Out-Shine Competition and impress judges

You’re about to walk into a public spotlight. How to present a glowing, winning persona and performance? Communicate confidence based on your solid preparation and ability…

Whether your platform is words or music

It’s music competition season and my students compete this weekend. My lesson tips are refreshed from recent adjudicating at Mt Isa Eisteddfod, west of my birthplace. The train passed our sheep property, but never carried me west to Mt Isa.

My recent memoir Midnight Sun to Southern Cross describes my outback childhood and steps on my journey to become a Classical musician and educator. Of my culture shock when plunged into city schools after correspondence lessons in remote Queensland and transition from shy outback child into one who now enjoys communicating.

Covers-1Read on for Tips to Shine.

But first, sound a gong!

I’m thrilled that  Burn My Letters is shortlisted for the CALEB 2017 Nonfiction competition. It’s  the first book of my saga.

Winners will be announced at the Omega Writers Conference in Sydney 29 October.

Preparation: Remote control and sound test before if possible

What an experience to adjudicate recorder players via webinar at the Mt Isa School of the Air. How impressive that teachers instruct with no visual cues or demonstration so remote youngsters can learn music and compete.

FullSizeRender 2

Rural Internet is too poor for Skype so judging was on pure sound, no visuals. Young recorder competitors blew too close to the mic so I jumped in my chair at their initial raw sounds.

Performance Tips for Backstage

• Hand on forehead and slow deep breaths calms excess adrenaline.
• Buzz lips to prevent tension squeaks (clarinet and saxophone).
• Stand against a wall for upright posture.
• BREATHE!

Make a positive first impression

  • Walk on with upright posture that says ‘I am the greatest!’ Smile or exude gravitas.
  • Take a moment to poise before beginning. Breathe.

Tips to stand out from the crowd

When many deserve places the adjudicator prays for someone to shine. Colour your performance/presentation with wide range of dynamics/tonal colour. Just as actors exaggerate their vocal tone, facials and body language, so winning musicians exaggerate and contrast dynamics.

In my own coming presentations…

 Sunshine Coast International Readers and Writers Festival director Wendy O’Hanlon launches Midnight Sun at 10.15 on 13 August at Coolum.

I’ll share tips on Writing Memoir and Historical Biography Saturday 12 August 11.30.

FinnFest Presentation 19 August 11am at Finlandia Village, 343 Cleveland-Redland Bay Road, Thornlands Brisbane

FinnFest Title

Includes live music:

  • Sibelius’ Swan of Tuonela played by Emily Salonen (cor anglais) with Peter Crane (piano).
  • I’ll play a Menuetto by Finnish composer Bernhard Crusell on clarinet.
  • Finnish music from my grandfather’s home village played by string quartet.

I’ll remind myself that:

A mistake, glitch, or fluffed note is not doom. (I tell my clarinet students ‘If you squeak, make it a good one!’)

Think ‘Even though I stuff up I love and appreciate and respect myself!’

Communicate with listeners! Eye contact that interview panel or conference audience.

Play or speak musically with beautiful tone, and above all…

ENJOY your performance!

Books are available on Amazon (hard copy and eBook). Autographed copies via Paypal at the web store. ruthbonetti.com

Socks, jocks or books for Christmas?

Each Christmas, my dear departed mother gave shirts to the men in her life. Mine know they’ll receive books for the coming holidays. At writers festivals, I choose likely books, queue up for authors’ autographs. Don’t people love that personalised touch?

Some of these gifts become dog-eared, I confess. Because, er, I do check that the books and recipients are matched. Recycling helps save the planet. That’s one excuse.

Also, I buy many books written by writing buddies and colleagues. And help them by posting reviews on Goodreads.com – an addictive site where one can check out readers’ reviews of books before deciding whether to buy or borrow. Reviews are pure gold to authors hoping to be noticed amidst millions of competing titles. Especially as Indie publishers don’t have advertising budgets of the big imprints.

See Goodreads 5-star reviews of my recent book

Burn My LettersTwoCovers

There is nothing dull about this historical search, from the start I was drawinto the story, entertained, amused, challenged and moved.’

 

…a charming blend of well-researched narrative non-fiction and creative imagination. Ruth’s writing is cohesive and easy to read.’

Order on Amazon, as hardcopy and eBook. For autographed copies order here. There, buy Book 2 of the series at pre-publication special price.

Or send cheques to Words and Music, PO Box 422 The Gap Qld 4061 Australia.

Thanks for the great reviews! Feel free to add your own comments on Goodreads.com

Book 2 Midnight Sun to Southern Cross launches March 2017

It marks the centenary of the Russian Revolution, which spread to Finland and on to Finnish Independence.

WA St Lucia view LRIn March 1937, 70 years ago, the University of Queensland foundation stone was laid. Book 2 of the Back Saga documents the development of St Lucia, and my grandfather W. A. Back’s part in the Coronation Park Ltd syndicate. This developed 148 acres of which the University resumed 200 blocks of land bought with The Mayne Inheritance. (Now, there’s a tale!) See him surveying his domain from his ‘Big House’ in 1950s Hawken Drive–and my contribution in Brisbane Art Deco

Book 2 moves between Australia and Finland to contrast Granddad’s formative years in Europe and my own upbringing in outback Queensland and in St Lucia, the iconic Brisbane suburb he developed. And of my own studies at that same university, after the culture shock of Ironside State School – a big stretch from correspondence school – and then Somerville House.

Edvard_c

What of family members who remained in Finland? Read the parts they played in the struggle to oust Russian overlords from their homeland. (My father’s uncle Edvard on right)

Granddad’s story is bookended by ‘Those who go, those who stay.’ In 1920, Sister Anna Sanna (Ny)Holm joined her brothers, the first complete Finnish family to emigrate to Australia. Holms leave Finland_LR

 

 

What better Christmas holiday than to relax with a book?

Enjoy reading! 

Burn My Letters fires at literary festivals

Burn My Letters launched at Byron Bay Writers Festival, launched by author Jesse Blackadder. Thanks to Captain Honey who made it possible amongst greater luminaries of the literary firmament. The Brisbane launch was uplifted by gypsy/klezmer band Greshka, and by a choir of Finns who sang Finlandia to many moist eyed listeners. Georgiana Poulter, director of the Institute of Modern Languages, University of Queensland launched it. Some footage is on Facebook.

KJ launch

Radio interview

Sibelius featured of course in the ‘My Journey in Music’ interview about this and a coming Brisbane Symphony Orchestra concert on Radio 4MBS Classic FM (103.7) repeated on Sunday 8pm. Listen via live streaming .

A Book Week talk, then next…

The Sunshine Coast International Readers & Writers Festival includes my launch in the (apt!) Smorgasbord of Authors, Saturday, 10 September.

Thanks to Suomi Newspaper for including half-page spreads in three recent issues.


Book 2 to launch in November

Midnight Sun to Southern Cross is written, edited, but needs another read through before putting it between pages. The plan is to launch in November, amidst this present whirlwind…I’ll keep you posted.

How to order?

Those who helped along the journey, and others who bought pre-publication copies should have received books by now, with international posting ten days ago. It’s now up on Amazon as eBook and of course, if you prefer an autograph, order from my website.

TwoCovers

Our first review!

Karl Johan and I are thrilled with a review on KJ’s book page

Lisa Nitschke wrote: ‘Just finished reading “Burn My Letters” and really enjoyed it! Being a teacher, I usually never read much during term time, but I got involved in the story and found it was a welcome break in the evenings to see how the story unfolded. Having recently visited Byron Bay and surrounding hinterland, I could picture KJ making his home there. Looking forward to the next book!’

It’s on the way…

Tips for music competition success

In last week’s Queensland Eisteddfod my adjudication comments often echoed an email to my students who also faced competitions.

How to prepare for a competition (or concert)

In the warmup room

• SLOW scales, long notes
• Play any tricky bars at HALF speed
• Hand on forehead and slow deep breaths calms excess adrenaline.
• Buzz lips to prevent tension squeaks (clarinet and saxophone).
• Stand against a wall for upright posture.Main illus man head LR
• BREATHE!

In the performance

Walk on with upright posture that says ‘I am the greatest!’
If people clap, bow. Prime friends to clap so you can bow.
If an MC doesn’t do so, introduce your piece in a big clear voice; look at the audience not your music.
Tune to piano/other players. Nod ‘I’m ready.’
Take a moment to poise.
Eye contact – give a clear upbeat in the tempo you really mean.
Play out with a big, round, beautiful tone.

If things go wrong

Expect your pianist to follow you. Rescue with a clear downbeat, eye contact or gesture; also to indicate if you need time for well-chosen breaths.
A glitch, wobbly bow or fluffed note is not doom.
I tell my clarinet students ‘If you squeak, make it a good one!’
KEEP GOING – DON’T STOP.
Think ‘Even though I stuff up I love and respect and appreciate myself!’

Stand out from the crowdSax crop

When many deserve places the adjudicator prays for someone to shine.

Exaggerate dynamics so the adjudicator thinks ‘ah, musical!’ Feel free to add more.

Communicate with listeners—they love that!
Play musically with beautiful tone, and above all…
ENJOY your music! Have fun!

After the last cadence

Bow and acknowledge the pianist.
Smile–whatever happened in performance is your secret.
‘I’m proud of you for learning, practising and polishing, and presenting your pieces. If you gain a place, that’s the icing on a tasty cake.’ 

Book launchBML Cover med

My latest book Burn My Letters launched at Byron Bay Writers Festival on Friday. The Brisbane launch on Saturday 13 August at Queensland Multicultural Centre is ’ticketed’ for space and catering. It’s nearly full house so do reply email if you’d like to come.

My interview on Radio 4EB FM is online for a week. Scroll through to Breakfast with BEMAC; the interview is 21 minutes in.

Books are available with Paypal and at IngramSpark and Mary Ryans bookshops.

Artwork credit: John Harrison

In last week’s Queensland Eisteddfod my adjudication comments often echoed an email to my students who also faced competitions.

It don’t mean a thing…

…If it ain’t got that swing. As the classic song goes. (Tap along to Duke Ellington.)

Or ZING. Australia’s federal election last Saturday proved a double-disillusion. It flagged questions about the communication skills of key players on the national stage. Without naming names, let’s draw lessons for all those who present through words or music.

Communicate!

Reach out to your listeners, involve them, get to know them. Before a presentation, mix with the masses in the foyer, refer to some by name during your presentation or question time.

Clarity!

Convoluted rambling puts listeners to sleep, however mellifluous the voice, however beautifully modulated and paced. It leads to misplaced expectations.

Customise!

Adapt to different audiences rather than repeat worn out text, slogans and mantras. Listen before you speak. Create fresh, relevant zingers.

Commit to being and giving your best– don’t condescend. 

Never underestimate audience intelligence and insight. They see through ego, fake sincerity, and an attitude that “it’s all about me!”

Concise!

Pithy. To the point. Less is more. It’s easier to speak (or write) long than short.

Congruent – Be yourself

People, whether as audience or voter, want to relate to real people, not puppets or figure heads. Humility and reality cover a multitude of glitches.

WE HAVE LIFT OFF! BOOK LAUNCHES – Burn My LettersBML Cover med

After many drafts, edits and proofs my next book Burn My Letters is off to the printers!

102 Main Street Kangaroo Point (free parking, ferry to Holman St. Terminal)

(Bookings essential: email 0411 782 404 or 07 33002286)

Enjoy live music from Greshka, soprano Lyn Moorfoot and Finlandia sung by Finnish singers; give-aways; author Q&A, as you sip lingonberry saft (or stronger from cash bar) and taste smörgåsar (canapés).

lloyd@sbctc.com.au

Autographed books at launch (RRP $27.99), Paypal or email for bank transfer info.

The International Connection

I’d love to include those who’ve helped me along my journey. Join us at the Brisbane launch via live streaming on YouTube/Google. Or record for later download. (SOS for techies who can make it happen!)

If you order books via PayPal we’ll absorb extra international shipping costs.

Book 2 of the saga will launch in November

BML back cover

It’s written, edited, and will release after yet more edits and proofs.

Thanks, Peter Fenoglio for the luminous covers.

Enjoy reading!

“Playing” music…for free or fee?

Some non-musicians can’t understand that because we “play” music, it’s our livelihood. That we have invested years of decades’ study to finesse our talents. That we still put hours into practice and in many cases into arranging and composing. OK, I’m preaching to the converted. But…

Practice or play?

Why not choose a positive title like “Practice Makes Perfect” someone asked when I published Practice is a Dirty Word: How to clean up your act.

I’m allergic to the words perfect and practice in the same sentence.

practiceIn it I wrote:

Let me explode a myth.
Practice does not make perfect.
Not exactly. Not always. Hey, not ever. Let’s face it, we can’t be perfect.
Even top performers cannot be perfect. None of us can be a hundred percent perfect. Trying to be so is the biggest single cause of nerves, insecurity, depression, low self-esteem. These can cause even the most capable and talented people to give up.
The whole problem is that “practice makes perfect” has been garbled and used as a whip around our ears. Who coined that phrase, anyway? No one admits to it, but the closest we can get to its origin is that the ancient Greek philosopher Periander said: “Practice is everything.” 

But what to call it? Play?

I wrestled to find another word for “practice”. Play is the closest, implying active, creative engagement. (But we know for some it means –er–lack of focus.)

There’s the pitfall…

Some can’t imagine we should be paid real money for mere PLAY.

I must offer professional fees for live musicians at the book launch.

Thank you to those who’ve supported my crowdfunding campaign.Special mention to Althea O’Dee for her heart-warming email:”Congratulations on your new writing project! You inspire me so much. I am working in China at the moment. I’d like to donate to your fund, but when I open the fund-site, it is all in Chinese. Could I donate into your bank account… and you don’t need to send anything in return? I just want to help you, since I already own a couple of your music books, which have really helped me.

We hit the goal! Now to pay musicians at book launchTwoCovers

When my books are between covers, we’ll raise a glass to my wonderful supporters. With live music of course. These talented musicians deserve REAL fees, not mates’ rates.
With extra funds I’ll book a singer and commission son André to arrange Scandinavian music to perform with his gypsy band Greshka).

Because Words and Music are my fortes

There’s a few days left support my campaign. Do check out my crowdfunding site.

Thanks for your support!

 

Novel way to publish books

How to hook a mainstream publisher? That question keeps authors too busy to write their next book. We spend disheartening time on pitching, proposing, publicity. All writers know the pain of rejection.

• Harry Potter and J. K. Rowling were rejected by a dozen publishers, including Penguin and HarperCollins.

• Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind was rejected 38 times before publication.

• Orwell’s Animal Farm: “It’s impossible to sell animal stories in the USA.”

• To F. Scott Fitzgerald, “You’d have a decent book if you got rid of that Gatsby character.”

TwoCovers

When some publishers are interested and enthusiastic, we’re buoyed and tread on clouds. Until we discover they’re academic or vanity press, offering little recompense for our hard work, intellectual property and writing skills. Even asking us to pay for the privilege of seeing our words between covers. Might as well self-publish.

Last year I swore I wouldn’t indie publish. Even though I have already published books for musicians and teachers through my Words and Music imprint. But I’ve launched a crowdfunding campaign for the last leg of a long journey.

Even print on demand needs outlay of funds. Thanks to my son Paul Bonetti who helped, having successfully crowd funded his second album. (You can hear my clarinet backing on a few tracks.) I’m encouraged by the successful campaign to reprint Brisbane Art Deco, which includes my contribution about my Granddad’s house in St Lucia, Brisbane. Back House main BCC-B54-1976

Granddad (W.A.Back) was a Finnish Swede who emigrated to Australia to escape conscription into the Russian army. When his black sheep brother fled in 1899, Russian military police searched for him in Suez. He dodged them and found refuge in Australia. But why did he write home to “Burn my letters?” A decade’s research found answers to such questions. 

Letter KJ Back 1899:2

A treasure trove of archival letters

I’m blessed that my relatives gifted me with illuminating archival letters. These helped me piece together the story of my forebears.

What an inspiring, empowering story!

There’s a degree of memoir as the books cover:

  • Growing up in the Australian outback
  • Schooling in Brisbane: at Ironside State School, Somerville House and University of Queensland.
  • (Granddad led a consortium that developed St Lucia)
  • Studies, research and work in London, Sweden, Finland and more during 7 years in Europe.
  • My musical and life journey

My books that tell their stories and my own journey to discover heritage are ready to go. But I need help to afford printing. Please support my crowd funding campaign so I can put my books between covers.

http://pozible.com/burnmyletters
It’s going well, but not quite safe yet!

Many thanks in anticipation!

Find your voice to speak/write

Voices reveal all. Writers wrestle to ‘find their voice’ and that of characters.

Public pressure may cause speakers to lose resonance, even voice.

  • Tension causes tight timbre. (Tip: Hum into your head, so you feel vibration in your crown. Hum while opening your nostrils and nasal passages; and while accessing the front “mask” area of your face. Keep your throat open and posture upright.)
  • Insecurity causes ‘up talk’ or that recent trend, ‘vocal fry‘.
  • Tip: Before presenting, find your natural range with a conversational ‘aha’)

Edit, edit and more edit!

Whether you write for the ear or the eye, prune excess words and redraft. 

But my coming book cries ‘no more culls!’ But how to choose between fascinating stories? Rather than publish a brick doorstop tome, I opted for two books:

  • Burn My LettersTwoCovers
  • Midnight Sun to Southern Cross

Curb – or censor?

My characters expressed their voices in archival letters and recorded interviews. 

These and my research unearthed answers to why refugee Karl Johan Back wrote in 1899 to ‘Burn My Letters!’ Under Russian occupied Finland his words were censored. Letters that were saved from the fire uncover insights into his story–and his unique voice. 

Will you help me crowd fund the final leg of a decade long journey?
This week I launch a crowdfunding campaign to publish my next two books. I’ll post a link when it goes live. I offer rewards in return for pledges from $7 up. Books, of course. Scandinavian goodies like home-baked Finnish gingerbread. 

I’m excited! It’s countdown to campaign lift off. I hope you will come aboard. 

More on my Facebook page.

Enjoy the journey as I have done with its discovery. 

April opportunity – coaching and presentation NZ, Adelaide

As I fly there for other bookings, I can offer presentations and coaching without usual travel costs. Email for available dates. 

Ms. Crotchet calls time on tutti

Group vs. individual music lessons?

Kudos to colleagues who teach mixed groups of instruments, standards and ages as their norm. I know some who battle groups of 30 Bb/Eb clarinet and sax beginners. They’re braver than me!

So I’m blessed…

That last week, in a group of three, some Year 4 clarinet beginners managed a few opening notes of Pink Panther in their third lesson. I was as surprised as they were. With help from parents who play a little clarinet, they managed the first phrase next lesson. Are they practising? Heaps!

But I am OVER mismatched groups!

I sent an email to parents last year:Ruth + Student_6921

“Dear parents,

To best realise your child’s potential and optimise your investment, consider:

GROUP LESSONS – Pro and Con:

  • Group suits family budgets.
  • They nibble a teensy taste of music.
  • It’s sociable – if players are well matched and compatible.
  • BUT age, instruments and standards often vary.
  • Little scope for timetable changes, or adjustment.
  • 2 students in 30’ group = 15’ each.
  • 3 students in 30’ group = 10’ each. Pieces chosen for the group pace.
  • Time goes on aspects where Matt struggles but Jake plays easily.
  • Fingers twiddle while Mr. Quaver fixes a student’s bent key.
  • If a student misses a lesson that others attend, there’s no scope for make-up.
  • Exams aren’t feasible for groups with little time to cover all aspects. Ms. Crotchet talks staccato sfz, marcato, V between brows.
  • Presto to hear what students practised and give new pieces.
  • If no time to play all they prepared, why practice next week? They lose interest.

Practice dwindles > performance nervespractice

They need Ruth’s books (check the half-price deals and class sets).

Capable students stop lessons if frustrated, wasting talent and parents’ investment.

PRIVATE LESSONS

  • Negotiate timetable for premium times in break/before class.
  • Make-up lessons if 24 hours’ notice of illness or tests.
  • With teacher’s undivided attention, students move at their own, faster pace.
  • Ms. Dolce chooses pieces and styles they like, is enthusiastic, relaxed and fun.
  • Exams and competitions are well prepared, so high results are likely.
  • Students set and meet goals, enjoy challenges, realise potential and SHINE IN PERFORMANCE!”

CMP-with-shadow

Andante con momentum

It was a risk. But this year, Mrs Dolce’s schedule is full, her days long, but she emerges grazioso!

Dare to speak–or write–your truth

What is truth? And what if our idea of truth doesn’t foot the accepted line? We risk offending or being rejected but take heart that some will respect us for speaking out, holding true to our beliefs.  

We are blessed to live in a free country. Cherish that. Challenge it.

Advocacy or Activism?

Disturbed by government funding cuts in my particular fields of words and music, I eyeballed a politician and spoke my mind. He took it with grace, as he touted his party line. I supposed that was the end of it.

> Opportunity

A year later he welcomed me onto a policy sub-committee where I could voice such reservations, written and spoken. They were noted and a slant found its way into draft working paper representations. Even the gratifying word “listen.”
Will it make a difference? Who knows. My words may be edited out in the process.

Rather than whine on the fringe, I’m satisfied that my concerns are heard.

What if people misunderstand?

Or misinterpret?
Letters to newspapers are edited, sometimes giving an emphasis not intended. If I list several names as an example of a group, the editor may choose the one most noteworthy and ignore others that would temper my argument. This may project a more extreme position than the balance I intended.

“I’m amazed to hear you support X!” people exclaim.

Actually, no. The other three names gave a broad perspective.

I cannot recall or fiddle these words above my name.

Avoid a backfire?

I could play safe. But I choose to exercise my freedom for the good I intend. Let’s hope my audience gets it.