My Best of 2018 Wedding Vendors

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, and it’s time to celebrate love and marriage by featuring my Best of 2018 wedding vendors! Each year, I select outstanding wedding vendors that I have personally worked with in the past year. These are people who have impressed me and exceeded expectations for excellence at their job. This year, my winners are Back Country Imagery, The Lyons Farmette, and A Touch of Bliss Events. Congratulations!

A Touch of Bliss Events

Colorado Wedding Planner

This year, I had the pleasure of working with Natalie Sudia of “A Touch of Bliss Events”. Natalie is a lead wedding planner, and she’s fantastic to work with. Natalie reached out to me about the details of the wedding day well in advance, and she was very thorough in anticipating all of my questions and needs. On the day of the wedding, Natalie handled the wind and the rain preceding the wedding flawlessly, and she brought a joyful spirit and calm organization wherever she went. The wedding was so elegant and every detail was covered seamlessly from start to finish.

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Back Country Imagery

Colorado Wedding Photographer

Meg McGee of Back Country Imagery impressed me with her stunning photos and absolute professionalism on the job. I worked with her for a wedding ceremony on an extremely windy day, and not only did she alleviate the concerns from the wedding couple, but she worked with the wind to create exceptional one-of-a-kind photos that the bride and groom will be sure to treasure for a lifetime. Meg’s photographs draw me into their world, bringing to life colors, textures, aromas, and emotions. However, don’t just take my word for it; check out her amazing photos below.

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The Lyons Farmette

Colorado Wedding Venue

I loved playing at the Lyons Farmette this past year, and I have to say that it was simply delightful. Nestled among mature trees in a picturesque yet convenient setting, the Lyons Farmette features rustic elegance and vintage country charm. The adorable animals include llamas, goats, alpacas, and chickens. The vibrant flower beds and colorfully painted farm equipment all add to the Farmette’s unique appeal.

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2019 GLOW Project Series

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I’m happy to be involved with the Boulder Symphony’s GLOW project, a dementia and sensory friendly concert series. The goal of this project is to bring together individuals with neurodegenerative diseases and sensory disorders along with their families and caregivers for a community-building, heart-filling concert experience.

Our next concert will be at the First Presbyterian Church in Boulder on February 13th 2019 at 3:00pm. We’ll be doing a Valentine’s Program with romantic songs to listen to and sing along with.

Live Irish Music for St. Patrick's Day!

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Irish music is one of my favorite styles of music to play on flute, and I love it when St. Patrick’s day comes around each year. We’re available to play live Irish music for your St. Patrick’s Day party or event. From lively gigs and and hornpipes to incredibly beautiful slow airs, we’ll help you celebrate this fun day with music. I offer both solo flute and flute with violin, or add a guitar for a fuller sound. Listen to a few music samples of me playing Irish music on my flute:

 

An Evening of Art and Jazz!

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You’re Invited!

…....To an evening of color, history, music and poetry!

Mark your calendar for Friday, February 1st for a very special event featuring our very own Inspire Duo and opening night for a new series of paintings by award-winning artist, Melissa Carmon.

Melissa Carmon will be presenting her newly completed “Eternal Color - Stories of Saints from Antiquity” at the Bolt Gallery in downtown Fort Collins. Each one of Melissa’s twelve paintings will be presented along with a poem and historical background about each saint. Craig and I, of Inspire Duo, will be performing our musical interpretation of each piece!

You don’t want to miss this!

Friday, February 1st 2019
6:00pm - 9:00pm

Bolt Gallery
144 S. Mason St.
Fort Collins, CO'

RSVP: Email me at music@christenstephens.com and I’ll count you in!

 
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Inspire Duo: Art and Music

Experience art on a whole new level!

Award-winning professional flutist, Christen Stephens, and professional pianist, Dr. Craig Woodward, will perform original musical improvisations inspired by each piece in the saints series. Each saint will have a pre-planned mood, but beyond that, each song will be one-of-a-kind and created entirely in the moment. This is a unique opportunity to hear this Denver-based duo in Fort Collins!   Listen to the Inspire Duo»


 
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Eternal Color: Stories of Saints from Antiquity

This series explores a diversity of temperaments through the medium of portraiture.  One of the inspirations behind the series is the question of what really endures. Each figure's story differs vastly, but each influenced the development of western history.    Preview the Saints Series»

I Won the 2019 Wedding Wire Couples' Choice Award!

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I’m pleased to announce that I won the 2019 Couples’ Choice Wedding Wire award for the fifth year running. It’s you, my awesome couples, that helped make this happen by taking the time to write me awesome reviews and share your experience with others. I’m looking forward to meeting more wonderful couples and making music in 2019!

Read all of our wedding reviews on our Flute and Strings by Christen Stephens Storefront at Wwlogo 83x19

Flute and Violin Duo Wedding Ceremony Music in Estes Park, Colorado

flute and Strings by christen stephens, Flute and violin wedding ceremony music in Estes Park, Colorado

flute and Strings by christen stephens, Flute and violin wedding ceremony music in Estes Park, Colorado

I spent the Halloween of 2018 in the best way possible - playing for a romantic Colorado mountain wedding ceremony! The bride and groom were from Florida, and they had their outdoor wedding ceremony in Estes Park at a private home.

The drive to Estes Park is one of my favorite drives because of the beautiful scenery. It was made even better by the fresh snow that had fallen the night before. The snow was still clinging to the evergreens and weighing them down like heavy white frosting.

The house was in a grand setting with a panoramic view of the surrounding mountains. I played flute along with my violinist inside, next to the crackling wood fire in the fireplace. I set up my speaker outside so that our music could be heard both indoors and out.

We played an elegant mix of classical music, and a few modern songs. I made a special arrangement of “All I Ask of You” from Phantom of the Opera and “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes” from Cinderella for the bride. Just before the bride walked down the aisle, we happened to be playing “A Postcard to Henry Purcell” from Pride and Prejudice, and it was such a romantic beginning to the evening festivities.

The wedding ceremony took place outside, and even though it was chilly, the sun shone brightly in a very blue sky. The small group of family and friends stood during the short ceremony. Afterwards, we continued playing more lively classical music as the guests mingled inside and outside.

“It was a Dream Come True”

From the Bride:
My Wedding was on Halloween this year and as a special touch Christen surprised us with Cinderella- “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes”, and a few other Disney classics! It was a dream come true and I couldn’t have picked a better company to play for my Wedding. I truly felt like a Princess in white with the music playing perfectly on every step I made down the aisle. Thank you for making our day Perfect!”

flute and Strings by christen stephens, Flute and violin wedding ceremony music in Estes Park, Colorado

flute and Strings by christen stephens, Flute and violin wedding ceremony music in Estes Park, Colorado

Fun Tip: For an outdoor wedding ceremony in the snow, have your ceremony near an indoor location to give your guests the option of mingling indoors before and after the ceremony.

Sample Selections from Prelude and Postlude Music:
Gavotte (Bach), Largo from Winter (Vivaldi), Minuet (Boccherini), Air from Water Music (Handel), Ave Verum Corpus (Mozart), A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes from Cinderella, All I Ask of You from Phantom of the Opera, Allegro from Spring (Vivaldi)

Wedding Processional Music:
Bride’s Processional: Canon in D (Pachelbel)
Recessional: Ode to Joy (Beethoven)

Experience the traditional elegance of my flute and violin duo for your wedding ceremony!

Flute and Cello Duo Wedding Ceremony Music at the Denver Botanic Gardens

Flute and Cello Duo Wedding Ceremony Music in the Denver Botanic Gardens, Photo by LD Photogrpahy

Flute and Cello Duo Wedding Ceremony Music in the Denver Botanic Gardens, Photo by LD Photogrpahy

On a late summer day, my flute and cello duo played for an elegant formal wedding ceremony at the Denver Botanic Gardens. The garden beds were spilling over with glorious autumn flowers, red berries, and ripening golden grasses. The ceremony took place in the Romantic Gardens, which were a lush, green oasis despite the hot and sunny 90 degree day.

Our duo played elegant and fun classical music to greet guests as they arrived. The little gazebo that we played under had the perfect acoustics for our instruments, and our music floated throughout the gardens, mingling with the flower-scented air.

Fun Tip: For a hot outdoor summer wedding, invite your guests to wear fancy hats to stay cool. I loved the hats that the ladies wore at this wedding ceremony! Just check out these sweet accessories.

Flute and Cello Duo Wedding Ceremony Music in the Denver Botanic Gardens, Photo by LD Photogrpahy

Flute and Cello Duo Wedding Ceremony Music in the Denver Botanic Gardens, Photo by LD Photogrpahy

“They completed my vision for a classy, romantic, elegant wedding”

From the Bride:
Christen performed for our intimate wedding ceremony at the Denver Botanic Gardens on 9/15/18. She was an absolute pleasure to work with, from start to finish!! Christen was professional, responsive, and able to answer any questions that I had (which for a Type A person like me was quite a few). Since I live out of town, all of our communications were via email and phone. I would usually hear back within a day with any questions I had, and the fact that we never met until day-of didn't detract from the planning, organization or execution of the music. She worked with my budget, and because of her affordable prices, I was able to get a flute and cello combo which I had not previously thought a possibility. Their performance the day-of was perfect, and I could not have asked for better musicians for our big day! They completed my vision for a classy, romantic, elegant wedding. Highly recommended!!! Thanks Christen!”

Flute and Cello Duo Wedding Ceremony Music in the Denver Botanic Gardens, Photo by LD Photogrpahy

Flute and Cello Duo Wedding Ceremony Music in the Denver Botanic Gardens, Photo by LD Photogrpahy

Flute and Cello Duo Wedding Ceremony Music in the Denver Botanic Gardens, Photo by LD Photogrpahy

Flute and Cello Duo Wedding Ceremony Music in the Denver Botanic Gardens, Photo by LD Photogrpahy

Sample Selections from Prelude and Postlude Music:
Ode to Joy (Beethoven), Flower Duet (Delibes), Trumpet Voluntary (Clarke), Arrival of the Queen of Sheba (Handel), Spring from the Four Seasons (Vivaldi), Bourree (Telemann), Sonatina (Anton Andre), March in D Major (Bach)

Wedding Processional Music:
Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring (Bach) - Mothers and Grandmothers, Brothers and Sisters, Bridesmaids and Groomsmen, Groom, Pastor
Ave Maria (Schubert) - Bride
Unchained Melody (Righteous Brothers) - Unity Ceremony (sign marriage license and light unity candle)
La Rejouissance (Handel) - Recessional

Flute and Cello Duo Wedding Ceremony Music in the Denver Botanic Gardens, Photo by LD Photogrpahy

Flute and Cello Duo Wedding Ceremony Music in the Denver Botanic Gardens, Photo by LD Photogrpahy

Flute and Cello Duo Wedding Ceremony Music in the Denver Botanic Gardens, Photo by LD Photogrpahy

Flute and Cello Duo Wedding Ceremony Music in the Denver Botanic Gardens, Photo by LD Photogrpahy

Wedding Ceremony Vendors:
Venue: Denver Botanic Gardens
Ceremony Music: Flute and Strings by Christen Stephens - Flute and Cello Duo
Photographer: LD Photography - Thank you for these beautiful photos!
Officiant: Scott Bebee - Awesome officiant who I had the pleasure of working with a couple times this year.

Whether you’re getting married in a garden or in the mountains, our elegant music will bring elegance and class to your beautiful Colorado setting. Listen to flute and cello music samples.

Flute and Cello Duo Wedding Ceremony Music in the Denver Botanic Gardens, Photo by LD Photogrpahy

Flute and Cello Duo Wedding Ceremony Music in the Denver Botanic Gardens, Photo by LD Photogrpahy

Flute and Cello Duo Wedding Ceremony Music in the Denver Botanic Gardens, Photo by LD Photogrpahy

Flute and Cello Duo Wedding Ceremony Music in the Denver Botanic Gardens, Photo by LD Photogrpahy

String Trio Wedding Ceremony Music at the Holy Cross Event Deck in Vail, Colorado

String Trio wedding ceremony music in Vail, Colorado

String Trio wedding ceremony music in Vail, Colorado

I have played for many weddings on the Vail Wedding Deck, but this late summer afternoon was one of the most beautiful days that I’ve ever seen on Vail Mountain. Though technically still summer, in the Colorado mountains it was a golden autumn day. The aspens were in full color, with colors ranging from the most golden of yellows to summer green and everything in between. Wildflowers bloomed on the mountainside and the sun shone warmly, but with a gentle cool breeze.

My string trio played for this intimate destination wedding ceremony, and our music complimented the beautiful mountain setting. The bride requested a peace + traditional elegance package, and we played a mix of slow and romantic classical and contemporary music. Our music greeted the guests as they arrived at the event deck, and accompanied the the wedding party and bride as they walked down the long aisle. We continued to play afterwards as photos were taken.

String Trio wedding ceremony music in Vail, Colorado, gondola ride up Vail mountain

String Trio wedding ceremony music in Vail, Colorado, gondola ride up Vail mountain

Quick Tip:
Request elegant and peaceful wedding ceremony music that will relax you and your guests leading into the ceremony, and then fast and cheerful music after the ceremony to celebrate!

A perfect day at the Vail Visitor’s Center

A perfect day at the Vail Visitor’s Center

String Trio wedding ceremony music in Vail, Colorado

String Trio wedding ceremony music in Vail, Colorado

Selections from Prelude and Postlude Music:
Sheep May Safely Graze (Bach), Fughette in C (Handel), Largo from Winter (Vivaldi), St. Anthony’s Chorale (Brahms), Nocturne (Mendelssohn), Traumerei (Schumann), Arioso (Bach)

Processional Music:
Canon in D (Pachelbel) - Bridesmaids, Groomsmen, Flower Girl
Ave Verum Corpus (Mozart) - Bride
Ode to Joy (Beethoven) - Recessional

Hire our traditional and elegant string trio to play classical music, and even pop and rock songs for your wedding ceremony!

String Trio wedding ceremony music in Vail, Colorado

String Trio wedding ceremony music in Vail, Colorado

String Trio wedding ceremony music in Vail, Colorado

String Trio wedding ceremony music in Vail, Colorado

Live Music for Winter Weddings: Challenges, Tips, and Tricks

Flute Quartet wedding ceremony music in beaver creek, colorado, photo by preston utley

Flute Quartet wedding ceremony music in beaver creek, colorado, photo by preston utley

A romantic Colorado winter wedding inspires dreams of fairytale snow, twinkle lights, steaming spiced drinks, and a crackling fire. My clients travel from all over the United States to be married in Colorado, and they’re drawn by the allure of the majestic mountains and pristine landscape. Colorado’s brilliant autumn foliage, epic snow covered peaks, and ever-changing vistas are an ideal setting for one of the most special days of your life. Live music adds the perfect warming touch to any winter wedding.

If you’re looking for musicians to play for your winter wedding, you may have discovered that it’s difficult to find musicians who will agree to play outdoors when the weather is cold. In fact, most musicians won’t play if the temperature is below 55 or 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Are musicians being overly particular, or are there legitimate reasons for their specific temperature requirements? What is it really like for a musician to play outdoors in the winter?

As both a flutist and a cellist, I decided to test out the claims that live music couldn’t (or shouldn’t) be performed outside in the cold, and I dedicated the winter of 2017 to my experiment, which culminated in playing my flute for an outdoor mountain wedding in the middle of December. I wanted to see exactly what would happen to me, my flute, and my cello! I uncovered the challenges to playing outside in cold weather and discovered a number of helpful tips for musicians who will be playing outside in the cold. I also put together a list of tips for the wedding couple who is planning to have live music for their outdoor winter wedding ceremony.

My Experiment:

As winter began to arrive, I decided to play both my flute and cello outside every day for 15 minutes. At first it was easy, and I enjoyed the time outside, looking at the mountain view in my backyard.

Cello:

The temperatures started to drop as winter approached, and I found that I needed to start wearing my winter coat. My fingers were quite cold, but I was able to play until one day that was in the upper 40’s. I was playing cello, but my winter coat was bulky and it made my movements difficult. My fingerless gloves were also too bulky to wear while playing, and the icy cold metal cello strings felt sharp and unpleasant under my fingers. Without a warm coat or gloves, my fingers went completely numb from the cold and the metal strings after about five minutes. I couldn’t feel the strings any longer and my fingers became quite stiff from the cold, which impeded movement. The result was a rather clunky sounding version of “Frosty the Snowman”. My fingers started to hurt from the cold, so I had to cut my playing time short.

In addition to my own discomfort, the cello itself is a very delicate instrument, and sensitive to temperature and humidity changes. Outdoor performances in hot or cold weather can cause the wood of the instrument to crack or split, especially at the seams, and this has happened to my cello on occasion. Dry air, temperature changes, and temperature extremes can all be culprits.

It’s also very difficult to play in tune on the cello in very cold weather, and I found this out in my experiment. When the weather turns cold, the strings on a stringed instrument contract. In contrast, the wooden part of the instrument expands and contracts in response to humidity. In cold weather, the instrument will go very sharp, and since the strings each contract at different rates, it's very difficult to keep a stringed instrument in tune in cold weather. When musicians have to play together in cold weather, their instruments will change pitch at different rates, so they not only have to stay in tune with themselves, but they have to stay in tune with the other musicians.

In short, I found that playing my cello below the prescribed 55-60 degrees was very difficult for the listener’s ears, my cello, and myself.

Flute Quartet wedding ceremony music in beaver creek, colorado, photo by preston utley

Flute Quartet wedding ceremony music in beaver creek, colorado, photo by preston utley

Flute:

Playing my flute in the cold worked a lot better than cello. One magical day, I played outside (under my porch) during the first snow, and I felt like I was in a fairy land. My music was so beautiful coupled with the falling snow, and the temperature was still quite a bit above freezing. I was able to wear fingerless gloves while I played, and because flute requires smaller movements than cello, I could also wear my heavy winter clothes to stay warm. My fingers did go numb, but I was still able to play, and my flute sounded great! When the temperatures stayed above freezing with not too much wind, I enjoyed my outdoor sessions a lot.

An Outdoor Colorado Mountain Wedding

When it was time to play my flute for the outdoor wedding in the mountains, I was as ready! It was a short hike through the snow from my car to the wedding site. By the time the guests began to arrive, I had been outside preparing and waiting for about an hour. By the time I started playing prelude music, my flute was ice cold.

Solo flute wedding ceremony music at sapphire point in dillon, colorado, photo by ian riley

Solo flute wedding ceremony music at sapphire point in dillon, colorado, photo by ian riley

Most people say to acclimate a musical instrument to the surrounding temperature before playing. This is true with a wooden instrument, but I found out the hard way that in really cold temperatures with the flute, this is a very bad idea, and that it’s best to keep your instrument as warm as possible. The icy metal of my flute under my fingertips combined with the brisk wind instantly stripped all remaining warmth from my fingers, and they went numb immediately. I kept putting them into my pockets, using my hand warmers to try to warm them up, but 5 minutes of playing to 10 seconds of warming wasn’t sufficient.

After I had been playing for about 15 minutes, what had started out as a sunny day in the mid 30's quickly turned cloudy and windy, and the temperature dropped to below freezing.

After 10 minutes of playing in below freezing temperatures, the moisture from my breath froze inside my flute, and it formed a layer of ice that started to thicken. Ice also collected under my keys, and they started to instantly freeze to my flute. There were certain notes that I couldn’t play anymore, so I did my best to avoid using the keys that were frozen to the flute. I changed flutes to my backup flute which was nice and dry in its case. Unfortunately, it had become so cold, that it only took 5 minutes for ice to form inside my backup flute as well. My lips started freezing to the metal a little, but they were warm enough to not completely stick.

After the ceremony, I played for the recessional and then played some nice postlude music as photos were being taken. Towards the end, my fingertips were starting to feel comfortably warm, and I realized that they weren't actually warm, but that they were starting to get frostbite. After playing and packing up, I had been outside for 2 1/2 hours straight.

 
Solo flute wedding ceremony music at sapphire point in Dillon, Colorado, photo by Ian Riley

Solo flute wedding ceremony music at sapphire point in Dillon, Colorado, photo by Ian Riley

The Beauty of Live Music in Winter

The setting for the wedding ceremony was truly a winter wonderland. It overlooked snow covered mountains and an evening lake. The fresh white snow crunched under our feet, and the bare dark tree limbs and green pines stood out against the white sky. My music added the perfect finishing touch to the ceremony, and gave the wild setting a touch of sophistication.

I designed my music set list to celebrate winter and to help the guests feel warmer. The bride requested Christmas songs in addition to classical songs, so I playing songs like “Chestnuts Roasting On and Open Fire”, “Jingle Bells”, and “Winter Wonderland”.

The Challenges for Musicians

The three main challenges that I discovered with playing a musical instrument outdoors when the temperature is below freezing are frostbite, expensive instrument repairs, and a performance that’s not top quality.

  • Frostbite: After playing for the winter wedding ceremony, my fingers were all in pain, and the pain lasted for a week. After that, the pain in one finger in particular continued for about three more months. I think that I had mild frostbite.

  • Instrument Repairs: Our delicate musical instruments are handmade using materials that are very responsive to the environment around them. I had my professional flute repaired after that wedding, and the cost for the repair was almost $2000. The ice had cut into the delicate pads that are under the keys. The pads are what creates a seal when the keys are pressed. I had to replace all of my pads and do additional repairs as well.

  • Performance Quality: Since some of my keys were frozen together, there were several notes that I could no longer play. With stiff fingers, I couldn’t play very fast pieces of music. Also, it wasn’t as easy to play long phrases when I was inhaling very cold air. Intonation (playing in tune) can also be a huge problem, although in my case, I had several guests compliment me on my great intonation. I was also impressed that these well-informed guests were talking about intonation.

I concluded that the challenges for musicians playing outdoors in cold weather are very real, and it must be done with care. I also learned a number of very valuable tips for both musicians and clients to help make live outdoor winter wedding music a better success.

Flute Quartet wedding ceremony music in beaver creek, colorado, photo by preston utley

Flute Quartet wedding ceremony music in beaver creek, colorado, photo by preston utley

Tips for Musicians

  • Take time in advance to look at average temperatures, weather, and what kind of shelter or heat sources there will be.

  • To avoid expensive instrument repairs, have a backup instrument (or two in my case) ready to play in case of inclement weather.

  • Wear lightweight full coverage under-clothing, and avoid wearing bulky clothing as much as possible.

  • Wear the warmest clothes that you are able to wear while play your instrument. If your body is warm, your extremities will be more likely to stay warm. Be careful not to overdress, but wear layers that you can adjust as needed.

  • Arrange to play next to a warm gas patio heater if possible. If it’s very windy, the heater can still help a lot to re-warm your hands and your instrument between songs.

  • Watch out for frostbite. It feels nice and warm when you’re getting it.

  • When the temperature is near or below freezing, put hand warmers in your case and keep your flute (or non-wooden instrument) closed in the case until it’s time to play.

  • Keep hand warmers inside your shoes and your pockets. Prepare them in advance so that they’re toasty warm when it’s time to play.

  • For flute, plug the holes in the keys so that you won’t have to worry about having to cover them with numb fingers.

  • If you want full coverage gloves, I found that cycling gloves work the best because they stop the wind, but they are very thin. They also have nice grips on the fingers. I added a small piece of electrical tape on each thumb to add more grip. The downside is that it’s harder to re-warm your hands between songs when wearing full coverage gloves.

  • If possible bring the following items: hot drink in an insulated container, hand warmers, warm clothing (including warm shoes, hat, and gloves), and alternate instruments.

  • Do quick aerobic exercises before the guests arrive to encourage good circulation.

  • Play near a windbreak, or set one up for yourself.

  • Just say “no” if you don’t think that you can do a performance that’s up to the quality that you and your potential client would want.

Tips For Hiring Musicians for Your Outdoor Winter Wedding Ceremony

Solo flute wedding ceremony music at sapphire point in dillon, colorado, photo by ian riley

Solo flute wedding ceremony music at sapphire point in dillon, colorado, photo by ian riley

  • Know what the temperature averages are for the time of year and time of day of your wedding. Know what your limits are for the temperature and weather, and have a backup plan ready.

  • Be flexible. It’s hard to know what to expect from the weather in Colorado. Be prepared for a very wide range of temperatures and weather conditions that can quickly change within minutes.

  • Consider getting married indoors in front of large windows overlooking the winter landscape.

  • If you want to be married outdoors, consider inviting your guests to mingle indoors with the live music, and have your guests and musicians move outside for just your ceremony.

  • Have your wedding in a location where the musicians can play indoors and amplify their sound to the outside for your ceremony.

  • Choose an outdoor wedding location that’s sheltered from the wind.

  • Ask your musicians what their minimum playing temperature is. Discuss alternate plans with them in case it’s too cold for them to play outside.

  • Provide your musicians with one or more gas patio heaters to help them stay warm in cold weather.

  • Trust your musicians. If they say they can’t play outside if it’s below a certain temperature, then it’s for good reason.

Flute Quartet wedding ceremony music in beaver creek, colorado, photo by preston utley

Flute Quartet wedding ceremony music in beaver creek, colorado, photo by preston utley

Conclusion:

Featuring live music at your outdoor winter wedding is very romantic, and the music adds a feel of sophistication and warmth to the setting. After my experiment with playing outside in all kind of weather conditions, I concluded that playing a musical instrument in cold weather must be done with care because the challenges for the musician and the risks to the instrument are very real. As musicians, it’s important that we look out for our personal health and prevent our instruments from being damaged. Simply put, our instruments aren’t designed to be played in very cold weather, and neither are we. I also learned a number of tips for clients, and tips to help me with future performances in the cold, and what my limits are to do them safely.

As professional musicians, my team and I really care about you and your wedding. We strive for the highest quality performance, and if our cold-numbed fingers prevent us from moving properly or if our instruments sound bad or go out of tune because of the cold, our performance quality will suffer. I always let my clients know our limits, and options for solutions before they book me. Then we can work together to find the solution that works best for my them, myself, and my team of musicians.

Flute Quartet Wedding Ceremony and Cocktail Hour Music in Estes Park, Colorado

Flute quartet wedding ceremony music in estes park, Colorado

Flute quartet wedding ceremony music in estes park, Colorado

It was a beautiful and crisp day in late summer, when my flute quartet (flute, violin, viola, cello) headed up to a very special location in Estes Park, Colorado. We had the privilege of playing for a wedding ceremony at Camp Timberline, a camp owned by the family. The camp was located in an isolated Colorado location and it featured panoramic mountain views with nothing around for miles.

Flute quartet wedding ceremony music in estes park, Colorado

Flute quartet wedding ceremony music in estes park, Colorado

In addition to playing flute at this wedding, the bride gave me the special opportunity to arrange a number new songs in various musical styles. I rehearsed with my quartet a week before the wedding so that we'd play the new songs seamlessly on the day of the ceremony. Some of the songs that were written for solo voice and guitar were challenging to translate to a quartet setting, but with a little creative thinking and a lot of  experimenting, I was really pleased with the end results, and enjoyed the process. This Georgia bride's song requests ranged from Thunderstruck by ACDC, to hymns and contemporary Christian music, to country, pop, and rock songs.

The processional was a mix of contemporary Christian songs played and sung by a few friends of the family, and then we played "Sheep May Safely Graze" by Bach for the moms, and transitioned to Thunderstuck by ACDC for the groomsmen's entrance.

Afterwards, we performed a custom playlist that the bride had selected as the guests enjoyed cocktails out on the lawn.



Flute quartet wedding ceremony music in estes park, Colorado

Flute quartet wedding ceremony music in estes park, Colorado

Wedding Processional Music:
Georgia Fight Song - Last song before ceremony
Sheep May Safely Graze (Bach) - Seating of the Mothers
Thunderstruck (ACDC) - Groomsmen
Gimme Some Lovin' (Spencer Davis Group) - Recessional

Sample Selections from Prelude Music:
Sweet Child O'Mine (Guns N 'Roses), What a Wonderful World (Louis Armstrong), Stand by Me (Ben King), Home, Marry You (Bruno Mars)

Sample Selections from Cocktail Hour Music:
Tennessee Whiskey (Chris Stapleton), Here Comes the Sun (Beatles), Washed by Water (Need to Breathe), Black River, (Amos Lee), Need You More (United Pursuit), Treasure (Bruno Mars), Moon River, Thunderstruck (ACDC) (last song before reception)

Wedding Vendors:
Venue: Camp Timberline
Wedding Planner: Tied with a Bow Weddings
Photographer: KJ and Rob Photography
Wedding Ceremony and Cocktail Music: Flute and Strings by Christen Stephens - Flute Quartet

Flute quartet wedding ceremony music in estes park, Colorado

Flute quartet wedding ceremony music in estes park, Colorado

Flute and Violin Duo Wedding Ceremony Music on the Vail Wedding Deck

Flute and Violin Duo Wedding Music in Vail, Colorado - Vail Wedding Deck

Flute and Violin Duo Wedding Music in Vail, Colorado - Vail Wedding Deck

Flute and Violin Duo Wedding Music in Vail, Colorado - Vail Wedding Deck

Flute and Violin Duo Wedding Music in Vail, Colorado - Vail Wedding Deck

In late August, my flute and violin duo enjoyed playing for a mountain wedding ceremony at the Vail Wedding Deck. I left Denver well prepared because the weather forecast was predicting cool weather, rain, and thunderstorms. I really hoped that this Wisconsin couple could have the Colorado mountain wedding of their dreams, despite the weather predictions.

As I ascended the mountains and drove to Vail, the temperature dropped into the 40's and it was pouring rain. By the time I reached Vail, the rain had ended and the air had a cool and fresh feel to it. The smoke from the summer wildfires was momentarily completely gone and everything felt bright and clean.

Flute and Violin Duo Wedding Music in Vail, Colorado - Vail Wedding Deck

Flute and Violin Duo Wedding Music in Vail, Colorado - Vail Wedding Deck

The sun started to peek through the clouds, and as the guests arrived, we greeted them and drew them to the seating area with our elegant classical music. In the middle of the ceremony, we played "Can't Help Falling in Love" by Elvis as a beautiful musical interlude, while the guests had a chance to take in the mountain views and to enjoy the completion of their journey to arrive in this epic setting. Most of the guests had a plane flight, car ride, gondola ride, golf cart ride, and walk to arrive at the wedding deck.

We played a lively recessional at the end of the ceremony, and then we played a mix of classical music and Beatles tunes to entertain everyone and put smiles on their faces as photos were being taken.

Wedding Ceremony Music:
Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring (Bach) - Bride
Can't Help Falling in Love (Elvis) - Interlude to enjoy the scenery
Trumpet Tune (Purcell) - Recessional

Sample Selections from Prelude and Postlude Music:
Ave Verum Corpus (Mozart), Rigaudon (Handel), I Will (Beatles), Blackbird (Beatles), Allegro from Spring (Vivaldi), Minuet (Boccherini), Allegro from Sonata in F Major (Handel)

Wedding Ceremony Vendors:
Venue: Vail Wedding Deck
Photographer: Pixel Studio Photography
Officiant: Heather Rawlings
Musicians: Flute and Strings by Christen Stephens - Flute and Violin Duo

Bring the elegance of live music to the wild and beautiful Colorado mountains.

Colorado Wedding Music >

Flute and Harp Wedding Ceremony and Cocktail Music at the Lyons Farmette

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My flute and harp duo had a wonderful day playing for this charming wedding ceremony and cocktail hour at the Lyons Farmette in Lyons, Colorado. The venue features wide lawns, an assortment of farm animals, vintage farm equipment, and a riot of color in the beautiful flower gardens. Twinkle lights sparkled from everywhere, and the creek running behind the ceremony site completed the charming effect.

Shortly before we started playing the prelude, the wind guested very strongly and it began to sprinkle rain. I had my music stand set up outside, and a big branch fell from the tree right where I would have been standing, so I was thankful that I wasn't there! We were so happy that the weather calmed down just as we needed to start playing the prelude music. We played elegant classical music to welcome the guests as they arrived.

Then it was time for our big musical surprise, as planned by the bride. We played "Zelda's Lullaby" from the video game "The Legend of Zelda", as the bride walked down the aisle. For the recessional, we played "Shelter" by Porter Robinson and Madeon.

During cocktails, we continued the video game theme. The couple chose a number of special songs to be played during cocktails, and the songs included more Zelda music and the Pokemon Center theme. Many people recognized the tunes and were very excited and surprised to hear songs that they knew from the video games. The tunes worked perfectly on flute and harp.

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Wedding Ceremony Music:
Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring (Bach) - Processional
Zelda's Lullaby - Bride
Shelter (Porter Robinson and Madeon) - Recessional

Wedding Music Special Selections:
Zelda's Lullaby, Shelter (Porter Robinson and Madeon), Kakariko Village, The Great Fairy Fountain, Ballad of the Goddess, Path of the Wind from My Neighbor Tororo, The Pokemon Center Theme, Saria's Theme (a surprise addition I included)

Wedding Ceremony Vendors:
Venue: The Lyons Farmette
Wedding Planner: A Touch of Bliss Events
Musicians: Flute and Strings by Christen Stephens - Flute and Harp Duo
Photographer: Dan Hand Photo
Videographer: Garrity Productions

Whether your love Zelda music or want another unique them for your wedding, I can make it happen. Contact me today!

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Flute Quartet Music for Annual Inspire at NCAR in Boulder, Colorado

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I led the Boulder Symphony flute quartet (flute, violin, viola, cello) in playing for the Annual Inspire event in Boulder, Colorado once again this year. The event was held at NCAR (National Center for Atmospheric Research). The patio overlooks an incredible view of the Colorado front range, but in August, the view was partially obscured by smoke and haze from the wildfires that are burning in the west. We were grateful that towards the end of the event, a cool evening breeze came, bringing with it clear air and the scent of pine. It's an incredibly beautiful location, and I never tire of each amazing Colorado vista that we have the privilege of playing at. 

Our quartet played a selection of cheerful classical music before and after the speeches were made. As usual, the speeches from the students were personal and inspiring stories of hope and how they overcame difficult obstacles in order to achieve their dreams. It was an uplifting evening.

String Trio Wedding Ceremony and Reception Music at the Arrabelle in Vail

String trio wedding and reception music at the Arrabelle in Vail Square

String trio wedding and reception music at the Arrabelle in Vail Square

In late July, I played cello with my string trio for a classy wedding ceremony and reception at the Arrabelle in Vail. Since we played for both the ceremony and reception, we were there for about five hours, which rivals my longest performance ever! Instead of having to leave right after the ceremony, it was wonderful to have the extra time to spend playing our music and getting to know and enjoy the guests.

As we arrived, the weather was a little iffy, and it looked like it might rain. We hoped for the best and set up with our instruments on the beautiful balcony just outside the Arrabelle Great Room. The balcony overlooked the green Vail ski slopes and a part of charming Vail Village. Just as we were ready to start playing the prelude music, it began to storm, and the ceremony had to be moved indoors.

Our string trio played peaceful classical prelude music, as requested by the bride. The bride walked down the aisle to "A Thousand Years" by Christina Perri, and the couple was married in front of grand fireplace in the Great Room.

Once the ceremony was over, the guests enjoyed cocktails and dinner as we played a set of modern pop and rock songs. It was fun because when we started playing each song, various guests would pay attention as they recognized their a favorite tune. The acoustics in the room worked beautifully for our trio and we didn't overpower the small room.

When there's no dancing, our live music is perfect for your entire wedding ceremony, cocktails, and reception. That way, you only need to book one group! We can start your ceremony and welcome your guests with lovely classical music and then switch to more contemporary music or lively classical music for your cocktails and reception. We can even add amplification if needed. For this couple, it was such an elegant touch to have our string trio play for the entire event, and our music created a beautiful ambiance for the entire evening.

From the Bride:
"We had an intimate wedding in Vail and Christen and her string trio team played for both our ceremony and reception. They did such a great job! Christen was so helpful and accommodating with our vision and timeline while planning the music for our day. Her website provides many great samples of music to choose from. She also worked on and added more music to her string trio repertoire in order to accommodate both our ceremony and reception. We received several compliments from guests on how much they enjoyed their music. They appreciated the elegant touch it added and the fact that they could easily converse with one another while they were playing. She was very responsive and so easy to work with. I would highly recommend her and her team for any special occasion or event! Thank you Christen!"

Experience classical and pop music with the elegance of strings for your wedding ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception with my string trio.

Selections from Prelude Music:
Air from Water Music (Handel), Wedding Song (Peter, Paul, and Mary), Andantino (Mozart), Romanza from Eine Kline Nachtmusik (Mozart), Arioso from Cantata #156 (Bach)

Wedding Ceremony Music:
A Thousand Years (Christina Perri) - Bride's Processional
Allegro from Spring (Vivaldi) - Recessional

Dinner Reception Music (a small sample):
Moon River (from Breakfast at Tiffany's), Accidentally in Love (Counting Crows), Romantic Flight (from How to Train Your Dragon), The Wedding (from the Legends of the Fall), A Sky Full of Stars (Coldplay), Yellow (Coldplay), Anything Goes (Cole Porter), Don't Stop Believin' (Journey), Chasing Cars (Snow Patrol), Just One of Those Things (Cole Porter), Imagine (Beatles)

Solo Flute Wedding Ceremony Music on the Vail Wedding Deck in Colorado

Vow Renewal Wedding Ceremony on the Vail Wedding Deck, Flute and Strings by Christen Stephens

Vow Renewal Wedding Ceremony on the Vail Wedding Deck, Flute and Strings by Christen Stephens

Towards the end of July, I played for a wedding vow renewal ceremony on the Vail Wedding Deck. There was a pretty good chance of thunderstorms in Vail that afternoon, but the rain held off, allowing for the ceremony to take place under the sunshine and occasional clouds. The wind was extremely gusty, and it brought in smoke from the southern Colorado wildfires, but that just added a mysterious and magical quality to the setting.

I played a mix of classical and contemporary prelude music on my flute, and I used my amplification so that I could be heard over the wind. Everyone gasped in surprise and delight when the couple's spunky and adorable daughter joined me on her flute to play "Can't Help Falling in Love" as the bride walked down the aisle.

The couple had been married for ten years, and their vows were as tender as first time couples, but also so refreshingly real as they had faced many years of life together. They had gone through many joys and challenges in their ten years of married life, and through them they grew closer to each other and were more in love than ever. I don't think that there was a dry eye by the time the ceremony was over. Then the bride gave everyone yet another surprise by announcing that a second child was on the way! Everyone cheered.

It was quite wonderful when the officiant announced "And now I pronounce you....are still husband and wife!" at the end. I was so inspired that I thought how nice it would be to do a 15 year vow renewal with my husband in a few years. I continued to play my flute after the ceremony to add ambiance as photos were taken.

From the Bride:
"Christen played beautifully at my ten year wedding renewal! She even worked with my daughter to perform a surprise duet together as I walked down the aisle which was such a hit. Thank you so much for everything!"

Enjoy the elegance and beauty of my solo flute music for your wedding ceremony! Here are solo flute music samples.

Wedding Ceremony Music:
Here Comes the Sun (Beatles) - Groomsmen
The Way You Look Tonight (Sinatra)- Bridesmaids
Can't Help Falling in Love (Elvis) - Duet with Bride's Daughter for Bride's Walk

Prelude and Postlude Music Included:
Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring (Bach), Hornpipe (Purcell), Moon River, Prelude from Te Deum (Charpentier), When I Fall in Love (Nat King Cole),  Cheek to Cheek (Sinatra), All My Loving (Beatles)

Wedding Ceremony Vendors:
Venue: Vail Wedding Deck
Wedding Planner: White Birch
Wedding Ceremony Music: Flute and Strings by Christen Stephens - Solo Flute
Photographer: Ashley Waldron Photography
Videographer: Roots and Wings Productions
Reception Location: Arrabelle Ballroom

Flute Quartet Music at the Vail Wedding Deck

Vail Wedding Deck after a storm

Vail Wedding Deck after a storm

A bride celebrates when the Vail Wedding Deck gondola reopens after a thunderstorm

A bride celebrates when the Vail Wedding Deck gondola reopens after a thunderstorm

In early July, my flute quartet (flute, violin, viola, cello) headed to the Colorado mountains to play for a wedding ceremony on the Vail Wedding Deck. When we arrived, the weather was unusually hot and dusty and unlike the cool crisp air that we usually expect from Vail. The sun was shining brightly and all was calm as we took the gondola up to the top of Vail Mountain. The moment we arrived, it was announced that a large storm was moving in, and the gondola would be closed!

Over 400 people were trapped at the top of the mountain, including two brides. One bride had just been married and the second bride was supposed to be married at the bottom of the gondola in Vail Village. The storm rolled in, bringing with it lightning strikes and heavy rain. Our wedding party and guests were waiting at the bottom of the gondola and we were waiting at the top, and we were all hoping that our couple could have their dream outdoor wedding on top of the mountain. It must have been about an hour, but finally the announcement came through that the storm had passed and the gondola would be running again. The crowd of people erupted into big cheers, and the cheering brides were escorted onto the gondola first.

Flute Quartet wedding ceremony music on the Vail Wedding Deck in Colorado

Flute Quartet wedding ceremony music on the Vail Wedding Deck in Colorado

Our wedding party made it to the top of the mountain for their dream wedding after all. The rain had washed away the hot and dusty feeling, and it was fresh and cool. Just as the bride and groom said "I do", the sun came out and shone on them as if for a blessing.

My quartet played elegant classical music as the guests arrived for the ceremony, and we continued to play after the ceremony to accompany the wedding party as they had their pictures taken.

Selections from prelude and postlude music:
Rondeau (Mouret), Ave Maria (Schubert), selections from Handel's Water Music, To a Wild Rose (MacDowell), selections from Bach string quartets

Hire my flute quartet (flute, violin, viola, cello) to make your Colorado mountain wedding even more spectacular!

Vendors:
Venue: Vail Wedding Deck
Musicians: Flute and Strings by Christen Stephens - Flute Quartet

Vail Wedding Deck after a summer storm

Vail Wedding Deck after a summer storm

Flute and Cello Wedding Ceremony Music at the Denver Botanic Gardens

Flute and Cello Duo Wedding Ceremony Music at the Denver Botanic Gardens

Flute and Cello Duo Wedding Ceremony Music at the Denver Botanic Gardens

Late in June, I had the privilege of playing for a wedding ceremony and cocktail hour at the Denver Botanic Gardens. It was my first time playing in the elegant Woodland Mosaic Garden, which is my favorite garden wedding site. The sun went behind clouds, and what started as a baking hot day turned into a cool day with a gentle breeze. The leafy canopy of trees arched over the conservatory and the sound of singing birds mingled Snow White style with our Disney themed music.

At the bride's request, and to my great delight, we played a lot of Disney pieces, and I even got to make a special arrangement of "A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes" from Cinderella to play as the wedding party walked down the aisle.

The ceremony and cocktail hour came off beautifully, and as cocktails were ending, a big gust of wind brought in a smattering of rain, and the guests moved to the reception location to enjoy a tropical inspired feast.

Prelude Music Included:
Tis the Last Rose of Summer, A Whole New World, Gavotte (J.S. Bach), Menuet (Bach), When You Wish Upon a Star, Can't Help Falling in Love (Elvis)

 

Wedding Ceremony Music:
A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes from Cinderella - Groomsmen, Bridesmaids, Ringbearer
Canon in D (Pachelbel)- Bride
Largo from Winter (Vivaldi) - Sand Ceremony
Ode to Joy (Beethoven) - Recessional

Cocktail Hour Music Included:
Roses from the South (Strauss), Jr.), In the Still of the Nite,  Rondo Alla Turca, Can You Feel the Love Tonight, Simple Gifts, Blue Spanish Eyes

Wedding Ceremony Vendors:
Venue: Denver Botanic Gardens
Planner: Serendipity Catering
Wedding Ceremony Music: Flute and Strings by Christen Stephens, Flute and Cello Duo

Are you getting married in the Denver Botanic Gardens? I love playing there because I'm passionate about gardening and plants. I'm familiar with all of the wedding sites at the Gardens.. Learn how to add our beautiful music to your wedding!

Self-Care for Musicians

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I have been researching the topic of mental well-being and self-care for over ten years, and I'm excited to share with you some of the unique systems that I've developed to incorporate self-care into your daily life. I'm writing this as a musician to fellow musicians, but these tips and techniques easily translate to anyone, no matter your career or place in life. Read on to learn how to incorporate these self-care techniques into your life in real and practical ways that you can act on starting today!

Effective self-care doesn’t usually happen naturally, but it’s an intentional decision. Once you recognize why self-care is such a necessary part of your well-being, it’s easy to make the decision to incorporate it into your life. To build a personalized self-care plan, you’ll first need to study yourself. As you learn more about yourself, you’ll learn how to take care of your physical health, how to schedule self-care, how to build a list of easy activities for a quick pick-me-up, and how to practice self-care attitudes. Your new self-care plan will help you to thrive in your life by building balance into your life and giving you techniques to recharge.

 

Why care about self-care?

Is self-care very important? You’d probably agree that it is. However, most people don’t take enough time to care for themselves in the rush of work, family, and other life tasks and activities. Do you? If not, why?

  • Is it because it seems selfish?
  • Is it because you have too much on your mind and can’t relax?
  • Do you simply have much to accomplish?
  • Does it feel indulgent and unnecessary?
  • Is it because you might look to others like you don’t work hard enough?
  • Is it simply off your radar altogether?
  • Do you feel like you can’t think about yourself until you get everything done first?

The final reason is the one I struggle with the most. When I’m buried in the middle of a big project, proposing a five-minute break to me would be like suggesting that I take a year-long trip to Bali!

Self-care isn’t about pampering yourself, but it’s actually an essential part of your well-being. Your career goal as a musician or singer is to put out a great product for your clients, and guess what? You’re the product! Just like one would ensure that their professional racehorse is in top condition for each race, or like a race car driver maintains their car in perfect working condition, you need to keep your whole self in optimal working condition for your musical performances. To develop your product (yourself), you need to nurture not only your ability to make music, but your total well-being, including your body, mind, emotions, thoughts, and spirit. When you use healthy self-care habits you’ll notice endless benefits and you’ll be able to keep your passion, energy, enthusiasm, and body healthy for the long run.

Study Yourself

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You’re a unique individual, and self-care isn’t a one size fits all kind of deal. To make a personal self-care plan, you need to be student of yourself. This is best done when you’re less busy since it will initially take more time, but it’s never too late to get started. To be a student of yourself, take notes on how you respond physically, mentally, and emotionally to different things. Strong reactions of any type are clear messages from your body that you should pay attention to. When you have strong reactions, allow yourself to calm down or process the information at first if needed. Then, make a note how you felt and what was going on at the time, including possible triggers. It’s helpful to keep a journal to record these. One beneficial exercise is to perform a self-evaluation at the end of each day. What was my best moment? What was my worst moment? Why?

After several weeks of noting the messages that your body is giving you, you’ll probably start to notice some trends, and these can help you to make better life decisions and to create goals.

 

Once you’ve identified what’s triggering strong reactions in yourself, you can choose to:

  • Learn from it
  • Reduce it
  • Increase it
  • Change it
  • Face it
  • Avoid it
  • Work through it
  • Embrace it

Whatever you do, it’s important to act on this information rather than ignoring it. This exercise isn’t about avoiding all negative emotions and thoughts and embracing only the positive ones. Our emotions and thoughts are simply messengers attempting to give us useful information. Studying yourself is an ongoing process, and you need to always be mindful of the messages that your body is sending you. As you study yourself, it’s also useful to get the input of other people that you trust. Sometimes they see aspects of you more clearly than you see yourself.

 

Physical Health:

Now it’s time to delve into specific techniques of effective self-care. We’ll start with physical health since it will create the foundation. Take time during your non-busy season to establish healthy sleep, diet, and exercise habits that work for you. To determine what works best for you, follow the techniques to become a student of yourself. Remember that your emotions, physical body and mind are always guiding you with information. Below are tips for basic physical care. Experiment with them and see which ones work best for you.

 

Tips for Sleep:

  • Take note of how many hours of sleep you need to feel rested and schedule sleep as you would any other activity. If you can’t get adequate sleep on certain nights, it’s Ok if you usually stick to your routine.
  • Find a routine to relax before bed that works for you. This can include a hot mug of tea, a hot soak in the tub, deep breathing, meditation, reading etc.
  • When in bed, relax your muscles one by one starting with your toes and slowly working your way up to the top of your head. Take a deep breath and as you let it out, say to yourself “Now I relax my toes” etc. It helps to tense the muscle while inhaling for a better release.
  • Create a comfortable sleep environment. Make sure that you have a comfortable bed and bedding and a cool dark room. Some people enjoy listening to sleep sounds or white noise as they sleep.
  • Avoid the use of electronics such as computers, TV, or any screen time in the bedroom.
  • Journal your thoughts before you go to bed.
  • Do easy yoga or stretching before you go to bed.

 

Tips for Exercise:

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  • Schedule exercise either by time of day or by tacking it onto something that you already do daily. For example, you can say: I’ll exercise first thing after getting up in the morning, I’ll exercise at 7:00pm, or I’ll exercise before eating lunch.
  • Think of several different kinds of exercise that you enjoy and do a different type of exercise or routine each day to keep it fresh. Ideas include walking, running, yoga, Pilates, swimming, sports, cycling, dancing, jump rope, going to the gym, or floor exercises that can be done without equipment.
  • Exercise with a friend.
  • Listen to a book on tape or music while you exercise.
  • See exercise as your personal time to think or unplug from the world.
  • Exercise mindfully and feel the strength in your muscles and the energy of your pumping heart.

 

Tips for Diet:

  • Prepare meals in advance so that you don’t have to cook every day (invest in lots of food storage containers of the same size so that they can be neatly stacked in your freezer or refrigerator. Use glass containers instead of plastic because they don’t transfer chemicals or bad flavors to the food).
  • Drink water! Carry a bottle of water wherever you go and for a more appealing cold or hot drink, bring it in an insulated water bottle. Avoid mindlessly drinking sugary drinks or alcohol but drink them as a special treat during a time at which you can enjoy every sip.
  • Juice fresh vegetables and have the juice available to energize yourself on a performance day.
  • Make healthy shakes that are easy to bring in place of a meal.
  • If you don’t have time to shop for food, consider a home grocery delivery plan.
  • If you don’t have time to cook, consider an easy home cooking plan.
  • Learn quick and healthy recipes that you can rotate using ingredients that you have on hand. (I like “How to Cook Everything” by Mark Bittman).

 

Regular Check-Ups:

I don’t think that anyone really looks forward to going to regular doctor, dentist, or eye doctor appointments. However, it’s important to get regular check-ups just to make sure that everything is still well with your body. If possible, schedule all these appointments during your slow season so that you don’t need to think about them when you’re in your very busy. Schedule a reminder in your calendar that will tell you to make your doctor appointments and don’t ignore it when it comes up.

 

Self-care in Relation to Playing or Singing:

Live a lifestyle that keeps your body and mind in optimal singing and playing condition. You know what habits are specific to you whether it be diet, specific exercises or stretches, and good performing habits to prevent injury when singing and playing your instrument. It’s also healthy incorporate good habits right into your instrument or singing practice. These can include short intervals of stretching and breathing, visualization techniques, the Alexander Technique, or just regular check-ins to notices if you have any tension.

Example: I had severe nerve damage in my left arm and I do arm exercises daily and apply essential oils. This takes about 15 minutes every day, but I have a scheduled time to do it because for me it’s a necessity for pain management and mobility. During my practice sessions, I stop at regular intervals to do a few seconds of stretching. Sometimes, I find that I feel even better after practicing than before!

 

Schedule Self-Care

A couple of years ago, I noticed that I was frequently feeling down in spirits at various times and I didn’t know why. I became a student of myself and over the next few weeks, I made mental notes of what was happening when I felt down.

A very clear pattern emerged. I realized that I would feel down when I hadn’t had any social activity for a while. Since I’m an introvert, I had always thought – no big deal, right? I need plenty of time to be alone, so that can’t be my problem. But the truth is that whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, you need regular social interactions to life a healthy and balanced life. I realized that I sometimes went without interactions with friends for weeks at a time and this was a big problem.

I scheduled time to spend with friends (even if it was just on the phone) a minimum of once a week. I guarded my time with friends carefully. After only a few weeks of trying this, my husband commented that I seemed different somehow. He said that I was much more positive, happy, and engaged. I then told him about the experiment that I was doing, and he encouraged me to keep it up.

When you have more time-consuming self-care activities, it’s important to schedule them. Make a specific time each week to sit down to evaluate your past week and to schedule the upcoming week. Ask yourself what’s working and what’s not working. What do you need more of and what do you need to cut back on? Be intentional about what your're doing with your life on a small scale. This can be your time to make a mini life assessment so that you don’t live on autopilot. You know your schedule and your needs and can choose the frequency of your scheduled self-care activities to be daily, weekly, monthly, or even yearly. Make these scheduled activities as important as any other appointment on your calendar. Sometimes this will mean that you have to say “no” to people. If you’re honest with others, then they’ll begin to see how important self-care is to you. If they admit the truth to themselves, they’ll realize that they want that for their lives as well, and one person at a time, self-care may become an embraced and respected part of society.

Drop your ideas of what defines a useful activity. If your activity leaves you feeling one of the following ways, then it’s a useful activity and it doesn’t matter why:

  • Positive
  • Energized
  • Strong
  • Inspired
  • Calm
  • Focused
  • Joyful
  • Courageous
  • Connected
  • Relaxed

Here’s a sample list of items that you can schedule. As you read this list, take note of which activities have worked for you in the past and which ones that you might want to try for the future. When doing your activity, unplug yourself from work life completely. Turn off your cell phone or work notifications and put your phone where you can’t see it.

Take a Day Off:

If you’re in music, your day off might not be on the weekend, but you can choose another day of the week. Once you choose your day off for the upcoming week, schedule it as a very important appointment in your calendar. Busyness can come in many forms and isn’t just about your job. Consider all the responsibilities that you deal with daily and take a rest from them as much as possible. On your day off, be intentional about doing things that rejuvenate you. This may even involve things that some people consider “work”, but if it’s refreshing for you, then do it. The key is intention.

Time with Family or Friends:

Remember your friends and family. Everyone needs community and social interactions in order to be balanced and healthy. Make time for your friends and/or family even if the time is more limited than normal, such as with a quick phone call. Spend time with people who leave you encouraged and with a smile on your face.

Other self-care activities to schedule include:

  • Go out to dinner with your family or friends or even schedule a dinner at home
  • Have an adventure – hiking, fishing, road trip etc.
  • Take a day of fun exercise such as hiking, swimming, biking or gardening
  • Participate in a sport that you enjoy
  • Attend a social or town event
  • Go to the spa or for a massage
  • Go to the movies
  • Read a good book
  • Do a wine and paint session

 

Quick Self Care Techniques

As important as the previous activities are, they do take time, and sometimes you just need a quick way to recharge and reset. You may also want a healthy and productive way to fill an odd gap of time between other activities, rather than checking social media or your news feed. It may also be tempting to fill the moments when you need a short break by heading to the refrigerator or snack machine, falling into a bad habit you'd rather break, or ignoring that you need a break altogether. We all need to take moments of refreshment in the middle of a busy day and that’s why I created the idea of quick activities. Quick activities should only take between one and fifteen minutes to complete.

Make a list of your own quick activities and keep it in a place that you can refer to at any time. To make your list, you can ask yourself these questions:


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What things help to give me perspective?

What things put a smile on my face?

What things make me feel just a little bit lighter?

What things help me feel calmer?

How do I like to create?

How do I like to play?

 

You probably already know several things that work well for you. Here are a few more ideas to help get you started on your list:

  • Work on a puzzle
  • Work on a crossword puzzle
  • Do a short computer game
  • Read
  • Play with your pet(s)
  • Soak up some sun
  • Read or listen to something humorous
  • Meditate
  • Do a few minutes of yoga
  • Let your mind wander
  • Walk or run around the block
  • Step outside and take a few deep breaths and notice the sights, sounds, smells, and feel of the air around you
  • List all the things that you’re grateful for
  • Pray
  • Text a friend
  • Color in an adult coloring book
  • Journal
  • Give someone a hug
  • Do something kind for someone else

Since making decisions drains energy it’s helpful to choose a quick activity randomly. You won’t be able to do all of them in all settings, but hopefully you have items that you can do at work or even in the car.

 

Self-Care Attitudes

When do you practice self-care? The simple answer is – All the time!

My husband, Tom, manages a team of people in the tech industry. Recently, the company has been making some very unpopular changes regarding his team, and morale was quickly slipping away. Tom noted that one of the major problems was a negative attitude among several of the workers, and this attitude transferred to everyone else in the team. The environment was becoming toxic and productivity was at an all-time low. Tom took the situation seriously and had many talks with his team, encouraging them to foster a positive attitude. He said that it wasn’t wrong to be unhappy and frustrated by the situation that they were in, but they still needed to maintain a positive attitude regardless of their feelings. Tom was honest with them about his emotions and said that he was frustrated with the situation as well. He created an environment in which his team could be honest about their emotions without being judged. Tom’s team responded to his lead, productivity dramatically increased, everyone trusted each other more, and working relationships improved.

This is the final element of self-care. Even though there are many things in life that you have no control over, you can still choose how you respond to what life throws at you. These are your self-care attitudes, and they are responses that you can practice and nurture at any place and at any time until they become habits. These mindsets are practically limitless and the benefits of actively practicing these self-care attitudes include:

  • Personal growth
  • Increasing positive and helpful interactions with others
  • A greater love for self and others
  • Less stress
  • Better work performance
  • Improved awareness of our environment and of others
  • More freedom
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Here are some examples of self-care attitudes. Use this list as inspiration to create your own list that is specific to you:

  • Have a positive “can do” attitude despite the situation
  • View events from a positive viewpoint and believe yourself to be a lucky person
  • Live in the “now” and experience the input from all your senses
  • Work as a team with others – help others when they need it and ask others for help when you need it
  • Focus on making what you want to happen rather than trying to prevent bad things from happening
  • Be patient
  • Forgive yourself and others for making mistakes
  • Help others
  • Commit with care and then follow though
  • Be authentic and unique rather than comparing yourself to others
  • Choose to trust others first rather than to distrust first
  • Express your emotions mindfully
  • Respect your boundaries and the boundaries of others
  • Be loving

Example: If you believe yourself to be a lucky person, you’ll start to notice how frequently things work in your favor throughout the entire day. Or if you live in the now and use your senses throughout the day, the day will give you a richer experience and it won’t seem like time is flying by too fast.

Which of these points challenge you? What points can you add to your list? Once you have your list, read one point first thing each morning, and then apply it to the rest of your day. Think of it as looking at life through a different lens each day. It’s like putting on a pair of different colored glasses, so that everything you interact with that day is filtered through this new lens. If you actively and mindfully practice your self-care attitude throughout the day, you’ll notice a difference in the way that you feel and respond, and the way that others respond to you. The benefits of practicing helpful attitudes are countless, and they will positively affect every area of your life and the lives of others. As you practice these attitudes, they’ll begin to become habits and you’ll no longer have to consciously think of them to practice them. You can continue to adjust your list as you grow, removing things that have become habits and adding new things.

 

Other Tips

Prioritize

Recognize what your priorities really are. Only a few items will fall into your “absolute must” category. The list of things that you’d really love to get done but that aren’t critical will probably be a lot longer. Make self-care a priority.

Be Early

Being late to personal and professional appointments is a great way to create a lot of stress for ourselves and others. You can mostly eliminate this stress from your life by allowing extra travel time. You can use today’s technology to check the traffic at different times of the day, look at satellite images of where you're going, and to locate parking places in advance. Schedule your departure times in your calendar, and double check traffic before you leave.

Technology makes us very mobile so the time that you have when you arrive early need not be wasted. You can:

  • Make phone calls
  • Answer emails
  • Warm up your voice or instrument
  • Eat a snack
  • Network or socialize
  • Take a walk
  • Do one of the things on your quick self-care list
  • Review your current item on your self-care attitudes list

Mistake Rituals

We all make mistakes, both in our musical performances and in our lives in general. It’s helpful to develop a personal mistake ritual so that you can quickly move past your mistakes, particularly in a performance situation. Here’s an example of a mistake ritual:

After making a mistake, sit in a tall confident pose with your shoulders back, chest out, chin up and with a confident facial expression. Then squeeze your shoulders together and visualize the mistake rolling away down your shoulders. Then move on!

In Conclusion

Once you’re aware of what things energize you and what things wear you out, you can begin to shape your decisions and attitudes and be conscious about the way that you use your time. Once you set your strategy for self-care, involve the important people in your life. Make sure that your family and friends are aware of how important this is to you and what the changes that you’re making might mean for them. Be forgiving of yourself and don’t treat these tips as rules, but as helpful tools to make your life more purposeful and healthier.

Remember that self-care is a necessary part of your well-being. Take care of your basic physical needs such as sleep, diet, exercise and seeing the doctor for check-ups. Take time out of your schedule each week to evaluate your past week and to plan the following week, making sure to include self-care activities if possible. Have a list of quick self-care activities that you can do at any time when needed. And finally, practice healthy self-care attitudes that will change your life for the better, one thought at a time.

Christen Stephens Speaks About "Self-Care During the Busy Season"

 
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I'm excited about being the speaker at the next CODA Entertainers meeting! I will be addressing the topic of "Self-Care During the Busy Season". I'll be posting the full content of my talk on my blog next week, so stay posted!

You'll learn how to study yourself in order build a mindful and personalized self-care plan that will be a life-saver during your busy season, and valuable to practice at all times. You'll learn how to live a purposeful and healthy life so that you don't live on autopilot. Also, you'll learn how to schedule self-care into your calendar, how to incorporate quick self-care techniques into every day, and how to practice healthy attitudes to build better relationships and to nurture your personal well-being.

Inspire Duo Will be Performing at Twenty Brew Taphouse!

 
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Craig and I at Inspire Duo are looking forward to expressing our musical creativity on May 20th at the Artists Being Artists event. We'll be improvising on the artwork being shown, and we'll also take suggestions from you, our friends! Artists Being Artists is a monthly showcase of local visual artists, musicians, poets, and more. The showcase happens every 3rd Sunday of the month at Twenty Brew Taphouse (in the back room). Come by and meet new folks, have some beer, and enjoy our exciting music!