Playing with New Sounds: Tap & Glock!

Ya’ll, I’ve had more gigs in the past month or so than I typically do in half a year… that’s awesome!  And I have to say… I’ve been getting pretty creative over here, now that I have a bit more time to do so!

Glockenspiel

glockBack at the Bridge Run, there was a music store around the corner from me going out of business.  That is where I got an incredible deal on my new toy!  I’d seen some of my favorite folk artists like Jenny & Tyler and Gungor use things like this in their music… and I loved the simplicity that it took to add new creative texture to tunes.  I’d been thinking about using different instruments like this in my upcoming CD, but with Amanda’s (the one who plays 4 instruments at once) schedule not as available anymore for gigging, I decided it could be fun to add new sounds to my own playing.  I would love to have more people play with me to add different music textures to gigs, but with 40 songs in my potential set for gigs that often go 2-3 hours, it gets tricky!  So the glockenspiel is a good way to make due with what I have; it’s also good to help me take a little break from singing and strumming during my longer sets.

Since getting my Glockenspiel, I’ve been learning my scales (which would be super easy if I played piano), and working on integrating it into my set.  (It’s kinda fun to say I’ve been practicing with my “glock.” 😉 ) So far, I have 3 songs where I play a melody over my looper pedal, another 3 songs where I solo/improvise on the Glockenspiel (over the looper), and another 3 songs where I play it between strums! (That’s a sight to see! :-P)

Tapping

I’ve always LOVED tap dancing… It’s super fun to do and watch, but it also might be because it combines dance and music into one fabulous creative art.  Back in high school, my teacher (who is awesome at tap!) said tap dancing was dying as an art form.  I started to believe it more as I struggled for a while to find adult tap classes/groups that challenge

tapshoes

Happy National Tap Dance Day on May 25th!

me.  (THANK YOU Erika & the ladies at Dance Lab Charleston!) But I think it’s been on the rise again, as I’ve seen it in multiple musicals, and the amazing Postmodern Jukebox has been using it in their classic remakes of contemporary songs, like this fabulous video, featuring Sarah Reich and Melinda Sullivan. I also heard of a local band who uses simple tap steps as the percussion instrument…. which appealed to me since I don’t always have a percussionist with me!

tap-board.jpgAnyway, that all inspired me to explore the fact that I’m not just a singer-songwriter… I actually make music from my head to my toes.  So at the Bridge Run Expo, since I had no percussionist I decided to test it out.  I mostly used it to accent the beat as I was playing (as if my shoes were the percussion), but on a couple songs I did some tap solos!  I have to say, it worked out pretty good!  But many of the gigs I play don’t have appropriate flooring to use my tap shoes.  That’s where hubby and his woodworking hobby came in!  He made this sweet portable tapping floor that is so much better (and less expensive) than anything I could’ve bought!

So next time you’re at a Stefanie Potter concert, enjoy the sights and sounds of me playing 3 instruments at once! 😉

 

Inspiring, Equipping, now Teaching!

guitar lessonsI’ve been doing all I can to earn enough through my music business to record again (hopefully later this year)… from gigs, to merchandise, to teaching on Skillshare.  Recently I added a new adventure.

I had thought back to my time in Texas when I kept getting asked to teach guitar lessons to different ladies at church, but I didn’t have the time to commit to that.  So earlier this year, I had mentioned to my friend Julie that I applied to a place to teach guitar lessons (to help fund the CD) but hadn’t heard back. She told me she had been wanting to learn guitar, so we decided to get together on that. 🙂

Then Julie mentioned she knew some other ladies from church that want to learn to play guitar, but would love to learn from a female. Perfect!  We started up a group.  Buuuut I didn’t think I’d have enough room in my apartment to host the group, so I started looking around for spaces.

I noticed a recreation center about halfway between me and some of the ladies hosts guitar group lessons.  I contacted them but they didn’t have interest in hosting me.  Soooo I tried Hanahan Recreation Department.  They were ecstatic to have a new creative program to offer!  It turned out that there weren’t too many ladies to host them in my own home, but by the time we realized that, I was already plugged in and advertising the group!

My first 6-week group had a few kids and a senior.  It was a sweet challenge to help them go from no knowledge to playing their first song within our time together.  Meanwhile the friends I’ve been teaching in my home have been advancing at a rapid pace!  I’m so happy to empower these ladies to use their new gifts for God’s glory. (So proud of them!)

If you know someone who’d like to take lessons, send me an email at stefaniepottermusic@gmail.com.  I do Skype Lessons too!

Sexual Assault Awareness Month

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.  I personally know many people who have suffered such abuse and I have done a lot of work with survivors of sexual violence as a social worker.  I wrote the song “Tears Fall” (available here) to encourage those who have suffered any abuse at the hands of another.

To help with awareness this month, I thought I’d share an excerpt from my book, Surviving Service: Effective Response to God’s Call for Justice. (Physical copy or pdf available here, and online in all your favorite book/e-book stores.)

Along with researching what works in improving situations, it’s imperative that you keep learning all you can about the population you want to help. I have heard stories of well-intentioned people messing things up when they were just trying to help.

Sexual Violence: I’ve heard countless stories from sexual assault survivors who had people suggest what they think the survivor could have done to avoid the assault, or to avoid a future assault. Rather than being helpful to the survivor, the survivor starts to think she was to blame, instead of the actual perpetrator of the assault. In reality, most sexual assaults are pre-planned (often by people they know and even trust), and the perpetrator gets the survivor in the most vulnerable circumstance. By then, it’s too late to do anything other than what’s necessary to survive the encounter (fighting back, trying to escape, submitting, etc.).

Domestic Violence: In my educational workshops on dating and domestic violence, I noticed many people think it is best to encourage a victim to leave the situation and relationship right away. In reality, domestic violence victims are most at risk of being seriously injured or murdered by the perpetrator (violent person) right when, or soon after, they leave. It is usually better to remain calm and plan the escape. Help the victim make a safety plan for leaving: When is the best time to leave? Where will she (and the kids) go? How will she safely move her belongings? How will she avoid the perpetrator? What should she do if the perpetrator shows up somewhere? Does she need legal assistance or financial resources to get through this? Who can help support her? Be sure to employ community support and resources. She will then be prepared to leave as soon as it appears safest to do so.

Get involved here: www.nsvrc.org/saam/

#SAAM

Vote me to the Top!

It’s that time of year again!
Lets do this, together.

The bands performing at the top of the Cooper River Bridge for over 100,000 runners (where all the excitement and media is) will be: (1) the one who raises the most funds, and (2) the one who has the most votes.

gybtttotb_2017_stefaniepotterI need YOU to donate $1 here to vote for me. (Type my name in the “add message to campaign wall” section.)  You can certainly give more if you want as every dollar helps, but really every vote helps too!

Here’s the scoop…

  • Everyone who gives counts as a vote for me.
  • 50 cents of your dollar will be donated to my music endeavors. (YAY! Help me record again soon!)
  • The other 50 cents will be donated to CHARM (subsidizes musicians health insurance payments… awesome!). Their goal is $5000. Let’s help them exceed that!

So really, it’s a win-win all around.

If every person in our online community here votes for me, I’ll likely be at the top this year!  🙂

Voting ends Friday at midnight.

Thank you in advance!

❤ Stefanie
artist of the heart
~ inspiring hope and compassion

God Moving through Music

As you all know, last month was a tough one for my family.  Jesus called my Step-Dad home what feels like way too early.

How does this connect to my music?

There were multiple moments in this hard journey that I saw God moving through music… and it reminded me of why I continue to write, continue to sing, and continue to share the gifts God gave me to use for His work.

Ordinary Hero – Of course first I was honored to be called upon by my Mother to write a special song for her beloved husband, John. It meant a lot to me to reflect on his life and what he meant to all of us.  It meant even more to get to tell him and my Mom this when I played the song for him before he passed.  God continued to use this song to help us honor John, and learn from his life of loving service, as his Memorial service.  I’m not sure how I made it through singing it without bawling (I barely did in front of John too), if not for the grace of God.

At first I was hesitant to share this song online.  I didn’t want it to come across as self-promotion or attention-seeking in any way.  But then God gave me peace to share it… to continue to honor John and help his loved ones long after the services were complete.  As friends and family watched, I saw God use it to help people mourn, to reflect on the example of John’s life, to reach out to others, and to remember him with love.  That’s all I could’ve asked for and more.

Angels Among Us – Mom was brainstorming a song to have Chris, Amanda, and me sing at John’s memorial service, as we sang together at their wedding.  She came upon Angels Among Us as a suggestion, and remembered that John always liked that song.  (It just so happened that this was the first song that Amanda and I sang together in church when we were little.)  So we began looking up versions, and found one with sisters singing together… it was a perfect fit!  

Then Mom and Amanda had the idea of having kids sing with us.  The next day Amanda and I were a bit nervous about how we could pull off gathering a bunch of kids to sing.  But we ran it by the Pastor, and he said, “You know, I was thinking it would be nice to have kids participate in the service, since he loved kids so much!”  It was a done deal.  Pastor Ball recruited a dozen of the sweetest kids we could ask for, and took care of everything that entailed to make it happen.  Those kids worked so hard to learn it, and it was such a sweet tribute to John… I’m not sure there was a dry eye in the place. 

15941436_766950943716_3352225706840909034_nAfter the services were over, Mom was downstairs trying to find some papers.  That’s when I noticed this poster above John’s old desk… I’m not sure Mom even realized it!

Later still, we were going through Facebook posts with Mom, and someone they knew had posted that song in honor of John… on the day Mom chose it!  So many sweet confirmations that God had led us to this song for a purpose.

Just be Held – It was clear that God was speaking to Mom and John through music in the previous months.  One Sunday they heard this song in church.   She was so moved by it that she wrote it down to remember for later.  Well she ended up remembering about the song one Sunday after the funeral.  She said she couldn’t remember what it was called, but it would’ve been a good one to sing (but as we saw, God had other plans!).  She planned to look up that service bulletin later to show me.

Well, on that night of going through Facebook, we started listening to a song my cousin had posted to her wall… that was the song!  (Ironically, the music video even has Charleston’s famous “Angel Oak”tree featured.)  It was a healing moment of resting in God’s Love. 

There was another song posted by a friend, “Jealous of the Angels” that said so much of what we were feeling, and even some of what I’d said to John before he passed.  One of many moments that allowed us grace to mourn.

Then yet another friend dedicated a song to John in church, that just meant so much to us!

I could go on…

My friends, this is why I write, this is why I sing, this is why I continue to share the gifts God gave me for his work of grace, restoration, healing, and love.

This Year’s Goals: Music and Personal

I am sharing this so you can keep me accountable and ask me about it down the road.  I believe this is the year I will start (and possibly finish) my new CD!

As an “artist of the heart,” I have written a lot of heart-moving music since releasing my EP. I am sharing this music through concerts, but I want to be able to share it with current and future listeners around the globe through a professional recording.  There are powerful stories ingrained in these songs about the true meaning of love: deep, honest, committed, and sacrificial.  In a world of often cheap, conditional, and abusive love, the messages in my songs are so important for the world to take to heart.  So many songs talk of “love,” but the love my songs convey is different.  True love transforms marriages, families, friends, communities, and the world into something truly beautiful.

I want this one to be exponentially more full and creative (and hopefully longer) than Shifting Winds.  I am already making plans for different instrumentation, and trying to work on increasing the production value.

Financially, I’m about 1/8th of the way there.  I will be working hard to earn the rest of the 7/8ths the first half of this year, through teaching Skillshare classes, playing gigs, promoting my book more, and possibly exploring some other creative music income avenues.  If you’d like to help, you can:

  • Join the Skillshare learning community (for under $1 for 3 months) through my referral link.
  • Purchase my music, cozy soft shirt, handmade folk/soul necklaces, or book through my website!
  • Have your church, organization, or club book me for a show (details at the bottom of my website).
  • Hire me to write a special song in honor of a loved one or a special event (details in the merch list on my website).

And finally…

My Personal Goals:

  1. Keep growing in my trust in Jesus
  2. Serve my hubby, and the rest of my family as they have need and I am able
  3. Learn how to cook… I’m talking like building my understanding of meal creation rather than just following recipes.  Thankfully my in-laws got me some great books to get me started!

What are your goals for 2017?

2016 – A Year to Celebrate!

I had a ton of music goals for 2016… and by the grace of God I met all of them!

Although 2015 was pretty sweet and surprising in a lot of ways, I’m so glad to have reached so many goals in 2016.

In 2016, I…

  • Concerts: Played 13 gigs, including a second TV spot, the Bridge Run (again), and my first online show!
  • Artist of the Heart: Re-branded with the help of my friend and logo-designer, Leah, and my hubby (aka main support system and website extraordinaire).  I am now known as what I’ve been all along, an “Artist of the Heart.” Along with that…
    • Got a sweet new banner with my logo for gigs
    • Updated all of my web presence with this concept
    • Got new merch, to help raise income for recording my next CD
      • Ordered super cozy-soft shirts with my logo
      • Made “Folk” and “Soul” versions of my logo necklaces
  • Got my Music out there! Significantly increased the reach and distribution of my Shifting Winds EP
    • Received radio play on:
      • Women of Substance (Music with a Conscience show, Inspirational Music show, Podcast)
      • Girls Rock Radio
      • Outbound Music: The Connection Radio Station
      • WYLA 97.5 Charleston
    • Accepted on Pandora Internet Radio! (8 stations, over new 200 listeners!)
    • Music made available on iTunes, Google Play, Amazon, etc.
  • Took Risks: Submitted to two Songwriting contests and a few licensing opportunities… didn’t win, and some opportunities are pending, but it’s always been a goal to try! 😉
  • Taught: Created a Skillshare teaching channel to increase passive monetization between gigs… sweet outlet to share my knowledge, and raise funds to record again!
  • Promoted: Increased marketing for my book and for various songs… let’s get the message out there! 🙂

I am so grateful to every person that has supported me thus far.  I wouldn’t be where I am, making the impact that my music/message is making, without you!

Bored? Need 15 people to click links and help a sister out

Hey ladies and gents,

I’ve created this “Music Artistry” teaching channel on Skillshare, and I need your help for my classes to trend!  Trending makes them easier to find by people who want to learn about what I’m teaching.  I need 10-15  people (who haven’t already enrolled) to do this for each of my new classes to trend.  My first class on Inspirational Songwriting is already trending! 🙂

It’ll be simple.

Click each of these links, then click “enroll.”  You can then take the class for free if you want.

That’s it!

Maybe give this post a like or a share to help it get out there too. 😉

skillshare

If you’re interested in learning for real on Skillshare…

You can take my classes and thousands of others… Skillshare is a community of bite-sized, project-based classes meant for experiential learning for today’s busy learners. There are other classes/lessons available in cooking, crafting, organizing, digital design, music, and more! Click here to get 3 months for under $1! (Once on the website, click on the blue banner at the top.)

Fall Sale / Doors to Freedom Fundraiser!

If you’ve thought about getting my CD, book, shirt or necklace, for yourself or as a gift (Christmas is coming!) now is the time! I’m having a sale for the month of October!  Order through my website: www.stefaniepotter.com.

dtof-long-logo-webIn addition, I will donate 50% of each physical CD sale to Doors to Freedom. Doors to Freedom is a non-profit that exists to provide a safe place for survivors of domestic minor sex trafficking to experience a transformed life.  Learn more about all the services they provide and their current needs here.

What’s the occasion?

I’ve been saving up to record my next CD!  It’s all about true love through the tough times. 

Thanks for considering backing my music venture and Doors to Freedom in this way!

My BOLD life choices

This is an article I submitted to a publication.  It didn’t get picked, but I can still share it with you!  The topic was being BOLD… something I’ve been told that I tend to be. 😉

“Live your dreams.”  That’s what we heard as children: anything is possible if you set your mind to it.  But somewhere along the journey of continuing education and needing to make a living to pay off college loans, those dreams get put on the back burner.  The expectations shift from childlike dreams of what’s possible to the reality of bills to pay, corporate ladders to climb, houses to buy, and families to start before it’s too late.

When I lived in Texas, my workplace took over my life.  I loved what I did, but it left me with limited time and energy to create, to love, to inspire… to be me.  Moving to Charleston was my chance to start fresh.  I asked, If I could create a life that I love to live, what would that look like?  I decided that finding a less-than-inspiring full time job just so we could save up for a house and climb that ladder was far from priority.  I would do it if necessary, but I prayed that it wasn’t.

What does inspire me?  Music.  I love writing, playing, singing, and even dancing to music.  There are deep, spiritual connections that happen among souls when music is released into the atmosphere.  

But ask most people about music being your job, and they’ll crack jokes about starving artists and needing to grow up.  My childhood was filled with dreams of singing for thousands: moving hearts to joy, eyes to tears, mouths to smiles, feet to dancing.  What a dream!  Maybe different generations have something to teach us.

My grandpa died a couple years before moving here.  This got me thinking about living life well, with no regrets. I knew I wanted to always appreciate my husband, because someday death will part us as well.  But I also knew I wanted to develop my side of being “go-getter” like him.  He always said, “If someone else can do it, then so can I.”  Such words to live by.

I looked around and realized that there are, in fact, many independent artists making a living with music.  I actually knew a few of them.  People I met in Texas, New York, and South Carolina gave me hope that if they could do it, then so can I.

This was the season of my life where music could finally become a priority.  I thought, if I don’t pursue it now, and life gets full of other things when will I get the chance again?  I didn’t want to make it to the end of my life and wonder, what if?  So the journey began.

I knew this venture was not normal.  Normal would be to quickly search for a job, prove myself worthy of promotions, and focus on building our income.  Normal husbands would expect their wives to either be working full time or caring for a child.  While I respect those women and men tremendously for their choices and life paths, I’m also glad my husband is not normal… because for some reason, I’m a bit of a unique character.

Thankfully, my husband’s job provided just enough income so I didn’t need to work to pay the bills.  Money was tight, but I was grateful; I know not everyone is that fortunate.  My husband also enjoyed his refreshed wife who was taking care of the chores and genuinely joyful, rather than exhausted, when he got home.

So after college, grad school, working full time, and moving twice, in 2014 I finally had the time and energy to devote myself fully to something I’ve always wanted to do.  I had the foundation of leading a rock band up in New York throughout my teen years.  My husband also supported me in taking courses on the business side of being a musician, since it takes funds to do this well.  The reality of how fortunate I was to even pursue this dream hit me deep, so I took it seriously.  I joined the serious business of dreams, inspiration, play, and adventure.  The stuff of life.

Quite the adventure it has been!  So far, I’ve released one CD that has inspired joy, tears, smiles, and dancing… and I have another on the way.  I’ve gotten to entertain and motivate 30-40k people at 2015 and 2016 Cooper River Bridge Run.  I’ve brought listeners to laughter with some of my silly songs, opening for nationally-renowned comedian, Chonda Pierce.  I’ve done all sorts of performances and interviews for the media and been selected for a few internet radio stations.  I’ve even written a book (because if my friend could do it, then so could I)!  But most importantly, I am living my dream of inspiring thousands through the music that flows from my heart, in hopes of it shaping theirs.

People say I’m bold.  But it’s just that I don’t want to settle for a mediocre life of going through the motions.  I’m willing to dive into new things no matter how big of an awkward splash I make, or how cold the water ends up being when I’m in it.  There are always other pools.

I don’t ask other people for their permission to do what I feel drawn to. (Except my husband… since he’s along for the ride!)  I request their support, but not permission.  I really don’t care what they think.  I’m not here to impress; just inspire.  I’m here to live life abundantly: how that looks in my life, not yours.  To me, bold, abundant life looks like loving the world in front of me through the gifts I’ve been given.  I encourage you, dear reader and fellow sojourner, to do the same. ❤