Tuesday, July 19, 2016

A Life Changing Event #BeatsofCochlea2016

I have just returned from one of the biggest journeys and life changing experiences of my life. I was fortunate to have been selected to participate in the Beats of Cochlea Festival in Warsaw, Poland. This is a festival for musicians with cochlear implants. It was absolutely wonderful to meet musicians with such a high musical skill level who also had cochlear implants.  As many know, music can be very challenging for those with cochlear implants. However, technology has come so far in recent years in for musicians and this festival was a demonstration of that.

I loved being part of a global community where I was only 1 of 3 from the U.S. while others came from Turkey, China, Spain, Germany, Austria, Italy, Equator,  Hungary, Ukraine, Poland and Canada. All of the events were translated into four languages. I loved hearing the sounds of the mother tongues from all over the world.  

The festival sponsored 32 musicians where we auditioned to perform in the Gala concert on the final night. One ten musicians were selected and though I was not a finalist, in a way that was nicer for me in order to enjoy the concert with no stress.

Some of my favorite moments were:

During lunch after our auditions, the jury was meeting to choose the Gala participants. As we awaited the verdict we all got programs with our Bio info and pictures and went around to each other to get our autographs. It was a very touching moment for me that we were all stars in each others eyes and we were all supporting and encouraging each other.

That night, the staff members of Cochlear and I got the idea to create a "Flash Mob" experience and start singing a song after dinner. I got the idea to adapt the African freedom song, "Freedom Calypso" and change the words to be about music and being at the festival. It is a call and response song where I would sing one line and the group would answer me. This was a lot of fun to do! We didn't tell the other tables we would do this and the whole restaurant stopped and watched and joined in.

The Gala concert itself was a black tie occasion. It was streamed live over the internet and it was very exciting to think that anyone from around the world could watch. There is a link to the recording of the broadcast at this link.  It was such an exhilarating experience and one that I will always remember.

The next day, I presented at the World Hearing Center in a conference about music and implants. I talked about things I did with a music teacher to help regain music and pitch perception. I enjoyed doing that a lot and that was one of the highlights of my year so far!

Thanks much as always for stopping by. Feel free to get in touch!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Let the Music Come

I was going through some of my old songs from when I first moved here to Charlottesville back in 1989. Pictured above is a photo shoot from 23 years ago! I love remembering some of the stories that turned into songs. Here how the song, "Let the Music Come" came about.

Way back in '89 I participated in a week long guitar class in NYC with Robert Fripp called, "Guitar Craft".  The class involved using  what is called the New Standard Tuning for guitar.  This was a totally new way to tune the guitar to all 35 or so of us beginning Guitar Craft students.

On Wednesday of that week, Robert came to class and announced, "You are to play in a concert on Friday night. The New York Times will be there. It's up to you what you will play. " Then he walked out.

Chaos ensued after he left! What are we supposed to play? We did not know this new way to tune the guitar and we did not know any songs. For nearly an hour we argued and debated what to do. Finally, I got an idea and suggested we imitate a rain storm. Everyone liked this idea. We practiced first everyone playing light harmonics on their guitar and then it crescendoing into thunder and lightening with percussive playing on our guitars. We were ready for the concert. Or so we thought...

When the hour was up, Robert asked what we planned to play for the concert. One of the students said, "How are we to know what to play if we do not know this new tuning or have any songs?" Robert let the question hang in the air for a few moments and he said, "Sit in the silence and wait for the music to come. " We were dismissed.

I went to my room and sat in the silence and this song, "Let the Music Come" came to me--just as he said.  This is what we played for the concert on Friday night.

I still remember when we performed my song that night at the concert, I forgot some of the words. (I only wrote it two days before) It created a long pause where it turned out to be just perfect...for it was when I said, "I gotta wait.." The song is about waiting for the muse to come.

We did also play the rain storm  but that was a disaster! I still remember Robert turning his head away in what looked to be disgust. We were just learning then and failing and experimenting is all part of it.

I hope you enjoy the song :)