I just spent way too long trying to track down a quote that I heard a few months ago. To no avail. This is essentially what it said: “Writing your first draft is like sitting down to a meal with rotten food.” I thought this was hilarious at the time, but since then, I’ve been experiencing it in real time as I’ve been trying to finish the big piece that has been really challenging to tie up (and now I find the reference to rotten food even more amusing than before!). The funny thing is that even for the most brilliant musicians (as a general rule), something inspiring and brilliant doesn’t often come out on the first try. It usually comes out rocky and stuttering initially. Why does that surprise us? It sounds, well, human…And yet, when we sit there looking at what we feel like is rotten food, it is hard for us to believe anything good can come of it, and we often want to just throw it all in the garbage. (Let’s make that “I just want to throw it in the garbage!”)
But if we throw it away at that stage, we will never get to experience the magic that comes through the process. It’s the editing that cleans up all the rough spots and messes and makes it glow. That’s not to say that you or I never have moments that it just flows and we feel full of inspiring ideas. However, at least for me, this “stroke of genius” happens infrequently and for brief moments. This is good news, because otherwise, until genius strikes, we have to wait for it. With reality as it is, get that first draft down (gag if you must) so the process of refining, editing, and shining can take place. The trick, I’m learning, is to move my work through the process of drafting, editing, finishing faster so that my brain learns when it sees rotten food that there are more courses to come- and it’s worth staying at the table!
I see life in neon. Usually. It’s really not an exaggeration- I just experience the world that way. Typically, I love it this way. It means that I can soak in a beautiful morning till my heart just about bursts with joy, that I experience excitement and energy in a really dynamic way, and that I get passionate about things and throw my whole self into a project or person who needs my attention. It also means that my lows are typically lower too- so when I’m discouraged or down, it can feel pretty dismal at times. But to me, it’s worth it for all the joy I get to feel.
My husband tends to see in shades of gray. I used to ask him to rate the dinner I just made on a scale from 1-10 and I couldn’t figure out why we hovered at a decent 7 almost every night. It’s not that he disliked the food, he just found it satisfying and was content. 6.5 was pretty gross (don’t repeat this one) and 8 was worth celebrating! As you can surmise, Jon is my rock and without him I’m be all kinds of crazy.
One of the most productive conversations Jon and I ever had was one where we talked about how differently we see the world. It’s not that we had never talked about this, but suddenly we came to a new discovery (this was after at least 10 years of marriage!).
Jon commented “It’s like you’re talking in football fields and I’m talking in centimeters!” (And actually, to be accurate I’d have to delete the exclamation mark, because he rarely speaks with exclamation marks. But I’m writing, so it stays!) How intriguing! In some ways, he feels like I inflate reality, and I feel like he dulls it down- and yet it’s just a matter of how we experience life. As we peeled back the layers further, we realized that the best thing we could do is learn to “convert”. If I’m trying to convert centimeters to inches, there’s a formula to do that (“divide the length value by 2.54” google reminds me…). When I’m talking in football fields, Jon can learn to convert to centimeters (“what does that look like in centimeters?” How can I understand that on my scale?) And I can do the same when he’s talking in centimeters.
I wonder if sometimes that’s why I find it hard to fully express myself in music. 6’s and 7’s are great and all, but I need to find 9’s and 10’s, and 2’s and 3’s. What does that “look” like with music writing? Perhaps that’s one reason I’ve felt drawn to explore orchestration in a way I never have before. Perhaps the variety with timbre and color will help me express to a greater depth. I won’t know till I try!
Hello Friends! I’m back to share a little video I found last night. My mom told me recently about how amazing Linda Ronstadt is- if you look her up on youtube you can find the variety of different singing styles she performed in throughout her life- and it is a LOT- from pop to classical (shout-out for Pirates of Penzance!) to mariachi. Here she talks about what life is like not being able to sing anymore. She has Parkinson’s now, and can’t even sing in the shower. It’s a good reminder for me to enjoy what my voice CAN do now, even while I’m still working on it!
It’s been a busy few weeks around here. Last week was spring break so I had the blessing of 3 boys hanging out with me. They are back in school this week which frees up my time but my it’s always startling to get back to the quiet after the house being full 24-7!
So, my husband and I were recently discussing the possibility of me going to a music conference. I had looked into several possibilities, and though he was very supportive, I decided not to go to any of them. I told him what I really wanted was to find a group of people that were doing what I’m doing- that’s who I want to go to a conference with. Here’s the problem- I’m not sure what I “do” yet! My interests with music are quite broad and fuzzy, and I know more about what I’m not than what I am! For now that’s a wonderful thing- it gives me a lot of room to explore and learn.
Funny enough, the timing of this conversation was the same week as a hospice training I had decided to attend. One of the areas that really interests me right now is music therapy. Though I’m not trained specifically as a music therapist, I can definitely volunteer as a musician through hospice to share music as a way of providing comfort. The first day of the training (there are 4 days total), as we went around the table and talked about why we had come to the training, I was struck by how similar our answers were. I was the young ‘un, for sure, but we all had a desire to nurture and bring peace and comfort to the others with the various gifts we’d been given. I immediately felt a kinship with these other women, and wondered if I had found “my people.”
During the training, one of the women recommended to me a video that I found that evening on Amazon Prime called “Alive Inside.” It’s all about how music affects us, particularly those struggling with Alzheimer’s. What an inspiring video! I highly recommend it if you haven’t seen it. Here is a portion of it. The full-length film is a little over an hour.
After viewing this movie and feeling excited about the impact I could have on the elderly through music, I ended up stumbling across this neat work: “Music is Medicine.”
So today I drove over to one of the nursing homes in town and gave them my business card and discussed the possibilities of how I could share my music there, and next week I’ll go into the Alzheimer’s unit and have a little music time with a few of the residents. I’m excited!
Sometimes I forget how powerful music is. Today was a good reminder.
“If you only try the things you believe you can do, you’ll only accomplish the things you already knew you could do. But if you give yourself permission to fail, you’re free to try the things that seem completely beyond your reach. And that’s when magic happens.”
Today I wanted to spend time writing music, but for some reason I was in a real “blah” type funk. Nothing in particular was going badly, I just couldn’t get myself motivated to write. So I decided to go on a run. Best idea I’ve had all day. The fresh air felt wonderful, and the snow had melted off my little trail that I like to run on (there’s a hill that I run up first that gives me a great burst of “I got this” right off the bat!). Don’t get any big ideas- I’m not training for a marathon or anything- I go about a mile. But it is just right for me.
Anyway- as I was running, I saw a man in his 60’s on a bike, and I saw that he rode into a driveway (presumably his driveway) that I was just about to run past. He wasn’t facing me when I looked over to say hello, so I kept running and assumed he would rather not interact. It took me by surprise when a moment later he called out,
“How’s your PMA?”
I turned to look at him (still running) with a confused look on my face.
“I don’t know what that means!” I called back, amused. (I think initially I thought he was going to say PMS and I was about to be really confused why a stranger would yell that out).
“Positive Mental Attitude!!” he explained with a smile.
Duh- I could have figured that one out.
“Oh! Great!” I yelled over my shoulder and gave him a thumbs up.
I don’t remember his reply, but I smiled as I ran on. First of all, what an awesome human being. It makes me want to go calling out “How’s your PMA?” to the next few strangers I pass :).
But besides that, it got me in a totally different frame of mind. PMA can do that, you know. And a run. So, stranger, how’s your PMA?