keeping the musical fire alive

Someone asked on a songwriting board, what would happen if you got to the place with your music that you had to write great songs to deadlines... how would you keep your passion alive?

One of the ways I keep the fire burning is to play with other aspects of creativity. I think it's really important to "play".

I play at painting and writing and jewellery- making;

I play at finding small and joyful things in my life;

I teach because my students consistently teach me, awaken me, challenge me, inspire me;

I collaborate because my co-writer(s) take me places I never would have gone on my own;

I sing new songs written by the members of my trio, or by collaborators, so I'm challenged & excited to work on new things;

I love working on music, but sometimes it can be frustrating or feel overwhelming or mechanical. I find the element of play is really important to me. If I push to try to match the perceived expectations of others, I lose my joy. So I have to just allow that I am where I am, knowing what I know in this moment. I am still growing and learning... music (and life) is a process.

I've worked in theatre & opera, so I know what it feels like to rehearse like mad for a few short weeks, and then need to be "on" every second night in repertory or shows that go up 5 nights a week - plus a matinee on Sat.

You have to know your own needs & take good care of yourself, look for space & time to be alone, and get enough rest.

Most importantly? I believe in naps :)

home at last

Got home yesterday despite the near hurricane-force winds up here in the Pacific Northwest -- but instead of boarding a boat in Seattle to bring us directly to Victoria, we were bussed up to Canada, and the ferry to Vancouver Island - only to find it wasn't running either. We waited at the ferry terminal for 5 hours, and finally got on the first ferry that left at 3:45 pm. I was home at 6:30 - instead of 11 am as planned. I went to bed and slept for hours but I still feel tired.

The Road Rally was an awesome experience, and I met so many musicians, singers, and songwriters there, as well as talking person to person with John Braheny, Debra Russell, Michael Anderson, Pat Pattison, Susan Turner and many more. I really enjoyed my stop over in San Francisco too.

I'll be posting some of my notes from the Rally in a couple of days. Stay tuned!

Jason Blume

Hey - today I heard a very inspirational talk by Jason Blume (6 Steps to Songwriting Success; This Business of Songwriting). He basically said you gotta do these things to get where you want to go:

- be persistent and determined; when knocked down, dust yourself off and keep going

- be teachable, be willing to rewrite as many times as it takes

- success in music is not a straight line. It's not like, studying to be a doctor - you know if you do the work, you'll end up with your degree. Songwriters/artists have to do it all, cause we don't know which approach will work.

- we have to be good at creating opportunities (not wait for them to come along)

- network, connect, exchange CDs, emails, links - you don't know where the guy sitting next to you is going to be

- we're in a business where "good" is worthless. Only 'exceptional' will work, and you need to maintain that exceptional level, cause, if you do, and you keep putting it out there, eventually something will stick Be unique, special... blow them away.

- "luck" comes from working your butt off AND being prepared for the opportunity when it comes up. Are you doing everything you can do to get 'lucky'?

in LA for a week

Hey, just buzzed thru San Francisco (lovely city, great time - love Little Italy) and am now in LA for the big music conference (road rally) -- they had a record high here yesterday of 95C, today it went to 97C. Needless to say I didn't do much sightseeing, I laid on the bed with a cool compress on my eyes & the air conditioning on. However, it is much cooler this evening, so went out and explored a little, bought some lighter clothing & had a bite. Tomorrow the rally begins. Much to do in just 3.25 days. I have gone thru the schedule with a fine tooth comb to figure out what is most important for me to do. Hoping also to touch base with some other musicians I've been collabin' with over the past while.

I had planned to have 60 demos ready to pass out, but, because my studio engineer dropped the ball and I had to scramble to find other resources to produce at least 2 out of the 3 songs I'd expected him to complete... I didn't get the final song until the evening before I left. I sat up til 4 am burning CDs and then got up again early and started again. When you've got one old computer, and several songs to burn, each CD takes about 10 minutes. So, at about 5 an hour - you do the math... 12 hours to burn em.

Other than today, when it was so overwhelmingly hot, it's been a good trip so far.