We’re all works in progress.
Hello from Nashville, Tennessee! OK, whoa, it’s been an eventful few months.
One of my biggest goals for the next few months is to start sharing more of my musical journey with you—both its ups and its downs. In the past I’ve worried that I would bore you if I wrote about myself too much. But I realize now that I LOVE it when people I’m learning from are open and honest about their own processes. It’s so helpful when folks share the map of the territory as they explore it, and are willing to be vulnerable.
I think in the seven years(!) that I’ve had this website, writing and teaching about fiddle stuff, I’ve overinvested in pretending to be 100% confident all the time. I wanted to help you feel safe, and know that you weren’t going to be learning a bunch of crap that you were just going to have to unlearn later. Or worse, getting so confused and overwhelmed you that you wouldn’t learn anything at all. I hope that in my teaching I’ve made good on those promises. But the approach I was taking has exhausted me. It may have turned some of you off as well.
The thing is, this industry is so full of:
- famous people teaching (some effectively, some not), and
- amateurs pretending they are experts.
I’m neither, and I believe that’s a strength. It means that if you’re paying attention to me, it’s because I’m doing my job well. But it can be confusing to know how to present myself when I’m not as famous as a lot of the folks you’re probably following. (Not yet, hehe!) I’m also young enough that people don’t automatically pick up on the fact that I’ve been playing for almost 25 years, and teaching for over 20. I think at times I’ve responded to those facts by writing from an opaque, insecure place.
The thing is, what I’ve wanted all along is to connect genuinely and deeply with as many musicians as possible. Which is totally incompatible with hiding behind false bravado.*
*(A few days ago I watched Becky Buller become the first woman ever to win the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Fiddle Player of the Year award. How is that even possible, when there seem to be so many more women playing fiddle than any of the other bluegrass instruments, including legends like Alison Krauss and Laurie Lewis? I realize that there may be a gender piece to how we expect to have to present ourselves in this industry, too.)
Because of that internal misalignment, I constantly drug my feet about creating new stuff for you. I’m sitting on approximately one gajillion half-written articles and product ideas. You could be benefiting from them right now, if only I’d gotten my head straight sooner.
Does any of this sound like your life? I hope not, but I also suspect that more than a few of you can relate in some way.
So I’ve decided I’m done trying to sound like I have all the answers about music or anything else. Instead, I’m going to get to work and share the answers I do have from those 25 years of experience. As well as the new answers I find, as I find them. I’ll share, too, the questions I don’t have answers for yet, as I keep exploring. I hope this will be more useful to you.
Because we’re doing the same thing here, you and I, even if I may have been at it longer or harder. So cheers to being works in progress.
With all that in mind, here’s what I’ve been up to for the past few months.
First things first: I live in Seattle now.
After fifteen years in Bellingham, Washington, my role in the music community there had come to consist primarily of teaching lessons and booking at a local venue. I was commuting to Seattle for most of my gigs (b****es gotta get paid), and I hadn’t had a regular teacher myself for over 10 years. The time had come for me to make some changes so I could continue growing as a musician. As of April 1st, I am a Seattlite.
I miss Bellingham’s beautiful community and landscape every day, and plan to visit as often as I can. I will definitely be back in December, teaching at the Bellingham Folk Festival.
And yes, for those who don’t already know and will wonder: I’m also going through a divorce. Yes, it’s hard. But music, and music community, help.
On the road again
May 2016: The Coty Hogue trio toured for most of May to promote our new record, which we recorded in January at Rec Room Studio in Nashville. We are so proud of it, and had a great trip through Montana, California, and points between.
I spent much of June, July and August at music camps. This was my fourth year of teaching at Puget Sound Guitar Workshop (which at this point feels more like home than my actual apartment). For the first time, I also had the honor to teach at this year’s California Coast Music Camp.
As a student, I went to three more camps. I worked on vocal technique at Centrum’s VoiceWorks (Port Townsend, WA), mandolin at the Washington Old Time Fiddler’s Association’s camp (Moses Lake, WA), then songwriting and more vocal technique at Puget Sound Guitar Workshop (because I just can’t get enough of that place).
Here’s a video I made at the California camp about why I take so much time out of my summer to be a camp student, even though I’m at a point where I get to teach too. I hope it inspires you to try out a camp next year (or a different camp, if you’ve already been to one in the past). Please pretend that I remembered to hold my phone in landscape mode when I was filming. :)
I’ve been on tour with Jessica Lynne since September 9th. Right now we’re in Nashville, Tennessee, at a coffee shop that I think would very much prefer to be in Seattle. (So much Modest Mouse on the stereo! So little smiling from the plaid-clad baristas!) We start heading northwestward tomorrow, and get back October 16th for a homecoming show at the Roadrunner in Puyallup, WA.
Coming up next:
- I’m about to embark on version 2.0 of the Rippin’ Bluegrass Soloing course. (The name may change; got any suggestions? Put ‘em in the comments!) Those of you who took version 1.0 seemed to like the content a lot, but wanted shorter, fancier looking videos. I also want to add some more content. That means (achtung!) that when I release the new version, it’s going to have a shiny new price tag. But everyone who has the 1.0 version will automatically get access to the new shiny one. So if you want to get in on it at the current price, you have until October 16th to purchase it. After that, version 1.0 goes away forever. Click here to check it out.
- I’m already hard at work writing a music theory workbook, which I plan to release by the end of the year. After teaching a zillion theory workshops at various camps, I decided to make a resource you can write on, erase, and write on it again. I want you to have a chance to really solidify the theory concepts in your memory and on your instrument. That will mean you can actually use them!
- Once I get home from tour, I’ll get to start connecting more with various Seattle music mentors. I’ve hardly been home since I moved to the city, so I’ve only had a few lessons so far. Right now I’m focusing on beefing up my swing repertoire and my mandolin chops; Pete Martin is a great help.
- ‘Tis the season in my astrology business when I’m a bit busier than usual. Every equinox, I offer sliding scale follow-up readings to all my past clients. I love getting to check in with them and see how things are going! (For more information about that part of my life, check out Kat Bula’s Down To Earth Astrology.)
Okay, I think that’s all I wanted to announce. Thanks for reading all the way to the end! Please let me know in the comments if there’s anything you’d love to read about, as I enter this new era of blogging more regularly and openly. Or just tell us all what this season is about in your musical life! Take care, friends.
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