CollegeCultureInspirationMusic

Everyone has a playlist that gets them pumped up for a workout or to wake up early in the morning, but not all soundtracks are built for the perfect study session or relaxing at the end of the day. Finding what gets you going in the morning and what keeps you happy as the day goes on can really affect your mood throughout the day. If you don’t know where to start, here are some ideas from the experts.

Waking Up:

Some people need coffee to wake up, and some people need music (I need both!). Whether it’s a jolt of a song to shock you awake, or a slow, relaxing one to arise any sleepyhead, finding the right song so you wake up on the right side of the bed can really affect your mood for the whole day. It can be your favorite song that makes you smile every time you hear it, or it can be something that is scientifically engineered to get you up and out of bed. Spotify partnered with music psychologist David Greenberg to create the ultimate wake up playlist of twenty songs. Today.com has the playlist written out, and can also be accessed on Spotify here. His belief is that, instead of using the loudest songs possible, it’s better to listen to songs that gradually wake us up, preferably with positive lyrics.

Working Out:

When working out, you need something to keep you pumped up and keep going to push yourself even when you want to quit. When putting together a playlist, come up with a list of songs that get you moving naturally (i.e. songs that make you want to get up and dance!). For some, it’s some of the best sweat-worthy rap and R&B that pushes them to finish up the work out. For others, it can be Top 40 divas hits that get them going. If you’re doing a workout like Zumba where it’s all about dancing and shaking those hips, you’ll find yourself with some upbeat tunes that just keep you moving. Fitness Magazine and Six Pack Fitness both provide links to Spotify playlists so if you don’t have the time or desire to make your own, they’ve got you covered. Just be careful when you’re running: oftentimes your body naturally tries to match your step to the beat of the music, so if your music is too fast, you might tire out too quickly. Don’t forget to include some slower songs for when you reach the cool down of your workout, and breathe easy.

Studying:

We all know how studying can be a bit of a drag when you don’t have the right music to listen to. While some prefer to study in silence, a vast majority of the current generation finds themselves more productive when there is background noise to nod their heads along to. Studies in the past have shown that listening to classical music can improve cognitive function. Other studies have suggested that listening to music with lyrics can be distracting, so finding a playlist that’s instrumental-based works better than having Top 40s on repeat. However, not all of us might find that classical music gets the creative and studious juices flowing, so experiment yourself and find what fits for you. As everyone studies differently, music affects us differently too. Buzzfeed came out with a list of songs they find to be helpful while trying to get work done. Spotify also has plenty of playlists under their “Focus” tab, within Genre & Moods. ESM (Electronic Study Music) is my personal favorite.

Relaxing:

Don’t get me wrong, everyone’s version of relaxing is different. However, some songs are scientifically known to be calming to the human mind and are better to listen to when you’re in the mood to unwind. In that article, Ryot came out with the top 10 most relaxing songs – be careful though; as explained in the article, it did mention how the first song, “Weightless” by Marconi Union, was so calming that the women in the study found themselves drowsy, and thus listening to this song could be problematic when driving.

One of the easiest ways to shut the world out and completely change your mood is by putting headphones on and listening to your favorite music. Your mood throughout the day changes so many times, and is affected by the schedule you have that day and by your environment. As you go through your day, try switching up your music and see how it affects your mood.

Image: Flickr

Professional SpotlightSpotlight

The life of an entrepreneur can be stressful, overwhelming, and busy. It can wear you out, and it’s important to make time for your personal life. Abhay Jain, the co-founder of SoundScope, a mobile platform that allows people to choose their night out based on the music they love, knows how brutal the life of an entrepreneur can be. Earning a B.S. in Bio-Business and Psychology from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and later receiving his JD from Duke University School of Law and an MBA from Duke University (The Fuqua School of Business), Abhay is no stranger to academia, hard work, and constant learning.

With one more year left in grad school, Abhay came up with the idea for SoundScope and utilized his professors, classmates, and classes to further his business plan and hone his idea. Now he works on his startup full-time in New York City and works hard to make his idea a reality. We’re excited to introduce you to this smart and ambitious entrepreneur – read on to learn more about how he decided what to major in at Virginia Tech, how he managed to earn both a JD and MBA, and which books and resources he finds most useful.

Name: Abhay Jain
Education: B.S. in Bio-Business and Psychology from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech); JD from Duke University School of Law; MBA in Business Administration from Duke University – The Fuqua School of Business
Follow: SoundScope.com / @SoundScopeNYC / / @JainAbhayk

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define ‘Seizing Your Youth’?

AJ:  “Seizing your youth” means taking the time to learn about yourself. For me it meant traveling, living in new cities, meeting interesting people, and taking every opportunity that came my way. If you don’t know what you want, try and figure out what you don’t want.

CJ: You majored in Bio-Business and minored in Psychology at Virginia Tech. How did you decide what to major and minor in?

AJ: I was an “undecided major” when I first got into Virginia Tech. When my dad and I went into the academic affairs office he said, “You are at a tech school.  Why don’t you go pre-med until you find something better?” In hindsight, it was a smart move from my dad to lure me into becoming a doctor because I was far too lazy to venture to the other side of campus to change my major. Instead, I just added things that interested me. I thought psychology and consumer behavior were interesting so I took the classes I liked.  Plus, this girl I was crushing on was a psych minor, so that was also a draw. Ha. Before I knew it, I had completed the prerequisites for a dual major and a minor.

In retrospect, I’d like to say I was super methodical in my course selection but I knew my learning style — I just couldn’t excel at coursework I didn’t enjoy.

CJ: You also received your JD / MBA from Duke University Law School and the Fuqua School of Business. What led you to your decision to go back to school to receive these two degrees?

AJ: A bit of serendipity, I suppose. I spent every summer of college traveling and experiencing potential careers. One summer, I worked at a few hospitals across Southeast Asia. No matter how much time I spent with the doctors, I was far more enthralled by the work of the hospital manager. Similarly, I spent a summer at the Department of Justice in D.C. and found the ability to impact organizational change exciting. As you can imagine, finding a legal or managerial job with a pre-med degree is not that easy. So, I leveraged my “pre-med knowledge” to get a job at a, then, fledgling pharmaceutical startup. A great learning experience — I got laid-off after 12 weeks. Fortunately, it was 2008, the markets were tanking and I had seen the warning signs. So, I spent my spare time studying for the LSAT and applying to schools. Within weeks of my forced vacation I had an acceptance letter in my hand, a bargaining chip for other job opportunities, and a modicum of respect from my parents.

CJ: A JD / MBA combination is an interesting way to learn about law and business. What was your experience doing a JD /MBA program like? What does the workload entail, what would a day in your life look like, and how did you manage the stress of earning those degrees?

AJ: The learning Duke provided me was truly life-changing! I went from multiple-choice tests to writing and arguing 50-page papers. The JD helped me sharpen my mind in terms of spotting issues, resolving conflicts, and persuading others of my point of view. The MBA restored my quant skills and brought a piece of practical applicability to my academic pursuits as well as strong Rolodex of Duke Alums.

That being said, the JD was a steel-toed boot to the face. Imagine: being surrounded by some of the smartest and most stressed people you know competing academically in an area you know nothing about, going from the world of black-and-white certainty to shades gray and uncertainty, and reading dense legal jargon for five hours a night and being harassed by former politicians and litigators in a room full of 100 peers yearning to outwit you. It was punishment for six months until I finally got the hang of it. Once I understood the system, however, I really enjoyed the thought and learning involved.

Business school on the other hand was dramatically different education. It was a mix of overzealous networking, excel, calculus, calendar invites, and theme parties. To be perfectly honest, I was a bit burnt out from academia at the time and couldn’t stand lots of my overeager peers for a couple months. However, my last year as it all came together I truly enjoyed both realms of the education and savored the life-long friendships I made at both schools.

Abhay 1

CJ: After graduation, you founded SoundScope, a mobile platform that allows people to choose their night out based on the music they love. How did this idea come about and what were your steps for making it a reality?

AJ: During my grad school experience, I had the opportunity to work in various roles in cities around the country. My favorite of which was New York. My summer in finance in New York meant I had very limited time to go out. I always had a passion for music and going out and wanted to make the right decision since my time was limited. I wondered why there were so many amazing things happening in NYC but no way for people to find them?!?

Luckily, I had one year left in grad school so I used my concept for every major class assignment. Thus, I got to use the skills and expertise of my peers and professors to better hone the idea, build a business plan, and connect to people that could help execute.

CJ: What have been the greatest lessons you’ve learned in starting your own business?

AJ:  People are the most important element of any business — I can’t emphasis this enough. Find people that are smarter than you that are reliable and hire them.

CJ: Every day in your life must look different depending on your projects and the time of year, but what does a Monday look like for you?

AJ: Get up and try to make it into to the gym early. Make a list of all my objectives for the week and what we missed last week.  Get into the office at 9:30. Catch up on emails. Go through what the rest of the team is working on during lunch and then back-to-back meetings ranging from financials to sponsorships.

CJ: What should a young adult who wants to be an entrepreneur do now to set him or herself up for success?

AJ: Dive in and seek out mentors.  Experience is the best education for an entrepreneur — intern any and everywhere, test out ideas through an MVP, and talk to potential customers. In your spare time, seek out other entrepreneurs to learn from.

CJ: What are some books, resources, and websites that have influenced you – either personally or professionally (or both)?

AJ:  Finding mentors IRL is not always easy. Initially, the web was the best way for me to learn from “mentors.” I really love the Stanford e-corner. They have a weekly SoundCloud segment from successful entrepreneurs that helped me think through tough problems and figure out where I wanted to take SoundScope. Also, Guy Kawasaki’s “The Art of the Start” is a good crash course on the current state of startups.

CJ: When you’re not working on SoundScope, how do you like to spend your time?

AJ: Thanks to my iPhone I am technically always working. But whenever I unplug I love traveling, cooking, and listening to good music.

CJ: What are you working to improve upon – either personally or professionally – and how are you doing so?

AJ: I am trying very hard to build a stronger wall between my personal and professional life. Running a startup can be brutal.  It is an emotional roller-coaster that can really wear you out. I am working on keeping more of an even keel and not letting SoundScope pervade things I appreciate personally — whether it’s spending time with friends, going to the gym, or just sleeping.

CJ: What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

AJ:  Life and people around you have a way of convincing you that you need to follow a certain trajectory — as in you need to figure out your career by 25, get married by 27, buy a house by 30, and pop out 2.5 kids by 35. Life is short. Do what makes you happy. Everything else will fall in place.

Abhay Jain Qs

Images by Carpe Juvenis

Travel

Calling all the music obsessed, Francophile, people-watching lovers out there – you have until July 5th to get to Montreal, Canada for the International Jazz Festival. Trust me, it’s an event you don’t want to miss! A few years ago, I had the opportunity to experience some of what this nine day, nonstop celebration had to offer. I’ve been dreaming of going back ever since. Starting to pique your interest? Let me give you four reasons why you should absolutely make the Montreal International Jazz fest your next adventure.

jazz 1

  1. Enjoy the perks of Europe without actually going there. Montreal was colonized by the French, so as expected, French is spoken throughout the city by over 50% of its population, with English being the other official language. Traveling to this city is the perfect way to practice your French without having to spend as much money or time traveling to France. Not only will Montreal fulfill your desire for some French culture, but you can also visit its Little Italy and Greektown. Walking through the quaint, cobblestone street, you will hardly believe you didn’t cross any oceans to get there.
  1. Revel in the awesome mix of old and new music. The International Jazz Fest has featured some of the greats such as BB King, Tony Bennett, Miles Davis, and Ella Fitzgerald, and also showcases lesser-known, up-and-coming artists like Gogo Penguin, Illa J, and Florence K. With that said, you can be sure the audience is packed with people of all ages and interests. Additionally, the festival hosts more than just jazz artists. You will also hear world music, reggae, and slightly electronic beats. There is truly something for everyone.
  1. Soak up the eclectic vibes. As its name suggests, the festival is just so, well, international. With Montreal already such a diverse city, the festival brings even more styles, people, and cultures together. I remember sitting on the outdoor steps by the main stage in a massive city square amazed at the many languages I heard passing me. It was so refreshing to feel peaceful (as opposed to the usual slight nervous feeling I get in large crowds) surrounded by people who were genuinely enjoying each other’s company.
  1. Enjoy a variety of food. We know an amazing festival is never complete without it. Don’t you worry – the festival is fully stocked with food from around the globe. The Montreal International Jazz Festivals goes above and beyond the typical hotdog stand with an entire waffle kiosk, mangues en fleur (mangos carved like flowers, anyone?) kiosk, and even a Mexican food kiosk. It’s perfect.

jaZZ 2

At this point, you have no reason not to head to Montreal for the festival. Bonne journée!

Images: Flickr and Aysia Woods

Health

  1. Dance in the rain
  2. Drink hot chocolate
  3. Watch a movie
  4. Catch up with friends and family
  5. Sleep late
  6. Relax by meditating
  7. Read a good book
  8. Cook a meal
  9. Bake from scratch
  10. Bring out an old board game
  11. Try on clothes and create new outfits
  12. Experiment with different makeup looks
  13. Take an artsy Instagram
  14. Read articles about your favorite inspirational person
  15. Paint your nails
  16. Spend an hour on Pinterest
  17. Plan a weekend adventure
  18. Listen to new music
  19. Make a mix CD
  20. Jump in a puddle
  21. Order takeout
  22. Try some new hair styles
  23. Paint
  24. Make mac and cheese
  25. Solve – or attempt to solve – a Rubix cube
  26. Update your photo album
  27. Take a hot bath (with a bath bomb!)
  28. Go through old yearbooks
  29. Search through Instagram
  30. Online shop and see how expensive your cart gets
  31. Watch your favorite YouTube star
  32. Practice an instrument
  33. Play balloon volleyball
  34. Workout
  35. Play videogames
  36. Write in a journal
  37. Brainstorm new business ideas
  38. Organize your closet
  39. Walk around your neighborhood
  40. Take a 20 minute nap
  41. Refresh by brushing your teeth and washing your face

Image: StokPic

CultureSkills

This past summer, I had the great pleasure of working on my fourth music video for Dizzy Bats. The project was the second collaboration with LA-based director, Michael Chiu, who also directed and co-produced our music video for “Girls.”

For this particular project, the planning and production was done by Michael and the Director of Photography, Jeanna Kim. The two would have meetings on site at the restaurant we shot at to discuss direction, shot selection, and lighting. From there they picked out a crew to help bring this song and video to life.

On a hot Sunday afternoon in mid-July outside of LA, we all met up at Michael’s Burger around 3 PM, shortly after they had closed for the day. We utilized the entire restaurant and nearly everything at our disposal, which included burger patties and french fries to name a couple. The shoot lasted almost 14 hours and took an unfortunate turn when one of the crew members accidentally left with Michael’s car keys.  It was an absolutely exhausting but exciting day.

Over the last three years and four video shoots, I’ve learned that you really don’t need a lot of money to make a great video, and often times one simple concept can carry a project and make it great. The most important part of any collaboration is finding the right people to team up with; those who are equally driven and devoted to bringing your song to life. So to any bands out there looking to make a video for the first time, shop around for the right director and start brainstorming.

Bringing one of your songs to life through the art of film can be challenging, stressful, and intimidating. From production to shooting to editing to color correction, there is so much that needs to go right in order for a concept to be successfully carried out, and for a video to ultimately look great. In collaborating with so many film people, I continue to be blown away by the artistic drive of these talented individuals, as well as their amazing professionalism. It’s been fascinating to see the commonalities between the two art forms of film and music, while comparing our various stories. Art should never be limited to just one form, and through my work on these music videos, I’ve been fortunate enough to experience the awesome marriage of music and film.

Check out Connor Frost’s Professional Spotlight here.

Image: Connor Frost

CultureTravel

Globe-trotting and sight-seeing may not always be within our reach. Sometimes our travel funds are running low or we don’t have a long enough break to really go anywhere. For those of you fresh off a semester at school or enjoying time off from work, turn your vacation into a staycation. Staying at home to create your own leisure moments is often times the best way to unwind and stay frugal during the holidays. Travel time: zero. Destination: relaxation.

Ramen and Rom Coms

You know you love it. Invite some friends and family over for a cozy night in. Supply the packages of ramen and have your guests choose their favorite romantic comedies to watch. It’s silly, it’s fun, and it’s an easy last minute hangout idea. (Life points to the person who chooses Crazy Stupid Love.)

Easy-Peasy Bath Salts

Here is what you’ll need for a luxurious and silky bath time experience. This does wonders for dry skin sufferers, especially in the winter time. It will calm your skin while the epsom salt can help ease joint pain and muscular aches.

 1 cup of sea salt
 ½ cup of baking soda
 2 cups of Epsom salt
 Mix well in a big bowl
 Add 10 drops of lavender essential oil
 Put your mix into a jar and add a few spoonfuls to your next bath!

Tea Party for One

If you’re looking for some solo time, enjoy a piping hot cup of tea and relax with a good book. It’s always refreshing to read for fun (and not for a grade), but if your brain feels fried from final exams and essay-writing, try audible.com to check out their great selection of audio books. Listen to your books instead and sip on some green tea mixed with fresh mint leaves and a dash of sugar.

Music and Mind

Free-writing is both a powerful and cathartic process. Allow yourself to free your conscience completely with 20 minutes of free-writing. There are no rules or prompts or deadlines, just your stream of thoughts put on paper. Play some music (preferably loudly) while you write to fuel your creativity. You never know, you might get a poem, a letter to self, a letter to a loved one, or the start of a series of journal entries. Tip: listening to music and rainymood.com simultaneously creates a wondrous audio experience that is definitely worth trying.

Image: Mike

CultureHealth

“Outdated,” “meaningless,” and “bland” are the three words my friend used when I asked him to describe his thoughts on classical music. I grew up listening to Debussy, Mozart, and Beethoven, but for many people, classical music serves no benefits. Contrary to many beliefs, classical tunes have actually proven to improve mental health and reduce stress. Maybe it’s time to reconsider those playlist choices.

Improves Sleep Quality

A study was done in 2008 to manifest the positive effects classical music has on students who have trouble sleeping. From the 94 students who participated, they were each divided into groups of three (group 1, 2, and 3). Group 1  listened to 45 minutes of classical music (or relaxing music) while Group 2 listened to an audio book and Group 3 was the control group, meaning they had no change in their usual routine before bed. The outcome resulted in an improved sleep quality in Group 1. Essentially, if you are a student suffering from insomnia or trouble falling asleep, try tuning into some relaxing tunes instead of techno or pop before going to bed. You may definitely find some developments.

Increase Intelligence

Listening to classical music actually makes you smarter. Cool, huh? In 1993, studies showed a correlation between listening to classical music and increased IQ levels. The outcome? American capitalism taking advantage, of course. This is spurred the release of products like baby Mozart and CD’s intended for expecting women to listen to on speaker for the sake of the baby’s brain development and health. Aside from this, consider listening to some classical music while studying – it may help retain information!

Emotional Affect

This is an interesting one and I don’t know how most of us feel about this but classical music makes you more emotional. Knowing me, this is probably a key reason to not listen to classical music as my emotional capacity is at an all-time high. But in 2001, there was a study in Southern Methodist University that showed that listening to classical music heightens emotions. This is linked to being more expressive and demonstrative with the things that they said and did.

Surgery Recovery

If you have gone through surgery, you know that the recovery is a major component in the success of the surgery. It is absolutely imperative that you remain relaxed and stress-free.  Listening to classical music after surgery can actually “help tune out pain.” Studies have demonstrated that classical music can help reduce the amount of opiates given to patients! Other studies have shown this it can relieve chronic pain. It seems meds may not be the only solution to pain!

Blood Pressure

If you are dealing with high blood pressure or know someone that is, fill them in on this info: classical music can help lower blood pressure as it was studied in the University of San Diego. After 30 minutes of listening, pregnant women also displayed lower levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. Classical music can maybe even help you steer away from those meds with time.

Classical music has been incredibly underrated in the past years as pop, hip-hop, techno, and other genres have emerged in the music industry. However, when it comes to health, maybe it’s worth a try to pop in that old cassette. You may find yourself surprised – the tunes are magical!

Image: Alice Carrier

EducationSkills

November is the start of many things: cold weather, pumpkin spice lattes, and the holidays. However, while department store managers and baristas at Starbucks are preparing for the season, students are preparing for a different beast entirely. Exams are what shortly follow the month of November, so this month is a vital one in getting a few last good grades in before finals.

If you are one of the unlucky souls in desperate need of a few more A’s in a class, here are some ways to study for upcoming tests and exams:

1. Clear your mind and avoid multitasking

Cluttering your mind with other issues is probably one of the worst ways to study; in order to retain information you need to focus on that specific subject. Thus, multitasking is a terrible idea when studying. You do not need to have tabs open for other classes or for Facebook. Actually, if you have trouble with controlling yourself in terms of social media, websites like Cold Turkey is an amazing way to block social media temporarily, allowing yourself time to focus on studying.

2. Drink water and snack healthily

When studying, drinking water and eating healthy can play a vital role in retaining information. For example, eating slow carbohydrates, such as nuts, will give you a steady stream of energy and release of serotonin to keep you up and happy while studying. Whereas if you were to consume energy-infused foods and drinks, you will have a temporary rush of energy, but any information looked at during the crash will be lost to the intense desire to sleep. Also, prepare your snacks ahead of time to avoid wandering from the desk – you might never get back to studying.

3. Chew mint gum when studying and when testing

Psychologists have found that chewing mint gum while studying and testing correlates positively with good test scores. It allows your brain to make connections and help you remember retained information better. Therefore, it might be to your benefit to chew a stick of mint gum while studying for you next test and during the test itself.

4. Break up your study sessions, DO NOT CRAM!

MIT’s website shows that cramming can actually cause you to lose information and that the best way to study is in 20-50 minute intervals and to take 5-10 minute breaks in between these intervals. This allows your brain to absorb the information you just read without being overwhelmed.

5. If you are going to listen to music while studying, make it classical or instrumental

Everyone knows of the idea that playing classical music to an infant can increase the child’s potentiality of intelligence, and this idea still applies to students and young adults today. Studies show that classical music increases cognition and helps to remember data and material. However, classical music is not digestible by everyone. Hence, listen to some instrumental music, but make sure that it is instrumental music you are familiar with; if I try to listen to new music when I study, I get too distracted by the new melody and lyrics that I am listening to.

What are your best study tips?

Image: Anita Hart

CultureMusic

Welcome to Carpe Juvenis’ creepy-spooky-groovy Halloween playlist! Whether all of your closest friends are coming over for a costume party, or you’re getting ready for a night on the town, these songs will get you in the Halloween mood. This playlist is best enjoyed with candy corn, apple cider (spiked, for those of us over 21), and good friends. Here’s a quick guide to our spooky soundtrack:

The playlist starts out slowly with “Fresh Blood” by Eels – a favorite I picked up from True Blood’s second season soundtrack – and eases in to “My Moon My Man” by Feist. These early songs aren’t too overpowering while you put the finishing decorations up on your wall and your friends start rolling through the door. And, of course, no Halloween playlist is complete without “I Put a Spell on You” by Nina Simone!

By now your friends should be showing up and you want some higher energy tunes to go with the beginning-of-the-party buzz. The next few songs, from “Aphrodisiac” by Bow Wow Wow to “Normal Person” by Arcade Fire will set the mood and give you and your friends ample opportunity to make small talk, check out each other’s costumes and get grooving!

“Monster Mash” by Bobby ‘Boris’ Pickett is another Halloween classic – and is the perfect time for everyone to show off their best Dracula dance moves! You’ll recognize some of the songs during the next part of the playlist – because who can resist singing along to “She Wolf” and “Spice Up Your Life”? – so let loose and have a good time with your friends! Halloween is all about having a good time, for the undead and their living counterparts.

As your party goes on, monsters, demons, classmates, and friends will be rolling in and you want to greet them with appropriately funky and spooky songs. “Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen and The Black Keys’ “Howlin’ for You” are just right for a packed party. We also threw in a couple of songs by supernatural songstresses Florence and the Machine and Bat For Lashes, both of which would make great costume ideas for next year! Play some Halloween-themed games and munch on seasonal snacks – the night is still young!

“Bad Moon Rising” by Creedence Clearwater Revival is an old, groovy, song that fits the undead themes of your fete. By now you and your friends are probably getting tired and some of them are probably moving on to the next stage of their night. But you don’t get too bummed towards the end of your party, I’ve put some fun and dance-worthy songs by Ryan Gosling’s band Dead Man’s Bones in the latter part of the playlist.

Jam out to David Bowie’s “Moonage Daydream” while you clean up from your party and have a safe, fun, and spooky Halloween!

What songs are you listening to this Halloween?

Image: Drew Patrick

Professional SpotlightSpotlight

The world of non-profit is an incredible place with some of the most generous and selfless people we have ever had the chance to meet. One of these inspiring people is Jake Weber, the Executive Director of FamilyWorks, a Seattle based family resource center and food bank. Since before 1995 FamilyWorks has been serving its community through learning initiatives and volunteerism opportunities. As the leader of this organization Jake Weber is entirely hands-on, from working with food bank vendors to attending fund raising events. As a leader in her community Jake knows how to inspire the organization staff and get nearly 300 volunteers excited about their work! (Plus she’s not afraid to get onstage and sing her heart out!). We are so thrilled to introduce Jake Weber!

Name: Jake Weber
Age: 56
Education: B.S. in Music Therapy and Master’s degree in Social Work from University of Washington
Follow: Facebook
Explore: FamilyWorks Seattle / United Way / Seattle Works / VolunteerMatch / Idealist

Carpe Juvenis: How would you define ‘Seizing Your Youth’?

Jake Weber: I would say it’s about exploring as much as possible. Some things you fall into but for the most part you just can’t be afraid of doing different things. Some things will be more interesting and exciting, but just say yes. Just go for it. Follow your passions.

CJ: You majored in Music Therapy. How did you discover that passion and decide to pursue it for your undergraduate degree?

JW: Music has always been a very strong passion of mine, along with helping people. I always knew I wanted to help people and then I realized, “Wow you can combine music with therapy,” and that rang so true. And there was part of me that wondered if I was good enough at music or good enough with helping people. But I did it, and I did enjoy it. And although I discovered that it wasn’t exactly what I was supposed to be doing forever, the process of doing it brought me many different places and I don’t regret a minute of it.

Jake Weber portrait

CJ: How would you suggest discovering passions if you don’t know what those are yet?

JW: Don’t be afraid of failure. Kids might think “I’m not good at this so I’m not going to try.” The fear of failure prevents a lot of people from doing things. So if you even have the slightest interest in something go for it, and look to work with someone who has experience. They can share their skills in a way that makes sense to you. They can share their passion, which can help your fire get lit by someone else’s enthusiasm for something—even shadowing somebody for a short period of time. If we’re talking about the non-profit world, there are a lot of volunteering opportunities. It’s about getting out there, and there are a million opportunities for that.

CJ: Can you elaborate on your experience with earning your Master’s degree in Social Work from the UW? Would you do it again if you had the choice?

JW: In the non-profit world, experience and training matters a great deal What I discovered in doing music therapy was that I liked training staff in the nursing homes to be able to use music on a much broader level than just me using it on an individual basis. In following social work, and wanting to learn more about social justice and all the systems at play, I wanted to use that body of knowledge and philosophy in my work. So I really enjoyed studying social work—with a focus on community development, and getting a chance to work in different organizations, it really helps to work with various people and various jobs.

CJ: You did your Master’s at UW, did that influence your decision to stay in the area?

JW: Well I grew up on the east coast and spent many years there and did a back and forth from coast to coast, in term of my studies. But once I did my Master’s here I knew I was re- planted.

CJ: What sparked your love of community outreach and how did you get involved with Family Works?

JW: When I was at my former job we started a family support center. And what I learned about family resource centers was that the model was very appealing to me. It was very empowering, and it was based on partnerships in the community – everyone coming together so we could help all families and all participants thrive. I helped start that there, and then was asked to be on the board of this emerging family center. At the time food banks were pretty new to me, but it made a lot of sense to combine programs that provide nutrition for you physically, and combined with other programs that provide sustenance for you in other social, emotional, economic and strengthening ways.

CJ: In your experience what factors and traits allow you to love your job?

JW: I love the range of connections with people working together to strengthen the community – the Board, the community members, participants of the center, staff, volunteers, the City, Churches, Schools other organizations. It’s a powerful thing when all of these forces act together for the greater good. Perhaps it is my love of people and people power and mobilizing those forces that make my job so rewarding.

CJ: What does a day in your life look like at Family Works?

JW: As the executive director in a small organization I engage in a very broad range of things you have to do to run an organization. Such as program and partnership development, fundraising, managing staff, writing grants, , getting customer input, collecting food at the farmers market, (the list could go on) and did I mention fundraising?

CJ: What can people do now to set themselves up for success in the non-profit world?

JW: What we really need now from young people are for them to bring new and interesting ideas to the table and engage their circle of contacts in causes that they believe in. All organizations need resources to further their mission. In terms of getting into the field, talk to people doing work that you find interesting, ask to shadow them, read about best practices, current trends and then get your hands dirty!

Jake Weber

CJ: If kids want to get involved with their community but aren’t sure how, what would be the easiest way to do so?

JW: There are so many local organizations to get involved with and volunteer programs at each organization. Find a service area that appeals to you and their website should guide you to volunteer opportunities. Don’t get discouraged, sometimes it takes time to nail down a position.

CJ: How do you handle the difficult days at your job?

JW: Some days you just do what you can and feel like you haven’t made a dent. There’s a book written called Trauma Stewardship, and describes this classic feeling across the board with people in this helping field—they never feel like they’re doing enough. This sets you up for not only dissatisfaction and stress. I like to talk to people who use the program and remind myself of the impact we actually do have on people.

CJ: How do you like to spend your fee time?

JW: I really like being outside, riding my bike and hiking, especially with friends and family members I play in a band and that brings me incredible joy and actually relieves a lot of stress. I sing, play guitar in a swing/country/bluegrass group called The Wiretappers. . It’s important to have something outside of your work that’s pure happiness. Even though I love my job but there’s also a lot of responsibility and stress that’s a part of that, so having something else that’s a passion combined with creative self expression is important to me. Exercise in general is really important and keeps me full of energy.

CJ: How do you ever combat stage fright or self-doubt?

JW: If there’s something that you really enjoy, not everyone is going to like you or love what you’re doing. And I wasn’t like that when I was younger, and was a bit more afraid of what people thought, but if you feel strongly about what you’re doing and enjoy doing it, and you will find the people who also appreciate it. Just enjoy it as much as you can!

CJ: What is your favorite book?

JW: The Impossible Will Take a Little While by Paul Rogat Loeb.

CJ: What advice would you give your 22-year-old self?

JW: I would probably say travel, get out there and experience the world in that way and be fearless. Just follow anything that even vaguely resembles interest. If you don’t know what the passion thing is, you’ve got to follow your interests. Find people you admire, talk to them about what they like about their work and that could trigger some other ideas for what you could be interested in. Don’t let anybody else tell you or guide what you think might should be your path. Just go for it.

EducationHealth

The semester is well underway and I’m sure, aside from getting involved in a gazillion clubs, juggling a job or an internship, and trying to have some kind of a social life, everyone is swamped with loads of homework. As I’m typing, many people are probably rushing to finish up their calculus problems or putting the final touches on a paper that is due in a few days. Whatever the case may be, there just never seems to be enough time in the day to get everything done.

Pulling all-nighters and working well after midnight aren’t unusual scenarios. We fall asleep on our textbooks only to wake up in the morning ready to fall back into the same routine. College is extremely hard and the moments when you get to kick back and relax are extremely rare. Even then, the days when you do get a chance to take a break from schoolwork (i.e. the weekend) are usually not as laid-back as you would like them to be because there is always an exam to study for, a paper to write, or an assignment to complete.

They say coffee is a college student’s best friend, but spending the day (or even the night) working on homework isn’t the way to go about college because overworking yourself can cause your brain to melt into a pile of mush. Maybe that isn’t what really happens but, without the occasional break from schoolwork, you’ll eventually stress yourself out, and being stressed has many negative effects on your mind and body.

Whenever you’re at that point where you just want to rip your hair out, step away from your computer, put down the book you’re reading, and set aside that calculator. Your work will be there once you take a 10-15 break (or however long you think you need). It’s not going to get up and walk away, so use some of your time to rest your brain and stretch those legs because I’m sure you spend hours on end plastered to a chair (or your bed) whenever you do homework. If you can’t figure out to do with your free time, here is a list of things to do to help you unwind.

  1. Get a snack: Studying and homework is almost impossible to do on an empty stomach, so get something to munch on and something to drink so you’re not depriving your body of the nutrients you need. For better brain power, try eating healthy snacks. And no, potato chips are not an essential part of the food pyramid.
  2. Stretching/exercising: I have a friend who does lunges whenever she needs a break from doing her homework. You don’t have to do lunges, but stretching might be a good thing to do to keep your body from cramping up after hours of sitting. If you really want to get that heart pounding, try doing some jumping jacks.
  3. Read a book: And I don’t mean a textbook. Pick up a book that isn’t for school and read one or two chapters to get your mind off of your homework and allow yourself to slip into another world.
  4. Listen to music: Turn on your favorite band or singer and rock out to your favorite songs. You can sing along or dance or do whatever it takes for you to destress.
  5. Go for a walk: You don’t have to go too far, but you can walk around your residence hall or apartment complex a few times just to get some fresh air and get out of the confines of the four walls of your room so you don’t go stir crazy.
  6. Play a game: Games are a great way to keep your mind busy. More importantly, you get to have fun!
  7. Straighten up your room: I’m not sure about you, but my side of the room always seems to get out of hand whenever I’m studying or doing homework. I can’t do anything until my side of the room is in order and everything that was out of place is back into place.
  8. Check your email: When we’re busy with class and school work, sometimes we forget to check our inboxes to see if we received any important emails. Use your free time to make sure we’re not missing out on anything.
  9. Talk to people: Start up a conversation with your roommate, text a friend, or call a family member. It doesn’t matter who you talk to, but it’s important to get your mind off of your homework for a bit and what better way to do that than to converse with people about things that have nothing to do with homework.
  10. Set your alarm and take a nap: Of course I had to save the best for last. If you find yourself not wanting to do anything on this list, it might be time for a nap. After 30-45 minutes of resting your eyes, you should feel refreshed and ready to finish your homework.

There are a variety of things you can do to take a break from homework. Just remember not to spend too much time (more than an hour) taking a break. Also, don’t feel bad about taking a break. We all need one so our bodies and brain don’t shut down after hours of staring at the pages of a thick textbook or a computer screen. You might feel like there is not enough time in the day, but you have the power to make time, so try to work taking breaks into your schedule the best you can because you deserve it.

Image: Unsplash

Education

Autumn has finally rolled around, which means that in addition to leaves, sweaters, and the smell of cinnamon and maple in every coffee shop, we are also about to be hit with hard deadlines, stacks of work, and plenty of assignments with overlapping due dates. That calls for a playlist that can get you settled in and ready to accomplish your looming tasks.

If you’re anything like me, you like to get work done in different kinds of environments. Sometimes I need complete silence, other times I perform well when there’s a miscellaneous ambiance of strangers, and once in a while I like to throw in some headphones and mark off my to-do list with the help of an awesome playlist.

The playlist below has been carefully curated by yours truly (but I won’t be offended if you switch out or remove any of these selections). I like these tunes because they all have a steady but upbeat vibe, and flow together well when I don’t want to be distracted by the sudden jolt of a Top 40-get-up-and-dance jam.

(Click on the photo to view in full screen.)

workplaylistcarpe

Good luck with your exams, papers, deadlines, and meetings this season. You’re doing amazing things!

For more daily inspiration, follow Carpe on Twitter. See you there!

Image: Death to the Stock Photo

SpotlightYouth Spotlight

It’s always great meeting ambitious youth because it makes us motivated to do more. One of these go-getters is Chris Morgan, a student at the University of Washington and the director and founder of HuskyCreative. Chris is a writer, a musician, and a constant learner. He not only runs HuskyCreative, but he’s involved with the Pearson Student Advisory Board, works as a programmatic media specialist at Drake Cooper, and he somehow manages to find time to complete his homework. Oh, and did we mention that he is also writing a novel? We were fortunate to pick up some time management tips from Chris (note to selves: stock up on legal pads!), discover how he balances college with his jobs and activities, and hear more about what his post-graduation plans are. Chris seizes his youth, and he does it with a can-do, positive attitude. Now, get ready to take some notes…

Name: Christopher Morgan
Age: 21
Education: B.A. in Business Administration: Marketing from the University of Washington
Follow: HuskyCreative | Twitter

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define ‘Seizing Your Youth’?

Chris Morgan: Seizing your youth is about action. It’s about doing something. I know a lot of people who have great ideas, but the difference between the people who are hailed as seizing their youth and people who don’t is just the fact that they went and did something. Millennials are the generation to not get a job, so we made our own. I think that’s really cool – not the part about us not getting jobs – but we have the most entrepreneurs of any generation and we get out there and do things with our own ideas. Seizing your youth is doing something now.

CJ: You are majoring in Business Administration: Marketing at the University of Washington. What does this major involve and how did you determine what to study?

CM: I was originally a Music composition and Creative Writing double major. I wrote music a lot and it was going to be my career for the longest time, but as soon as I tried to make money off of it, I started getting really stressed out. It was hard for me to do creative work and have that be the way to put food on the table. I looked for other occupations that had that creative influence but wasn’t personal or my work really, and that’s how I found marketing. I can be creative but I still have time to do my personal creative work on the side. I made the major switch in the middle of my freshman year. It was a natural shift for me and it felt right. I was writing better as soon as I took that stress off.

CJ: What has been your favorite college class?

CM: I have two, for very different reasons. One is a branding class that I took this past year with a professor who really understood branding and how to talk to undergraduates. It was originally a graduate course, but he wanted to teach it to undergrads. He showed a lot of faith in young people. He said that there’s no difference between graduate students and undergraduates students, we just know less. Graduate students are earning their MBAs and have worked in the field, so they think that they know a lot. The cool thing about the class is that he knew we didn’t have that preemptive knowledge. We didn’t start class thinking we knew everything. We had an open mind and it was a really fun class.

The other class was one I took in Singapore. It was hard and awful. I learned so much from failing. I was in a foreign country and didn’t know anybody, and I did horribly in the class. But I know so much about that topic now – it was about Game Theory in terms of marketing and using strategic negotiation tactics. It was way above my head. But now we talk about it in classes, and I know more about it.

CJ: You studied abroad at the National University of Singapore. Why did you choose Singapore and how was that experience?

CM: I was between two options – I could go to Singapore or Sydney. I thought that Sydney was too close to the culture I had grown up in, and the culture I had never experienced before was Eastern culture. It was really the only opportunity where I could dive in and experience it. I chose Singapore, and I think it was completely the right decision. You learn so much about your own country and culture by visiting another. I understand education a lot better, actually. I got to see how Eastern culture education differs from Western culture education. That was one of the coolest things that came out of my experience, learning how two people can learn so differently.

Chris Morgan

CJ: You can speak Spanish fluently. What language-learning tips do you have for those who are interested in learning how to speak another language? Are there any other languages you want to learn?

CM: Yes, definitely! I want to learn Italian. When it comes to speaking a language, the only way to succeed is to speak the language. It’s about not being afraid to speak in front of other people. When you’re more confident in yourself and practicing a language, you will speak the language better. I think classes are better than a book and a tape because in classes you can talk to other people. If you do use a book or tape, talk to a friend or to yourself alone a lot.

CJ: You mentioned you work with Pearson. What is your involvement with them?

CM: I work for the Pearson Student Advisory Board, which is a board of students from around North America who have been selected to advise on education. Pearson recognizes that education will be changing with the new generation and technology. They are bringing in students to advise their development and business. I’ve really enjoyed it.

CJ: You were a programmatic media specialist at Drake Cooper, a marketing services company. What is a programmatic media specialist?

CM: Programmatic media is new form of media buying that is more personalized and digitally enhanced so we can learn about impressions. When you click on an ad, I can tell where you’re from, how much money you make, whether you have kids or a family, what kind of products you buy, etc. It allows companies to save money because they can pick who they send ads to. It’s more efficient for the companies, and in my opinion, better for the consumers because you’re not being spammed ads for things you don’t care about.

CJ: You have had multiple marketing internships. What experiences have been your favorite, and what were the biggest takeaways from those experiences?

CM: One of the more defining internships was the one I had at the Pacific Science Center in Seattle. It was one of my first internships, and the best thing that they ever did was let me have autonomy. They let me own something. They let me dictate the success or failure of a project. It teaches you a lot about taking ownership and being creative with your ideas. A lot of first internships entail getting coffee and managing a calendar. Having autonomy was important for me because it helped me understand how to be successful.

I worked on organizing events. I worked on live event marketing, and I got to take on projects by myself and have a real impact.

CJ: You are the Director and Founder of HuskyCreative, a not-for-profit advertising agency at the University of Washington AMA chapter. What responsibilities do you have as the Founder and Director?

CM: When I started HuskyCreative, I had worked in marketing but not advertising. I didn’t know anything when I started. I was the finance guy, the HR guy, and the Creative Director. It was such a growing experience. I was a totally different person then. It was such a ride. Our first client was Shell Oil, which was awesome and scary. We had no idea what we were doing, but we used that to our advantage because we created a campaign that nobody else had done.

We exclusively hire college students because their opinions aren’t tainted by past experiences. They have a fresh look, and that’s how we succeeded at first. Hiring the first people was new, managing finances, writing contracts, this was all new to me.

For what I do now, it’s pretty similar but it feels like less because I know what I’m doing. Instead of writing the first contract, I’m taking the contract I’ve already written. A lot of my work is managerial, and I don’t do a lot of ad work. But I love it, and it’s been really incredible. This next year we’re trying to build a collegiate network of creative agencies. We’ll be a support group for people who want to do what I do or who want a creative agency at their university. It’ll be a really exciting year for us.

Chris Morgan 2

CJ: You have one more year until you graduate. Is HuskyCreative something you want to do after you graduate?

CM: The goal of HuskyCreative is to be an experience for the students. The reason we started the agency is because of the first job paradox: “This is an entry level position, but we’d like you to have two years of experience.” When people graduate from school, they might not have that job experience and they might not have been taught the correct things about the ad world, so we wanted to create a place where students could get this experience.

I want somebody else to take my job because this experience shouldn’t just be my own. I hope that it continues on for many years. We built it to be sustainable over the years. We want to help people gain experience so that they can get a job.

CJ: Music is one of your passions. How does music play a role in your life?

CM: I started playing the piano when I was four, and when I was eleven I started playing the improv jazz saxophone. I write a lot of piano music, and I have written a symphony. I’m working on my second one now. A lot of my writing isn’t jazz, but it’s my favorite thing to play.

CJ: You’re a writer. Tell us about the novel you are working on.

CM: I am working on a science fiction novel. I’ve been working on it for too long now. With running the company, I haven’t had the chance to really sit down and write. I’m awful at just sitting down to write. I’ve heard many times that you can write a story as an architect or a gardener. As an architect, you write an outline and construct the character story arcs. Or you’re a gardener and you have an initial idea and just start writing. It’s hard for me to let things just happen, so I spent a lot of time building the story before actually writing it.

CJ: What is your favorite book?

CM: The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss.

CJ: What is your favorite magazine?

CM: Ad Age.

CJ: How do you balance being a college student with all of your jobs and activities?

CM: School comes first. You’re at school to learn. Passion helps with balancing. You’ll find that you’re more stressed out when you have obligations that you’re not passionate about. I wouldn’t try to fit in writing music or my novel if I didn’t love doing those things. Time management is awful, it’s hard, and there’s no one trick that I have. I just keep doing things because I love them.

CJ: How do you plan out your days?

CM: I plan things out on a week-by-week basis. I am notorious for making lists. I love legal pads. I carry mine around with me everywhere. I structure my calendar around my weekly goals. I like the structure and pre-planning for what I have to get done.

CJ: What does a day in your life look like?

CM: I work a 9-5, so I go to work. I have a separate to-do list for work, where I set up what I need to get done hour to hour. As soon as I get off work, I shoot off emails for HuskyCreative, sometimes I have meetings. I’ll have dinner, take some time to relax, and then I’ll usually do more work for HuskyCreative, and then write. I try to end my day with writing, it’s relaxing and is something I enjoy.

When school is in session, it’s a little more hectic because I’ll be running from classes to meetings. I’m usually working or in class all day. I try to finish as much as I can before dinner. It’s important to have an hour or two to just do whatever you want, whether that is writing or watching movies with friends. Whatever it is, you need that time.

CJ: What advice would you give your 15-year-old self?

CM: Have action. In high school I had a lot of time. I had the original idea for my book in high school, and that would’ve been a great time to get started writing it. I had a lot of hesitancy, and I thought the idea was enough. It’s hard to have that motivation all the time, but if you have an idea and are passionate about it, do something about it. Everybody has ideas, but not everybody does something about it.

Professional SpotlightSpotlight

As huge jazz fans, we are so impressed with Jazz musician and trumpet player Alex Owen. After graduating from Connecticut College, Alex moved to New Orleans to work with a non-profit geared toward ending housing discrimination in Louisiana. He eventually started a band called the Messy Cookers – aptly named after his own sloppy cooking technique – and they’ve been playing together ever since. Although he now loves music and plays jazz for a living, Alex shares his advice on why never closing doors on opportunities, even at a young age, can lead you to your passion down the line. We are excited to introduce Alex Owen!

Name: Alex Owen
Age: 24
Education: BA in International Relations and Hispanic Studies from Connecticut College, High School Columbia Prep.
Follow: Facebook

How do you define ‘seizing your youth’?

I would define it as going out and doing what you love. I don’t think there is an age limit, or minimum, to trying to make your dream happen. When I hear the term “seizing your youth,” I think of having the opportunity to try things out and see what happens. Sometimes it’s a risk, but if you don’t take those risks now, then when will you?

What did you major in at Connecticut College and how did you determine what to study?

At Connecticut College I majored in International Relations and Hispanic Studies, and I minored in Music. I also was part of the CISLA program. I picked my majors just based on what classes I wanted to take. I had studied Spanish in high school and I wanted to continue to learn the language and become proficient, and I really liked the interdisciplinary focus of the IR major. It just seemed that the majors seemed to fit what I wanted to study. Of course, I wanted to play music as well, so the minor just seemed to fit what I was interested in.

What or who inspired you to become a jazz musician?

I think what inspired me was really just to follow my passion. I don’t think I ever sat down and thought, “I want to be a jazz musician.” I loved playing traditional jazz music at Connecticut College where I first discovered this music, and I also loved being in the jazz ensemble. I wanted to move to New Orleans because I knew they had a great scene for traditional jazz, but I wasn’t sure in what capacity I was going to play.

When I moved to New Orleans, I actually was part of a fellowship program called AVODAH, where I spent a year working full-time at the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center, a non-profit working to end housing discrimination in Louisiana. It wasn’t until about mid-way through my first year that I started the Messy Cookers Jazz band and started to find gigs and get a little bit of work. I realized that I really loved the music, and while I also loved the work I was doing at the Fair Housing center, I really wanted to focus on getting better. It became apparent that if I wanted to gig more and get more work, it wouldn’t be feasible to work full time and try to focus on both things. After I started to get work, I decided that I could really be a jazz musician, and that’s when I decided to focus on it and teach music part time.

Tell me about your college bands The Endpiece and Funk the Police. How have those experiences shaped your current music?

Those were some really great bands to be a part of. When I look back at my college experience, some of the fondest memories I had were from those two bands. I think those experiences were incredibly helpful because they taught me so much about being in a band and what the dynamics are like. One thing I learned from being a musician is that it takes so much work to make the music great. You have to practice, you have to find different roles, and you have to learn how to create chemistry with your other band mates in order to make great music. I’ve found that in any style or genre of music, this is true.

You also have to be able to find common ground among different personalities. While I don’t play the style of music that those two bands played anymore, I still take what I learned from those bands about working together with other musicians to make great music, and it’s something I use every time I play with people today.

Alex 2

How do you stay motivated on-stage night after night of performing?

It’s definitely tough to do this. It’s certainly easier when you are playing a crowded venue. The hard thing to do is really be on your game when it’s the third or fourth set and it’s a slow night. I think what makes some musicians truly great is that they play the same way whether there are 100 people in the place, or two people. I really try to focus on just making great music at all times and I try not to worry about the crowd. Obviously, I’m always paying attention to the crowd, especially when I’m the bandleader. But once we pick a song and we get into it, I try to block it out and just try to make great music. Ultimately, that’s the most gratifying thing, and it’s something that I could do every day for the rest of my life.

Where does your band name, Messy Cookers Jazz Band, come from?

Ha-ha, this is a pretty funny question. I was making a comment to myself the first year down here that when I was cooking, I made a pretty big mess. I lived on campus all four years of college, so I never really learned how to cook before I moved down to New Orleans. All of a sudden, I realized that I had to cook for myself, so I learned the basics and was able to get by. I guess my technique was still a little sloppy. I was cooking for my housemates one night and I made the comment about how I was a messy cooker. My roommate Jeremy was walking by, and he went “I think I just found your band name.” The name was just too good to pass up.

How does living in New Orleans inspire your music?

I think living here is great because to play the music I want to play, which is traditional New Orleans jazz, I’m able to learn from the best. There are great musicians still working all the time today, who themselves came up playing with and learning from some of the all-time greats. It’s really a privilege to be able to hear them play on almost any given day or night, and to occasionally have opportunities to play with them. I think hearing what they have to say, and listening to the way they approach the music, is key for me to also try and play this music. I try to utilize their advice in every gig I play.

What is one of the greatest lessons you have learned from being a musician?

There are a lot of good lessons I’ve learned. One is definitely how to take criticism and how to take rejection. Every musician is going to have self-doubt, get yelled at on a bandstand for making a mistake or not knowing a song, get fired from a gig, or get turned down for a gig. It’s very discouraging, but the best thing to do is trust in yourself and trust in your ability. I’ve found that during the tough times, trusting myself has allowed me to stay positive, remain focused, and continue to make great music.

d

What is the biggest challenge with being a musician? The best part?

There are a few challenges with being a musician. I’d say one challenge being unsure know when your next paycheck will be coming in. Especially as someone that is new to town, I’ve gotten a lot of gigs last minute. Since I’m still trying to establish myself, I’m in a position where if I can make a gig, I take it. It’s definitely hard to adjust your schedule last minute. The schedule can also be grueling. Working nights can be really hard, especially since I teach during the day. You really have to alter your life schedule to fit your work. Sometimes this means trying to eat a big meal to last you the 4-5 hours you will be out since you don’t have access to food. Other times, this means trying to hang out with friends during the day because when they are free night, this is when I’m working.

On the flip side, the best part of being a musician is that it’s greatest job in the world! I get to make awesome music, something I would do anyway in my free time, and then I get paid for it. I’ve been fortunate to get work with some world-class musicians, which is an awesome experience. There are many nights when I can’t believe I’m sharing a bandstand with some of these people. It’s also gratifying when you can tell that you’ve touched people with your music.  When I’ve just spent a night making music that you know was great music, and people come up to me and tell me how much they enjoyed it, that really makes it gratifying.

Any tips for learning how to play an instrument?

The biggest tip I can give is to be patient. Something I tell my beginning band students all the time is that Louis Armstrong didn’t sound like Louis Armstrong when he first started playing. Music is like a totally new language; nobody just wakes up a genius. Everyone works at it and tries to make new strides. When you are learning a new instrument, take pride in whatever progress you make, however small, and focus on achieving each milestone. Eventually, before you even realize it, you will start sounding better and playing an instrument will become more fun.

How do you overcome self-doubt (or stage fright?)

Like learning an instrument, this comes with practice. The more gigs I play, the more confident I become in myself, and the easier it is to overcome stage fright. Stage fright, and self-doubt, is a part of being a performer, and is something that becomes easier with practice. Whenever I get nervous, I also try to remember that there is a reason I’m on the bandstand. If I’m a sideman, I try to focus on the fact that someone called me to play the gig with him or her, so I must be doing something right. As a bandleader, I try to remember that the venue likes us enough to hire us, and the people I’ve hired like playing with me enough to want to play with me, otherwise they would’ve said no.

c

What advice do you have for youth who want to be professional musicians?

My advice is to go for it. If you feel it’s what you want to do, and it’s what you are most passionate about, then absolutely go for it and don’t hold back. People are definitely going to tell you that you can’t do it, or that it’s not stable, etc. These are things that almost all professional artists face at one point. If you are driven enough and determined enough, you can sustain the bumps in the road and make it happen. It’s also ok to take a part-time job or do something on the side to make ends meet, even if it’s not exactly the work you want to be doing. I’ve been lucky enough to find work teaching music, which is something I love and plan to pursue, but I know other musicians and other artists who’ve had all types of weird jobs not related to their art. As long as it doesn’t directly interfere with your art, I say there’s nothing wrong with getting a job to pay the bills.

What do you do when you’re not making music?

I really enjoy spending time outdoors. I’m fortunate that New Orleans has a temperate climate (other than the summer), which allows me to go running, spend time in parks, and generally do activities outside. I also spend time with my girlfriend, watch TV shows, and spend time with friends.

What does a day in your life look like?

Ha-ha, depends on the day! Usually my weekdays consist of teaching during the day. I have a little break in the afternoon, where I usually exercise and get other work done (the work never stops for musicians). If I have a gig that night I’ll eat an early dinner, warm up a little, prep for the gig, and head down early to set up. If not, I’ll either go to hear other bands and sit in, or just hang out and rest. The weekends are mostly about gigs. If I don’t have a daytime gig, I can run errands, hang out with friends, and then go to my gig later. However, some weekends I just spend it running from gig to gig. The great thing about being a musician is that no two days are the same!

What motivates you in your everyday life?

I always just try to be the best person I can be. Whether I’m playing music or not, I always try to be nice to others, to spend quality time with other people, and to be true to my craft.

What advice would you give your 15-year-old self?

I would definitely tell myself that music isn’t dorky, that I should be pursuing it. I think at 15, I really was into sports, and not so much into music. Playing trumpet was more of a chore my parents made me do (and I’m glad they made me do it), and I wish I had treated it differently. I think a lot of this was that I didn’t realize how much fun playing was, and I didn’t think it was that cool.

Image: Hot Steamed Jazz Festival; all others from Alex Owen

Travel

There are many things you can do on a road trip. I know you can think of a lot it on your own, but I thought I’d provide some inspiration.

1. Play Games

Dig up cards from your Trivial Pursuit game or something similar. Trivia is a way to keep everyone in the car involved. However, any game will do. There are even games on your cellphone that can be played by multiple people. It is fun and a great way to stay awake on the road.

2. Sleep

Road trips last a long time. Unless you’re behind the wheel, you do not have to be awake the whole time. Take a rest so you will be rested enough to do things when you get out of the car.

3. Listen To Music

A good playlist can make a road trip. Even if you just listen to the radio, you could find out what different people in your car like. You may even learn to like something new.

4. Snack

If you’re on the road for awhile, being able to snack every now and then just may keep everyone happy.

5. Talk

It is the simplest thing in the world but talking is a great pastime. People can talk for hours. You only need people to make it happen. If you talk long enough, you may get to know each other better than you thought you would.

6. Write

Travel journals allow you to remember the great times you had on your journeys. You can always look back at them and remember the times you had. You will also have stories to tell others.

7. Take Photos And Videos

If writing is not your thing, there is always visual media. It is something to look back on. We live on a beautiful planet. There are a lot of sights you do not see in your everyday life. Take advantage. Take photos of the fun people you are traveling with. You can capture a laugh, a smile, or some other stolen moment.

My most important advice would be to remember to look past the camera lens. Sightseeing is totally fun but documenting a moment is not as important as experiencing it. I cannot tell you how many times I have had to remind myself to look past the photograph I was taking and into the view before me. I never regretted it once.

Image: unsplash

Travel

There are a few more weeks in summer to go on a trip! If you opt for a road trip, you will have a lot of fun. Before you go, though, there are a few must-have items to bring so that you can cruise peacefully. Here are eight important items you won’t want to forget:

1. Gas/ Food/ Emergency Money

I know this is an obvious one, but it is still worth mentioning. You don’t want to get stranded before you get anywhere.

2. Food

When you’re on a long stretch of road, who knows when you’ll see food again. It’s always good to have some snacks on hand so you don’t get too hungry. Or worse: grumpy in a car full of people because you’re hungry. Bringing a cooler can be helpful for snacks when you absolutely need them.

3. Games and Toys

If you are traveling with kids, games and toys are a must. However, they’re also great for adults. Playing a trivia game or a guessing game can help pass the time and keep others engaged.

4. Good Music

Be it an awesome playlist, CDs, or the radio, music can keep a long road trip feel a lot shorter. You can share your favorite music with those closest to you. You might just love hearing something new.

5. Something To Sleep With

Road trips are long. If you are not driving, you are welcome to rest. Comfortable clothes are good since you will be sitting for hours, so you may as well wear pajamas or sweatpants. Add a pillow, a blanket, and a sleep mask to block out the light so you can get some much needed rest.

6. A Cellphone

I know this is a necessity for a lot of people. Cellphones have many great uses. You can use it as a GPS, for games, music, a camera and most importantly, to contact people! Remember to keep it charged in case you get stranded and really need it. Having a car cellphone charger on hand is never a bad idea.

7. Maps

If you lose signal or run out of battery and have no electronic GPS, you could end up really lost. Maps still exist for a reason. Use them.

8. First Aid Kit

Many first aid kits come travel-sized these days. They are cheap and useful if the situation arises.

I hope these tips make the ride enjoyable for everyone! Have fun!

Image: weheartit