To read Elisa’s first post for Berklee Blogs, click here.

I’ve returned from Los Angeles!

Words cannot describe how grateful I am for my internship, especially how it prepared me for my journey at Berklee. The growth I experienced in L.A. has been really invaluable, and I’m reminded everyday how indebted I am to Deane Ogden for extending the invitation to be a member of his team. I learned so much about the different facets of the industry and what a working film composer’s schedule, office, and life looks like – something no textbook or course can teach.

In many ways it was the most challenging summer of my life, being away from my family and my true friends, but also the most rewarding summer I’ve ever experienced.

But now my internship is over, and the stress of getting ready for Berklee has set it. My internship, while worth while, severely limited my practicing time. So trying to ramp up my time on my instrument to deliver a solid placement audition has been a struggle, which I know is minuscule in comparison to the stress I’ll encounter when I start classes in less than two weeks

So, with that in mind, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I find helpful when I get super stressed, and I realized that, oddly enough, the two most helpful things I do to decompress were mentioned in this SCOREcast article. First, I totally agree with a comment from Richard Bellis, one of the board of directors for ASCAP:

I am always a little intimidated at the very beginning of a scoring project. That time before note “one” goes into the sequencer or down on the sketch pad. My ritual is to play the mixes of a few of my previous scores. I can remember feeling exactly the same apprehension before starting each one and hearing how they eventually turned out gives me the confidence I need to just relax and start.

Of course, my version of this ritual is slightly altered for piano. Like, for instance, thinking about my placement audition next week puts my stomach in knots, but it helps remembering that, you know, I’ve auditioned for Berklee before, when the stakes were far higher, and succeeded. And when I was preparing for my audition in February, I reminded myself of all the incredibly difficult performances I’ve had in the past and how doubtful I was leading up to those performances too. It may sound obvious, but I’m often surprised how easily I forget how similarly daunting all of my past performances have been.

Second, I like to refill my creative tank doing something else creative other than piano, like Deane mentions near the beginning of his column.

If you are anything like I am, you have many different ways in which you create. I think it is safe to say that we are all musically creative. We write, arrange, sketch, play, edit, perform, design, distort, and produce audio for various formats and productions. In my own career, however, I also like to work on my website, which I take care of myself. I love to take certain segments of our podcasts and edit/tweak them as a temporary (and I let me stress the word temporary!) tangent from my current scoring assignment. Though I am in no way, shape, or form a graphic designer, I have a fairly evolved sense of design aesthetic, and I very much enjoyed creating my own logo for my company. I design and create my own demo materials, promotional literature, and to a more limited degree, I like opening up Photoshop and seeing what trouble I can get into with my photos and graphics. To me, each one of these things is another creative outlet, and all of them allow me to divert my creative attention, albeit momentarily, to things other than film scoring. After all, you need an ear break every once in awhile, right?

For me, photography is the perfect outlet for piano because, while piano is all about patience and slowly making progress, photography is instantaneous. Also, tweaking a photograph in photoshop, followed by uploading it online to receive feedback, is infinitely easier than perfecting a piece for piano. So, while my family often worries that photography will get in the way of music, I think my music benefits from my photography. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve walked away from a long practice day feeling defeated only to be instantly rejuvenated after I could invest smaller chunk of energy and artistry into a photograph. Knowing I can do at least something right, even if it’s not related to music, is often all I need to return to the piano refreshed and revived.

Speaking of which….

I’d like to announce here my Orientation Week Photo Project. Berklee is all about meeting new people, so I thought it would be great to introduce all of you reading this blog to at least 5 incoming students I meet during orientation. So, if you see a girl with large green purse and camera – don’t be alarmed (after all, I take pretty good portraits)!

Well, I need to start packing for this week, but I look forward to meeting you all in person next week!

– Elisa