me and music, today

About five years ago I did a meditation connecting myself with the universe and look into the future. To dream my own unfolding. The insights were 1) yes, I wanted to be a mother. 2) I wanted to purchase a Zimbabwean style marimba.

Talking to other parents, it was clear that having a child would change everything and that it was a glorious, messy, tiring path. The little one is four now and is such a bright light, and yes, some work 🙂

Purchasing the marimba seemed like much less of a world-changer. But one marimba led to two, and two led to seven, and seven led to ten (+) and now I consider myself a musician where before I felt like a dabbling percussionist and I like that. I feel some clarity about my path that I did not used to have, and I like that too.

Currently, I’m in the middle of another self-imposed practice challenge: 30 minutes a day focused on deepening my relationship with music starting most days with active listening to a piece of recorded music. It’s good. Practice works. It doesn’t always work as fast as I’d like it to, and sometimes it reveals places that I was skimming over and tricking myself into thinking that I was better than I really am, which can be painful, but it really does work.

We’ve been in the recording studio with the marimbas for the past few months (did our first studio test nearly six months ago) and it’s neat (though sometimes intense) to see our debut album coming together. I am humbled by the process and have had to step up what I consider “being able to play something.” We’re recording the ensemble tracks in an open room without a click, so it requires some focus. That being said, I think that it will be a really good album and I’m a better player than I was six months ago.

In a process of seeing what a good second instrument might be for me, I just performed in the North Fork Community Choir last Sunday. Singing with a choir for the first time in 25 years was a really neat stretch for me and further opened me musically. It’s wonderful to be a part of a community that is inclusive as well as dedicated to making good music. And whether or not I fully take up vocal study, I know I’ll keep singing.

I’ve also been teaching marimba and really enjoying the process of helping other people claim and deepen their relationship to music, this Sunday we’ll focus on the 12/8 time-feel. I am also inspired to start offering women’s rhythm and drumming afternoons, I can feel that there is a potency to gathering as women, and I look forward to seeing what will unfold. Here’s a list of current events.

Another stretch is that David an I are offering our first sleep-away summercamp this summer! Marimba, Rhythm, and Music – outside Crawford at the foot of Black Mesa. The camp is geared for music enthusiasts grades 6 and up. Here’s the full details. We want folks who are excited to learn and be at the edge of the wilderness with no electronic devices. It’s going to be fun & immersive. I even have childcare lined up, whoop, whoop! We have a couple more spots and I’m curious who will fill out the ensemble. . .

“Perhaps more than any sense except smell, sound bypasses our rational mind to move us at a primal level.” Julia Cameron, Vein of Gold

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practice

I am in love with the marimba and marimba ensemble music. It’s official. You probably knew that. It is the first instrument that I have been gleefully able to practice. Not as much as I would like, as I have a super-cute 1.5 year old who likes to grab the mallets out of my hands, but I do get to practice. And I get to play with people, and I get to inspire folks to play music who might not otherwise get to play. Yesterday while waiting, I worked on a rhythm that I’ve been struggling with. I think I’ve got it. This is very exciting.

We sent this next bit to our newsletter, but it felt valid enough to share here as well. . .

With the darkening days, it’s a great time to go inward, and to go to the practices that keep us healthy. It is amazing what a bit of consistent dedicated practice can do for any artform – but especially for playing music. As simple as matching our breath to our steps while walking, or actively listening to music, or practicing rhythmic patterns on the chair while waiting at the dentist’s office, practice of all kinds will help deepen our musical relationships and improve our playing.

Here are two books that both David and I have read and enjoyed on the subject of music practice:

First, Learn to Practice by Tom Heany “First, Learn to Practice is a book about how to practice a musical instrument – any musical instrument. It’s suitable for all musicians – professional, amateur, student or beginner. “Certainly part of the problem in learning how to play an instrument is the way an individual approaches practicing. One must be committed to spending lots of time on eye, ear, and hand coordination; learning how to listen; learning how to sight-read; and, having fun during those many hours of conquering notes on and off the page. But, how many “students” really know how to practice in the first place?”

The Practicing Mind: Developing Focus and Discipline in Your Life – Master Any Skill or Challenge by Learning to Love the Process by Thomas M. Sterner “In those times when we want to acquire a new skill or face a formidable challenge we hope to overcome, what we need most are patience, focus, and discipline, traits that seem elusive or difficult to maintain.” Sterner writes about learning to love the process.

happy practicing!!!