Going paperless in a paper-full music world

Woah! I haven’t made a post in forever!

As I shared in the last post, I left education and am now in a full time music position. Ever since I began last July, I have been “On-the go” a lot more. What do I mean with that? That I’m not necessarily in one spot every day as I was as a classroom teacher. This has made me think on how I could be more mobile. I’ve always been a fan of my iPads so I decided I needed to go the extra step.

In my last year of teaching, while I was teaching a great sheer number of students (more than 350 +), I began to use my iPads to minimize my paper trail. I began using my iPad to take attendance (Safari version of infinite campus), began using my wireless speakers and my Apple Music/Spotify from my iPad to use music for transitions, but most importantly, I could edit my documents using my iPad and Apple Pencil and it could sync with all of my apple products (iPhone X, 12.9, 10.5 iPads, and my MacBook Pro). I started using my Apple TV in my classroom to show my students what I saw from my iPad, etc.

Flash Forward from the end of the school year to now being a full time musician, I am constantly using Good Notes (I just updated to Good notes 5), ForScore for iPad, and my Church uses Planning Center’s Services, Groups, and People.


GoodNotes is an app for iOS. It is essentially an electronic notebook just like EverNote, Notes Plus, etc. While you do have to pay for said app, (I believe it was 7.99) I completely recommend it. All of my documents can sync instantly through my devices, You can bookmark documents or pages in a document for easy access, export your notebook (or pages) to share with a colleague, and be able to make notes on the go. My favorite tools are the lasso tool, so that I can move items around and with the Apple Pencil 2’s handy double tap, I can change colors at will so that I can color code as I go (while not a huge deal to people… I love to color code).


While I was apprehensive of this app at first, my best friend told me that I had to get it and after using it for almost a year, I completely understand why. Any music score that you have in PDF form can go directly to your ForScore app, if you have documents in a Dropbox, it can sync instantly, if you are an Apple user, you can scan in document through your notes app and then upload them to ForScore easily. In the app, you can highlight, color code (and we know now how much I like that), use a metronome while you are rehearsing, and record your music! It is so much better than having 5 different binders. As a Church musician which music changes from week to week, its good to have all of your music in one place. I do love that all of my music in one place. You can also make folders for each ensemble, and set lists for concerts, services, etc. I do love how quickly I can move music from Planning Center to my ForScore seamlessly.

Planning Center

Now, while I do not know the ins and outs of giant world of Planning Center and I am still learning how to use most of its uses, its great for any musician that wants to go paperless. While I mostly use the services portion of planning center (it lets you plan your service and add attachments, songs, and more) The “Songs” portion is simply put AWESOME. While our Contemporary Music Director knows how to work it way better than I do, you can do the following:

1. Add YouTube videos or any video to any song

2. Send email to musicians, request them for a service, send notifications and emails through the app, and send reminders about rehearsal, services, and performances.

3. Sync music and documents from CCLI./Song Select/or of your choosing. This automatically adds to any song a lead sheet and vocal part to whatever song you choose. Musicians can see the same document (CCLI/Song Select/Praise Charts, etc). If it’s a document that is not from CCLI or Song Select, you would need to upload it, but that is easy.

4. Easy Movement from Planning Center to ForScore. If you use an app like ForScore, you can send any score to ForScore and edit them (cross of repeats, notes for performance, etc) then you can upload this document to Planning Center and everybody can have the same notes.

While I know that there are many ways to go paperless and many more apps to use, these are the big three apps that I have used in the last 6 months as I began my full time music career. If you have any apps or ways you have gone paperless, let me know in the comments below!

The singing tattoo


Singing tatoo

The verses tattooed on your soul
captive in your piercing gaze
let them be
let them free
let them fly
let them soar

The song of your life
a prisoner of the war
-the turmoil boiling in you-
let it breathe
let it sing
let it perform
let it live

The French Smuggler: French Inspiration in Henk Badings’ Trois Chansons-Abstract

As part of my first semester in Graduate School, I had to enroll in a Graduate Research class supervised by Dr. Anita Hardeman. The abstract for my paper is the following:

After the end of the Second World War, Henk Badings, a Dutch composer, wrote his Trois Chansons Bretonnes. Seen as the continuation of the nineteenth century German composers equivalent to Brahms and twentieth century Hindemith, Badings, changes his composition style to accommodate Parisian techniques with a Romantic flair. In changing his composition style, Badings allowed his music accommodates textures, chord coloration, and text painting in his choral scores so that his compositions could be presented without interruption. With this style change, Badings’ choral compositions have a distinguishable Debussy, Ravel, and Poulenc influence, specifically. The purpose of this paper is to acquaint the reader to the Dutch composer, Henk Badings. Second, to cross-reference and identify inspirations from French compositions such as Claude Debussy’s Trois Chansons De Charles D’orleans and La Cathédrale Englutie: Profondément calme, Maurice Ravel’s Trois Chansons, and François Poulenc’s Un soir de neige. As a method of analysis, I will reference art vocabulary, specifically en plein air, divisionism, pointillism, and score analysis to enhance this study’s comprehension.

In comparison to the scores mentioned before, Badings’ Trois Chansons has many similarities and differences. For example, the piano accompaniment to one of Badings’ Trois Chansons: La nuit en mer is similar to Debussy’s piano prelude La Cathédrale Englutie: Profondément calme due to the use of arpeggiation and thematic development. Also, Bading’s chansons have a similar vocal exposition and development to Debussy’s chansons. In allusion to Poulenc’s Un soir de neige, Badings’ chansons have similar modulations and phrase structure. Regarding to Ravel, Bading’s structure is somewhat close, but it is not in tune with Ravel’s chord progression and form. By being influenced by these French composers, Badings differentiates himself from his contemporaries, and paved the way for new composers using Neo-Impresionistic art features in combination with his music.

The playlist for the eleven scores I had to analyze and compare is in the link below.

Bringing people together.

“Music does bring people together. It allows us to experience the same emotions. People everywhere are the same in heart and spirit.No matter what language we speak, what color we are, the form of our politics or the expression of our love and our faith, music proves: We are the same.”

John Denver

If Music is the exaltation of the mind…

“Music is the exaltation of the mind derived from things eternal, bursting forth in sound.” Thomas Aquinas

Now, if Thomas Aquinas, a 13th century Italian priest, said this 8 centuries ago… what can we say about Literature? Most of the quotes you will find about Literature is on how language is used to create worlds, galaxies embedded in a piece of paper. I’ve read many quotes on Literature, but they never express Literature as “one of the highest forms of creativity that can withstand time and space. Literature, just like music, is an extension of the author’s very soul. A piece of a life lived. The victory in a defeat. The death of a life that never had the chance to live. Literature is a form of art which can exude, exchange or digress emotions with the reader and writer. Literature is an exaltation of the soul, creating itself from the most vulnerable part of it’s creator; embellished in a piece of paper so that it can be shared with humanity.”

-musical poetry



How to achieve a state of mindfulness & relaxation when you’re a musician.

Let’s face it, if you’re a musician you may be in a constant state of stress. This may be because of too many rehearsals, deadlines, concerts, too many scores to learn, and or teach. Sometimes we even have to bring our work home! To everything that may be happening in our professional lives, we have to add this to the stress we may encounter in our personal lives. So what can we do to relax and achieve a state of mindfulness? First of all we must properly define those two terms.

  • Relaxation (noun): the state of being free of tension and anxiety.
  • Mindfulness (noun): inclined to be aware
  • Aware (adj): having or showing realization, perception, or knowledge

If we were “normal people” (and I use this term for non-musician or artsy people) we would do what “normal people” do when they want to be stress-free, turn up their music and drown the world. Now, I’m not saying that this works, because sometimes it does but this may be counter-productive. Why? Because as musician’s a chord progression, motif in a song or a bands name may remind us about all our stress from our work.

How to achieve mindfulness

In zen, the way to approach mindfulness is by breathing and in quietness. So what we must do is to stop, before or after a rehearsal or project and do the following

  1. Find the silence

    As musicians we know what the power of silence can do. It can create tension or release, it prepares for a new theme, in short, silence is good. If you’re like me I over think things (a lot) and these random (and not so random) thoughts can hurt us more than they should. We have to stop, and “look” or distance ourselves from our thoughts.

  2. Balance

           We must achieve a balance between our personal and professional lives. We have to start asking ourselves: am I biting more than I can chew? Do I have too many projects running at once? What are the pros and cons of each project? What is the priority right now? Remember to do this objectively and distant. As you were an observer of your own life, instead of actually living it. To achieve body balance also helps. I remember my choral conducting courses and Prof. Ruben Colon always told us that as a conductor you must align your body so that you feel no tension anywhere. To achieve this I always think of being as relaxed as a rag doll and slowly widening and stretch my back.

  3. Breathe my child! Breathe!

           I’m an asthmatic. I am also a singer. When I get in stressful situations I feel like I’m about to drown! When I feel like this I always curse (inwardly, of course) and ask “Where the hell (or other nouns) is my inhaler?!” Then, just when I’m about to drown I listen to that annoying little voice in my head, and he screams BREATHE MY CHILD! BREATHE! Allow yourself to breathe! I’ve noticed that if you’re a musician, even know that we KNOW the importance of breathing, when we’re not what I like to call “musician mode” in a magical way we forget that we have to take deep breaths. We have to permit ourselves to breathe and connect our body, mind, and soul.

  4. Accept what we can and can’t change.

    In this year where I have  called “The year that Never was”, where I made plans and every single one of them failed, I realized that I have to learn to accept things, life and it’s difficulties. I have to learn to accept what we can and can’t change professionally as well as in my personal life. I had to acknowledge my failures as well as triumphs, the sorrow, pain, sadness, happiness. We must put (want to or not) some things past us so that we can grow.

  5. Accept resistance

    You may want to kill him/her because they don’t do their job. You may want to think of all the negative aspects of your life and the dreadful “What if?” All of this may happen but life is full of resistance. We must always try to make a conscious choice as well as try to maintain that distance between thoughts, especially when you’re going to make important choices in your life.
  6. Hobbies

    We must, must, must, MUST find a hobby that is non-music related. In this year this has “evolved” in devouring series such as Doctor Who, Survivor, Merlin, Sherlock, and many, many more. Try to do this with friends. Maybe go out on a walk. A friend of mine started to do 10-mile bicycle runs (a little extreme for me), but find something to do when you’re not in “musician mode” or just want to relax.

Sweeter than Death

I wish I could stop this feeling
That I could stop this pain
Wish I could stop this anger
boiling through my veins

I wish you did something
(something) I couldn’t forget
Something unforgivable
Something insane

Something insane

You’ll be the death of me
you’ll take me to my grave
But death will be sweeter
when I whisper your name
& together we will be
together in our pain
together in our sorrows
together… again

I wish I could forget you
and the time we spent (yeah)
I wish I could find
someone to fulfill this space
this space you left inside me
that will forever stay

You’ll be the death of me
you’ll take me to my grave
But death will be sweeter
when I whisper your name
& together we will be
reunited in our pain
together in our sorrows
forever in our hearts

Forever we will stay

Your kisses defy death
Your touch keeps me alive
Don’t let me know
if you forget about me
or if you found another man
I know I’ll just stay here
keeping death by my side.


Another day has come and gone away
Look over my phone to check if you’re awake
And here I lie asleep thinking: Will I see you again?
I pray to that God that you’ll still here to stay
Your voice haunts me time and time again
These memories just crash and here I pray
Remember those promises I made not long ago?
I’ll keep them and show you I’m something so much more…
I’m something more… I won’t go…
Your diamonds are falling
Oh, why? Can’t you see?
Can’t you see? You’re falling away from me…
I’m standing here outside your home
Waiting for you look outside
Remember when it rained, we talked all night?
That time our diamonds touched the sky?
Oh, please… please don’t let me be
Even if the winds change, beside you I will stay
To catch the diamonds you throw at me
To take us home where we should hide away
To hold you close until the dawn awaits
Your diamonds are falling
Oh, why? Can’t you see?
Can’t you see? That you mean the world to me…
you mean the world to me…
Please, stop from falling
Just let me catch you
This will go away
We’ll be free someday
Our plane ticket home
it’s just within our reach
just hold my hand
and count to three…
Diamonds stop falling
I’ll grab them, you’ll see
One day you’ll stop falling
You’ll stop falling for me…

Mes yeux

Mes yeux pleurent pour vous.
La nuit est froide sans vous.
La distance joue avec mon coeur
Mon âme soupire pour un baiser
L’âme veut pour vous

Ma présence est nule
Sans vous ici
à côté de moi …
Me serrant …

Tout ce que je sais, c’est que nous serons ensemble
Je vais attendre
Je vais attendre pour vous

Pour l’intérieur de vous est ma joie
A côté de vous, c’est ma vie
Avec vous repose mon âme

Let’s Chat Over Coffee- Chapter 8 (a)

Chapter Eight

                 “I can’t do this…” Said Bradley throwing the sheet music to the floor. “Why didn’t I study business or psychology?!”. Picking up his iPhone, he looked at the picture he took with Colin that day they went on their “brodate” to the coffeeshop. “I wonder what he’s doing right now… Maybe he’s reading Les Miserables in French for the thousand time…” He said, laughing at the picture tenderly. Bradley walked to his bed, sat on a corner and looked at the window. “Why am I doing this? It feels like a chore, not something I want to do. I wonder if Colin ever felt this way? Is that why he didn’t study music, ‘cause he didn’t love what he played? I wonder what he played? Was he good? Why did Father made me do this… Music was fun… Music…” Said Bradley as he fell asleep.


                 “Do you like music?” Said the stoic man. “Yes. I want to play the piano.” Said cheerfully the short, blonde child. “Well, since the piano teacher is a quarter mile away, I bought you a guitar and you’ll start your classes with Mr. Williams next week. That is all.” Said the man while he left the room. “But I don’t want the guitar, I want to play piano!” Cried Bradley. “Is either the guitar o no music classes.” Said the man from the living room while Bradley cried in his room.

“Hey, Bradley. I’m sorry for your loss mate. She was a great woman. She was like my mum.” Said Eoin to Bradley. “Thanks. I’ve got to go I have a test tomorrow and if I don’t practice Father will kill me.”  Said Bradley coldly. “Mate, your mum died three days ago! Give yourself some time off.” Shouted Eoin. “Well, I took yesterday off, so I’m behind schedule after this. La Catedral is hard and I don’t have my digitation 100% down.” “Mate… the funeral was yesterday.” “Exactly. YESTERDAY. What’s done is done. I can’t change it. Just got to move on with my life. It’s what she wanted and she loved it when I played the guitar. That’s what I have to do, I have nothing else.” Said Bradley holding his guitar as tightly as possible, his knuckles pale white fighting the sting in his eyes. “Bradley…” “Bye, Eoin. See you tomorrow.”


                 “You have to be the best, you will audition to Oxford.” Father said calmly. “Do you actually think I’m prepared to even audition to Oxford?” Spat Bradley while drinking his coffee. “Obviously you are. I’ve spent a fortune in looking only the best guitar teacher in all of England, and you will get into Oxford ‘cause you want to study music, don’t you?” He said neutrally. “It’s the only thing I have, it’s the only thing you’ve given-” “And that’s why you will get in.”