Saturday, 23 October 2010

Are You a T.A.T.A ? To The Teen Artists Trapped in Academia

Do you wake up every morning just longing for the chance to express yourself in art? Do you feel personally attacked by the existence of school uniforms and overly stringent dress codes? Do you long for the day that you will be free to learn the way you want to learn things, and about the things you want to learn? If so you may be a Teen Artist Trapped in Academia.

I feel like I can comment on the existence of the Teen Artists Trapped in Academia because I too was once a T.A.T.A. Trust me, the plight of a T.A.T.A is very sad. They are hardly difficult to identify and chances are that if you are not one yourself, you have at least run across some in the course of your life. Fitting into the conventions of academia is pretty hard especially if you are not a conventional person, and let's face it, the current state of academia can only appeal to so many people, because everyone is not the same, does not have the same goals and values and does not learn the same way. If you can't fit into the conventional academic structure, you might think that learning is not for you and that education is not a very worthwhile venture for you. You might think that school and education are equal to torture and may begin to look for several ways of fighting/escaping the system.

I can't blame you for wanting to stop the torture. I just think that it might be more worthwhile to try to work with it and to make it work for you.

Ever since Grade School I've known I was a little odd. I couldn't organise well. I would go through phases in my clothing during which I would pursue a particular style of dress for months at a time. I had a melange of mismatched bracelets, bangles and scrunchies on both hands, and took great delight in changing my hair style at least once a month. I spent weeks of my summer, reading in the public library, and hours creating and playing in my own incredibly intricate fantasy world, past the age of 10. By the time I was 12 I knew I wanted to be a fashion designer and literally counted down the years until I could go to University and start working on my dream. I hated learning traditionally, and always learnt better when I could physically be allowed to understand the concept holistically. Abstract cramming and random studying was never my thing, and classes in which you just sort of had to know something (i.e. commit something to memory), left me quaking under my sheets in horror. So if you do think that the traditional school system thing is not working for you believe me when I say I know how you feel. In fact, I was recently thinking about words of advice that I could give to current teen artists to help them learn to live with (and possibly love academia). Here are some of the tips I came up with:

  1. Embrace the fact that you are different and that you, like everyone else, have your strengths and your weaknesses. Look for your strengths, and spend at least some time every day working on them/ enjoying them. If most of your school work doesn't inspire you, definitely work on it but try to spend some time, writing music if it's what you like doing or join a dance class as an after-school activity. Do something that makes you happy everyday. It works wonders for your self-esteem.
  2. Don't put your dreams off until university. No. Scratch that. Don't put off your dreams period. Try to live them at least a little bit today. Do whatever you can for to work towards your dream in a little way today. It is never to early to start living the life you want to live.
  3. Try to look for the bright side in learning everything that you have to learn in school. Sometimes you might discover a hidden talent or random interest in an unexpected subject. Sometimes all you'll learn is that whatever you are taking is not for you. At least you've learnt something.
  4. Remember that no knowledge is wasted. Art is a reflection of life. Academia is awesome because it enables you to broaden your knowledge about the world around you and gives you the opportunity to build your well of experience. Creatives especially should be curious about the world around them because you can only improve what currently exists if you know what currently exists. So the next time you're trying to figure out how to survive another day in that class you hate, remember that inspiration can come from anywhere, and give the class (yet) another chance.
  5. Study the way you want. Only you truly know how best you learn. If you realise that rote memorisation does not work for you, try to learn the material in another way. If you don't know how best you learn, try taking a learning style test. No matter what kind of learner you are (visual, kinesthetic, auditory, etc), learning in a way that uses various methods to learn to learn the same subject matter tends to help you learn better. For example, while studying from your notes, you could try making lists, diagrams and pneumonics to help you remember what you've learnt. You could also try explaining general concepts out loud to yourself, to make sure you understand what you've just read.
  6. Adopt a more holistic approach to studying. I personally can not strictly memorize anything to save my life, so I try learning concepts and general ideas first, before attempting to place specifics into the mix. By getting the background info of a subject, I am able to paint a picture in my mind of what I'm trying to learn and then it becomes so much easier to remember the random facts that I need to know. One way in which you could make this easier to do would be to always know the why behind any particular fact. Knowing the why, even if its not necessary for the test, helps you make connections in your mind, and these connections can act as a guide leading you to the right answer if you ever get lost during a test.

Academia is not the devil. In fact, it can be a really powerful ally and can bring a whole new dimension to your art.

Love you all and Stay inspired,

P.S. So let me know what you think. Are you a T.A.T.A? Do you know one? How did you adapt to the world of Academia? Feel free to let me know in the comments below.

Seeking Inspiration: Creating from Chaos

Dearest Devotees,

There is a wildly held belief that artists must not only be able to live with and accept chaos but must able to miraculously draw beauty from said chaos. Now, whether there is any truth in this statement or not I can not say, but I have noticed that creative minds are usually able to create connections between seemingly disparate things. This talent helps artists to be able to see things in a new light and helps us free our minds from the conventional roles in which something is used. Have you ever taken anything apart (be it an idea, an object or a problematic situation) to understand it better only to find that taking it apart leads you to come up with a new way of looking at it? This process of destroying to rebuild is at the core of the idea of creating from chaos. When things are taken apart you are forced to see each part as an individual piece, with all of its own possibilities and potential roles outside of the roles that it had been playing in the group. This inspires creative thinking that can honestly lead to anywhere. Some ways in which this kind of connective creative thinking can come in handy include:
  • Looking for a theme for your first clothing collection from your mood/ inspiration board.
  • Renovating your room/personal space
  • Creating a storyboard for your next short film/youtube vlog/music video
  • Finding inspiration for your NaNoWriMo Novel
  • Looking for a stylistic theme for your costume design project
  • Solving a mini-crisis-soon-to-be-epic-crisis at your new business or within your group of friends/family (like when one friend thinks someone said something about the other that the other didn't person didn't say i.e. one of those he said-she said situations. )
And so much more :)

So, how do you develop this amazingly useful skill?
Well you could start with this week's Seeking Inspiration Exercise...

First of all, gather loads of wildly different things together, taking care to include a mix of both 2D and 3D pieces mix, and throw in things that appeal to all your senses. Mix them together, and move them around in any way you want on a flat surface like a board (the desk or the floor works well too).

Then, ask yourself these questions...
Is there any common theme?
What is the mood that you get from the scene?
Is there anything you are most pulled to?

Study your answers to the above questions and choose one of your answers as a springboard for your next work.

Links I've loved this week:

I honestly don't know how I hadn't known about this site before. Ideas is like a well of inspiration in and of itself.

Have you got what it takes to be a creative entrepreneur?

If you haven't seen this awe-inspiring talk on where good ideas come from, you need to see it. Now.

Soo much truth. Honestly if you are a writer you'll agree with me.

Three simple steps to a Clutter Free Creative Space has some pretty good ideas.

Love you all and Stay inspired,

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Reasons for My Smile: Beautiful music, letters from family and finding the silver lining

Dearest Devotees,

I've gotta admit this week has been pretty trying, but if there is anything I've learnt this semester it's that there will always be trying times in life, the only way to get through them is by doing my best and refusing to let them get me down. If I let the bad things get me down, then I may get to that awful place where I am unable to do anything to get myself out of it. I know that bad experiences sometimes inspire people to create but I've also realised that I can become so paralyzed by negativity that I am unable to even create. To stop this from happening, and to stay strong even in the face of adversity, I have learnt to look for the good things in my life and be grateful for them. By taking time out of my week to focus on these good things I am able to see that everything usually really isn't as bad as it seems. This is why I've decided to start writing about the things that have made me happy during the week.

Some of the reasons for my smile this week include:

  • Decorating my dorm room and looking for fall things to add to it.
  • Finishing 2 of my midterms without going crazy over them.
  • Preparing for an amazing Theology of the Body seminar this weekend. It will be epic.
  • Finding out what Inception: A musical in limbo as well as what Inception: The Musical is.
  • Starting to ease my way back into a blogging schedule.
  • My new-to-me-vintage-thrifted trunk!!!
  • Buying fabric for my Halloween costume- I'm making it and I'm going as Susie Carmichael from Rugrats
  • Having a deep conversation about Harry Potter over dinner.
  • Realising that my heart has been healed :)
  • Realising that I no longer have self-esteem issues or stage fright :)
  • Starting to catch up with life and all my obligations.
  • Getting an awesome email from my parents :)
  • Listening to beautiful music like There For You by Flyleaf, Fall For You by Secondhand Serenade, and Girls and Boys by Ingrid Michaelson.
  • Contacting my siblings
  • Hanging out with the awesome people God has blessed me with.
  • Swing-Dancing: I'm getting really good.
  • Going for adoration- it's just amazing and really calming.
  • Trying to transition this blog into my new vision for it.
  • Reading Mini-Shopaholic on my Kindle!
  • Learning the true meaning of love.
Love you all and Stay inspired,

P.S. So let me know what you think. What are the reasons for your smile this week? Feel free to let me know what you think in the comments below.
Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Love and Relationships- Thoughts on Love

The consciousness of loving and being loved brings a warmth and
richness to life that nothing else can bring.

-- Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) Irish Dramatist and Poet

Love you all and Stay Inspired,

Monday, 18 October 2010

What is Your Wildcard?

Dearest Devotees,

I mentioned my "wildcard" list in my last Renovate Your Life post and was asked to share mine with you. First of all for those who aren't really sure what it is, a wildcard list is a list of all the random things that you would really like to do, and that you would make you happy, but that may not be high on your priority list otherwise since you do not have to do them. An item on the list could be anything from signing up for swing classes to buying tickets to see a musical to going to the beach on a random Thursday afternoon.
It's sort of like the "happy, fun-time" alternative to the productive stereotypical to-do list, and for that reason, I make it a point to have one always present to pick from. In fact, lately I've found that crossing off something that can be put off until later from my too full to-do list and replacing it with something fun from my wildcard list, is the perfect way to get me motivated enough to power through everything I have to do for that day. The window of fun in my day, provides me with the breath of fresh air and sense of encouragement I need after a lot of draining work. So without further ado, here is what's on my wildcard list right now:

  • See a play at the theatre (probably for free using my Student Complementary Card)
  • Visit a photography gallery
  • Spend a couple of hours drawing at the Art Museum
  • Go to an orphanage to play with the kids, find one to get signed up for regular volunteering
  • Go to the parks
  • Go salsa and swing dancing with friends
  • Go to the library
  • Read Mini Shopaholic on Kindle at cute, little coffee shop.
  • See Easy A at the cinema.
  • See The Social Network at the cinema.
  • Bake cookies with friends.
  • Decorate Dorm room more- buy flowers, and create special corners :)
  • Watch TED talks on Creativity.
  • Go for a walk by the river.
  • Skype friends and family.
  • Explore more of the area where my dance classes are located.
  • See Romeo and Juliet opera
  • Find out what Inception : The Musical is.

I definitely recommend creating a wildcard list. It can help you stop and just enjoy life.

Love you all and Stay inspired,
P.S. So let me know what you think. Do you have a "wildcard list" ? What's on yours? Feel free to let me know in the comments below.
Friday, 15 October 2010

Renovate Your life: Rewiring Your System

Dearest Devotees,

Oh the ever present rut (and the constant battle to avoid said grueling rut)! Some of you have joined me in this life renovation project because you have the desire to reignite the internal fire that is your zeal for life, a fire that has been snuffed out by the dull stress of your daily routine. If that is the case, then this post is definitely for you.

Over the past couple of months I've noticed just how important it is to "rewire your system" by changing up your routine and doing something out of the ordinary every once in a while. It stops you from becoming to focused on the little grievances you have to endure in the course of your day, and helps you step back and see that there is so much more to life. Personally, it also gives me something to look forward to in a week, because even though I am now spending a lot more time doing creative work that I love, I've realized that it can quickly become boring if it is all that I do. Also doing things you don't normally do opens your eyes to new things and these things could inspire you.

You could easily rewire your system by doing any of the following:

1. Change up your morning routine:

Include things you would make you want to wake up in the morning. For me that involves me making my routine look this:

  • Wake-up and stretch
  • Pray
  • Meditate and/or do Yoga
  • Blast "Waking up playlist" while checking emails and plan for the day.
  • Cancel one thing from my to-do list (preferably something that would make my day too hectic)
  • Choose to do 1 thing from my wild card list (something random and cool that would make me really excited to do in that day)
  • Bathe, dress, eat healthy breakfast and leave for the day.

2. Make a date to face a fear and keep it:

Take a trampolining class if you're afraid of heights. Take a swimming/diving class if you are afraid of water. Do karaoke if you are afraid of the stage. Facing yours fear builds self-esteem and reinforces the idea that you are capable of doing much more than you give yourself credit for.

3.Change your personal style. Radically:

Are you a pretty conservative dresser? Embrace your quirky side. If you were previously a pretty expressive dresser try out a more minimalistic approach to your style. It's not so much what style you try in as much as it is the excitement of the change. Changing your style could influence you to change your lifestyle as well as your perception of self. By dressing more conservatively you might begin to see your self as more levelheaded and responsible or by dressing more originally you might begin to see yourself as more creative. Changing your personal style could lead you to know more about yourself.

4.Plan a weekend getaway:

Block out a weekend to get away from your usual place of residence and don't let anything stop you from going. Plan your schedule as best as you can around this time, and try to accomplish enough things beforehand so that you can go away with as few worries as possible. You don't have to go anywhere truly exciting. Sometimes being in the same place for a long time is enough to make us feel bland. A weekend away, spent with family, friends or even on your own should cure you of your bland feeling and get you seeing things in a new light.

5. Go to the park, playground, library or movies spontaneously:

Some day, after a particularly hard day of class/ work, wind down afterwards by visiting the park or seeing a movie. Or get together with a small group of friends and go to your neighborhood playground after dark. Honestly who says your childhood is gone?

6.Go on an artist date:

Do something to enrich your artistic soul like going to a photography gallery or a nearby art museum. See if you can find free viewings or special student or member discount rates if you are still in school. Especially if you a student interested in the arts, this is the best time to explore everything because of the amazing student discount rates.

7. Redecorate your inspiration board:

Set out an afternoon to update your inspiration board and include things that inspire you now and goals that you are working towards today. Having these things somewhere you can see them regularly, enables them to become embedded in your subconscious and helps you to begin to work towards them.

8. Recreate your schedule:

If you are anything like me, the best way to remember to do something you find important, be it exercise, studying, attending classes/work, or hanging out with friends is to make it an actual part of your schedule. When I decided I wanted to make exercise a priority I signed myself up for dance classes and put them in my schedule. I have been dancing every week for the past 6 months. I used to only put classes and other "official" activities on my schedule but by including other parts of my life in my schedule I've given them more importance and as a result of this, I am closer to becoming the well-rounded person I want to be.

I hope these ideas help you inject more fun into your days.

Love you all and Stay inspired,

P.S. So let me know what you think. How do avoid the dreadful " rut" ? Feel free to let me know in the comments below.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

How to Improve Your Vocals i.e. My Top 10 Tips for improving your sound

Hi Darlings,
I mentioned earlier that I'd started taking voice classes in order to improve my sound. I'm really glad I did because there are so many valuable things that I've learnt because of this training. This is valuable information that could interest anyone be you a closet rock star or seasoned opera singer. Enjoy

1. Do not clear your throat by doing that close-mouthed coughing thing. It scratches your vocal cords and can cause you to lose your voice. Instead drink water or swallow/ lightly cough in order to clear your throat.

2. Drink TONNES of Water. Try really hard to avoid singing with a dry throat. It is aweful for your voice and doesn't sound good.

3.Don't listen and critique yourself while singing. What you hear yourself sing is different from what others here from you.

4. When you have a cough or any sickness that harms your throat do not sing.

5. Always warm up your voice before singing . Sing a particular phrase with increasing pitch and decreasing pitches or you could sing through the scales (your do-re-mis).

6.If your voice tends to be dry, drinking milk or eating chocolate some time before practice can actually help.

7. If you have a vocal performance coming up, warming up and daily practice is really important, and even if you don't have one coming up, warming up your voice at the beginning of the day is usually good, especially if you tend to sing a lot randomly throughout the day like me.

8. When singing higher notes, breathe deeper and try to open all your airways as much as you can. This is important because the tendency is that the higher we go, the more we want to close up because of innate fear of the high notes.

9. When the air is really free and you are singing on or near the top of your range, a lovely thing called vibratto can happen in which your voice sort of vibrates (haha) on whatever pitch you are singing. It's beautiful when it's natural but you shouldn't force it because it can be really bad for your voice. Also it doesn't sound as nice.

10. Always sing from your diaphragm: Seriously. I didn't take this seriously until I lost my voice the day of my voice final, after practicing everywhere I could the week up to my final. I woke up and it was gone. Thankfully my professor was lenient and I still ended up doing well but honestly try to make a conscious effort to sing from your diaphragm by using deep breaths that fill your stomach to sing.

Love you all and Stay inspired,

P.S. So let me know what you think. What advice do you have for the singers out there? Any performance horror stories? Feel free to let me know in the comments below.
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An Ordinary Girl's World is a blog for stylish and artistic teens, college students and young adults, creatively finding their way in this world. Its about expressing yourself through your personal style, your lifestyle, your relationships and friendships.
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