More Inspiration

Perhaps you saw the post here in Cyrsti’s Condo about not practicing until you get it right but do it until you don’t get it wrong. 

Our resident musicians, Connie and Paula responded:

First, here is Connie:

“Yes, that is true. However, if you are practicing what is wrong, and hoping for it to suddenly come out right, your success will be less likely to come to fruition. Repetition is reinforcement – for right or wrong. We all have heard the quote, “insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” It’s not necessarily insanity, though, as it could be laziness or naivete that would keep one from even recognizing the wrong result.

 As a drummer and a singer, I normally have not had trouble doing both at the same time. I have had many people, including other musicians, ask me how I can do it. I can’t answer that, any more than I can answer why I’m a transgender woman. All I can say is that it comes naturally to me – for the most part, that is. There is one song, the Paul Butterfield version of “One More Heartache,” that has given me fits in the past, though. The syncopation of the drum beat against the bass line threw me off from the vocal entry almost every time. The more times I did it wrong, the fewer times I got it right. How I finally could consistently come in with the vocals at the correct spot was by concentrating on the guitar part, instead of being so locked in to what the drums and bass were doing. You see, I was so much into the syncopation that I wasn’t allowing myself to step away and see the whole picture.

 I think, in our trans lives, we are so emotionally vested in our thought and vision of being a woman (or a man, for ftm), we can fail to see how we fit into the larger picture. We all have our comfort zones, but living within them won’t always lead to a desired outcome. Walking around the house in stiletto heels does not totally prepare one for walking on uneven pavement, or even on ice (Where have I heard that before?:-) Still, I wouldn’t recommend stepping outside if you’re wobbly at the door. Of course, you can’t get anything right unless you’re willing to try it in the first place. As it’s been said, the only real failure is to not have tried at all.”

Paula had this take:

“In the music world this is often quoted as “An amateur will practice until they can play it right, a professional practices until they can’t play it wrong!”

Thanks to both of you for commenting.

“Mo” Music

I’m sure some of you more “mature” Cyrsti’s Condo readers will remember your favorite “Top 40” radio station which was always claiming to play the most music when in fact, they were cramming in the most commercials at the same time.

I worked at one of those radio stations as an announcer/disc jockey for nearly five years before moving on to another profession. It turns out during my career, I nearly missed working with other transgender women. One in Thailand who I met briefly later and one in Springfield, Ohio who I never met. Later on I wondered if the profession itself was what attracted transgender people. 

After hearing from Connie and Paula, I wonder the same thing about musicians as I know another transgender musician locally. 

In addition, you will learn from Paula how she witnessed another “coming out” of sorts during her ongoing career as a musician:

“My experience as a trans musician has probably been a bit different to most, for a number of reasons, I play mostly as an amateur, and I play in orchestras, concert and brass bands. I came out rather dramatically but so far have had only positive reactions from other musicians and audiences alike. I am quite sure that I have not got a couple of conducting jobs I’ve auditioned for because of my gender identity, but is that because I’m trans or because I’m a woman?

Curiously a pro “German” Band I used to play in (you might call them polka and waltz bands) had a rolling membership in all there were a bout 30 of us, but we would generally go out as a five or six piece (sometimes up to three a night!). We had a very good trombone player, who was clearly having issues, he was ultra competitive and could verge on aggressive. We later found out that he was trans and gave up playing after she transitioned, I have often thought that if either of us had felt able to say anything we might both have been saved a lot of angst.”

FYI, Paula is located “across the pond” in Great Britain. Thanks for the comment!

Women in the Band…Part Two

Recently, I wrote a Cyrsti’s Condo post concerning a Connie comment about women in music and I asked about her perception of any kind of a future. In the live music industry that is. 

Here is her response:

“I feel for musicians who had been trying to make a living from their music before Covid. Typically, most musicians don’t even earn minimum wage for the set-up and tear-down of their equipment, let alone their performance (after countless hours of rehearsal). This being New Year’s Eve, when it may have been possible to play a gig for a decent paycheck, it’s even more depressing. I never have given up on my music, and I will always consider myself a musician, whether I ever perform on stage again or not.
As a nearly-seventy-year-old transgender woman, I see very few opportunities for me to perform after this pandemic is over. I will probably only ever be able to sit in with other musicians for a few numbers, sign up for “jam nights,” or (ugh) sing Karaoke. Those are what I had been doing for the last couple of years before everything shut down. I fear that even those opportunities will be limited after those venues who will have survived the long shutdown can begin to reopen and start recouping losses. If they had little money to pay musicians in the past, they will have much less of it in the near future.

My band mates were correct in claiming I was a “novelty.” I understand how I can be perceived that way, even though I try very hard to show I am not. I don’t do a drag act, but it can be difficult enough to change that perception from the get-go. I think the best I can hope for now is that I’m seen as a slightly washed-up lounge singer, using the piano as much to prop myself up as for musical accompaniment. Having given up on any notion of “making it,” I picture myself singing the last lines of the Billy Strayhorn song, “Lush Life.”:

Romance is mush,
Stifling those who strive.
I’ll live a lush life,
In some small dive.

And there I’ll be,
While I rot with the rest,
Of those whose lives are lonely, too.

On that note, have a Happy New Year! ;-0″

Happy New Years! Thanks for the comment. 

Women in the Band

Recently, I wrote a post spotlighting a punk rock musician (Laura Jane Grace) who made the transgender transition to a woman in the middle of her career.

Perhaps you may remember, one of the all time Cyrsti’s Condo regulars, Connie (below)

is also a musician as well as Paula in Great Britain. 

Connie sent in this comment concerning her interaction with her fellow musicians:

“Punk fans would, most likely, be more accepting than would, say, Country music fans to see a musician make an mtf transition. One of the things that held me back from transitioning was my music. Not that I had “made it”, at all, but it was a big deal for me to make the change from a front man to a front woman. Even though the band’s bookings became more plentiful with me as a woman, the guys in the band felt we’d become more of a novelty act.

 I was told that I needed to make up my mind which gender I was going to perform as. It was not difficult for me to make the decision, as my transition was already in motion. It wasn’t the first time, nor was it the last, that a woman broke up a band. I just did it a little differently. ;-)”

My only question was did you have to give up your music before the pandemic took it away anyhow?

She Made it…Then Came Out

Laura Jane Grace is known as the singer, guitarist, and songwriter for punk band Against Me!, which she founded in the late 1990s. In 2012, she came out as transgender, becoming a rock-music trailblazer in the process. In a 2012 Rolling Stone profile that served as her public coming out, she admitted she was nervous. “Even now, there’s a part of me that’s not convinced I know what the f**k I’m doing,” she said, adding, “But there’s another part of me that’s completely, 100 percent sure.” 

NEW YORK, NY – DECEMBER 09: Laura Jane Grace performs during Cyndi Lauper’s 2017 “Home for the Holidays” concert benefitting the True Colors Fund at Beacon Theatre on December 9, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Taylor Hill/Getty Images)