The second issue of my newsletter Pianissimo hits email inboxes this week. There will be another graphic poem and the debut of a new youtube video performance featured in the issue. If you would like to subscribe, just click below:
On social media this week, I posted a couple of images of a photography assignment I recently did for school. The assignment involved learning how to work with different shutter speeds in a camera. Here are the images for your perusal:
This image involved the use of a fast shutter speed that essentially freezes a moving object into a single image frame. The rings in MaxZine’s hand were actually rotating quickly.
This image utilized an extremely slow shutter speed that captured the blur of motion and color. The effect is quite bedazzling.
3. “My Personal Journey As a Pianist” Blog Series for September
This week, I posted the last installment of a series of posts for the month of September regarding my evolution as a pianist. Each post touches on an aspect of what I have learned as a performing musician and why I do what I do. This last piece reflects upon the emotional life I have gained through all of my efforts. You can read the post by clicking on this image:
It’s time for another update. This week, I thought I’d show you a small part of one of the projects I’m working on in school in addition to everything else. So, let’s get this going.
1. Roqué on Youtube.
Plans are underway to film a small set of performances at my home of covers I’ve done over the years. The first installment should be available in a few days. You will be able to view all of it on my Youtube channel. More details will be announced next week.
2. What’s going on at school?
I thought I’d take a minute to show part of one my school projects. In my digital photography class, we are currently exploring the concept of Aperture, which is commonly referred to as the f-stop. Every digital camera has a lens that expands or contracts to let in different amounts of light. I have been taking photos that convey the opposite ends of the Aperture spectrum.
Here is photo #1 with the f-stop at the lowest setting:
Here is photo #2 with the highest f-stop setting:
The higher the f-stop, the great the depth of field and the more everything is in focus. A lower f-stop has a narrower focus point. One setting is not better than the other, and both can be used to great effect. It is up to the photographer to determine what is appropriate for the subject matter.
I love playing around with this stuff!
3. My Blog Tropical Shade of Green
I am continuing on in my series about my experience as a performing pianist. You can read Part 3 of the series by clicking on the image below:
4. Pianissimo: the Roqué E-Newsletter
A new issue of my E-mail Newsletter Pianissimo hits mailboxes before the end of this month. More details about upcoming projects, new photography, and another graphic poem will be included. It’s going to be a lovely issue.
Well, that’s all folks. I hope your week is going well. As of today, I am in my fourth week of school, and so far, all is going well.
It’s time for another weekly update on what’s new with me.
The Roqué Youtube Channel
At the end of this month, I will be posting a video performance on youtube. This is the first of a series of piano covers that I will be unveiling. More details to be announced soon.
As of this update, I am in the third week of my fall semester at Middle Tennessee State University. Work for all of my classes is really ramping up now. If I do not post on social media as regularly as I usually do, this is why. Just know that there is a ton of new stuff for me to unveil over the next year.
My blog Tropical Shade of Green
I am continuing my series of reflections about my personal journey as a pianist. Here is the second installment. Click HERE to read the post.
I have made a little progress on this art piece. Here is its current state. There is only a little left to do before it will be ready. Maybe by next week it will be done.
Well, that’s it for my update. I’ll have more to discuss next week. Until then, I hope the rest of this week brings productivity, rest, inspiration, and rejuvenation.
Now that the dust has settled from all of the festivities from my birthday last week, it’s time to get back to business.
Here’s what’s new with me this week
In case you missed it last week, I released the first issue of my new monthly e-newsletter Pianissimo. It’s full of new information about my life and creative pursuits. You can check it out by clicking here:
Over the past month, I have been making steady progress on the first of a series of surrealist flowers that will be drawn in pencil. There isn’t too much further to go on this first piece, and I hope to be done over the next week. Here’s the progress so far:
2. Jake Leg Stompers and the Eggplant Faerie Players Show
Last Saturday, I performed in the variety show/vaudeville circus that was mounted at the Cannon County Arts Center in Woodbury, TN. Instead of playing piano and singing like I usually do, I did a dance number with a balloon, and I played the xylophone. It was so much fun. My performance was part of a full ensemble that included lots of juggling, crazy costumes, Tomfoolery (literally), cool photography, and fun live music.
3. My Blog Tropical Shade of Green
For the month of September, I will be publishing a series of posts on my blog that explore my own personal evolution toward becoming a performing pianist. This journey has been full of pitfalls, surprises, and wonderful memories. Here is the first post. Just click on the image to read it:
As some of you may know, I am back in school right now. My second week of classes is in full swing at the moment, but I plan on keeping these regular updates, weekly blog posts, and monthly newsletters coming. I have a lot coming down the pipeline that I want to share with the world.
Thanks for stopping by, and I hope your week is going incredibly well.
Today is my birthday!!! Instead of doing an update on Wednesday, I thought I’d do it today, August 28, 2018, on my actual birthday!
There is only one thing I want to announce today! I just released the inaugural and birthday edition of my new monthly e-newsletter PIANISSIMO. It is jam packed with all kinds of new information and updates that I have not previously shared.
It was sent out to all of the email addresses on my mailing list this morning, but I wanted to make it viewable to all of you as well.
To view the special first issue, click on the link right here:
I’ve had a glorious week! Let’s get to the news . . .
Roque’s 2nd Annual Piano Salon on August 19, 2018
Last Sunday, I hosted my 2nd Annual Piano Salon at my home in the woods of Liberty, TN. Nashville guitarist Andrew Weitze played electric guitar as I played my songs, and he was on fire!!! I love it when we play together! Pianist Oliver Flowers played some lovely piano music, and in the absence of a couple of other performers, local musician Leopard played a song for us as well.
Here are some photos from the show:
Special thanks to Oliver Flowers who tuned all three of my pianos that same day and performed four musical pieces. He was AWESOME!
MaxZine did a terrific job preparing food for the show and making colorful floral arrangements from his flowers in our garden.
All in all, Roque’s 2nd Annual Piano Salon was a dainty and whimsical success! Thank you to everyone who attended! We will see you when I host this again next year.
My email newsletter Pianissimo arrives this coming week, and it is full of new information about my life and the creative projects to come. I’ve included some art and poetry as well as new photography. Keep a lookout in your mailbox.
3. Tropical Shade of Green Blog Posts
If you haven’t read any of my recent blog posts, here they are for your perusal . . .
In honor of my birthday month and for a limited time, the songs off of my debut album Seahorses will be available on my band camp store with the option to pay what you want. This includes a free option if you so desire; however, any amount you can give will go a long way toward supporting my music and my visual art projects.
I am having a piano concert at my home in Liberty, TN in a couple of weeks. My friends and pianists Oliver Flowers, Matilda Earl, and others have been scheduled to play. It’s gonna be a super fun show that will involve three different pianos!! Yay!
This summer, I am releasing short digital art pieces that I am calling “Visual Poems”. They will generally be no more than one minute in length and will include video footage with any combination of spoken word poetry and/or original music.
They can be viewed exclusively on my new Youtube channel, and I will announce on all social media when new poems are released.
Why am I doing this?
I want to explore different ways of expressing my ideas. I have always been a musician, visual artist, and writer/poet. As such, why don’t I combine all of these skills into something that is textured and multi-dimensional? Why stick to only one when I can utilize all three?
In any case, I am releasing the first visual poem today. It includes part of a song that I wrote last fall called “The Memory”.
I recently wrote a post about the dominance of White people and culture in every facet of society here in America (you can read the post HERE.), and I have been thinking a lot lately about Asian representation in popular culture. Surely there are more than just classic martial art films? (Cue the sound of crickets endlessly chirping away.)
I look over at the African-American community. They have come such a long way. Last year, the film Moonlight won best picture. They have won Oscars in all of the major acting categories. They have formidable pop stars. (Beyonce and Rihanna anyone?) Rap, R&B, and Hip hop have become mainstream mainstays. They have brought us jazz, blues, and Michael Jackson. A man by the name of Barrack Obama showed us all how its done, and recently, they have given us Black Panther–the first real African American super hero franchise. They are AMAZING.
Then, I look over at the rest of us–the Asians, Latinos, and everyone from the Middle East. We have yet to fully stake our claim at the table. You can argue that many opportunities are being denied us, but what we must ultimately do is stand up and show up.
Unless we actively share our art with the world, no one will hear our voices. As a person of color, I need to rise above the limitations, the whitewashing, the gentrification, and the marginalizing. I need to stand up and be heard.
The cultural landscape is not completely devoid of empowered Asians. I wanted to highlight a small handful of them here who are officially kicking some serious ass. They are forging a path for the rest of us. We will all stand up and follow . . .
He is, arguably, the Michael Jordan of figure skating. It was refreshing to see a Chinese-American be the face of the US Olympic team in the media and in commercials leading up to the winter games in Pyeongchang, Korea. Even though we’ve already had titans like Kristi Yamaguchi and Michelle Kwan before him, it felt as if this time someone of Asian descent was legitimately embraced as marketable and worthy of hype and attention.
By the end of the competition, he made history by being the first of any Olympian to land five quad jumps in a single program in competition. He’s bad ass, and I’m so proud of how the whole country rooted for him.
Mirai Nagasu and Karen Chen
Asian women have been dominant forces in American figure skating over the past few decades. Again, Kristi Yamaguchi and Michelle Kwan come to mind. Carrying on in this tradition are Mirai Nagasu who was the first American woman to land a triple axel in Olympic competition and her teammate Karen Chen. Both of them have been US Champions and Olympians. Gritty athleticism, hard work, and pure talent have taken them this far. I hope many more will follow.
The show “The Splendid Table” on NPR has been a longstanding favorite among food enthusiasts in America and all over the world. When its founder and host Lynn Rossetto Kasper announced that she was retiring, there was much trepidation surrounding the show’s future. It was not long before it was announced that Francis Lam would take over as host of the show. Armed with an encyclopedic knowledge of food and cooking, as well as an easygoing and comforting over-the-air presence, he has taken the show into new directions toward international flavors and delicacies. He is the son of Chinese immigrants and is so good at his job! Listen to the Splendid Table on NPR! He’s totally worth it.
In the indie music scene, she is well-known, revered, and beloved. Vienna Teng is a singer/songwriter and pianist whose music is rich with poetic lyricism and gorgeous melodies. I’ve been to her shows, and she is the real deal. Her piano work is first-rate. There is a gentle shrewdness behind each of her songs. She gives us narrative arcs that force us to cram our minds into tight and uncomfortable spaces, only to set us free by the final chords. Currently, she splits her time between a successful indie music career and work as a climate change consultant for international corporations. Isn’t that amazing? If you haven’t heard her music yet, check her out.
I will be featuring more Asian artists and content creators in the future, and I too, will stand up to be heard.
I grew up on a remote island in the South Pacific. I vividly remember what life was like over there. The speed limit was no more than 25 miles per hour on the roads. Everything. EVERYTHING moved at its own seemingly glacial pace.
Nonetheless, things still got done. People worked, cooked food, had gatherings with friends and family, built homes, and lived full and rich lives.
On a clear summer night, I left that island with my tear-stained face on a plane headed for America. Now, I live in a land in which someone else is always driving faster than you on the freeway, regardless of your own breakneck speed. People hurry along in droves trying to get so much accomplished in so little time. They are pulled in multiple directions raising kids, posting on instagram/facebook/twitter/etc, taking selfies, building a career, staying healthy, partying, traveling, creating, doing, doing, and more doing.
They all move SO FAST.
At what point did we learn that faster is always better?
What if we took on the intention to slow down in life? Instead of taking on so many things so quickly, what if we did the opposite?
Could we do one thing at a time? Do it at a slower and more comfortable pace?
What if we regularly stepped back to press on the brakes and proceeded slowly?
For myself, what I gain from doing this is more space to breath and gather perspective. So what could this look like for you?
Instead of a tackling a to-do list of 20 items, take on one important item with the trust that either everything else will get done in their own time or that some things just actually do not need doing.
When you eat food, chew slowly and savor every morsel of flavor.
Walk a little more slowly along your way.
Have multiple moments for yourself to take a long, deep breadth.
Take a drive through the countryside and do it slowly. Feel the wind in your hair. Drive slow enough that you can take in the view.
Pause before the next time you pick up your cell phone and acknowledge what is going on around you. Is there someone you can talk to instead? Maybe you can just do nothing for a few minutes. Why rush?
Ultimately, living a life that is paced at a rhythm that is comfortable and sustainable means living a life of deeper contemplation. You can trust that everything will get done and will happen as they need to. You can still live a rich and full life.
Slowness allows us to actively live in our own richness.