A funny thing always happens my birthday week: Incredible people reach out to me and ask if I’m going to have a party. Some even offer to help put one together, suggest cool restaurants, take me out for dinner or drinks, or buy me a present. I’m really lucky to have people who care about me enough to want to do these things.
To be honest, I don’t particularly enjoy any of the above activities. I deal with pretty bad social anxiety, and things that shake up my routine tend to cause more stress than cheer. I don’t want a social event to commemorate my birthday, I don’t need surprises or extravagance, I don’t want to add dinner or drinks to my schedule, and I truly don’t need physical gifts. I promise I’m not saying these things to test my friends' true loyalty, insinuate self-pity, play games with you, or appear fashionably nonchalant.
I’m not nonchalant, and I’m absolutely thrilled to spend my relaxing birthday off the grid tomorrow! But it recently came to my attention that some of my loved ones are at a loss for how to show they care on my birthday. If you’ve heard of the Five Love Languages, you know that different people give and receive love in different ways, and that these differences are okay. The key to adapting to these differences is understanding what yours and another's needs are in the first place. It's always better to make your needs known rather than hope others read your mind. At the end of the day, each of us simply want to be acknowledged for who we really are, to be truly seen. Thus, I thought it would be fun and helpful to use this space to articulate my own desires and offer a list of alternative ways I would love to be celebrated on my birthday! These are all things you could do that make me feel seen.
These are the ways you could support me on my birthday that would truly be the most meaningfully received by me.
- Become my patron on Patreon. If you had to choose just one thing from this list, I’d have to say that becoming my patron is by far the best thing you could do to show continual support for me as an artist. I am my art, so to support my artistic life is to directly support me in the biggest way possible. I currently have 33 patrons on Patreon, and I love them a lot! But I have almost 3000 personal Facebook friends, another 2000 public Facebook followers, 5600 Twitter followers, and nearly 13K Instagram followers. Thus, if only 5-10% of my friends and fans became my patron at $1/month, it would actually revolutionize my life and open up so many possibilities for me to expand my art further.
- Buy an album! I sell both physical CDs and high-quality digital downloads (including PDF liner notes) in my online store. My Stories album is also on iTunes, Amazon, and all major online stores. Already own my album? Perhaps it could make a nice gift for someone else! Here is a video I made that showing how easy it is to send an iTunes album as a gift. Or if you want to order autographed CDs, you can do that through my store and specify a different address for me to mail it to.
- Purchase some sheet music!!! Ok, I’m super excited about this, because I just released it today. It took forever to put together, and I’m really stoked about it. It was a huge labor of love to put together, because I didn’t read from real sheet music when I recorded my album. The few handwritten manuscripts I used were lost along with my whole composition binder a couple years ago. I owe a lot of thanks to Sean Hayward for assisting me in preparing these official parts for you. (Sidenote: If you’re a composer looking to outsource some score prep or get some parts arranged, Sean’s your guy!)
- Share any of the above things with a friend. Not everyone has the ability to make monetary contributions, and even though I hope to be compensated for my work as an artist, I totally respect and understand this. I am very aware of the real things that prevent people from contributing with money. Thus, I want to underscore the importance of sharing my work. Word of mouth can be just as helpful as buying my work yourself, because personal, passionate recommendation is the best way an independent artist reaches more eyes, ears, and hearts. If you like my work but can't afford to buy an album or support my Patreon, please don’t be shy, feel bad, or apologize to me; simply keep listening, keep streaming, and think of a friend or two that may actually like what I’m doing too! You may not have bought my album personally, but because you streamed it in the car so much, your cousin did, and then when she needed a recommendation for a new easy piano piece to play, she ended up buying the sheet music to “Paper Flowers.” All of this is to say, I value you, whether you have money to give or not.
- The gift of time. If you've never heard my music, of course you wouldn’t feel compelled to jump right into Patreon or buying an album! And if you're not a listener of my music, I of course wouldn't expect you to feel comfortable with sharing it, because how would you vouch for it? So…If you’re someone that wanted to take me out for birthday dinner or were already willing to give up a couple hours to attend a birthday party, I have an alternative idea for how you can give me the gift of your quality time: Listen to some of my music. You can stream my Stories album on Spotify, check out things I’ve posted on my Patreon page, or spend some time on the “Composer” section of my website. If you can’t listen to my music, or you don’t like it, you can check out my Xanthe Briefly podcast, my blog, or my vegan cooking videos on YouTube (I try to caption my videos, if that helps). As an introvert, I rarely open up to people in person. I pour everything into my art and work, so taking the time to tune in for even 20 minutes would bring us much closer, I guarantee it.
- Miscellaneous Fun Ideas: Stream Stories on repeat on Spotify for a day. Even if you turn the volume off but leave it playing, I’ll receive some royalties from that. Request my music at your local/college radio station. Add my music to public playlists (like the ones on Spotify). Use a piece from my album for your dance routine. Learn how to play one of my songs on your instrument or in your chamber ensemble (I’d love video of this)! Paint a picture or write a story inspired by my music. Use a song of mine as background for your next school project, student film, or YouTube video (please make sure to select “Monetize” in the settings!). Leave a review of my album on iTunes. If you do any of the above, please let me know so I can smile and shower you with gratitude. Seriously, if you ever perform my music yourself, or use my music in anything, I would be happy to share your project/video. If there are enough things, I may even make a gallery on my website.
- If you don’t feel like engaging in anything artsy but still want to do something that supports and affirms who I am, here are the non-profit organizations I donate to most regularly. Perhaps you could consider putting a few dollars toward the important social justice work they do. FIERCE NYC, Food Empowerment Project, Audre Lorde Project, and Trans Lifeline.
Now that you’ve read this far, I’m going to announce the birthday sheet music specials! They start right now and go through my birthday weekend (until Sunday night).
All my new patrons will receive their choice of 1 free sheet music or 1 free digital download of my Stories album! You can peruse all the options here. You receive details on how to redeem that when you sign up for my Patreon.
Sheet music deals! 10% off your purchase of $30 (use discount code “birthday10”). 25% off your purchase of $50 (use discount code “252525”)
Thank you for reading this. Thank you for celebrating my birthday, my music, my art, me. Thank you thank you thank you. And now I'm off to go cook a sweet potato...