Many years ago when I was producing my own music I met a fine young guitar player. He was self taught. I tried to encourage him to study music theory to expand his musical horizons but he fiercely refused to. He honestly believed that if he studied music theory it would ruin his playing.
I have witnessed this type of reaction with several wannabe artists over the years. I’ve had singers tell me they would sound too trained if they studied. Songwriters I’ve spoken with think studying literature and poetry will make their lyrics too stiff.
What would cause this type of thinking? There are many possibilities but it’s usually more prevalent with rock artists. I want to change that mindset.
As you venture ahead on your personal music path open your eyes and ears to the beauty of education. I promise you, more doors will open when you have more to offer.
So many thoughts prompted today’s blogette. I opened up Twitter at 7:00 am and a top voice teacher in Europe posted that she gave a lesson to a 15 year old. (She never takes students under 18.) She was surprised at how eclectic the student’s music choices were. I’m never surprised when a young student brings in music spanning the past 50-60 years. In fact, I look forward to it. They bring me down memory lane and turn me on to new sounds.
This morning, I was listening to Bob Lefsetz interview Jake Gold. It was odd to me that they both were at a loss as to where to find new music. Then I realized, they don’t hang out with teens and young adults. If they did, they would hear a world of possibilities.
I’m amazed at the high level of excellence from emerging new artists and thankful that some, like Cole Davis, are children of friends so I can pick their brains. And yes, go to his page right now and read about his accomplishments at such a young age. Feel lazy after reading that? Hey, Lefsetz, interview Cole!
What’s my point here? Stop relying on Sirius, Pandora, YouTube, et al. to find new sounds. Talk to kids! And from my perspective that means anyone under 24.
I was reminded by my assistant, Katie, that today is my 100th blog post. It’s also my birthday month. As a birthday gift to me, I want you to send me your favorite artist that you feel is creating a new sound or severely disrupting the audio wallpaper we get shoved down our throats. I’ll put together a list of 100 songs to listen to based on your suggestions. Send them to email@example.com.
This morning I had a little chat with a student’s mom. She was concerned with the issues going on in the schools they would do harm to a child’s creativity. Children need creative outlets to make sense of the pain and confusion they are feeling. As adults, we need the same outlets.
It’s no surprise to me that I’m writing more music than I have in many years. I know from experience it is important to create to keep me in balance. Children know this instinctively but adults forget.
I left the mom with these thoughts…
Artists are inspired to create more sensitively when things get ugly.
Share what you create...today and always.
Yesterday I developed a nasty cold. I woke up this morning thinking the last thing I wanted to do was sing any notes and that got me thinking about the song Johnny One Note.
If you are limited due to compromised health can you still do something constructive? I say yes! Let’s take this one note idea and expand on it. Go to your keyboard and “mmm” or “ooh” on C. Play chords that have a C in them and keep singing the C note - C-Am-F-Dm7-Gsus-C. Can you hear how the chords carry you so you feel good even though you’re only singing one note?
How about lyrics that repeat the same thing over and over? I often hear those earworms when I’m grocery shopping. Do you think they do that on purpose so I’m in a trance and buy more food I don’t need? Sometimes you need to ruminate on one word or a phrase and that’s ok.
There are many things you can do with the power of one.
What’s one thing you’re going to do today?
If I took away the sculpture of the hand, would you have looked at the tree as just a tree?
I am about to teach a 6 week class for 4th-8th graders on the steps to becoming a solo pop/rock performer. I started writing out the curriculum for this class in late 2017 and I am still tweaking it. The thread I noticed in my own preparation is the importance of creativity. If I don’t tap into the free flowing imaginations of these students, we will all be deprived of a kind of magic that occurs when they are encouraged to do so.
Take time in your own work to look at things as if you are Alice in Wonderland.
“No man has the right to dictate what other men should perceive, create or produce, but all should be encouraged to reveal themselves, their perceptions and emotions, and to build confidence in the creative spirit.” ― Ansel Adams
I love to cook. We’ve been vegan here in my home for nearly 5 years and I get more excited about cooking each year. The beauty of plant based is that everything goes with everything. Today I looked through my refrigerator and pantry to see what needed to be used up. I’m making a Creole Stew with Roasted Sweet Potato Cornbread. The leftover tools you have on hand for your songwriting are no different. Let me explain.
Since I was a teenager, I’ve been writing lyrics and songs and I’ve kept every notebook holding my ideas. I know many of you have a system cataloging your inspiration as well. Those notebooks hold the ingredients for your songwriting. When it comes from you, everything goes with everything!
On this snowy day on the east coast, pull out your notebooks and open to random pages. Allow your eyes to skim over words and phrases. Put a new song together. Don’t worry if it doesn’t make sense at first. Allow it it be random. Have fun with the process.
Let me know how it goes!
Art and the inspiration for it bubble under the surface until you can’t ignore it anymore. I have always felt the need to create and to inspire creation. These past few years I had so much fun creating teas for my zuketeas™ business. My personal simmering of creativity grew too hot for me to ignore so I have decided to close my tea business and get back to my love of songwriting.
Creation takes time and dedication. But the decision to write again has already filled my heart. In the past month, I have written and re-visited songs and I am excited to start this new year with a journey dedicated to my art.
What are you doing with your art? Tell me how it inspires you. Come here and join me for a cup of tea so we can exchange ideas!
Please visit Nerdfelt for custom teas. My assistant, Katie, is continuing with her art by creating fun items for the nerd at heart.
Pay attention to the sounds around you. Do you hear music? Maybe someone is playing music in the background or you hear a song in your head. Each day music is there to encourage you, comfort you, take you away from your daily grind. You listen to music while you work out at the gym. Music is there to get you through your work day. Singing in the shower makes you a star. Admit it, you can’t live without music. Music is shared to celebrate life at birth, to honor a life well lived at death and every moment in between. Music is the drug we all need to survive.
My Christmas wish is that everyone will support music education.
What would your life be like without music?
If you are like me and take your coffee and tea drinking seriously, you take pride in the tools and time to make your favorite beverage. A great cup of java happens because you bought locally roasted beans which were sourced from Fair Trade Certified™ suppliers. You grind the beans yourself for the freshest cup and use spring water. You’ve chosen the best coffee pot to finish the experience. All of this takes time but that first sip makes it worth the effort.
You, dear artist, are no different. You need to take yourself seriously and take pride in the tools and time it takes to cultivate yourself into an artist. A great artist happens because you studied with great teachers and followed the advice of great mentors. You take the time to write and arrange your music with care. You’ve chosen the best to help you finish your product. All of this takes time but that first release makes it worth the effort.
I look forward to hearing what you will be sharing with the world. But, please, take your time.
I grew up watching my father play accordion. He would move while playing as if it the instrument was an extension of his body. Movement with song is natural, so is it social conditioning that has caused us to freeze our body while singing? Or have too many vocal teachers told us to stand still? I say move your body and feel everything!
My life in music started on piano at age 7. At first I concentrated on perfect posture and keeping my hands and wrists at the correct angle for precision and agility. The older I got, the more my body relaxed and I started to feel the music from the piano through my whole body. One of my teachers used to tell me to read about the composer I was working on and then try to imagine I was in his body playing his music. If the composer had a very troubled life I would allow myself to feel pain and sorrow into my fingertips hoping it would translate as I played. If the music was written for a joyous occasion I would do the same with my body.
Once you’ve learned the craft of your song, it’s time to let go into the body.
I want my students to feel the vibrations and the emotion of a song down and through every part of their body. Music is sacred and should be shared with that intention. If you hold back at all you are denying a beautiful gift to your audience.
I’ve always felt the winter season is the best time to reflect and hibernate on how you intend to share your gift of singing. There’s no greater gift that what’s inside of you. The best gift is you — singing!