Cause it makes me happy...

Rotten Food

photos_2015_09_18_fst_265fueeeitr

Hey friends,

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!

Happy creating!

Love

Laura

Thought

Sing!

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!

TTFN!

~Laura

Wow- this inspires me!

Inspired!

Hello Friends!

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.

Cheers!

Love

Laura

Quote

Faith and Music

crawford

Today I found an interview which was posted online in 2010 by mormonartist.net and highlighted the musical career of Crawford Gates (my Grandfather).  There was one quote that was particularly moving to me and I wanted to share it here.  Grandad was an extremely talented musician, but even more than that, he was a man of faith.  This quote shows how completely he “let go” and allowed God to work through him.

As a composer, with all eight hundred and seventy-four pieces, I had two prayers. I have an “empty-page prayer.” I look at the page, and I’ve got to fill it with beautiful music. Where is that going to come from? I don’t have beautiful music within me. It’s got to come from the Lord, but he is going to give it to me. So the empty-page prayer is a prayer of supplication: “Help me do something beautiful for this need.” And that was certainly true with Promised Valley, that was certainly true with the Hill Cumorah Pageant, and that was certainly true with Joseph! Joseph!.

Then there’s the second prayer: I got a page. The Lord has given it to me. I get on my knees next to my piano or next to my desk. “Thank you for this beautiful music. Thank you, Heavenly Father.”

Two prayers: “empty page,” “full page.” It’s been that way all my life. And it may not be just one prayer, or two prayers; it’s a week of prayers, or a month of prayers.

Have a great weekend, friends!

Love,
Laura

Music

One note to another…

I hope you ate plenty of turkey and pie last weekend!

Today I am still trying to get back into routine after an enjoyable break with the family, but I wanted to share a quote I heard while listening to an instructional video about arranging, composing, and publishing:

“Music is the thousanth of a millisecond between one note and another.  How you get from one to the other: that’s music.”  ~Joel Raney

Here’s the link in case you’re interested:  https://sites.baylor.edu/ccms/2013/07/24/joel-raney-ask-the-composer-2013-alleluia-conference/

 

 

Cause it makes me happy...

Little things…

It’s been a busy week here in the mountains!  The weather is turning colder but here inside it’s warm and cozy.

What are you listening to these days?  This morning we listened to a Sandra Boynton CD while the boys were getting ready for school.  “Dance It Out” started out our day on a peppy, happy tone.  I also have really enjoyed playing and singing through our Children’s Movie Songs sheet music book; songs like “Reflections” from Mulan and “Whistle a Happy Tune” have been fun for me to revisit.

I am trying to listen to music more often (maybe it’s having 3 boys that makes it so I highly value quiet and stillness!) but sometimes I have a hard time breaking out of what I usually listen to.  Do you have any ideas for me?  Pieces that you have an emotional reaction to?  Soundtracks you love?  Songs that make you want to dance?  Or sing?

Here’s a few ideas that you may not have thought of recently and that you might enjoy.  Have a great day!

From Ratatouille:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_hdmt4vpBo&index=56&t=0s&list=PLeGoFrREnkY5FZnIArwtMZv9aKl7Qnus6

From La La Land:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CWnYIb2lqpo&index=56&list=PLeGoFrREnkY5FZnIArwtMZv9aKl7Qnus6

From the Piano Guys:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CHV6BjuQOZQ&index=19&list=PLeGoFrREnkY5FZnIArwtMZv9aKl7Qnus6

 

Music

Master of Colors: The Story

seeing-green-hero

Hello again, Friends!  Today I’m happy to share with you a piece I wrote last year.  I read this story (see below) by Jill Thomas in November 2016 and was so touched.  Her visual descriptions resonated with me, and I immediately knew I would love to write a song based on the ideas she shared.  A few months later in the Spring of 2017, I was asked to speak at a Women’s Conference, but I had to turn down the opportunity knowing I was going to be out of town that weekend.  After thinking about the topic I had been asked to speak on, I realized it was the same idea presented in this story.

Suddenly I had a (crazy) thought that if I wrote and recorded this song, I could still share the message at the Women’s Conference without being there.  The deadline was less than two months away (and I didn’t really know anything about recording!) so I had to get cooking.  It was a joy working on this piece, and even more delightful when I presented the finished product to Jill.  Enjoy!  (For convenience, I posted the entire article below; but the original article can be found here: https://www.lds.org/blog/seeing-green?lang=eng.)

Four years ago I lost my 21-month-old daughter, Penny, in a tragic accident. The cliché is that the death of a loved one puts your faith to the test. While this might be technically true, the actual experience is far more devastating than this little catchphrase lets on.

In the weeks and months that followed my daughter’s death, I desperately sought for some kind of real, tangible connection with her. But her death had wrecked me. And I felt nothing.

I believed that the Sunday School answers to read my scriptures, say my prayers, and go to church were inspired and true. But I was earnestly doing those things, yet felt nothing. I didn’t know how to be inspired or guided anymore. I was lost.

Meanwhile, in the midst of all this, my husband was also searching. He was looking for greater understanding, deeper knowledge, deeper connection, and deeper meaning to life. His searching had led him to question his faith.

So my situation was this: I had lost my daughter, and I believed the only way I could have her again was to fiercely live the gospel. But my husband was blocking our eternal progression by seeking answers outside of our church. I had lost my daughter. I was losing my husband. And according to my belief system, I was losing my eternal family. Where do you go from here?

My whole life I had found “formulas” to live by. There was a formula in my youth, to stay on the right path and to earn my parents’ trust. There was a formula as a young adult, to get married in the LDS temple and have a family. When I decided to be a film photographer in a very dense, digital age I found a formula that helped me become successful at my craft.

But now, with the death of my daughter, I found myself in a situation where the formula wasn’t right in front of me. I earnestly searched and prayed and eventually found a new formula that I discovered through the lens of photography. To understand it fully, bear with me as I share this story.

Imagine that we have a master and his intention is to create masters of green. Now imagine that up to this point we have never experienced color. So he could plant us into a world of green and it would be great. Except if the whole world is green, nothing is green.

The next option for the master would be to just tell us it’s green. Except this is how we teach our preschool students; we point and say, “This is green.” The master would be teaching us, but on a very basic level. This isn’t good enough for us. So what would the master do?

I propose he’d introduce distinction. He might plant us in a world of blue, but then he would take us out of the world of blue and plant us in a world of yellow. In doing so, there would be one group of people who would love yellow. They might even say, “Who needs blue anymore?”

But another group of people might hate yellow. They might say, “I hate these new ideas and these new perspectives. I just want to get back to what’s familiar. Get me out of here. Take me back to blue.”

Then you would have a third group of people. And this group is interesting because they wouldn’t abandon blue and they wouldn’t abandon yellow. They’d see that the master gave them both blue and yellow. In that moment they would have an awakening and they would see green.

This is called a paradox—two ideas or concepts that are both true but in general can’t be true at the same time. Now, I realize by definition blue and yellow are not paradoxical, but they are on opposite sides of the color wheel, one warm and one cool. And they’re helpful in explaining how you can have two contradictory ideas or concepts that can lead to a transcendent concept that eliminates the apparent contradiction.

It’s what I call “seeing green,” and I believe it’s where the highest truth lies. It’s how we learn to see things as the Master intended. And we can only do so through opposition in all things. Let me share how blue and yellow were manifested in my life.

seeing-green-web2When I got married, I lived in a world of blue. I had a great family and I was doing what I loved in film photography. Life was good.

seeing-green-web3
But the day my daughter Penny died, I was abruptly yanked out of my world of blue and thrown into a world of yellow. I hated yellow. It was full of grief and pain and suffering. My daughter wasn’t there. It was full of new ideas and new questions, like “What does it really mean to be a forever family?”

All I wanted was to go back to blue—to be happy again. So I tried. I tried to go back to my everyday life. But as I tried, I discovered that blue no longer felt blue any more. Things that used to excite me about life didn’t anymore. I knew the distinction between blue and yellow.

My world was just going to be yellow now. And since I didn’t feel like I was finding the answers I was looking for, I thought, “If I can just endure yellow, one day I’ll die and then answers will come.” But this didn’t resonate with me either.

So I started to create a space within myself where blue and yellow could exist together inside of me. At first this was very uncomfortable. But then something amazing happened. I realized the Master gave me blue and yellow because He wanted me to experience something more. He wanted me to see green. And I did. Through opposition in all things, I had direct experiences that brought me closer to God.

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So where am I now in this journey we call life? I found more than the apparent split of happiness and its opposite. Down this path I found green. I found God. And I found my daughter. They were in green the whole time.

Click here to hear the recording! Master of Colors