new music, old music and next steps

i suppose the title of this post requires a longer conversation over lattes and pumpkin scones, although the weather outside certainly calls for something other than “fall” fare. but we can pretend we are in our wellies and cabled sweaters and cozying up to deeper conversations.

on the subject of new music, is a new friendship with someone who’s clearly successful at what he’s done in his life.  he plays a mean latin jazz piano and has enough street cred that he doesn’t just name drop, he knows these people well.  he’s done stuff that i want to do.  so when i meet him on monday, he gives me this latin jazz chart and i was honored and delirious to work on it.  not because it’s his music, but because it’s something i have never done.  latin jazz – which is really pitiful for a cuban girl, don’t you think?  if that’s all that ever comes out of this new friendship then the drive to northern parts of L.A. was completely worth it.  my chops are going to get better.  but i have a sneaking suspicion that i’ll be making more trips up there.  stay tuned on that one.

continuing with “new” is miss erin.  i’ve written about her before – her tenacious spirit and her desire to succeed.  she and i sit every friday and work on her new songs and we co-write, refine, argue, entertain ideas in the pursuit of making a great song.  she has 4 of them mostly done, and one she needs to write fresh.  i love these times with her and i think we are still learning to craft a song into what’s perfect for her.

i bought a new cd yesterday, by needtobreathe.  i love unwrapping cd’s and listening from start to finish.  it’s brilliant.  and exactly what my soul needed.  the lyrics alone were enough, but the driving music, like standing in a cold rain.  awesome.

cameron came in with a new idea yesterday that i loved.  i mean, loved.  that kid is going somewhere.  blessed, blessed by how he approaches new ideas with abandon and a carefree spirit that’s contagious.

another student (and dad) and i met with the fabulous joey arreguin on saturday.  looks like another recording project is getting underway.  love andie’s bravery.

bach is definitely old music and that italian concerto, the 3rd movement, is on my piano easel currently.  i chose it to learn for my students’ first recital on november 21.  but i also chose it because it’s in the key of F.  i hate the key of F.  my fingers forget this and they don’t respond in this key. my heart likes the cheeriness of it, but that’s about as far as my love for this key goes.  i have 2 more lines and it’ll be memorized.  F – you are not going to beat me.

next steps? taking care of me.  i think it’s far too easy for me to push, progress, practice, perform, and then wake up one morning and need to call a friend and say, i’m coming up to portland whether you like it or not. she’s gracious and says, yippee.  in all truthfulness, work is work and hard.  taking time out for myself is something i did not learn as a child, or even as a teenager.  oh heck, i’ve never learned it well.   this is my time to do that.  i lean in and ask God to teach me what that’s about.  this place of trusting and resting is good – and hard.  Like the key of F. it’s cheery, but it’s bach!  he’ll always throw a curve at you. the only way to beat it is to allow nothing to interfere with the music in your soul.  you know that place.  the place where you’re serene and peacefulness shines around you.

go be.

staying in

tonight i remind myself, as i close windows and turn off lights that tomorrow is a new day. that the things i didn’t get done today, emails i didn’t send and phone calls i didn’t cross off my list, will wait another 8-10 hours for the rising of the very hot, california sun.  it was a good day and i thank God for the hopefulness of a new school year, with concert tickets bought for walt disney hall with an adult student, with breakfast plans with a new friend down in laguna tomorrow, with travel plans finalizing for my upcoming trip to the sunshine state.  there’s always going to be more.  so what do i tell myself at the end of this day?

don’t lose heart.  it’s the quiet of the evening that is most challenging.  tempted to drown out our own silence, we get together and dinner out.  we watch bad tv.  we have our own places we go when we’re restless, whether it’s drink or shopping or chick-fil-A sandwiches.  it’s easier to be out, than in.  the inward life is demanding.  and yet … it’s what i preach day in, day out, to my students.  why classical study is what i’ve built my life around.  i still love a greatly crafted pop song and love writing music, but classical study is the stuff i want to hate, but have to admit, it’s the seeds of character.  character – the thing that forces you to keep your concentration while you’re learning 6 pages of bach. it’s the studio speakers when you’re in the recording studio that tell you the truth of how you sound.  bach does the same type of honest work.  you can’t think about things like cash flow while you’re learning, or recording.  you must stay in the confines of those notes, in that measure.  it’s just harder, and when you’re done for the day, you’re tempted to quit.  please don’t.  we need you.  that “you” whose character is solid, that has a unique voice that only comes from a place of honed choices over time to concentrate on measures, not be out at nordstrom because it feels better being out.  in is harder than out.

one thing i know about not losing heart.  it’s not up to me entirely.  there’s a tension to being a disciple that only a disciple would know.  we long to be home, but we are here.  this place is not home and when you’ve experienced loss, the hope of somewhere other than here rings loudly in our eternal natures.  it makes staying in this measure harder. the measures where fingering comes unnaturally.  the drudgery of learning can just become dreary.  but i tell myself, and 3 distinct conversations this morning, with 3 different friends who are all working through their private depressions, we can’t lose heart.  he who began this work in me will complete it.  i’m staying in.  (don’t forget to turn on the a/c tomorrow.)

go do it

I have more on my to-do list than is humanly possible.  i know you know what that looks like.  what it feels like … like an anvil on your chest that wakes you up at 4 a.m. and after 4 hours of staring at your life on paper and bills still to be paid, and your coffee’s cold by now and you need to get up and go for a walk or go to the gym, but instead you pick up the phone to make a long needed call, and after a while, you realize that another hour has passed and you have one thing crossed off your list.  i’m sure you know nothing of what i’m speaking about, right? as i said to a friend this morning, do the hardest thing.  for me, it’s calling someone and saying, yeah, i think i made a mistake when i overlooked this one bill.  oops.  admitting failure, defeat.  not exactly my strong suit.

i remind myself as i talk to my students that what they do from week to week is heroic, in their very small ways, and they don’t even know it.  they’re taking piano lessons, and they walk in with their head bowed down and say sheepishly, it’s been a hard week and school is starting and we’re trying to squeeze in the last bits of summer and i’m sorry, i didn’t do my e-flat scale.  and i shake it off and say, it’s all good.  what bravery it is to admit that and they hope that i don’t take the ruler out and whack their hands or hearts with my – “no, you must practice at all cost” dogma.  life happens. daily.  it just can suck the living daylights out of you, if you let it.  so don’t.  don’t let it.  tell the voices in your head to shut up.  or as a pastor said a couple weeks ago at church, stop feeding that giant.

we are powerful and strong, and yes, i went to the pat benatar concert.  heartache to heartache.  we stand.  in the power of jesus.  in the power of hitting the boxing bag or attacking the hills.  we stand.  go get the hardest thing done you have to do.  if it’s the e-flat scale, or calling your mom.  go do it.