The following is an excerpt from a question and answer session between Maharishi University of Management’s Alumni Association and Maharishi University of Management BA in Art graduate Heather Miller-Rodriguez.
For the complete account, you can go to Maharishi University of Management’s (MUM) Alumni website.
You are singer and song-writer who has been on an exciting journey in the past year or so. When did you first start composing and when did you know you wanted to do this professionally?
When Fairfield’s solar-powered community radio station, KRUU-LP came into existence, I began a blog and radio show called Lyrical Venus to highlight all these great female singer-songwriters I was discovering. Looking back now, it’s obvious that as I interviewed them about their songwriting process and performing life, I was also unconsciously doing research for myself!
Between moving forward with my writing and learning from others who’d made a career out of music in one way or another, it became clear that there were really no excuses other than the ones I made up for myself!
To pursue your dream, you took a huge leap of faith about a year ago. Tell us about it.
Once I realized that the biggest obstacle in my way was my own mind, and that the desire to pursue music was not going to go away, I was ripe to take a big step in the direction of my dream. Daniel Barrett’s Rubicon Year program, housed at Rubicon Artist Development and Recording Studios in Austin, Texas appealed to me because the focus was on developing as a whole artist and person, as opposed to just drilling scales or chasing fame. Dan understands that outer success depends on the inner foundation and is skilled at guiding artists through the treacherous landscape of artistic doubts.
My big directive for my Rubicon Year was to get out to as many open mics as I could while in Austin. After a little bit of a rocky start, I took to it in a big way and ended up making it to 157 open mics and showcase performances. The open mics changed everything for me—my voice, my guitar playing, my confidence all improved bit by bit over the course of the year.
The other huge challenge of the year was to create a studio recording with Dan. After we decided on five songs to record, I began focusing on practicing and performing them. Dan brought in some really talented pros to fill out the sound – Rick Richards on Drums (Dixie Chicks, Mary Gauthier), Red Young on Piano and Hammond Organ (Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt), and Warren Hood on Fiddle (The Waybacks). Several of my Austin friends came and added background vocals. By the time we got to the studio at the end of the year, I had gained confidence from knowing the songs backward and forward, and I had established a deep trust with Dan so that the actual recording was super joyful and almost effortless!
How do you grow and develop as a musician?
I think that’s a life-long process!
Maintaining an internal equilibrium is fundamental. It’s easy to get lost in the thrill of the creative process, but I don’t think you have to burn out if you take care of yourself. TM, inspirational reading, quiet reflection time, journaling, supportive friends and family, creating realistic goals and keeping sight of what’s most important, all are foundational to growing as an artist in a sustainable way.
I actually went to MSAE from Kindergarten, so MUM seemed like a natural next step.
In terms of the organization, creativity, resourcefulness, and flexibility needed to handle all aspects of being an independent artist, every MUM course taught me those qualities in one way or another—through the wonderful teachers and through the application of principles of the Science of Creative Intelligence. Those kinds of critical and creative thinking skills transfer over into ANY area of life and are useful in every aspect of living! I’m grateful to have such foundational tools that I know will serve me wherever I go and whatever I do.
Heather Miller-Rodriguez received a BA in Fine Arts with an Emphasis in Theatre from MUM in 2001. She earned a Master Songwriting Certificate from BerkleeMusic in 2011 and completed the Rubicion Year Artist Development program in 2012. To learn more about her music or to pre-order a copy of Anchor, her Kickstarter Project, go to heathermillermusic.com.
|Anna Bruen is a MUM alumna who graduated with a degree in Sustainable Living. Anna is the resident blogger here at MUM. To learn more about Anna take a look at her introduction post.|