To The Young Mom in Grocery Checkout, You Are Going to be Okay.

To the Young Mom in the Grocery Store Checkout Line,

I see you with your cart and your cute baby sitting in the front who is looking at my 2 year old in my cart behind you.

It’s 8:30pm on a Monday evening in a small town, and for some reason all of the grocery store’s self check-out stands are shut down and there is only one line open with a checker and you are at the front of it.

There is a long line of impatient people behind you waiting to check out.  I can hear the woman behind me let out a loud obvious over-exaggerated sigh to inform you and the checker that she is not happy, and I can hear the people behind her grumble at how long it is taking.

I can also see that you are using food stamps and WIC checks to buy your food, and the checker is meticulously going through each item in your cart in a loud and somewhat condescending way.

“Is this whole grain?  It has to be whole grain. It says here that you are only allowed to get whole grain.” He loudly says to a nearby employee, “I need you to verify a product please.”


I see you answering questions calmly, but I can tell you feel embarrassed, and I just want to give you a hug and tell you that “It’s going to be okay. You’re going to be okay.”

In 2008 during America’s economic crisis when many people lost their jobs, my husband was one of those. He had a master’s degree in real estate development, and at the height of the housing bubble crash, he was in a market that could not sustain employees.

At the time we had a 5 month old baby (our first), and I was teaching piano and violin lessons while my husband was searching for a new job.  I had released my first album the year before, but my music career was not really a career then…it was a hobby that I worked on while our baby slept and when I wasn’t teaching.

We didn’t have much debt other than student loans, but we had rent to pay, doctor appointments, and food to put on the table.  We found that we qualified for Washington state food stamps and WIC (Women Infant Children), which is a program to ensure that mothers and babies can be provided with healthy food and care while under financial stress.

Being in the WIC program meant showing up for mandatory appointments with a nutritionist who would weigh both myself and baby, ask health and nutritional questions, and baby would get a checkup to check all signs of healthy growth.  Then we were discharged with “WIC Checks”, which were checks that we could take to any grocery store and get the food items listed without any cost to us.  These checks were only for certain food items such as milk, baby cereal, baby pureed food, cheese, whole grains, peanut butter, and some fruits and vegetables.


(Example WIC check)

Even though I was so grateful to have help from the government with our grocery bill, I soon learned that going through a checkout line with WIC checks was no small feat.

I quickly learned that as soon as I stepped in a grocery line and the checker saw me pull out WIC checks, most times I was met with eye rolls, sighs, or “You’re going to have to go to a different aisle.”

Not only had I spent twice as long shopping in the store trying to make sure that my allotted jar of baby food was exactly 4 oz and not 6 oz, and that it was pureed vegetables and not pureed meat, and that my bread was whole grain and not whole wheat white, and that every item in my cart was spot-on with what was written on my WIC check WHILE also trying to entertain a 5 month old baby, but I also then had to go through checkout.

I remember one time being particularly humiliating because I had chosen organic kale, instead of non-organic kale.

“You can’t have this.” the cranky checkout lady told me. “You’re not allowed to buy organic.”

No where on the WIC check did it specify organic or non-organic.

“Well, you are actually out of non-organic kale, and so organic is the only kind you have left.” I answered her.

“I’m going to need a manager on aisle 3, please. Manager on aisle 3.” She called out over the speakers.

Apparently buying organic was only a luxury afforded to the rich, or employed.

The line of people behind me were growing restless, my baby was starting to fuss.  I turned to the man behind me and apologized, he just looked unhappy in general.  Many were taking their carts and going to another line.

I remember how embarrassed I felt not only because people were waiting an extra long time in line behind me, but now the entire store was informed that I was on food stamps and WIC, and apparently some people felt like people like me were entitled because we don’t have to pay for a portion of our food.

I left the store with tears in my eyes that day.

There was one time though, toward the end of our year-long unemployment, when I got into a grocery line and was already dreading the experience and ready to start apologizing to everyone in advance – when the checker looked at me very compassionately and said, “Isn’t it great that the government does this WIC program? I think it’s fabulous and I’m so glad that young moms like you are getting healthy food for you and your baby.”

She was so patient, she didn’t make a scene, and I got through checkout relatively fast.  She really made my year and I haven’t forgotten her.

My husband eventually found a job after the housing crash as a manager with Microsoft in their real estate division. He worked there for over 4 years, but eventually quit his job to help me at home with our children so we could concentrate fully on my music career. Because, well, my “music hobby” had grown into what is  now a career that pays for our mortgage and puts food on  our table.

But I see you, young mom.  I see you trying to remain unscathed by the obnoxious checkout man, and I see you aware of all of us in line behind you.

I want you to know that you are going to be okay.  This won’t last forever.  It is just a temporary place to get you on your feet, and you are going to be okay.

But until then, I’m going to entertain my baby in my cart to distract the ones behind me, and put on the happiest attitude to show everyone in line that we aren’t affected by how long it’s taking, we aren’t staring at your WIC checks or thinking about your food stamps. I will shield you for a bit until you are done checking out. And you know what….the woman behind me, despite her resistance, finally let out a chuckle at my little redhead and his giggles…

May we all shield each other a bit from the rains of the world, and remember a little kindness goes a long way.  A little kindness might be just what someone needs, you never know.


I’m On Patreon Now!

Well hello there friend! I’m sorry it’s been a while since I last posted, it’s been a bit of a crazy busy summer/fall, but now I’m into the “busy musician season” (as we musicians commonly refer to it as).

Part of why I’ve been so busy is that I’ve been working for a few months on my Patreon Launch.  If you don’t know what Patreon is, it’s a way for my fans and friends to be able to get involved with my projects and have a direct impact by helping me.  You can learn more by watching my Patreon video below, and also clicking on over to my page here:

Thank you SO much for your continued support! It means a lot. Really it does.


My newest vlog is up on my YouTube Channel – on a subject that my followers requested again. Specifically, what goes into tuning a grand piano!  So last Friday my piano tuner, Daniel Skelley, just happened to be coming by to do a tuning and I filmed some of it for you guys. I hope you enjoy! My 2 year old also makes a cute appearance.

Please help me build my YouTube audience by liking this video and SUBSCRIBING to my channel.  Thank you! Right now I’m sitting at about 6200 subscribers. Once I get reach 10,000 it opens up a lot of opportunities, like access to the YouTube creators space in LA to film and much much more.  Thank you!

Vlog #11 – How Do I Compose For Film?

I recently asked my fans if they could help me out by suggesting some vlogging topics – as I’m trying to be better about vlogging more often and more consistently.  One of the topics that was brought up quite a lot was me sharing with you how I compose for film, and what my studio set- up.

My methods for composing for film and for my own music are quite different  – so talking about how I compose for myself is an entirely different vlog for another day. But I hope you enjoy this inside little glimpse on just a small part of the process I go through when composing for film. Enjoy!…

P.S. Are you subscribed to my Youtube channel yet? 🙂

2016 Indie Music Channel Awards Recap

I’m finally sitting down to write a blog post about my recent weekend in Los Angeles for the 2016 Indie Music Channel Awards (Apr 23rd-24th, 2016).

This was my 3rd year attending this particular awards show.  My first year was 2012, and I attended as a guest of Viktoria Tocca – who completely swept the awards that year…

Viktoria Tocca – 2012 IMC Awards


Jennifer Thomas and Viktoria Tocca – 2012 IMC Awards


I had such a fun time that year as a guest, that I decided the following year to enter my music in to see if it would garner any nominations, and it did.  I ended up winning 9 awards that evening including “Artist of the Year”, and “Album of the Year” (for my album Illumination).

Jennifer Thomas – 2013 IMC Awards


By the way, here is Viktoria and I again at the Nominees Reception (2013).


But ANYWAY I’m not here to go down memory lane, but I just wanted to say all of that to make the point that I’ve been involved with the Indie Music Channel for several years now – it is a wonderful platform and still a small enough entity where these events feel like family. I really enjoy attending.

Hence…the reason I went to the 2016 awards THIS year.  Obviously, there were a few years gap there.  For those who don’t know I had a baby in 2014 (my 3rd), and so I took an extended break. And then at the end of 2015 I released a new Christmas album entitled “Winter Symphony”.  And it is for that album for which all the nominations were for.

WS - v3 Square

So here are a few photos I thought I would share in this blog, that I haven’t shared on social media before – so you are seeing a good portion of these for the first time – woohoo! 🙂

Day 1 – LA and Film Scoring/Director’s Notes Session

Arriving in LA at my friends’ Ryan and Becky McNeal’s apartment, ready for fun!


Oh my goodness excuse the horrible quality, but this is from the film director’s notes session I did with Alex and Ryan about their upcoming short film “Desert Rose” that I’ll be scoring the music for…



Basically, we sit. We watch without talking. And then we watch again and talk. And then we watch again and critique. And then I try to imagine throwing the temp music out the window and what I would compose to replace it with.  The usual.

I also went out to the theater with friends to go see “The Jungle Book”, which was quite good. And the theater seats were WAY better than anything we have where I’m from, by the way.


Day 2 – Yummy Food and the IMC VIP Reception

And oh wow, let me share just a little bit of food porn here…I went to Cafe Aroma not once, but TWICE, it was so yummy…

Man. I’m actually really hungry typing this post, and those pictures are NOT doing me any favors.

Focus, Jennifer…focus.

So Saturday night was the VIP Nominees Reception. In the past they’ve held this event in the daytime and it was quite casual, but this year it was a red carpet event held at the W Hotel in Hollywood.

Something you may or may not know about me is that I’m pretty much either in yoga pants or a formal gown.  Never, hardly EVER, in between.  The fact is when I’m at home I like to be comfortable – I work out of my home music studio AND I’m a mom, so I pretty much wear whatever is comfortable.  And then when I have music events, concerts, or videos then of course I dress up and make myself quite presentable.

But when it’s anything in-between I SO struggle.  Fortunately I found this cute striped midi dress from Alloy Apparel online (it was onlyi $39 – Score!) and it was perfect for the VIP reception.  AND I brought my beautiful and talented friend Aeralie Brighton with me. If you don’t know who she is, you need to Google her. She has a very beautiful unique voice and she has sung on many major video game soundtracks, movie trailers, and projects.


So a funny story – is that on the way to LA I actually had some mishaps. I almost boarded the wrong flight, and I lost my drivers license making it impossible to pick up my car rental (which I was totally bummed about because I had a nice one waiting for me!).  But I discovered Uber and Lyft while there, and I gotta say it was AMAZING! I don’t know why I thought I ever needed a car rental.  Those services were so fast and easy to use, and super inexpensive as well.

Aeralie and I attempting to get a decent selfie together before embarking out on the evening, while waiting for our Lyft taxi.


Which is quite hilarious because it literally looks exactly like the selfies we took a short while later at the W Hotel…


Women. We are always on a quest to get the perfect selfie, right? Haha. At least I’m honest about it, come on. 😉

And a few more selfies throughout the night with music friends Greg Ryan, and Dale Edward.

Some from the professional photographer who was going around that night…


And then here’s me on the red carpet…which, by the way, I just want to tell you that I put cushy heel inserts into my red heels that night and they were AMAZEBALLS.  So much more comfortable. I don’t know why it’s taken me years to figure that little secret out.


It was a really lovely evening, lots of nice people and talented musicians.  Afterwards it was off to Hollywood Blvd to catch our Lyft taxi home…


And, of course, take more selfies because well, the background looked pretty neato.


Aeralie and I had a late night staying up laughing and talking, and finishing off our leftovers from Cafe Aroma. YUMMM. Perfect midnight snack 😉

Day 3 – Lunch with Brian, IMC Awards

The next day, I went to Cafe Aroma AGAIN, this time with my mixing engineer Brian Vibberts.  Brian worked on my album from LA while I was in Seattle and so we never met in person until lunch this day! It was great!


A friend of mine commenting that we have almost the same face from the nose down, and oh my goodness we totally do.  Haha!  Maybe it’s the lighting, but too funny.

Anyway, Brian made my album sound pretty off-the-hook amazing.  If you’re not a musician, let me just explain to you what he does.  He is basically one of the last people to work on the album – he is the one that mixes all of the tracks together (aka “mixer”).  And on my album particularly, I had hundreds of tracks going on including a 100 piece choir, orchestra, brass, percussion, soloists and then my piano on top of it all.  It is not an easy task to take all of those hundreds of tracks and mix them at levels where everything has a proper place and sounds sonically correct.  He is one of THE key persons when it comes to the process of making music, and I couldn’t be more thankful to have worked with him on Winter Symphony.

Dress Drama

Later that evening was the actual awards show, which of course takes hours of prepping.  Here is yet ANOTHER funny story – so I actually had dress drama.  I am in the process of losing weight and I didn’t want to buy a new dress, nor did I have very many options in my closet either.  A good portion of my dresses fit me at a smaller size, and then the ones that do currently fit my body I’ve worn a bajillion times this past concert season – not to mention they are all red and Christmasy.  Not exactly a dress I’d wear in 75 degree LA weather in the spring time.

So I decided to rent a dress from Rent-the-Runway.  I’ve never used them before but I spent a lot of time browsing through their reviews and options, studying various dresses.  I’m actually a little embarrassed how many hours I spent on that site, but when you’re trying to figure out “Will this dress fit my curves?”, “Will this dress be too big or too small?” etc it does take some planning to figure it all out.

Well I narrowed it down to 5 dresses that I liked.  ALL of them ended up being rented out already and so I was not able to get them. I was rather disappointed.  So I ended up choosing a dress that was definitely not my first choice – it was a very long sequin gown in a forest green color.

Well it arrived and looked pretty awful on me. I felt matronly and unattractive, and even with heels and trying to accessorize it, I just was not happy. And when you’re getting red carpet photos taken and possibly going to be up in front of an audience – the last thing you want to worry about is your dress. You want to feel beautiful and confident!

So at the very last minute, I called Rent the Runway and explained that the dress wasn’t going to work for me and I asked if I could send it back and exchange it for a different one.  There was this black dress by designer Monique Luhlierre (the one I ended up wearing) that I was originally interested in but they didn’t have it in my size.  But they did have it in a larger size, and I thought I would just take a chance and order it in the larger size anyway.

They rush-shipped it and it arrived in LA just in time for the awards, however, it was WAY way way too big on me. Like 4 sizes too big on me.  So right before the awards show that night, Becky was literally safety-pinning me into that dress and pinching/gathering it up as tight as she could.  She also tied a big black sash around the waist and pulled that sucker in as tight as it would go.

Fortunately it had a flared skirt and so the fit from waist down was fine.  But the bodice (upper portion) was a bit of an oversized mess, and because of that I had to adjust it quite a lot throughout the evening and make sure that I was always standing for pictures in a way that hid certain things, or helped my waist look smaller.

In our Uber Taxi SUV on the way to the Grammy Museum…


Funny enough though, I ended up getting LOADS and loads of compliments on the dress that evening.  So that did make me feel much better…


Bathroom mirror check halfway through the awards…


Annnnnnd blurry selfie with Prince…


You guys. The awards were LONG and I needed to get up and walk around a bit before my categories.

And of course, I had to get my girl Adele into the shot as well…


Okay! So back to the awards now. I did eventually go back inside.  Here is a snapshot of my friend Greg Ryan, whom I was sitting next to, with a very “deer in the headlights” type of look…probably because neither of us knew my flash was on. Whoops.


Greg ended up winning LOADS of awards that night – which I was very happy for him, since he is also a fellow pianist/composer in the same genre. He flew all the way over from England for this, and he gave quite entertaining award acceptance speeches which I quite enjoyed. 🙂

Annnnd my girl Viktoria Tocca also took home a LOAD of awards as well.  I lost track, she won a LOT. Because she is awesome like that. 🙂 (unfortunately she was touring and wasn’t able to be there in person this year though ).


My loot for the night…


And some photos of me accepting the awards…

If you really want to know how I felt the absolutely stupidest that evening, was when I failed to acknowledge BRIAN during all 3 of my blasted acceptance speeches!  (Music Video of the Year, Best Classical Music Video (over $5K), and Best LIVE Classical Performance.

Not only am I an idiot when I get up and have to accept an award, but my mind goes blank and I forget to thank all the wonderful people who contributed.  I was thinking “Ok video award, so I’ll thank Ryan and Alex because they directed and edited it, and yes I’ll thank my husband and children”, etc….and then I’d sit down right next to Brian and say “CRAP!!!”.

3 times people.

So right now, I’m having a redo.  I would like to take this opportunity to thank my AMAZING sound engineer/mixer Brian Vibberts, whom, without him this album would not have sounded half as amazing as it did.  Thank you Brian.


I made up for it though be letting him hold my awards for red carpet photos. 🙂 I’m KIDDING!  I totally wanted him to.


And then here is Ryan, Alex, and I…


And here is Greg and I again at the end of the night…



We caught our Uber ride back home, ordered pizza, and I personally put my pajamas on and once again finished my 2nd set of leftovers from Aroma Cafe (YUM) around midnight-ish. We all celebrated our wins for “Alleluia” (my music video that won two awards), and then called it a night.

Day 4 – Heading back to Seattle

The next morning I was up and off to the airport…with bedhead and leftover awards show makeup. Because I’m lazy like that.



And SPEAKING of #airportbathroomselfies, we terribly missed Glen Gabriel this time. He lives in Sweden but he also obviously played a huge role in Winter Symphony and it would have been so fun to have him at the IMC Awards.  BUT hopefully we’ll be seeing him in LA this November for the HMMA Awards because…

HMMA 2016

More airport, uh, stuff…

And then back home…


Yes, on order to get home I travel by taxi, then plane, then car, then boat, and then car again. 🙂


One of my friends from home commented that she enjoyed seeing my FB updates while I was in LA, and asked me if I felt like I lead a “double life”.  Because, you know, picture me usually at home in my yoga pants and a top knot and that is the real me.

I will say that having these special music events to go to always makes me feel inspired to be a better musician. I love being around other creative people and seeing them work hard as well.  It definitely inspires me.

AND I always come home a better mother as well – having a few days break to be a kidless adult does wonders for my mommy heart. I always come home more ready than ever to love them and give them my attention. 🙂 My hubby as well. 🙂

Until next time…


A Quick Q&A with Jennifer Thomas

Just a quick Q&A with some questions I have been asked before and/or recently.


Tell us about your newest album:

WS - v3 Square“Winter Symphony” is my most recent album – it was released November 20th, 2015 – so just a few short months ago.  Typically with a new album, I’d be busy promoting it constantly after it’s release – but since this was a Christmas album I can’t really talk about it much until it gets nearer into the holidays again this year.

It’s a bit weird actually – to have worked so hard on a new album and then not get to talk or promote it except for the 6 weeks of Christmas music season between the U.S.’s Thanksgiving and New Years. It’s like you had a baby but can’t show anyone for a while.

At any rate though – it’s a wonderful album that I’m extremely proud of.  With every new project – I try to make it better than the last.  So a lot of hard work went into this album. 🙂 It is my signature cinematic/symphonic piano music, this time featuring The Ensign Chorus (recorded at St. Edwards Cathedral at Bastyr University), with orchestra and soloists.

What’s your favorite work at this point in time?

B008KW9V1OsmallI’m very proud of my 3rd album “Illumination” still.  It was a 4 year labor of love. In particular from that album, I really love “Etude For the Dreamer” because it’s very fast and fun to play, but I also love “Eventide” which is slow and dream-like.  I often play Eventide at night after my children have gone to bed and I am just wanting to wind down at the piano.

What, or who, inspires you?  

I am inspired by success stories – whether it be empowered women, weightloss transformations, healing, or anything positive.  I always feel very motivated about life in general when I see people accomplishing big feats like that; it makes me feel like anything is possible if you try hard enough.

When it comes to music though – to be honest I’m very inspired by the music that I love the most.  When I listen to my favorite composers, it fills me with such drive and passion towards music and creativity that I just want to go to my piano and write new work.  I’m also very inspired by the beautiful outdoors, especially the ocean and the beach.  I’m sure you can hear that a lot in my work given certain song titles.

Which song do you wish you wrote?

hqdefaultThat’s easy.  “Time” by Hans Zimmer from the Inception movie score.  It’s perfect in every way – from the chord progressions, the way it starts softly but builds and builds until it reaches epic proportions.  Yes I wish I wrote it.  It’s genius. It is so simple, yet so larger-than-life at the same time.

How would you describe your sound in movie genre form?

Probably either Historic Drama or Epic, if that is even a film genre.  At least those are the images in my mind a lot when I write music.  Everything I write tends to build up to a big swell or epic emotional climax in the song – even on the ones where I try to tone it down a bit.  I can’t not have that in it.

f3f7cf5399f02e7808658a92b1732d9cExcuse me while I nerd out for a second, but it’s sort of like the movie “Sense and Sensibility” where a lot of it is really pretty, but there is that scene when you think it’s Willoughby carrying Marianne home through the rain, but then you realize it’s actually Colonel Brandon and he is this amazing hero figure now and you can’t help but swell with romantic notions and feelings and pride.  THAT swell of emotions you experience is how I think of music when I write.

How do you compose music?  Do you write it out, memorize, use software, or…?

I’m really old-school when it comes to composing. I hand-write everything out on composition paper. I have dozens of composition books that I leave laying around – some containing various albums all in one, others just random works.  I leave them near the piano with a pencil and a sharpener and I write in them when I feel inspired with something.  Or even just sketches of ideas.

This past year, my thing has been writing down any descriptive words that come to my mind when I start a new song. This helps me later as I figure out a title.

After a song is finished, I’ll record it and then eventually transcribe it into Finale for sheet music.  Oh, and one big reason I do it this way is because I’m really not great at memorizing new songs I write. I write them down so I won’t forget them, and then when it comes time to perform them publicly I usually have to re-learn and memorize at that point.  I also feel that I can write more technically challenging music with this method because it allows me to really dig into certain passages of the music and tweak things – which I can’t necessarily do live or on impromptu.

How do you find time to do music and be a mom?

12768307_10153603513813425_4509925277828146166_oThis is a great question – if you figure out the answer please let me know. 🙂

I think the key is just trying to not do it ALL at once.  I can either be an awesome mom, or an amazing musician – but not typically simultaneously.  Fortunately I’m lucky to have a husband who is very supportive of my music career and he helps out a LOT.  If I am working on music projects, he is the one taking care of the children and doing the stay-at-home-Dad thing.  But like right now, he is busy working on our 2nd home remodeling, and so I’m currently doing the full-time mom thing while he works, and so composing new music is not really happening much right now.

10358991_10152206405203425_4520012190882494127_oI honestly don’t know how I could be doing what I do with my music if I didn’t have my husband.  There was a time, not too long ago, when he had a great position with Microsoft – but he was also hardly ever home. He would sometimes work 60 or 70 hours a week. I’d wake up at 3am to find him on his laptop stressing out over trying to finish a report that needed to be done by 7am that morning.  And if I had music to work on, I would either have to stay up through the night while everyone was sleeping, or hire babysitters (which got very expensive).

12928191_10153682559418425_1534486033198862920_nFortunately though, my music career has reached a point where it supports our family all on its own. It was a no-brainer that Will would quit his MS job and support me in my music.  The stress and lifestyle we had while he was working a corporate job was not something we enjoyed.  But now we get to be together all day everyday, and the boys get to actually have a Dad around while they are growing up instead of just 2 hours in the evenings every night (like previously).  We’re almost 2 years into this new lifestyle of making my music the “main gig” around here, and we love it.  But seriously, if Will wasn’t around, I definitely wouldn’t be being able to do the mom and musician thing as well as I do. I’m very grateful.

What’s next for you?
12828493_10153633520113425_906410915010265947_o (1)

I just finished a very very busy concert season and album release which all came to an abrupt stop January 1st (refer to question #1), and since then I have been laying low and playing the mom role at home while my husband finishes work on our other home soon to be put on the market.  Many have asked me if I’m booking concerts or what my next album is going to be  -but I really needed the break after I finished Winter Symphony – both physically and mentally.

But aside from currently being lazy (actually being a full time mom is anything BUT lazy), by the end of the year if things come together in time, I hope to make a couple more music videos for “Winter Symphony”, travel around for award shows (the nominations are coming in which is great), work on a couple of collaborations, as well as scoring a short film.

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But all of that is just sort of up-in-the-air in terms of when. When it happens it happens and I am putting no pressure on myself with deadlines this year. I’m also working on some health goals (finally losing my pregnancy weight as my “baby” just turned 2 years old, and this is the first time in 2 years I’ve had the time and motivation to dedicate to it), I  also need the downtime to grow and create new music, and part of that is experiencing “life” in between projects so I can be inspired with new material and ideas. I guess that is the advantage of being my own boss – I can continue on with music or just take a break for a while if I choose to. 🙂 I’m grateful to have such loyal fans that keep assuring me that they will still be here when I DO put out the next big project. Until then…

Where can we keep up/follow you?

youtubeI tend to post pretty regularly on my Facebook Fan page, but if you want to see a more personal side to me you can follow me on Instagram (@jenniferthomas623).  It’s a mixture of my music stuff, my kids, outdoor adventures, travelling, and more. I’m also on Twitter but admittedly I’m horribly at it – if I remember to check it once a day that is on a good day.  My teenage fans tell me I need to do Snapchat but I’m not on there quite yet (nor have I figured it out). Oh! And of course Youtube! Please subscribe to me there – I post my music videos there, and also my vlogs. 🙂



10 Things You Can Do To Be a Better Artist

Jennifer Thomas-581KAT 2As a composer/recording artist with four albums released and a growing music career, I am immersed daily in a global community of musicians that contains everything from amateurs to seasoned professionals.  I get to see a lot of really amazing stuff, some things that are maybe not-so amazing, and everything in between.

Before doing what I do now though, I performed in the world of Classical music (violin and piano) for about 20 years before discovering I wanted to have my own voice and compose my own music.  I’m now 10 years into my composing/recording career, and I only recently started finally feeling like I’m starting to get it – you know – this thing called the music business.

And while I know I’m definitely far from learning everything I still need to learn, I wanted to share with you what I HAVE learned thus far.

I’ve actually been wanting to write this blog post for quite some time – as I’ve jotted down thoughts in a journal regarding this subject. But here it is…

10 Things You Can Do To Be a Better Artist.

  1. Know that you will never be able to please 100% of the people, but you can be 100% true to yourself.

    Truth.  Even if you get those tens upon tens of thousands of Facebook or Instagram fans, or millions of YouTube views on our videos and you start to feel like you are hot stuff and the best at what you do – you still won’t please everyone.  Even if you write what you feel is possibly THE most beautiful song and produced to perfection, there may still be someone out there who will disagree and give you that aggravating thumbs down, or rude comment.

    I used to let this get under my skin when it would happen.  But you know what?  This is life.  Everyone has a choice of what type of food they love, what style of clothing they prefer, and what music they listen to.  They are going to love what they love. And YOU…you just need to have confidence in yourself and what you are putting out there and remain true to your own creative vision.

    I really like the saying “You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches.


  2. Don’t put too much thought into “Likes” or “Dislikes” on social media.

    There was a time when I used to check my number of Facebook likes almost daily.  I would also pay attention if my number of Instagram followers went down after a particular post that I made.

    Oh man, I just lost some followers probably because I did a mommy post about my baby and they are only here to follow my music.

    I would say this to myself – because HELLO – I wanted to retain followers and goshdarnitt I wanted people to like me.  I became overly concerned about what I posted until one day I realized I shouldn’t have to worry about whether or not they liked me.  What other people thought of me was none of my business.

    You can’t worry about what others think. You just have to be you.


    Now I rarely have a clue how many followers I have. It’s exhausting try to care about it.

    First of all, do YOU unfollow people that are no longer relevant to your current interests?  Yes, of course you do.  And do you do it because you dislike the person or you think they suck?  No. I mean, not usually.  It’s personal, right?  It’s not really about them, but it’s more about whatever it is you are into right now and what you want to see in your social media feed.  So don’t take it personal when someone unfollows you.  It’s not about you.

    And as for Facebook?  Pshsh.  Don’t even get me started.  With how you have to pay to boost posts for your current fans to even see anything you post anyway, and how people can pay for fake likes and so forth…I don’t see the relevancy on number of likes anymore.

  3. Be a real human.

    I don’t have too much to say about this other than – don’t be someone who just pushes your music on people like a used car salesman.  Be a real human being with your fans.

    In all reality, people nowadays really just yearn to know about you and what you do outside of music, behind the scenes.  This doesn’t mean you have to disclose your inner soul, but just be real.  Don’t try to be perfect. Allow people to know that you are human, that you too wake up with messy hair, you have bad days, and you eat fast food.


    One of my fans once told me that the biggest reason she followed her favorite artists on social media was not to find out about the latest music news or listen to links to their music, but to find out what they were doing outside of music.  The whole reason she was their fan in the first place was because she already knew and loved their music. That was a given.  But she wanted to know them as a human being.

  4. Be humble.

    I always tell myself that if I ever get to a point where I think I’m pretty awesome and better than others, then I need to check myself.

    Don’t ever think you are better than someone, or that you have it all figured out. Even if you have won multiple awards or have X number of albums out, you still have things to learn.

    And be humble with your fans too, btw.


  5. Make your own dreams come true. Don’t wait for someone else to do it for you.

    I feel like there are so many artists out there who are waiting for some big record executive to discover them, offer them the deal of a lifetime so that they can go on to make lots of money and be super famous.

    Look, it just doesn’t happen that way. And if it does happen, it is very VERY rare that, especially in 2016.  Do you want to know why?

    First off – competition.  For every one of you, there are thousands more out there who are also trying to land a record contract or who are waiting for that bigtime producer to notice them.  So not only do you need to be talented, but you have to be EXTREMELY multi-talented, beautiful, young, and unique. And you need to have quality demos that basically sound like a finished product (which they will then take and completely change it to sound like something else).

    Second, the need for artists to have a record label in order to be successful is becoming more and more of a thing of the past.  It’s 2016!  Look at violinist Lindsey Stirling.

    She is a successful self-made millionaire with record labels offering her contracts left and right, but she turns them all down. Why?  Because she has built such a huge system of fan support that they stand behind her and continue to help her have success – she doesn’t need a label.  And it goes without saying that with her huge success, aside from her talent and originality, one of the reasons labels want her so badly is because they see how successful she is and they want a part of that (with dollar signs in their eyes).  But I love how she continues to defy all odds and show the world that she is a force to be reckoned with.

    And P.S. with more and more artists becoming successful independents, the need for record labels continue to decline and many are not as financially affluent as they once were – thus making the number of new artists they sign fewer and fewer.

    I truly TRULY believe that you can do anything you put your mind to.  You have to think outside of the box sometimes, but it is entirely possible.  If you have a dream, YOU can make it happen. You just have to work hard.  And you need to ASK.

    Do you want to perform with an orchestra but you don’t know how?


    Do you want to record a music video but don’t have the money, do crowd funding?


    People want to see you succeed.

    My first album was produced on a really crappy keyboard with basic software. I did all my own artwork, promotion, and everything.  The only thing I hired out was 2 soloists, and my mixing/mastering engineer.

    My most recent album was recorded with a real orchestra, and a choir at one of the most prestigious recording cathedrals in the country and mixed and mastered with a Grammy award winning engineer, and my debut concert was at Benaroya Hall with full symphony and choir.  All because I ASKED.


    And do you want to know what?

    That first album, despite it’s humble beginnings, is what got me onto Pandora, which then led thousands of listeners to discover me.  I now have  over 40 million unique listeners on Pandora (and it pays the mortgage.)

  6. Do invest in quality artwork and photos.

    You know how they say to never judge a book by it’s cover?

    Well that doesn’t apply to music albums.

    Your album cover will totally be judged as it is the first thing someone sees when they are introduced to your CD. And if you have really bad artwork or amateur looking photos, then they are going to assume that your music is really bad and amateur too.

    I’m super picky when it comes to this, and my biggest thing is fonts.  Even just the font you choose can make your cover look professional or amateur.

    Photography?  Hire someone.  It’s worth it, I promise.

    If you want people to take you seriously, you need to have some professional looking photos.  Put down the smart phone, and don’t try to manipulate that one photo that your friend took of you from 10 years ago to look like an album cover.

    (From my 3rd album – “Illumination”)

    From my 4th album “Winter Symphony”

    WS - v3 Square

    Make sure you have high-resolution photos.  Be sure the coloring is correct – you don’t want your face to be shadowed or colors to be weird (unless of course you are going for a shadowed face).  Also keep in mind that nowadays, most people will be viewing your album cover as a tiny thumbnail on iTunes or Amazon because most people buy digitally.  How does your album cover look as a 100×100 pixel picture?  Does it stand out?  Does it make sense?

    amazon hot new release Nov 20a

    And last of all, get opinions!  Ask people that you know and trust will give you their honest opinion. It’s better to have your cover reviewed by someone then to go to print and realize you ended up with this:

    Or this:



    or THIS.


  7. Keep up the maintenance practicing.

    I am SO guilty of not doing this.  I am either in full blown performance practicing mode for concerts or not practicing at all.  And then opportunities will come to me while I’m on a “break” and will sometimes miss those opportunities because I’m not up to speed on my music.

    I get it. Life is busy. I’m a mom of 3 little ones and so I don’t always practice every day. But DO do maintenance practicing, even just to keep your most popular songs in your fingers (or voice).


  8. Do make contracts and agreements with people you work with.

    I actually have really fond memories from my first album where I knew everyone that was helping me with it – we were friends – and most of them were just doing it for free to help out. I was so grateful and I loved the feeling of trust between everyone.  We did not do any agreements or anything, because honestly at the time it never even crossed my mind.

    But 10 years later, as my career has progressed, I’m learning how essential it is to have these agreements set in place before starting a project.

    I have had several experiences where I worked with people where we never made a formal agreement or a contract and then later on something came up where it seemed we weren’t clear on an issue, or another situation where perhaps one person didn’t feel that they were compensated enough.

    The people you work with want to be protected, but you also need to protect yourself. It goes both way and is mutually beneficial.

    And read and consider everything before you sign an agreement too. I tend to be the type where I just want to trust everyone and I think “everything is going to be just fine!”.  Because ALL projects start out blissful. But I’ve done projects where I agreed to an amount, and then as it turned out it ended up taking 100 more hours to complete than I thought it would and I didn’t put anything into my contract about being compensated for extra hours or a bajillion extra editing sessions – so by the time I finished the project I felt like I actually went into debt for it instead of being paid – haha.

    And to be completely honest, I still reeeeeeally dread the “money conversation”. Part of me wishes that I could always just have that friendly nice working environment that I did like on my first album – where everything was bliss, no problems arose, and we were all friends. But even sometimes working with friends, misunderstandings happen and it can be so awkward. So having the “money conversation” needs to happen and so does a written agreement.  And trust me it’s so much better to have this all done upfront so you’re not left in the dark later on. I’m speaking from experience on this one – where I’ve been on both sides of the table. I’ve been the person that someone was upset at, and I’ve also been the person who felt like I worked way more than what I was being paid for.

  9. Don’t vent on social media.

    In case you haven’t learned already, being present on social media is a must on every artist’s to-do list.  The better you can become at it, the better you will be able to be present out there to people who love your music and will prospectively come to love your music.

    So DO be present on social media.

    But for heaven’s sake do NOT vent, publicly bash, gossip, or belittle someone on social media. There will probably be times when you get frustrated with a project, or maybe someone you are working with – but tweeting about it only makes you look like a jerk, and it will also ruin relationships. Keep your head and your cool, and be professional.70b37bc4765f5a39e931c6b6c569984e
    I know an artist who had a bad experience filming a music video and while that person stayed 100% classy, the person they worked with went onto twitter and posted a tweet that was extremely derogatory towards this artist.  I’m not sure if this person didn’t think that the tweets would be seen or what, but the artist cancelled the video and it was never finished and obviously those two will never work together again. Not to mention the person who put out the tweets got a bad rep as being volatile and rude, which probably ruined some possible prospective projects for them as well.

    Unless you plan to vent about something that could have a positive outcome – i.e. a cause you believe in, or something silly that will make people laugh but is of little consequence – just. don’t. type. it. Period.  Put the phone down and walk away from the computer and vent to your best friend in person instead.


  10. Thank your fans.

    Please do remember to let your fans and the people closest to you that support you know how much you are grateful for them.  A little “Thank you” goes a long ways.  Without them, you would probably be performing to an empty room so make sure you let them know that you value them and their presence.26382753-Thank-You-Word-Cloud-in-vector-format-Stock-Vector

    And besides, people who support the arts are just basically some of the coolest people I know. 😉

EPR Radio Nomination and your support

It’s that time of year again when Enlightened Piano Radio is gearing up for their annual awards for 2016. Last year all of YOU were so amazing and sent in emails requesting that I be nominated for “Best Piano Instrumental Album”, and guess what? Not only was I nominated, but I also won and was able to perform at Carnegie Hall in New York. 


They are accepting nomination emails now for 2016, and you can send your nomination in until February 29th. I’m not twisting anyone’s arm, but it would be mean a lot to me if I had your support.

If you feel so inclined, please send an email to:

Please include “EPR NOMINATION FOR BEST HOLIDAY ALBUM” in the subject line, and let them know you are wanting to nominate Jennifer Thomas for Winter Symphony for Best Holiday Album.

Nominations MUST be received no later than February 29, 2016 Any nominations received after that date will NOT be considered.

Thank you all so much! I just love you guys!