a group of people, I realized it was something I wanted to keep on doing. I decided to sign up for an open mic session later on that month. I immediately regretted my decision but decided to see it through, take a risk and perform solo. I had a boost of confidence when I decided to play without my glasses. “If I can’t see them, they can’t see me right?” at least that is what I kept on telling myself. I managed to make my through three songs and that was the start of my journey with public performances.

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Photo Credit: Echo

Don’t be afraid of being afraid.

The main thing with taking a risk is, fear. As humans it is in our nature to be afraid of failing, afraid of getting out of our comfort zones. The biggest thing I have learned in this experience is to use fear to your advantage. Fear can be one of our biggest motivators. There are going to be many times in life where you will find yourself in situations that you feel out of of place and getting out of your comfort zone may seem risky. If it wasn’t for me taking a risk that day and agreeing to do something as simple as having a jam session with my friend, I wouldn’t be the where I am today with music. This doesn’t mean I don’t struggle with performance anxiety still, it just means I’ve learned to balance it. Let me know in the comments, what has been one risk you took that changed your life?

 

How To Write A Song In 3 Steps

Have you ever wanted to put your feelings and thoughts into a song? Well, I have. Being a musician and a songwriter for quite some time now I have had plenty practice in this department. But, even then I still have trouble from time to time getting it all to come together. I’m going to take you on my journey through the three steps that I have found help me put my thoughts into a song.

What do you write about?

Songs don’t always have to be about things that have actually happened to you or feelings that you are currently experiencing. Songs are basically story telling in a musical form. Whether that be a message that you want to send out to the world about a social issue, or a make believe adventure through never land. I often times find myself writing about the most cliché topic in the world, love.

Step One: Get down with the music! 

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Photo Credit: Nancy Alatorre

For me coming up with the actual music is what comes easiest. I start by playing through some chord progressions. Often times it might be from a song that I’ve wrote before or covered. I find a way to make it my own. Guitar is my go to instrument when I’m songwriting. To spice up a chord progression I will go from different strumming patterns to finger picking style and then changing the tempo. You will find that by changing the guitar playing style, it can influence the mood of your song. When I am coming up with the structure of my song I will start an audio recording on my iPhone. You don’t need a high tech recording device for this. The reason that I do this is so that I can go back and reference a melody or riff that I may have come up with but don’t remember exactly how it went.

Step Two: Lyrics, get inspired!

After I come up with the musical composition for a song I go for the lyrics. Lyrics are the hardest part of songwriting for me. It is a recurring battle that I face. Before I actually go into writing words, I like to listen to songs that inspire me. I will listen to a couple of my favorite songs and focus on how they make me feel, what emotions they are triggering. After this I get the mood/topic for my song. Often times I find lyrics for my song by misunderstanding what the song I was listening to was actually saying. Weird, I know but it works out for me. A couple tips for writing lyrics are choosing a song form.

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Photo Credit: Nancy Alatorre

What are song forms?

If you don’t have any songwriting experience and have no idea what song forms are, have no fear. I found an awesome article that really nails it down and explains it in a way that doesn’t feel like rocket science.

Step Three: Name that tune!

Last but not least: The TitleEvery great song needs a title. For some reason this is the last thing I come up with when writing songs. There are even times where I will finish a song and never name it. I try to find the theme for the song, or a line that really stands out from the lyrics. Think about how the song makes you feel and what message you are trying to have your audience receive. It can be long or short, there are really no rules for this, just try not to make it a novel.

Relax, don’t stress.

If you find yourself in a writing slump, don’t give up! Take a break. This happens to me all the time. It is as if I programed writers block into my brain. One of the things that really helps me get through a rough writing slump is going outside for a walk. Or, you could always just  watch cat videos on youtube to help put your mind at ease. If you are a songwriter, what is your songwriting process? What are some ways that have helped you get through writers block? Leave a comment below and let’s taco-bout it!

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Photo Credit: 6dollarshirts.com