Today is my birthday. I guess it’s one of those things that sort of quietly passes by once you reach a certain age. I am not sad about that. It almost feels like a special secret you have with your mom. (sorry dads) It carries so much more, deep in the heart, kind of feeling that gifts somehow don’t seem necessary (but still very much appreciated.) It has become the day in which I take stock. I ask myself questions like “Am I happy?” “Am I where I thought I would be at this point in my life?” etc. I’m sure you ask yourselves the same things. What I know is that the answers sometimes change but the questions are usually the same. Some times I am right where I thought I would be and sometimes I am someplace I never could have imagined.
I was teaching again today and the students and I were working on their original piece entitled “Curious is a Good Thing” It was the same group I had spoken about in previous posts. I had asked the kids to bring in items that somehow represented something inspirational. I had a student bring in a roll of scotch tape. I asked him what it represented and he said “it reminds me that it is o.k. to make mistakes.” Brilliant! I just loved it. We started talking about how making mistakes is actually a good thing. Sometimes it is the mistake, not the success, that teaches us so much. Sometimes, getting lost, takes us to places we otherwise would never have seen. Maybe it was where we were meant to travel in the first place so maybe there isn’t really such a thing as a “mistake”. I actually think that is not true and sometimes a mistake is just that …… a mistake from which we must start over, but perhaps a phoenix will rise from the ashes. It is pretty astounding to have these sorts of conversations with a bunch of 10 year olds but it brings me back to my own questions. “Am I where I thought I would be at this time in my life?” and aside from a few minor issues I can say that I am.
I told them that I clearly remember writing (in blue ball point pen) an essay when I was in the 5th grade. I remember drawing a picture of myself (at an awards show) singing. I knew then that music was my bliss. I also remember writing in my essay that I would be a mom (I thought I might have my own house.) and that I would somehow be working with kids. I feel content today to say that I have done all those things (minus the award show and big house). I am doing exactly what I thought I would be doing. Who knows where we go from here but my hope is that this CD is not far behind. Next year I want to say….”Yes I did what I set out to do! but I am willing to accept a few mistakes along the way because who knows where they might lead. Happy Birthday to all you March babies out there!
If you are a regular reader you must wonder some times “what does any of this have to do with making a CD?” I wonder that myself sometimes. Especially when nothing tangible seems to be happening in that area of my life. I hope you continue reading and allow me to explain.
I teach music to K-8 grades once a week at a private school near my home. Because I do not truly read or write music (the actual notes on the paper) I have to be creative about what I teach. At the moment we are learning a few songs and actually writing an original piece as well. Each class is working on their own theme and collaborating to create one original work. They will write the lyric an the music is up to me. Every student has been asked to bring in some inspiration or been given an activity to do at home i.e. observe life from their bedroom windows and come to class to share your observations. From there we have been sharing and taking notes and watching a song evolve from a collective yet personal experience.
It has been an interesting ride as most students forgot to do anything and come in with crazy things they just saw on their way to the music room or just thought up while sitting in their seats. I have to be honest and tell you that I do point it out when it is so obvious but I do allow them to continue to weave it into some story of inspiration. After all, they have to be pretty creative to pull something off under that kind of pressure.
Some of them totally get it while others bring in things that seem so mundane and seemingly insignificant that it gets the others laughing and then……… my creative juices start to flow. I can’t really ever stand to see someone get up to speak in front of a group and be made fun of! “I’ll show you what a great idea that is!” Today a shy boy got up and talked about his glasses. There was snickering and whispering. I asked him “what is it about your glasses that inspires you,” aske He said, “my dad bought them for me.” More snickering and whispers. A stern stare was in order and more conversation. I was going to get something profound out of this kid. “What do your glasses help you do?” “They help me see things that are far away.” We launched into a conversation about symbolism and metaphor. We talked about seeing and hearing with your heart. So I turned to the class and I said. “what kind of symbolism or meaning could we give to things that seem far away?” The answer came in a quiet whisper from the back…..”the future” AHA! “His dad bought him his glasses and now he can see things clearly from far away.” and then the conversation exploded about how sometimes people we love can help us see things more clearly because they might be older and are farther down the road from us. These are my 9 and 10 year old students. I couldn’t stop them from that point on and the shy boy with the glasses quietly took his seat with a huge smile on his face.
Nothing is insignificant when you are talking about song writing. By the way, my 6th grade students have an incredible song coming from the inspiration of Jackie Robinson and the aerodynamics of a race car. Put that in your song writing pipe and smoke it! It is all life and all creation turned over and over again until every nuance has been squeezed from it. The tiniest shift in perspective or understanding bring about whole new ways to think about things. It is exciting and exhilarating. My life is in these blog posts and my life is in my music. So I guess what I should have said when I started this blog is that is a blog about making a CD and the life that happens along the way. It’s just a little “life” heavy at the moment. Keep your eyes open and see with your heart and maybe things will change.
p.s. I usually try to give my posts a song title at the heading but no song came to mind today. Perhaps you can think of one and leave it behind in the comments? I dare you!
Well…….as you can see I changed my border yet again. It’s so great because you just click a button and you can change your surroundings. I wish they had a button like this in real life. I have been wanting to change my real surroundings for sometime but that costs money that I don’t have and it takes time and I don’t seem to ever have enough of that either. I change what I can. The colors match my emotions at the time. Bright and colorful and dare I say it……a little wild.
I recently did something that was kind of huge, well, for me anyway. I self promoted (insert applause) (yay me!) I invited myself to play a few new songs at a fund raiser for my kids school. They said yes. I think they are too kind to say no and are a little nervous about what they said yes to. They have heard me before but not really “me” . I have more than one voice. Let me explain.
When I sing at church, when I sing with the kids, when I sing to embarrass my children, all different voices. When I sing for myself, in the shower or in the car, that is when I am at my best. When I used to perform around town I had a voice but I’m not sure it was really mine yet. I have found in the recent past that I have really discovered my “voice” They have not heard that side of me and they said yes, sight unseen, as it were.
Here’s the real kicker……..I am auctioning myself off. I have offered a free house concert to the lucky winning bid. I here tell there are going to be a few celebs present at the event and I am auctioning myself off. It is strangely exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. I think this is how people must feel when they are about to jump out of a plane though I myself have never had the desire to do such a crazy thing. One fear rolling around in my head “what if no one bids?” That seems pretty obvious but another, less obvious fear, “what if they don’t like what I do?” I have been racking my brains to think of what songs to perform. It is going to be a pretty hip crowd and I do not think of myself as “hip”. At 45 (weeks away from 46) can I still pull off hip? I have found my voice but do I have an “image” I am quite comfortable being a slightly over weight mother of four and church cantor but do I have a “hip” bone in my body. Do grey roots in my hair constitute “hip”. I think not. What if I shave my head? Could I pull that off? No answers, just questions. For now I guess I will just focus on the music because I think it’s good. I hope they bid. I hope they bid. I hope they bid. (insert clicking of heels.)