Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Harvesting ideas and taking time to play

Something that keeps me inspired is to continue to learn new things and work on new projects.  Since I work as a professional musician, I have to be careful that my music does not become "another job." I get so much fulfillment out of learning new pieces, coming up with new ideas for projects and spending time being creative.

Here are some of the things I'm working on. I've been asked by the local library to play music as part of The Big Read event next spring. This is a big deal and a real honor for me. The book chosen will be The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers.  With this in mind,  this morning I put 3 poems by Carson McCullers to music. She did not write a lot of poetry but if you look her up, you'll find poems. I find this process of setting poems to music to be tremendously satisfying.

Also in the picture above is my music journal where I "tab" out (guitar notation) new songs and the one above is "And I Love Her" by the Beatles. Over the summer, I arranged over 30 songs for a wedding party and had so much fun doing it.  I'm also working on some Christmas music.

I usually go to the gym in the morning but today I stayed home to have a creative brainstorm day. It was very productive and I am particularly excited about my Carson McCullers' poems. A great way to spend a rainy morning. Oh and I forgot to say that my cat Jasper helped ensure I took many breaks to pet and play with him. :)

What ways do you like to be creative?

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Music of the Civil Rights Movement

Last night I gave a presentation at one of the local libraries on the Music of the Civil Rights Era.  I love presenting music in a historical context and I feel particularly passionate about music in the Civil Rights movement. I was a child growing up in Chicago during this time and though I was too young to understand some of what was going on, I do remember the social climate of political unrest. I remember getting out of school early due to a riot or gang fights. I believe in the power of music to bring people together to bring about social change. Certainly, the "Freedom Songs" sung in marches and demonstrations were instrumental in helping the civil rights movement to succeed.

Many of the songs featured were written by slaves coming from African American Spirituals and Gospel traditions. Many of the songs were not part of the mainstream awareness nor heard on pop radio stations. Some of the songs I featured were:

We Shall Not Be Moved
I'm Gonna Sit at the Welcome Table
Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn me Around
We Shall Overcome
Eyes on the Prize
A Change is Gonna Come
Strange Fruit
Hammer Song

Each time I present this music, I am filled with such a strong sense of purpose and meaning to continue to pass on these songs and their messages of empowerment and inclusiveness. 

I plan to teach a class at the local home-school enrichment center this winter on music of the Civil Rights. I look forward to this!

Monday, October 12, 2015

First of Many Community Sing Alongs!

There's a new roots music school in town called The Front Porch and it is a great place to take music lessons and get together with other music friends. Yesterday was our first Second Sunday Community Sing Along and it was a lot of fun! We had a small but appreciative group.

The songs we sang covered many genres from traditional folk, gospel, blues, show tunes, Motown. Some of the songs included, "My Girl," "Stand By Me," "From a Distance," "Moonshadow," Daydream Believer, " "If I Had a Boat," "Down by the Riverside," "Down to the River to Pray," "The Earth is our Mother," selections from the Wizard of Oz and The Sound of Music.

There is something so special about joining in song with people. Whether it was in the summer camps of childhood, music classes in school, or front porch of our house, we all remember the rush of joy we felt as our voices joined with others in song. When harmonies gave us goosebumps, melodies made us smile and rhythms had us stomping and clapping along. 

Pictured above, some friends going through our new Rise Again Songbook 

If you live in the area and like to sing--please mark your calendar for the Second Sunday of the month at 4:00 at The Front Porch in Cville. We sing until 5:00 and then share a potluck supper.  We'd love to have you!!