Record Stores Need Love, Too

16 Apr

Today is Record Store Day. April 16, 2011. Feel free to erupt into cheers and form an impromptu parade. If you’ve never heard of this before, you probably aren’t alone – the first Record Store Day (RSD) in the United States was in 2008, so it’s fairly new. Check out RSD’s website to see more about the day, special limited music you can purchase, and a list of participating record stores. And if Clinton, Iowa has a store on the list, you people living in your big fancy towns can surely find somewhere to go.

So get out there and make a special trip to your local record store today whether it’s on the list or not. I know, it’s a Saturday and it’s probably raining because that’s what happens in April, so all you want to do is veg on the couch in your pajamas. But if you leave the couch to go to the nearest record store, you could come home with some great music while helping out a local business. Just change out of the pajamas first… unless they are Power Rangers pajamas. Then do as you see fit.

Our local record stores need our help. The ones that are still around are incredibly lucky, but some may still be in danger of going under. I’m not going to start my rant of how I think Wal-Mart killed independent record stores because then I will never stop talking, but I will say that the last decade has seen a massive shift in how people buy their music: little mom-and-pop stores to big boxes like Wal-Mart to digital downloads (legal or not). At the very least, use this day to show that as music consumers, we care about them and understand the challenges they are facing. Let’s face it: if record store owners were in it for the money, they would have left a long time ago. We need to make it a point to support the ones that are still around.


WAR!! (Over Classical Sheet Music?)

15 Mar

Some of you may have heard of an ongoing music business episode dubbed The Copyright War (perhaps “episode” is an understatement). Most people associate it with illegal downloading music and file sharing, but what about sheet music? I read an article about a week ago on a company, the International Music Score Library Project, which is providing classical sheet music for free download. It’s making some people call out copyright infringement.

The IMSLP website was started by Edward Guo when he was a 19-year-old conservatory student. It has over 85,000 scores, or parts of 35,000 different pieces, and more are scanned in every day by volunteers. Guo grew up playing violin in China and his frustrations in finding a variety of orchestral scores sparked this idea. He went on to attend the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston where printed music is in abundance, “but the memory of musical deprivation remained strong, and the idea of a bank of digital scores took flight”.

In 2007, almost a year and a half after the first piece was uploaded, Universal Edition in Europe threatened the site with a cease-and-desist order. Guo complied and promptly shut the site down. Then he and volunteers checked every piece of music (about 15,000) from the site for copyright issues. He added a disclaimer for each score, warning people if the piece might not be in the public domain in the US or the EU. The site is located in Canada, where there are looser copyright laws which is why they are still posted online. In 2008, the site reopened without any legal disputes.

So what are people in the music industry disgruntled about? What people in the music industry are always disgruntled about: money.  Music publishers say the site is hurting their sales, which in turn could limit their ability to finance contemporary composers. They are also worried about people missing out on changes and corrections that modern editions contain, which aren’t on the site because they are not in public domain. Guo seems to shrug off their complaints and said,

“In many cases these publishers are basically getting the revenue off of composers who are dead for a very long time. The Internet has become the dominant form of communication. Copyright law needs to change with it.”

I don’t know if I entirely buy either of their arguments, but I DO think that having a digital print music library is a great idea. After attending college where I had the music library and my piano professor’s library at my fingertips, it has been rough trying to find different music to play. None of the music stores within an hour of my house really have a substantial amount of classical sheet music to purchase. The majority of the music is for beginners or early intermediate musicians which is great, but it is a little frustrating when my only choices are Bach preludes or Beethoven sonatas with very little of anything else. I know some would argue that those books could keep me busy for a long time which is very true, but they aren’t necessarily my favorite styles to play.

However, I see the publisher’s point when it comes to modern editions. They put years of research into what they believe the composers’ intentions were and make corrections and suggestions to help the performer. These wouldn’t be available on the IMSLP site because they don’t fall into public domain. For some pieces, this wouldn’t be a big deal; for others, people could be missing out on helpful and important changes.

Guo’s site seems to be trying to do things the right way. Remember, after their first legal challenge, they completely shut down the site and started all over again while paying close attention to copyright laws. When pieces aren’t in the public domain in the US or Europe, they are careful to let the user know. Some publishing companies don’t think that is enough and want stricter consequences for downloading non-public domain scores, but try typing “free sheet music” in your Internet search bar and see what happens. A million different links come up where you have complete access to all types of music, from that Brahms concerto to the newest Lady Gaga song (which, by the way, would definitely NOT be in public domain). Are all of those sites trying to be as conscientious as IMSLP? I’m not entirely positive since I haven’t looked at them all, but I’m going to go ahead and take a wild guess and say no.

So what do you think? Should Guo shut it down or the publishers suck it up? Also, I didn’t even mention pop sheet music, which is usually even easier to find online than classical music. What should we as mindful and thorough music-lovers do about this dilemma? I’m not sure there are concrete answers, but I would love to hear what you all think.

Chicago Networking Events

4 Mar

Recently I have been able to meet some of my online connections personally through networking events such as Edelman Tweet, Greet & Eat and HAPPO events in Chicago.

At the Edelman event, I met professionals who really love where they are working and provided insight on their career path. I also learned about a new program Edelman is starting, the Edelman Associate Enrichment Program. It is an 18 month program where you rotate in Consumer, Health, Digital, Media or other tracks. It sounds like a great opportunity for new graduates and those looking for a unique agency experience.

Last week, HAPPO (Help A PR Pro Out) had its first ever live event hosted in cities across the U.S. One of the events was hosted by Gini Dietrich in Chicago at the Arment Dietrich office (thanks Gini!). You can find additional details about HAPPO here.

At the Chicago event Gini invited Catherine Merritt and Karen Bloom to discuss tips for job candidates. Catherine worked at Morton’s The Steakhouse and now is at Ketchum Public Relations and provided a client and agency perspective for job candidates. Karen is the founder of Bloom, Gross & Associates, a recruiting firm and dispelled many myths of recruiting firms for attendees.

Here are my top takeaways from the event:

Top 3 Skills in a job candidate.


1. Writing Skills

  • The communication profession is very tricky. Candidates are judged by everything they write. This holds true more than any other profession and the bar is very high. This includes resumes, cover letters and emails to companies.

2. Strategic Thinking

  • Candidates need to show a higher level strategy in responses, especially with social media. Knowing the best methods of interacting online on behalf of a company is an important skill.

3. Softer skills such as personality and rapport

  • Some companies needing a spokesperson may judge  how articulate you are under pressure or how you respond to questions.


1. Communication is key

  • All about selling yourself by showcasing your skills (start a blog, participate in discussions)

2. Show multi-level skills

  • It is very important to understand traditional and online communication and strategies


A well-developed LinkedIn profile is one of the most important tools you can have in a job search. It is the first resource for recruiters. LinkedIn recommendations are key to each profile. Ask contacts (with a personal note) for recommendations and return the favor. Look at company websites and their career page, shape your LinkedIn profile to positions you want.

Catherine formed a LinkedIn group: The Chicago Public Relations and Marketing Network. She often sends recommendations from this group to companies. When she moved on to Ketchum, they were impressed with her efforts in starting this group. Business owners want an outside realm of experience and promoting your personal brand is important. Interact and post discussions online such as in LinkedIn groups.

Both guests recommend networking off-line as well. Join PRSA, YPN and/or Social Media Club. Don’t just be a member, get involved in a group. You can never meet people unless you take a role/volunteer within the group. It helps people remember you. has a great calendar of social media events. We are lucky that our profession has a vast amount of resources in industry.

Recruiting Firm Myths

Karen also discussed how many people are intimidated or don’t understand the process at recruiting firms.

She mentioned that at a good recruiting firm you shouldn’t have to pay a fee. Usually the company the firm is working with has specific guidelines for candidates. Recruitment is mainly for mid to senior-level positions. Few entry-level jobs are available because the company can easily find those candidates in other ways.

When working with recruiters, you need to make sure they are well-connected/respected in their field. If you aren’t feeling a connection with the person then they may not be for you. Listen to your gut, as you want a positive experience with your recruiter as s/he has to understand your career goals.

Be honest with recruiters about where you have applied. The recruiter can’t send your resume to a company if they already have it on file from a previous application.

Even if you take another position, continue to keep in contact with recruiter. Their might be a job that comes up later, that is perfect for you.

Current industries that are growing are in reputation management and employee communications. The most popular request from companies is to have someone understand social media.

Overall a wonderful event that led me to edit my LinkedIn profile futher. I was glad to see so many college students preparing for the job market early at both events.

When You Least Expect It…

27 Feb

They say when you least expect it something big happens! Well, this sure came out of left field– I received an offer for a job, in my field, all within 5 days and I started within two weeks of the offer!! CRAZY? EXCITING? RIGHT?

Exploring the Crazy: how I got the job.

I have been job searching for the past 8+ months now for jobs in the music industry specifically—event coordinating, fundraising, development, operations, promotions, marketing, radio and music retail type jobs (basically anything). While in college I did everything possible to make my resume shine, got good grades, was heavily involved in organization, and was a leader for many things. I began my search, by researching companies, going to job fairs, and networking with those I already knew in the industry. After college I was told do these four things and you will get a job. #1 Display your resume EVERYWHERE. (,,,, and were the main ones I used) #2 Write personal cover letters to SOMEONE, not just a hiring manager #3 Write a specific Resume for each job (or what I did—I had one resume for everything that I tailored for each job I had one for Event based jobs, one for Fundraising/Development based jobs and so on) and #4 Follow up, Network (meet alumni, go to job fairs, events, etc), and Follow up some more.

How I got this job follows basically only the #1 thing to do. Display your resume: my most recent resume had been on which is basically how I got this job. Normally a job just doesn’t fall into your lap, but in a way this one kind of did because my well written resume basically spoke for itself. Before you post your resume make sure it’s perfect, grammatically, proficiency-wise (for skills) and especially with all recent contact information. Let someone else read it, if your parents or siblings or even you know some who works in HR have them look it over as well because they know what people are looking for.

About two almost three weeks ago I got a phone call from a lady who works for Manpower Staffing. (Keep in mind—I had never gone to Manpower before for job help) I asked, “how did you find my information?” and she said, “I did a key word search on for resumes with these key words…and yours came up and your resume speaks for itself, you could do this job with your eyes closed.” She then went on and asked me a few questions and if I could come into their offices and learn more and fill out paperwork.

Exploring the Exciting: What’s next, The Job, & More.

The following week I went in for an interview—the owner who interviewed me was wearing track pants and a t-shirt. (So you can just imagine how causal this office is!) The interview consisted of me talking about my experiences doing a lot of different things, being upfront with him about needing a semi flexible schedule and being upfront about how this is not my dream job, but I am willing to do the work to the best of my ability to make our time together mutually beneficial. The exciting part is it’s a job, in the music industry, basically doing research and database management (fancy names for basic data entry) for a ticket broker out of the NW suburbs of IL. Not my ideal job, considering I’d never really thought of a ticket broker to even work for, but the overall appeal comes from it’s music based, it’s a nice wage, a nice schedule, and three weeks of paid vacation.

On Monday, February 21st I started my first day. Traffic in the morning wasn’t too bad, nor was the commute home. I spent my morning learning the different computer programs basically in a quick run through—which really isn’t how my brain works. I’m a “show me once, let me do it once, and double-check for me” type of person. I like to know I’m doing it right and have a short guided tour of how to work a program. But I’m learning and after a week of being there I believe I have the hang of it.

The job in itself is quite boring (I’ve been there a week now). It’s interesting to learn what popular music is being played and what artist’s concert tickets go for. But it’s a lot of little tasks in one job and learning how to do a whole bunch of things while keeping a goal of researching and finding a certain number of concerts.

Exploring the Right: But is it?

They say 8 months. 8 months is the average amount of time it is taking recent graduates to find employment. (Check! That’s right for me).  It’s a job in the music industry (Check! That’s right for me!) But morally is it right? Not so much for me…

I realized basically after I took the job that morally I kind of have a problem with it. I tried to view it as… “They buy them so others can have a chance at front row tickets” or “it’s just another way for more people to see musicians perform” but really that’s not it…. As a musician myself, and someone who has worked behind planning events with ticket sales, I’d personally want to be the one making the most out of those ticket sales, except these companies buy them at face value on the primary market (Ticketmaster, venues, radio sales, fan club sales) then resell them for sometimes triple the price on the secondary market (, eBay, etc). Somehow that doesn’t seem right.

Also it’s just not what I want to be doing with my life. It’s a data entry based job. I’d like to be on the creative side of a job or a company. Which is why I need to continually remind myself—this is just a job for the time being. A job that is going to be flexible with my schedule so that I can continue to do event coordinating and marketing on the side and build that network of people up. (which kind of makes this job right all except the morals part…)

As my second week on the job starts I’m interested in seeing what I retained from the past week, plus whatever other tasks will be added to my list. I’m continually still searching the market for other jobs, as well as continually interviewing for other jobs, so for as long as I’m at this job I plan to make the most of it. A lesson I’ve learned in life is take what you can get while you can get it and move on from there. So that’s what I’m doing. It may not be the best choice, but at the moment this is a job that pays and gets me to do work instead of waiting for something to come a long. Plus they always say—it’s easier to find your 2nd job after you have your 1st! I guess we’ll see what happens next!


What do you think my next move with this job should be? Should I stay there? Should I find something else? Comment on what you think! Thanks for reading!

Addicted to Twitter

16 Feb

I am a 20 something, recent college graduate that is immersed in social media.  Many of my peers are as well and it is almost expected that we use social media tools often.  I know many people in my generation use Facebook frequently but I don’t see this same use with Twitter.

Why is this?

Many of my friends do not understand Twitter. They scoff when I watch the Super Bowl through my twitter stream.  I have become a person that is unable to watch (or in the case of the Grammys- not watch) big events without my Twitter stream. I love reading tweets from people that are watching the same program I am but provide another insight. In the case of the Super Bowl I read tweets on Super Bowl commercials or the Black Eyed Peas half time performance (many fun references to Tron and doing the Running Man move). Maybe I am addicted to Twitter.

Today, I learned through Twitter from @DigitalRoyalty that there are 110 million daily tweets (up 65% in last 3 months).  Also through a tweet I found a link to this fun graphic about the 4 Stages of Understanding Twitter:

My brother (who is the same age) was at a Stage 2. He tried Twitter (@fattyaddy) but mainly decided to say he was hungry.  He said he never really got into it.

So here is my attempt to get more people on Twitter! It is such a useful tool to make connections and keep current on daily news from around the world. A big part of this is due to Twitter chats.

Twitter chats can help you through a job search, learn more about a profession/industry, or just connect with others that share your interests. Twitter chats usually have a predetermined time to discuss a topic. You can find schedules and subjects here.

While in school, I learned so much from chats like #journchat (for PR professionals and journalists to connect) and #prstudchat (for PR students and professionals to connect). I was able to network with professionals and fellow students. Some even became my mentors throughout my job search.

There are many other Twitter chats outside of the PR and social media realm.

  • Love to connect with other readers and discuss books? #LitChat
  • Searching for a job? #jobchat
  • Music Education major? #MusEdChat
  • Interested in the Music Business industry? #MBizChat

The pound sign (#) is a hashtag and to participate in a chat you tweet with #(Twitter chat name). This helps others involved in the chat find your content since they are following the same hashtag. While following the chat, you can then follow new people and retweet their content, ask questions, or provide answers. I like to use platforms like TweetDeck so I can have a column for searches and another for my regular Twitter stream.

The key is then turning those online connections into real world connections.  I love running into the people I connect with via Twitter at events.  It makes the conversation so much easier because in a sense we already know each other.  I plan on making new connections and meeting with old connections at upcoming events like the #edelmanchicago and #HAPPO events!!

Connect with me @ErinMAdler

Summer Concert Dreaming

14 Feb

The weather in northwestern Illinois has finally turned! Now even though it’s going to get cold again and probably snow a lot more before spring actually arrives, I’m pretending that won’t happen by thinking about my favorite summertime activity: Cornerstone Festival. Literally hidden in the cornfields, the week-long festival is filled with sweat, dust, mud (yes, both), sunburns like you wouldn’t believe, and music. Lots and lots of music.

I started reminiscing about my favorite concerts from past Cornerstones (the video links may have bad sound quality but only because they were taken IN the pit):

  • Flatfoot 56’s cookout for “Da Bears”. They threw Polish sausages and pancakes at us.
  • Flatfoot 56’s Toga Party.  Mine was a Strawberry Shortcake sheet.
  • Flatfoot 56’s Mexican fiesta. They played La Bamba while we ripped apart salsa-filled piñatas.
  • Flatfoot 56’s Shark Week. They passed out giant fins for us to hold and then threw chum at us. It probably wasn’t real… right? …Right?

Ready to circle pit in togas.

Obviously, this list is a little focused on one band, but their Cornerstone midnight shows are legendary. The incorporation of the themes, the crowd participation, and the general feeling of camaraderie with the hundreds of other people crammed into the tent make the show memorable. But unfortunately, not every show can be a Cornerstone midnight show, so I started thinking about other favorite concerts. One show in particular came to mind.

During the summer of 2009, I was interning at Provident Music Group in Tennessee. Two of my fellow interns and I ended up going to a house show in East Nashville to see The Last Hope and Revolution Radio (both are Cornerstone regulars). All the people there seemed to know each other and it was a little awkward just to walk into someone’s house, but then The Last Hope started playing. It is a very different but cool experience watching a punk band jump around someone’s living room ten feet away from you. I had seen them play a few times before and it was great to see that they played with the same enthusiasm in front of 20 people than they did in front of a couple hundred people.

Revolution Radio (a.k.a Aaron Foster Buchanan backed up by The Last Hope) was up next and they were a lot of fun to watch, too. They are a folk-rock-punk mix which basically means that it is fun music to dance and sing along to, and that is exactly what everyone in the house did. In the middle of their set, Aaron played some of his solo folk music. He turned off all the lights in the room except for one lamp behind him, and became a backlight silhouette playing acoustic guitar and harmonica. Everyone in the room was silent while listening to him singing quietly. This was, and still is, unlike any other concert I’ve ever been to – it was so intimate and sincere, and everyone in that room could see that those bands love playing music.

Here comes the  interactive portion of this post.What are some of your favorite concerts? Do you like the small, close-knit shows or do you prefer the huge mega concerts where you have to watch the big screen to see the stage? Did anyone else go to Flatfoot’s Shark Week and knows if the chum was real?!?

Comments and/or subscriptions would be appreciated.

Advice for Future Interns

9 Feb

I have worked as an intern since my sophomore year of college working at various non-profits, corporations and agencies. Each of my internships were great experiences because I learned new things about public relations and different industries. I always recommend internships to students because you learn a lot about yourself and where you want to work in the future. But many students can’t do internships in the communications field because most are unpaid and it is difficult to have a job, internship and school.

Not all internships have to be a large time commitment. Non-profits always need assistance and you can volunteer a couple of hours to learn more about your field. My first internship was at the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Illinois where I worked a couple of hours a week and first learned how to write press releases and pitch stories outside of the classroom.

If you are able to do an internship here are my tips before, during and after an internship.


Hopefully you researched the company extensively before your interview, but now you have accepted an internship and want to know more about what to expect.

Visit LinkedIn and search the company- you will find a link on the right hand side that says “check out insightful statistics about (company) employees”. This link will show how many people work at the company and a graph of major job functions, years of experience, educational degree and university attended.  This will help you become familiar with your future coworkers and get a sense of their experience.  Maybe you will even find that you attended the same school as the Vice President or that many current employees worked at the same company previously. Knowing these common career paths can help you learn where to look after the internship ends.

Also search Google News for recent information about your company. Has there been a recent merger or a new product on the market? Knowing this before your first day will help you feel less overwhelmed with new information.  For public relations internships at agencies searching employee names or browsing Google News you will find current clients of the agency and recent projects.


It can be hard adjusting as the new person at a company. As an intern you may feel that you should just do your work and not socialize with coworkers. But become a team player!! Use your skills to help employees out.  Maybe you are an Excel expert and can help colleagues make graphs or client reports.

Perhaps you have experience with video editing and like to make videos- use that experience! Last year around this time, I was interning at the Chicago Auto Show and had a small amount of time available during the public show.  I grabbed a camera and decided to make a video.

I’m always surprised to find I can incorporate my experience in social media or high school video editing in an internship.

Most importantly, get to know your coworkers. I’m sure you will hear someone talking about your favorite TV show or a recent movie you saw. Join in on the conversation. It is easier to not get to know anyone when you feel like it is only a 3 month internship and you aren’t a permanent employee.  You never know what could happen so try to meet everyone and take time to go out to lunch with different people.


Now your internship has ended and you had a great experience.  Send a thank you note to each of your coworkers. Make it personalized to what you learned from him/her or about a project you enjoyed working on with him/her.  Include your  permanent contact information. Continue to keep in contact with your supervisors and previous coworkers about your job search. They can provide recommendations on LinkedIn and notify you of future job opportunities. These coworkers can move on to other companies and have a large network of people that notify them of opportunities. I have found that most previous coworkers are willing to look over resumes and provide guidance throughout a job search. They want to see you do well too!

Any other suggestions you can think of? Comment below!

Some Kind of Wonderful

7 Feb

Well Hello Blog-World

This is my first post into the exciting world of our Hilltop exclusive. I’ve got some fun ideas up my sleeve, as I’m sure the other girls do as well. If you’ve read our “About” section you now know a few things about me—a quick recap: I grew up in a small town. I like to sing. I went to Bradley University. I met Katherine & Erin.  Now I’m looking for a job. That’s me in a very, very small nutshell.

In college I found my niche in the world of music, non-profits, and events. Ideally I’d like to combine all those things into a job planning events for a non-profit (preferably a music organization–think VH1Save the Music, American’s for the Arts, Music for All), but until then, I am networking and using that network to get me into the biz as much as I can.

It’s all in the Family.

A year and a half ago I met my second cousin for the first time—odd I know, we have decided to help each other out since he has been in the music biz for a long time.  Actually, fun fact I’ve learned recently, my family has been in the music biz for a long time. My great-grandfather (Frank Anderson) started the Swedish Glee Club in Chicago, and was a large music advocate during the Depression era. He gave people opportunities for music when no one else could. (No wonder I want to go into music advocacy! It’s in my blood!)

So back to my cousin—Bill has been around the Chicago-land music scene for a long time and is quite well known throughout the city for being a band leader and being a great drummer. I have to say it’s very neat to be learning the ropes of the biz from a family member. Bill has decided to introduce me to people I probably would have never met in the first place and see how we can mutually help each other out.  Which brings me to this weekend’s event with Anything’s Possible Events.

Making the most of what you can, however you can.

They say, ‘when you aren’t working make the most out of every chance you get’, well isn’t that the truth.  Which is definitely something I decided to take on this weekend while at an event with Bill. On Saturday night, I had the chance to attend the Northern Illinois Food Bank’s “Super Saturday Party: Pre-Super Bowl Fundraiser”. The event, organized by Anything’s Possible Events, featured my cousin Bill’s band The Big Bear Band, great food and drinks, as well as a few former Chicago Bears Players at Midlane Golf Club.

Kenny (singer from the group), "Ditka" Look-A-Like, Myself

This event had all the right ingredients—great food, great prizes, great auction items (signed footballs, jerseys, etc) and of course great entertainment. Ideally how a fundraising event would be run. Just not exactly how I would have done it, but like life, there are a variety of ways to go about it. I like to integrate and immerse everyone in the feel of why we are there, besides the basic introductions and the motions, hit them in the gut with some powerful stories–where is my money going besides to the organization, how is it directly impacting those around us, etc. When you walked into that event on Saturday night you were hit with the Orange and Blue, Bear’s memorabilia everywhere, an empty stage and people wandering around.

Here is how I pictured it, before I walked in:

I wanted to see that place bleeding orange and blue, Bear’s Memorabilia and drinks a plenty, I want to see that stage with musicians on it, I want to hear live music to welcome me in. Inviting me to play the football themed bags sets, take a look around, grab a drink and start bidding on silent auction items all while listening to quality entertainment and having fun. After the buffet opens up and people have begun to settle down, then the introductions begin, as musicians make their way off the stage for their own food and drinks, then your main event switch over begins. The former Bears players, along with their very own Ditka look-alike (had me fooled at first!) does a Q&A session for about 30-45mins answering questions about the great Walter Payton, Ditka as a coach, and 1985 Super Bowl memories. After their time is up another a thank you is issued to everyone for coming, telling them more about the auction, and having the players sign autographs by the auction tables. The band will make their way back to the stage after their break and begin playing again, while everyone is hanging around and still hyped about just hearing the players speak.

In my head this is how the event would have been run. More people would have stayed for a longer period of time, allowing for more people to vote on items for the auctions, more people to donate money and more people to buy more drinks, and giving the band an audience to play for. How it was last night about a quarter of the people were still there right after the Bear’s Players left.

All in All.

This is why I try not to take going to fundraisers and networking opportunities like this for granted. It’s a way for me to get the most out of whatever I observe and whomever I meet. All in all I believe the event, from my standpoint, was a major success. I was able to observe the event, hang out with family, as well as hear great music, meet some really funny and fantastic musicians, and have a good time.  I personally can’t wait to see what is next on my list of musical adventures with Bill and his Bands!

Learn More About Bill & His Band:

Bill (my cousin):

The Band:

Turning “Blue Monday” into “Funday Monday”

5 Feb

For my first official post as a blogger, I’m going to start out with something a little gloomy: January 24, a.k.a Blue Monday (cue dramatic music).  Last Monday was supposedly the most depressing day of 2011.  From what I heard on the news and also what I came up with in my brain, I think these reasons contribute to that fact:

  1. Winter.  It’s long.  It’s dark.  It’s cold.  Spring is still two to three months away.  *sigh*
  2. The craziness of the holidays is over.  The Christmas presents are old news now, and lots of people have already failed their New Year’s resolutions.  By now, people have settled back into their regular routine life.
  3. For us May 2010 graduates still job searching, this is the eight-month mark – eight months of poring over online job boards, networking, sending out hundreds of applications, traveling all over for interviews with no job offers, maybe settling for minimum wage jobs or unpaid internships, and relearning how to live at home with our parents.  Eight months of people telling us to “Hang in there! It’ll happen eventually” does not make us feel better.
  4. New episodes of Psych aren’t back until this summer.

I was under this “Blue Monday” frame of mind when I picked up Gretchen Rubin’s book, The Happiness Project from the library.  I was frustrated, feeling like a failure, and creating mass stereotypes about evil hiring managers who have a secret universal plan to make me stay in Fulton until I die of hopelessness – did I forget to mention I was also being really overdramatic?

Thankfully, this book threw me out of my funk within the first couple pages and gave me a lot of practical advice.  As I kept reading, I had several moments of revelation where I thought, “So that’s why I think that way!”, or “I never thought about that before”.  Here are a few tidbits of wisdom I gleamed from Rubin’s book…

Doesn't the cover make you happier already?

  • Force yourself to be happy – it actually works!  When you make yourself act like you’re happy, it may not be genuine at first, but the conscious effort can lift your mood.  For example, I have the need to vent when I’m trying to think through things.  Sometimes venting helps me clear my brain so I can move on; other times, it tends to become never-ending, self-indulgent complaining.  By forcing myself to look on the positive side of life, I stop the venting.  See?  Faux happy = Real happy!
  • Stimulate your brain.  Challenge yourself.  Have more fun.  Try something new.   Start a blog (“Okay!”).  I think this is why I miss writing papers (only a little).  Even though I thought it was torturous while researching and going through the writing process, I always felt a huge sense of accomplishment once I was finished.  That’s all because I was challenging myself to write a paper that I would enjoy writing and others would enjoy reading.  My American Lit paper, titled “Nonconformity in Emerson and Alcott: Punks of the Nineteenth Century”, still makes me smile when I think of my epiphany in the library to compare those Transcendentalists’ radical nonconformist views to 1980’s American hardcore.
  • Enjoy now.  When else will I be able to watch those ridiculous court shows that are on in the middle of the weekday or sleep until I wake up?  I may have no money, but I won’t have this much free time again until I’m an old lady with nothing to do but drink lemonade in a rocking chair (yes, that’s how I picture my golden years).
  • Don’t cut down on people’s enthusiasm.  When people are in love with a band or movie that I think is lame, I generally give them my input whether they want it or not.  Rubin says to avoid that because you’re taking away that person’s joy.  Cynicism is easier to hide behind than joy; it gives people a sense of superiority while they are judging the “naïve” person’s tastes.  As much as I want today’s adolescents to listen to my “good” music, I know that if I was a pre-teen again, I would be stricken with Bieber Fever as badly as the rest of them.
  • “You can choose what you do; you can’t choose what you like to do”.  Rubin said that she loved to read children’s books, but she was almost ashamed to admit it because she didn’t consider it legitimate reading.  However once she accepted it, she felt free to read the books that made her happy and even started a book club.  What’s fun for other people isn’t necessarily fun for you (and vice versa), and being honest about that can be difficult.  I love alphabetizing.  I don’t really know why; I’m not a clean freak by any means, but it’s calming and orderly and everything gets put in its place so I like it.  Other people would rather rip off their fingernails than alphabetize piles of books or papers.  Don’t avoid something you know you like because other people might think it’s weird – just do what makes you happy.

These were just a few points that stood out to me, but everyone will take away something different from this book.  Some of these may not relate to you all and there is so much more that I didn’t even touch on, so do yourself a favor and read it.  Also, check out Rubin’s blog at  There are more resources and tips to start your own happiness project!

With the help of The Happiness Project, the reasons I gave at the top of the post don’t seem so bad when I look at the positive sides of them:

  1. Winter isn’t so bad. Snow is pretty and I like wearing sweaters and scarves.
  2. The holidays may be over, but my birthday is in a month… *hint hint, friends*
  3. I may not have a job, but that also means I don’t have a job that sucks the life out of me.
  4. There are always reruns.