So Far….

We’re almost a month into 2021 and I’ve had some revelations…

…starting with a piece I wrote when I was 19, which I thought was pretty good, but which was decidedly NOT. It didn’t sound like me. Rather, it sounded like the work of a young woman who was trying to impress her teacher by writing something she thought he’d like.

I suppose it was all part of the learning process. But, I would never play it for anyone. In fact, it left me wondering how I believed I could write music in the first place.

Then, I took a breath and listened to some of my vocal performances from when I was around the same age.

You should know, I never liked hearing myself on recordings. My voice always sounded babyish and insubstantial to me—too light, too high, too Minnie Mouse. So, it took a giant leap of faith to listen to myself sing, particularly after hearing that piece.

But shock of shocks, I wasn’t awful.

I also listened to some of the recordings my husband made of me playing the piano—Brahms, Berg, Chopin, Schubert, Mendelssohn—and was equally surprised to find they were okay.

I think one of the hardest things any creative person can do is find their voice—that genuine expression that rises from the gnarled recesses within them. Even harder, is the ability to recognize it when it emerges, and appreciate its deeply personal sound and form.

So, where will these revelations lead?

There are many possibilities….

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Shuttered Spaces

Painting by Philip Froman

The painting above has no title. My father completed this when he was in his eighties, after taking up a brush for the first time in his seventies. He was a genial man, my father, with torrents of unrealized dreams dammed up inside him. If you look closely, and listen, you can almost hear those dreams crash against the cliffs. Although I should have, I never thought to catalog his work. What I do know is that two of his paintings stood out among the dozens he produced: the one above, and an idyllic lake scene, a complete antithesis to it. Both represent the man he was.

***

For months I’ve found myself in an odd place—trying to sustain the appearance of writing, while not having any interest in writing. Other than the words on this blog, and the occasional letters to family and friends, I’ve produced nothing.

I can’t blame the virus, as tempting as it is. The ideas, and desire to shape them, started drying up long before COVID-19. It just took months of solitude to accept, and make peace with it.

***

Recently, a composer friend, who never heard any of my music, suggested I should start composing again—tentatively, gently, as though he understood he was directing me to a room I’d shuttered and forgotten. I stopped composing after graduate school, for many of the same reasons I don’t write now.

It was an unlikely suggestion, from an unlikely source.

But sometimes, the unlikeliest suggestions, from the unlikeliest sources, resonate in the deepest recesses, in the most organic ways.

Once, I followed a similar unlikely suggestion, from an unlikely source, because it felt right, and it led to love.

This feels the same.

***

I have no idea what will spring from my shuttered space. But, if the only music that comes from it is as indicative of who I am, as my father’s paintings were of who he was, then I’ll be happy.

***

I imagine this blog will undergo some changes before 2021. Information about books will remain, as will all the old posts. But, the focus will shift, as I reintroduce myself to my roots, and, to you.

***

In the meanwhile, I wish you safety, good health, abundant strength, joy, and love in the coming holiday season…

…and, of course, the New Year. I’ll see you then.

©2020 All Rights Reserved

Inspiration

“The House by the Railroad” (Edward Hopper)

I guess because it’s a new year, people are posting all kinds of articles about decluttering. I even posted one today, thinking it would inspire me to clean out.

I’ve never thought of myself as a big saver, but I do have my weaknesses. It’s tough to get rid of items that have sentimental value. Possessions like that develop adhesive powers, akin to what happens to nonstick frying pans when their surface wears out. Then, everything sticks to them.

Lately, and a little unnervingly, I’ve felt the waning value of intangibles in my life, a lack of pleasure derived from them, but am unsure how, or even whether I should let them go. I mean, how do you part with identity-shaping goals and activities? How do you justify shifting gears after decades of dedication to the development of certain skills? I know people have done it, simply quit and turned their attention to fresh pursuits, but, but, but…there is that adhesive…

Maybe I’m just not ready to part with an act of creation that once excited me, yet now does not, or practicing music I once loved which now sits open on the piano’s rack. Maybe I just need to spend time decluttering other areas of my life. I suppose there is value in serious sorting, determining which possessions and activities are enriching, and worth keeping, and which are stifling, and need to go. Maybe the ideas and passion will come then…or not….

There’s only one way to tell.

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