An Unexpected Joy!

Two hours at a new local music store, Alley Kat Music. Just opened up and Josh, the young owner, has invited all the teachers he’s got to teach there to meet the public. I’ll consider teaching there (life is changing) and promised to show up. As one of his advisors and supporters, I need to do that for him.With the intent to give whoever is there MORE than they expect, I’ve created a Practice Tips sheet for whoever signs into his system. Plus, I’ve collected a couple of Making Music magazines and some National Music Camp brochures.

I’m expecting nice chats with a couple of the teachers. I’m expecting to meet a few people I know and a few I don’t. I’m expecting to get a little snack, ’cause I haven’t had dinner.

I was NOT expecting….

  • to meet a very delightful Bert Pepper, a fiddler from Wingham who, with his wife, moved to Rodney a few years ago
  • to see several high school students, including a young flautist who was at camp
  • to play as much as I did!

So, being the good Music for People grad that I am, I saw an opportunity. You see, Tanner, the flautist, had taken a fiddling option at camp. Bert, the fiddler… well, he fiddles. Tanner had brought his flute. I brought the two of them into the lesson room, the one that is finished, the one with the piano.

Tanner was trying to remember the tune he’d learned. Bert and I played along.

And then… oh,the magic, the magic…

Bert, how about you play a short riff and then Tanner, do an answer. You don’t have to copy the same notes, but just play something in response.

Shall we play in “Dog?”

And off we went. Back and forth. Bert and Tanner traded fiddling 4’s. Two of his friends listened in, iPhones recording it all. They navigated the changes, echoed, repeated and added… and we all found the perfect place to end! Woohooooo!!!!

Sufficiently emboldened…

OK, let’s try this, I said, start out with some call and response, and then, at some point, let’s change form 6/8 to 2 and kick it up.

Once again… in Dog!

We Did it!!! The shift was seamless. I let out a hoot! LOVE. IT. The kids were impressed.

It’s all music, said Bert.

Suddenly, I wasn’t sooo sad that I wasn’t at the weekend in Stony Point with some of my best musical, improv, American friends.

But that wasn’t all. Yeah, yeah, I had some snacks, met the other teachers and saw some friends I knew.

But then….

Bert and a local guitarist/singer, Bill, got together and started jamming on some fiddle tunes. I

That would have been enough to ‘make my night’ and I thought of all my MfP friends making music this weekend. We’d be recording and getting caught up and making music and laughing…

I got to play BASS! Haven’t played electric bass for….decades? We played in Dog, we played in Girl. Josh brought out another violin for a visitor and we played Amazing Grace. And then….(OMG, MfP comes to life!) I picked up the fiddle and … off we went again. Of course, I couldn’t play all the tunes, but I could improvise and make it sound like a tune! Traded the fiddle in for Bill’s guitar… and off we went again. (note to self… start playing fiddle!)

But it continues..in a different vein.

  • I taught a 10-year old girl, who is thinking about voice and piano, how to play on the black notes, with both hands and all fingers—and I played with her. Then I taught her how to play Hot Cross Buns in ‘Cat’… she sang as she played and I added the bass lines for her. All in about 8 minutes.

There you go! Your first lesson!

And it was free! she said.

  • I showed a woman that she is not tone-deaf;

You just proved that you have the capacity to sing in tune! All you need is lots of experience. You are NOT tone-deaf. You can sing.

That must made my night, she said.

In two hours… all of this.

WOW… lucky am I!!!

Finding the Mus(e)ic Again

The challenge for any artist is, primarily, to show up to one’s art. There are all kinds of ways not to show up. Doing the dishes, hanging out on email or facebook, working, watching TV, taking care of the family… the To Do list goes on, as does life. Then you wake up at the end of your life and realize- you didn’t become the artist you wanted to be. And it would have been so easy.

One of my ways has been to find interesting jobs that take time and a number of talents. Work that pays the bills and allows the creativity to move. Managing a farmers’ market, writing and strategizing for a cultural non-profit, teaching music lessons, starting a youth band, founding a women’s choir.

Ten years ago I graduated from the Musicianship & Leadership Program with Music for People. It was four years of growing, personally and musically. Four years of driving 2 000 km, four times a year to workshops. Four years of Homeplay, teaching, facilitating, thinking and busting through, over, under and around obstacles. And thanking them for the opportunity.

In my head, I knew I could make a life and a living with this. But I haven’t. Detours, Distractions, Dilly Dallying… it’s all added up to a very interesting, imaginative, musical, artful, creative life, but My Music -I’ve ignored it. Completely. Serendipity would have it that I created some work for this month and next— two days of work in a school. This past weekend, I spent a weekend coming out of the Shadow Artist role I’ve played, knowing I’d been missing making music. I made the trip to my first Music for People weekend since 2000.

I celebrated my 10th anniversary of graduation with 3 others who graduated at the same time, on the weekend of 10-10-10. Four new grads joined us, making it 100 MfP grads to date. The numerological significance of this did not slip by me.

At home, I wandered around our bush, on a sunny Thanksgiving Monday, camera in hand. I sang into the woods, I kept silence as my friend, I listened to the leaves rustling— and tried to imitate the sound, I made some photos, thought about “Art” and, let my mind travel.

As one job has ended, time has been released. With harvest in full swing, the house will be empty much of the time. I’ve reduced the number of teaching hours. We’re heading into the quiet season, the deepening time, the period of going inside.

Today I began the recovery process. Along with my meditative and study  practice, I’m committing to spending 1 hour each Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday morning… making music. No phones, no computer, no dishes, mail, cleaning, making lists… just music.

And I will see where music takes me over the next two months.