Friday, October 17, 2014

Soul Music

It's no secret that music has played a large role in my life from the very beginning.

My grandfather was a musician.  He died two months before I was born.  I often wonder if part of him came back in me.      
Perhaps I was part grandpa, part linebacker?
Either way, I was obviously very serious about my art.
Judging from the picture, there was no doubt I was eventually going to become a "church lady".  It really does scream "future organist" doesn't it?

When I look through old photo albums, there are so many pictures taken at the piano.  I must have been drawn to it, because it is evident that they weren't "posed."  I am just sitting there, because I want to be.
I know that music was always a high priority for my parents....especially my mom.  She didn't get to take piano lessons as a kid, and she was going to make sure that her kids got to do the things she didn't.  I think she happily lived vicariously through us.  My friend Lori recently told me that my mother had said to her "we will go without food before my kids will go without music lessons."  Now that is dedication!
Piano was my "thing."  It just became 'what I did.'  I never became some amazing child prodigy or virtuoso.  Instead, I became very proficient, and really good at sight reading.  I was too impatient to have to sit and work at a piece.  I wanted to just be able to PLAY it.  I made sure that I was able to do that. 
Singing seemed to follow naturally.  My sister was the stand-out singer...probably because I was the piano-hog.  I soon took on the role as "accompanist."  (Which is how I make my living today.)
I have to admit, I was jealous.  I would have loved to be the singer.  The pianist never gets any of the glory.  The singer gets to be the "star."  I think that was one of the reasons I was always such a shy performer.  I was so used to having a huge piece of "furniture" in front of me.  I had something to hide behind.  It was so much more comfortable for me to sing and play.  I never had to really make contact with the audience.  I always had something to do with my hands.  I never had to feel like I was "showing off."  

When I went to college, I started studying voice.  I remember my voice teacher trying to get me to "act" while I was singing.  It was sooooo hard for me.  I was perfectly happy just standing nice and still while singing my songs.  The problem was, my voice was really suited for musical theater.  Not exactly the kind of music you can just stand there and sing.  I was so worried I would look stupid.  I was so worried that people would think that I thought I was something special.  That was my biggest issue.  I was so worried about what other people thought.  It was that damn self esteem issue again.  And inside, I really DIDN'T feel like I was anything special, so to put myself out there was next to impossible for me.  How could I act like I was ready to take on the I was this amazing character, when I just felt so small and shy?
I was much better at it when I was actually in a show...because I could become the character, and feel ok about that.  It was just when I had to become a character while singing one song on the recital hall stage, or while my teacher was watching me in my lesson.  It was so hard.
Fast forward 20 years.  I had done tons of playing/singing...but no real "performing."
Suddenly I am planning this huge show with my friend....who just happened to have performed on Broadway for 10 years.  Yeah.  That's not intimidating or anything.
I remember standing back stage before the opening number, feeling like I was going to have a panic attack.  Positive that I would forget all my lines, all of my lyrics, and would just die right there on stage.  I got through the opening number...and as I crossed the stage, I looked into the audience, and saw a couple from my church in the front row.  The strangest thing happened.  I suddenly felt this indescribable feeling of complete calm and peace come over me.  It literally was a sensation that started at my head and went down my entire body.  It took away every ounce of dread and fear that I had...and I just had FUN.  I trusted in my ability, I let myself be funny, I put myself out there...and I FELT SO GOOD.  Why hadn't I done that years ago?

I had finally stopped worrying about everything.  (I haven't been nervous about a performance since....tiny butterflies maybe...but no more terror!)
I also realized that by going out there and kicking some ass did NOT make me look like I was being pompous or self absorbed.  Rather, it just meant I was doing my job.  I was giving a good performance.  As a teacher, nothing drives me more insane than kids that stand up to do a solo, and act completely apologetic about what they are about to do, and then just slump away after, ignoring the applause.  Stand up and be proud!  
Why does it take me SO LONG TO FIGURE THIS STUFF OUT?!
One thing I have known from the start is that music is my outlet, my soul food.

I remember in high school (or should we call it drama-ville) only escape was the piano.
To say my relationship with my mom was tumultuous would be an understatement.  We were both very stubborn and too much alike.  She was controlling, I was a free spirit and rebellious.  NOT a good combination.  Whenever I was alone in the house (not often enough) I would turn off all the lights except for the piano light, and play every minor piece I could find.  It was how I poured out my emotions.  I continue to do that.

I often come home to find my daughter doing the very same thing.  Hmmm....I wonder if that means that I drive her nuts??

The past couple of years, I found that I needed more.  I craved that interaction with an audience.  I was finally ready to put myself out there.  I got a part in "The Spitfire Grill" (a GORGEOUS musical, if you aren't familiar with it) and fell in love with the stage.  This started my crazy two year, "I am going to be on this damn stage constantly" run.  Each show got more ridiculous.  (We moved on to comedies.) And I got more comfortable with completely stepping outside my box.
Paula's Purse 4

But my most life giving, soul feeding concert thus far was doing an Eva Cassidy tribute.

Notice the extra handsome drummer in the background. ;)

And the very best part about it was not only was the band made up of amazing musicians, who were some of my best buds....but this was the first time my daughter and I sang in public together.  

She has been ripping it up with me ever since. :)

So here is what I hope for you.
Find something that makes you excited each day.
Something that makes you feel blissful, not prideful.
Find something that makes all of your troubles disappear...even if it is just for a little while.
Find something, where even the thought of it, makes you smile.
Now ask yourself "How can I incorporate this into my day?"
Now, schedule that time into your it becomes a priority.

Two days ago...yes only two days ago, I started playing the piano again.  Of course, I never stopped playing, but I started playing for ME.  I dug out all of my big, huge classical books, and started playing.  I decided, after listening to those 8th graders kick my butt at the honor's recital last weekend, that I needed to start actually playing again.  I also figure, considering my mom's disease, it is good for my brain.  It is just a small, little thing I have added to my day....but I am making it a priority.  Just like this blog.
I have about 30 journals.  All of them have about 5 entries in them....and then I give up.  I hate journaling.  I just like buying the journals, because I LOVE PRETTY PAPER THINGS!
This blog, however is different.  Apparently I enjoy writing when I can share it with others.  I have no desire to write for myself I guess.  Unless I am depressed or ticked off about something.  My poor husband.  When I die, he is going to have a pile of journals to read, and all of them are just me bitching about him and the kids.  Can someone just come and burn those in the event of my untimely demise, please?  

I have also come to realize that my posts are TOO LONG!  I apologize for my incessant babbling.

In closing.  If you haven't already...get out there and find something to feed your soul.  I am going to keep preaching this.  Perhaps if I write about it for 21 days, it will become a habit. ;)
I should write about cleaning my house for 21 days.  (Obviously my plan to actually write about getting my to-do list done for 31 days has yet to happen.)  

My goal for today is to make my house pretty.  The in-laws are coming tonight.  If all goes well, I will post before and after shots.  I can certainly supply the mess for the "before."

Have a super Friday.
This would be a good start  for our "soul feeding!"

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