Novelty Nails and Delicious Drinks

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Here I am with orange juice and tea, showing off a couple of novelty manicures from the last week or so. I go through phases when I am really into painting my nails, the last two weeks have been school holidays which means no teaching, and therefore much less piano playing, resulting in polished fingernails that last for more than a day without chipping. 

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A Fine Ear

What all fine musicians have in common is a good ear. Music is aural, so the ear gets to make all the final calls. A more discerning ear can detect more ranges of sound and nuance. To “laypeople”, a Steinway grand may sound much like a Kawai upright, and a first year Conservatorium student may sound much like a professional artist.

When you learn a musical instrument long enough, you get to a stage where you are no longer simply concerned with merely playing the right notes. Even louds and softs become obsolete. The way in which you judge the quality of sound has to become so refined. The word “soft” by itself isn’t descriptive enough. What kind of soft? A rounded, pebbly sound? Or a bright, sparkly sound? I often find I revert to visually descriptive words to talk about the kind of sound I want. My teacher, on the other hand, always tends towards describing sound as an energy force. Even the mystery of music as an emotive force is an illusion created by sound.

The difference between a fantastic piano and an average piano, is that the average piano will always sound, well, average. Upright pianos of fairly decent quality usually sound pretty unoffensive. A really awesome grand piano, like the Steinway grands we have at the Con are much harder to control. They can sound pretty awful if you bang away on them, not knowing what you’re doing. (Like how I played for most of my time as a student.) But they are capable of a huge range of sounds. To make the most of the instrument’s capabilities, the pianist has to have a large arsenal of playing techniques to draw upon, and, most importantly, the ear to detect what sound they want, and whether or not they have achieved that.

When I started out at the Conservatorium, I was playing without listening. I came from an electronic organ background, so I knew that piano technique would be the difficult thing for me to master. Only now that I have reached Honours level have I begun to make the connection between the ear and technique. Technique is nothing without ear.

Sigh. I’m rambling. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, my first Honours recital is coming up. So I’ve been preoccupied with piano things. In other news, the music room gets devilishly hot when the weather’s warm, as it has been recently. I’ve moved a fan in there, making it more bearable, but I still have to come out for frequent breaks.

Besides recital stuff, term 4 is always a busy term for teachers. There’s a bunch of concerts and things to prepare for at Yamaha. So… much… to… do!!

Well, bye for now.

My Room

I love to take pictures of rooms, better than I like taking pictures of people. That’s why The Selby is one of my favourite places on the internet. I am getting my own place next year and already I am consumed with interior decor imaginings and searching for inspiration on Flickr.

Hello bedroom. I like this picture because it is warm and colourful. Getting dressed in the morning is a task that I revel in, yet it always takes way more time than it should and my bed always ends up a mess. This is the first house I’ve lived in with floorboards and I am now of the opinion that they are way overrated. Dust gathers EVERYWHERE. It is impossible for me to sweep all the way under the bed, so there’s probably years of dust under there. Maybe I need a rug?

Hello dreamcatcher. It’s a gift from a friend and the ridiculous hanging hook thing is from the Vic Markets in Melbourne. I hardly ever remember my dreams and I am quite sure it’s because I don’t have dreams of substance. If I get woken suddenly in the midst of deep sleep or while I’m drifting off to sleep then I remember what I was dreaming and it’s usually either strings and strings of words without any meaning or just everyday stuff. Never anything scary or dramatic or amazing. This morning, crunchy boy woke me up early so I remember that I was dreaming about getting dressed. I was looking for my magenta and black thigh-high socks, lol. Good stuff, huh?

Hello, cluttered surface on top of my chest of drawers. Picture is from Seattle an was a present from my sisters when they were there. Random perfume bottles, lava lamp from ex boyfriend and without working light globe, sunscreen bottle that has been sitting there since Summer, bear toys and heaps of junk. The camera is a manual SLR of Dad’s from the seventies. He saved up for two months to get it. I have been having heaps of fun with it, learning how to use it. Today I’ll get my first roll of film developed. Hopefully it will turn out okay, but I reckon I’ll have a lot of either under-exposed or over-exposed pictures.

Alfaparf Jean’s Colour Magenta….. Fresh. Plus colour maintenance tips.

Freshly dyed hair, for your consideration:

Lighting is not the best. Gotta get myself a decent camera one of these days. Mine’s good for a point and shoot.

These pics are kind of old now. More than a month old I think. I’ve since had my roots done and my hair cut. Note to self. Hair is too short in these pics. Grow, grow, grow.

How I Maintain Bright Colour

  • Invest in a decent colour-safe shampoo and conditioner. Pick something up from a salon or Hairhouse Warehouse. I’ve found supermarket brands don’t cut it.
  • Don’t overwash. If your hair doesn’t get that oily, try conditioner washing instead of shampooing every time. Alternatively, dry shampoo is really good to use occasionally. It doesn’t replace real washing though.
  • Avoid rinsing your hair with hot water. Turn the hot water down so it’s just mildly warm before directing the shower head at your hair. It makes a huge difference. When I use hot water the colour runs out a lot more than when I rinse with cooler water.
  • Top up your colour. Initially, my colour rinsed out quite fast, but the more you dye, the more the colour builds up. Alfaparf Jean’s is vegetable based, as are most bright semi-permanents available, so it will build up and it won’t damage your hair. Also, when your hair’s a bit faded, you can mix a bit of dye with your conditioner to enliven your colour.
  • Bleach before you colour. It’s the only way to achieve a vibrant shade.
  • Use a colour protectant spray with UV filter. I used to do this a lot in summer. The one I have gives a nice sheen as well.
  • Experiment with dyes. I’ve found some brands and shades are longer lasting on my hair than others. You can find reviews on the internet, but the best bet is just to experiment. Special Effects is reputed to be the best brand, but I haven’t been impressed so far.

Yesterday I coloured with a mix of Special Effects Blue Haired Freak, Special Effects Purple Smoke and just a little bit of Alfaparf Jean’s Colour Magenta. Pics to come, although like I said, I’m not heaps impressed. On the agenda is to try a blue colour, but I’m not expecting it to have much staying power as there are no blue tones naturally occurring in the hair.

Okay, bye for now.

Today

It’s school holidays and uni holidays at the moment, but it hasn’t felt like a holiday because if I don’t plan a decent amount of practice into my day I start having nervous palpitations. Well today I thought “to hell with that” and gave myself a day off. Lounged around in my cosy pink dressing gown, didn’t shower til well into the afternoon, read a large chunk of a book that’s been patiently waiting to be read for some weeks, DIYed a chain harness, made a vegetarian lasagne and walked the dog!

For some reason I find it incredibly hard to resist buying books. Same goes for stationery. Officeworks and Borders, mmmmmmm…… I always buy books and then don’t have time to read them. The book I sank my teeth into today was “Tales of Earthsea” by Ursula Le Guin, one of my favourite authors of all time. My love of fantasy and sci-fi novels hearkens back to days of teenager-dom, and although I’ve mainly outgrown this nerdy habit, certain quality authors still retain a special place in my heart. As far as I’m concerned, Ursula Le Guin and Robin Hobb (another favourite) don’t just write fantasy/sci-fi fiction, they write fantasy/sci-fi literature. Ahem.

Poor Bear Bear doesn’t get walked nearly as much as he should. But he doesn’t make things easy. A decent walk can’t be achieved unless two people go, myself and Little Brother. When Bear was young he would get freaked out by other pedestrians, lawnmowers, the sound of traffic from several roads away, etc, and simply WOULD NOT walk any further. I think middle age has made him calmer, but he’s still fucking difficult. Currently he is curled up on a cushion on the floor in front of the heater.

Yesterday, after much initial fail, I set up my keyboard as a midi device. I’ve been teaching myself to use Reason by reading the “Getting Started” file. I had much success yesterday. Turns out it’s not nearly as hard as I thought it would be. Also I am excited by keyboard + laptop + software = soooo many possibilities for production, recording, performing.

Speaking of which, the album my band have been working on is nearly done. We had our (hopefully) last mixing session in the studio this week. Next up is mastering and artwork/photos, then finally, pressing. I am hurrah because this has been dragging out for so long and I am feeling quite distanced from the project. Hm, well not to say it’s taken longer than it should have to make the album, I think next time will take even longer, but instead of having the time between recording and the finished mix drag out so long, it would be better imo to spend more time in pre-production and recording and less time mixing. Nonetheless, I really love all aspects of recording. And I really love performing and I get to do that next week, woot!

Tonight I am going to a party and I can already tell it’s going to be good because now I’m in a heaps good mood from recounting my day and stuff I’ve been doing. Makes me realise I quite like my life.

Apples

Today I bought three Pink Lady apples. Then I dropped them as I was putting them away on my food shelf.

Reminded me of a random apple memory from childhood…

Mum took me to the supermarket for groceries and she bought for me a Golden Delicious apple, just one, because they were my favourite and I wanted one. That was how I learnt that you could go to the supermarket and only buy one of something if you wished. Sounds stupid but before that I had always thought that you had to buy lots of each thing. Guess that’s what usually happens when you’re buying for a family of five.

I dropped my Golden Delicious apple while we were still in the shop. Mum didn’t scold me, but later when we got home, it was all bruised. That’s how I discovered that if you drop your apples, they bruise.

I learnt two things that day! What an amusing memory.

I just finished my Pink Lady apple and gave my dog the core. He loves apple cores, he eats them and just leaves the stalk and the seeds.

Stuff I Like

  • Music flash cards. I’ve been using them so much with my students this past week.
  • Freshly flossed teeth. I have become such a geek about clean teeth.
  • Gatsby “Moving Rubber” hair wax.
  • Driving down Plane Tree Drive when it’s breezy and autumnal. It’s amazing, like a car advertisement, with the brown leaves floating down at your windscreen.
  • Photographing people’s rooms.
  • Successfully getting Bear Bear to “wait”. But he tends to freak out if I move out of sight and then it doesn’t work… Damn psycho dog.
  • Tongue twisters.
  • My new notebook. It’s my first foray into unlined pocket notebooks. The lack of lines is so liberating! (I’m such a nerd.)

Cinderella

Ah, my day, it is not progressing in a satisfactorily productive manner. So I shall give myself a coffee break and tell a story of a memory I randomly remembered…

When I was once a little kid, say five or seven, I heard told the Cinderella fairytale. Somehow, I must have misunderstood, because I thought the moral of the story was that Cinderella was beautiful because she did lots of housework and therefore deserved to marry the Prince. I came to the logical conclusion that if I did a lot of housework, I would grow up to be beautiful too. As a result of this, I did the dishes for the first time in my young life, then marched off to where my parents were in the living room, to inquire as to whether they detected a discernible improvement in my features.

They laughed and said, yes, it did seem that I had become a little prettier. I didn’t realise why they were laughing until years later.

I’m surprised they didn’t keep milking it for all it was worth. I would have.

Hair Horror

The hair adventures were going so well until recently! Weeks ago I went into a hair shop and found a colour-depositing shampoo with violet tones. It’s by De Lorenzo and it’s called Nova Colour Fusion. Little did I know that the ingredients must have contained what is known as “metallic salts”, which react badly to bleach. Henna has metallic salts, which is why you shouldn’t colour over henna. The metallic salts in this shampoo caused my hair to turn GREEN when I next went in to get my regrowth seen to. 

It was pretty shocking. Picture yellowy blonde hair, with green and some faded purple left in the ends. Actually I’ll show you. Refer below…

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green-hair

The images were taken with my mobile and then crunched down in WordPress, so the quality’s not great, but you get the idea.

We coloured over the whole lot in a violet composed of blue mixed with red (I had exhausted all of their violet dye) and it didn’t look too bad, but the green was still a little visible. It showed through as a brownish tinge, and got worse as the colour faded. Meanwhile, the roots had been bleached quite a pale yellow blonde, so in places like the top of my head the colour was bright violet blue. 

SO, yesterday I took matters into my own hands. I bought some 20 vol bleach, and lightened my hair, all but the roots. Then I rinsed and shampooed, and coloured with a mixture Special Effects Blue Haired Freak and Purple Smoke. I cling-wrapped my head and left the colour in for ages – well over two hours. When I finally rinsed, I found that the water ran fairly clear straight away, and the hand that I used to run through my dye-soaked hair did not come away stained in purple. It was really strange. The colour didn’t seem to take hold, and when I dried off, I found the end result was a faded grey violet. I felt like an aged anime character with lavender grey hair. 

I’m not sure what happened but I suspect it was something to do with either the bleaching process or the state of my hair. I’m sure it wasn’t the Special Effects. I did notice as I rinsed away the bleach that my hair felt strangely smooth and silky – almost slimey in fact. And when I applied the purple, I saw straight away that it didn’t seem to be taking hold. Even after I had saturated my hair in dye, I could still kind of see through it. Strange. 

I didn’t have time to do anything more to it yesterday though, so I just went out like that, wearing all black I might add, because I didn’t have any clothes that went with my hair colour!

Should have taken a picture. It didn’t look half bad, but it wasn’t really the shade I was after. 

Currently as I sit here typing, I’ve got Alfaparf Jean’s Colour in Magenta waiting to be rinsed. I’m hoping this will work this time, I think it will because it was soaking in a lot better than yesterday.