Play in the outside world

When learning new songs, the most common routine you will make is to play at home. While you sit at the comfort of your bedroom, you can take notes and make short breaks to your kitchen.

This has however a side effect: it will harm your social mood. While being introverted is fine (creativity is enhanced through inside-thinking), you shall aim to be more outgoing. Our current modern lifestyles already foster anti-social mood (cellphones, rules to keep quiet, disarmed social circles, etc). Do not add music to the list.

Which baby steps can you take for linking music with more social life?

  • Practice outside: of course. Go to the closest park or your favorite green area. People will not mind hearing your music. Actually you will add value to their current state as well.
  • Is it cold outside? look for an area at universities. Make friends with relaxed shops in your neighborhood, who will welcome your visit. Simply visit the city and look for somewhere matching your vibe.
  • Practice with a friend: in this case you may stay at home, because you are already interacting. Affording a demo studio is also a good idea, sometimes you will meet new people there.
  • Keep it simple: take your instrument, some sheets of paper and a pen. If playing covers, you may use your cellphone once in while. But do not stick to the headphones, train your memory and get the song saved in your head.
  • Feel vulnerable: do not mind people watching you. It happens because they get curious to see you enjoying your hobby. Realize that you will get noticed in general, learn to get connected to others around you.

Take your instrument and enjoy the world in front of your eyes.

Beginners’ first steps

You decided to put some dancing in your life and also chose a rhythm to start with. The next step is to start learning and put it on the field. How long shall it take until you have a decent level?

This is a recurrent question on beginners, including myself. We want to learn fast and have enough skills for enjoying it. Our modern lifestyle puts even more pressure on us, since nowadays everything shall go at the speed of internet.

Last week I had a chat with a kizomba teacher, who has been doing it for almost 20 years. He gave me 5 good tips which you shall consider in your new crash course:

  • Learn 2 or 3 steps per week at most. There is no need to overload yourself with lots of techniques. After a couple of months, you will have learned at least 16 steps. That is everything you need for the parties.
  • Practice in front of a mirror. Yes, see yourself moving your legs and shoulders. Feel weird, then get used to it and finally look proudly at yourself. At that point you will finally focus on the steps you want to improve, and less on your ego.
  • Watching videos is fine, but make sure to automatically practice them in front of your mirror. However, the best is to join a dance course, for example on a weekly basis. After a bit of research, you will see that you can find a course almost everyday going on in Vienna. Another plus: after the course the party is opened. You may keep practicing with your new dance friends.
  • Enjoy being a beginner: you started learning to dance because you wanted to put something fun in your life.┬áThen enjoy the process of putting yourself in new situations and moving your body differently.

The dance teacher told me that despite of those years of practicing, he still enjoys putting the basic steps on the floor. Even though years of experience brings him mastery, what keeps him on the music is the fun. Keep that in your mind at all times: technique is ok, fun is the goal.

Do not ask. Take to dance.

Being in a party and meeting people for the first time is great, but also a bit of challenging. Almost everybody sticks to their social circles and in most cases people will not approach you. On the contrary, you will have to take the first step.

This is specially challenging in latin-afro parties, because you shall dance in couples. Therefore, it is not just about connecting with a woman you don’t know, but taking her to dance at first place. Most guys will go for the “asking for a dance” step. However, in some cases women will respond negatively stating that they are waiting for a friend, or resting for a while. I have experienced that by myself in the past and felt a bit down.

Do it differently

Instead of asking, stand up in front of her, offer your hand and show a slight smile. She will understand and come with you to the dance floor most of the times.

Why does this work differently?

  • You are a man who takes what he wants without apologies. Come on, you are not stealing purses, you are offering a woman the chance to have fun.
  • You are present in the moment (men and women dancing). There is no need for asking about something which is obvious.
  • Emotional strong: you are not concerned about the response of a woman. If she rejects your hand for dancing, then you simply offer it to somebody else who will value it. And by the way…
  • You are value and you show value: a woman watching a man coming towards her with confidence and taking her to the dance floor is joyful.
  • Enjoyment: you make the first move and therefore have the chance to choose with whom you dance. Isn’t it great? then do not bother and offer the hand.

All these factors are also understood by women through their intuition. Amazingly for men, sometimes speaking less and simply doing it is more fun than explaining things through dozens of words.

Try it out and enjoy leading by dancing.

bossa nova flows

About a year ago I restarted playing the guitar, first at home and afterwards in parks across Vienna.

Since I wanted to compose some new chords, I was wondering which type of music was matching my current state. I felt like getting something relax, but not sad or too passive. I jumped then into bossa nova and enjoy it a lot since then.

Technicians may say that bossa nova is too broad and there are lots of music styles among this legacy from Brazil. But I am not an expert, I do it for fun. And thus I may call it and put in my world in the way I want.

The rythm is vibely, it makes me stand-up and start my day. The chords are warm and surprise me every minute. There is no exact structure and strings can be a bit complex (jazz musicians will find it familiar). Still I learned basic chords pretty fast and start improvising. Once I got the rythm, I could hear my guitar with pleasant sounds just by coming up with string experiments.

The vocals are appealing, and lyrics are commonly positive and invite to join. They are not that high or low, they are natural. Even if you did not understand portuguese, you can get the vibe if you put yourself on the song.

Start your bossa nova journey through a set of classic songs. Then you can choose at which temperature you want to keep it going. Do not use headphones, better hear it at home with good bass strength in a wireless speaker.

Do not stick to the same music you have to hear on the weekends, try new stuff and discover your own tastes.

Baby steps for compositions

Once I started playing guitar as a hobby, the idea of composing songs became reality. Putting your mind state and creativity in sounds is fun! After some time, those improvisations became parts of songs, which I reworked several times. And the last versions became those songs which where played together with friends.

Do you need a method for composing music? sure you should, a song from Ismael Miranda reminds us some basic steps for beginners:

  • A reason is needed: usually there is at least one thing that pops up in you mind during the day. That is a good reason for writing a text and/or trying out some notes related to that.
  • A constructive theme: avoid negative topics. Writing about broken hearts or how shitty is the world may look like being deep emotional. However, putting yourself around that attitude harms your vitality in the long term. Put lyrics and sound in front of you as a tool to lead in life.
  • And also inspiration: if course it may be difficult to compose in the middle of stress or during another activity. Choose some time during the day where you may have the serenity to put those senses into notes.
  • You must be patient, otherwise you will loose it: this is a good tip. Do not expect to come up with complete songs at the first try. Improvisation may be a good thing, but most of the time you have different versions of the same notes. Bring it to life, nurture it, let it grow, and leave it if that shall be the case.
  • Put seasoning on it: this is about having fun at the end. Play it and add those details that you enjoy. The songs are basically a reflect of your personality.

Try out putting your present state into sounds and lyrics. And enjoy uniting your dreams with your daily life.

Kizomba for healthy roles

A few months ago I took a Kizomba course for trying out something completely new. It ended up actually being a short class on masculine and feminine energy.

During the very first class the teachers told me some facts that reminded me about my role:

  • The man leads the dancing steps, he must recreate the sensual interaction pleasantly for him and the women he dances with.
  • The woman must open herself and trust the man’s movements. She shall follow the steps and complement them with her feminine choreography.
  • The man must take firmly and confidently the woman’s body, in order to let her know on which direction to dance. He shall not be ashamed on leading the story.
  • The man shall be relax and enjoy the dancing steps, which will provide comfort to the woman as well.
  • The dance increases the energy gradually. At the beginning there are simple steps for warming-up and building comfort. As the time passes, the man inserts the steps that add beauty and sensuality to the song.
  • The songs are mostly about feelings, connection, senses and lovers’ stories. Topics about materialistic lifestyle and/or with negative energy are avoided.

At the beginning I was unsure to try this music. But fortunately I did, and it reminded me to take away the structured thoughts that work / studies place in our heads. And to embrace the beautiful chaos which leads to a natural interaction. Under my lead as a man with the feet on the earth and fun in my dance.


Jam session or open mic?

This one goes to the music players. It is not just about nice sounds, but also passing your personal state to the outside world. Playing music is for me like a therapy and lets me connect with others, which quite balances the current digitalized yet impersonal venues.

If you play an instrument, then you may be interested to build your friends’ circle in Vienna with other musicians. Sounds like a plan, so where to start? for the last couple of years I noticed two particular types of events: jam sessions and open mics (microphones). Both are aimed to connect musicians, but are different in the context and type in interaction. So I decided to make a short list of characteristics for you to better decide:

What to expect in a jam session?

  • You will play with others: fun and knowing new people is guaranteed.
  • However, if you are not good enough, it will be fair that somebody else takes over your instrument.
  • It will last pretty long: you could play between 30 and 60 min without interruption. It is just about putting some chords on the table and/or following others.
  • There is an after party. Or even more, non-musicians will dance and make a party together with you.
  • You meet musicians with high spirit, most of them are having their 15 min of full fun.
  • There are always exotic instruments to watch around.

What to expect in an open mic?

  • Everybody will have 10 min to play their own songs. It is a chance to test and/or introduce your repertoire to a public.
  • It is smooth: just chill and relax hearing others while waiting for your turn.
  • There is also an after party of course, so you will also interact with others.
  • These events are more common during the week, there are at least 2 open mics during weekdays.
  • You meet musicians with good technique. Most of them are studying music and bring good inputs to learn from.

You probably found advantages and disadvantages for each type of event. Generally, I recommend you to go to open mics if you already have some songs and want to motivate others to join you. Also if you are in a chilly mood and just want to stay for a few moments.

On the other hand, jam sessions work better if you are willing to… jam around. There is no pressure to prepare a program. It is also more fun if you want to party a bit longer and get a dancing mood.

Try both and check what suits you best.