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So far CAweb has created 6 blog entries.

Storming the Castle

A few days ago I wrote my first blog post and discovered that starting in a grateful place is a very good place to start – especially when making music! While the notable accomplishment of having completed my “First Blog Post Ever” is behind me, I’ve continued to muse on the encouragement of Arthur Ashe:

“Start where you are,
Use what you have
Do what you can.”

Using what you have and doing what you can.

Like Westley in his quest to rescue The Princess Bride.

Whether rescuing damsels in distress with a giant at your side, or taking a next step in this adventure called life, it often demands a storming-the-castle mentality. It calls for assessing the situation, devising a plan, and courageously doing what we can with what we’ve got.

In the words of Westley, “What are our assets?”

Admittedly, I’ve got a leg up on Westley in that I’ve never been mostly-dead, but I must admit that I’ve always been uncomfortable discussing my own assets.   It’s much easier to keep quiet about such things and crawl under the first available holocaust cloak! But, if I’m going to do what I can, I need to know my resources.

So, Westley, here’s what I have:

Strong Musical Intuition. God wired my brain to hear pitches and rhythms, and to recreate them without written music. He gave me the knack of understanding harmonic connections way before I knew that there were such things as scales or keys or tonics and dominants.

Classical Training and Experience: As I developed as a young musician, I began to take delight in not just making music, but in learning from the master composers. Listening to seasoned artists. Seeking out people with skill and insights beyond my own.   Stretching myself to listen well, to understand more fully and to play with increasing depth.   Pushing myself to keep developing as an artist.

Improvisational Wiring and Experience: God gave me a swirly-whirly brain. I admit, there are definitely downsides to living with this sort of brain. We random thinkers can be easily intrigued by new ideas. (That’s code for easily distracted)!! . However, as a musician, the upside to living with a whirly-brain is that when the unexpected happens – it becomes a delightful opportunity to be creative – right then and there!

Desire to Engage With People: God created me to be people person. Music for the sake of simply making nice sounds has never been a strong motivator for me. However, connecting with another person through music is life-giving, whether they be a fellow performer or a listener.

I’ve got resources and experience, desire and courage. The castle awaits!

So what I can do?

I can keep playing! I can keep writing, performing and teaching. I can continue to learn, listen and refine.

And when the bride needs a few minutes to fix the torn hem of her dress, or a singer forgets the words, or someone starts in the wrong key, I’ll let this flexible, swirly brain kick into gear!

I can keep engaging with others!

Connect with string players as we work out the intricacies of a Brahms trio, or jam with jazz musicians. Play music at church that serves as a vehicle for praise and worship, or have an impromptu music-fest in someone’s living room.

And as I teach, whether helping a student find their musical voice playing Clementi or jamming to the 12-bar blues, I hope to teach them not only about music, but about embracing life and relationship, and finding the courage to do more than they thought they could.

“Have fun storming the castle!”

That’s the plan, Max, that’s the plan.

What’s Your Lifesong?

Blessed is the man who can sing his song when the theatre is empty and the orchestra is gone.

Music has been called the universal language. It makes sharing life on planet earth so much easier! In spite of all the differences between people of the world, and no matter where you live or what you believe, we can all experience music together, whether it results in smiles, a tear, or some get-down, serious toe-tapping! Making music with others – whether teaching or performing or listening – is a marvelous way to share life together!

Music gives life to our bodies, our brains, and our souls. Just check out some of the recent scientific studies where the effects of music on the human body have been observed and measured. It is seriously amazing stuff. Songs really do power up our bodies!

The idea of lifesong is also a great metaphor for spiritual life. For me personally, God is my lifesong – the one who provides the rhythm, the melody and the harmony of my life. In response, I want my life to sing a song of praise to my God, even when the theatre is empty and the orchestra is gone.

It is also my heart’s desire, that just maybe, along the way, my life song will encourage others to sing when they’ve lost the words, the melody – or perhaps, even the beat.

Here’s to the gift of song – and here’s to life!

Asked about Inspiration

I was recently asked how I continue to inspire students musically. There are so many ways to inspire, and some forms of inspiration work for some students better than others. However, after some thought and reflection, I’ve determined that, regardless of the tool used to inspire, the best thing I can do is to be delighted and enthusiastic about the process of discovery myself! Maybe it’s discovering the joys of music through our different senses (I’ve been known to give a student a piece of chewy caramel, then ask them to play their melody like the taste or texture of the candy!), or maybe it’s discovering a new piece, or a new composer, or even discovering a new way of sitting that makes playing more comfortable. Whatever the discovery, my students are far more likely to be enthusiastic about learning if their teacher is enthusiastic about learning!

And about that caramel…be sure you get the kind with a little salt and dark chocolate in the mix. I’ve discovered it makes for the most tasty, well-connected melody lines!!

Let music inspire YOU!

I believe that music, at it’s best, impacts the heart and mind of the listener. Music has the power to engage the soul, the spirit, the mind, the body – – the whole works! It has the power to rouse us to action, to put us at rest, and gives voice to the joys and sorrows that are deeper than words can express.

Music is a gift that must not be kept silent. It CAN not be kept silent. It longs to be shared . . .

Don’t you hear it?
& I shook
my head no
& then
she started to dance
& suddently there was
music everywhere
& it went on
for a very long time

& when I finally found words
all I could say was
thank you

My Very First Blog Post. . . Ever

Well, it’s happening. It’s finally happening.

I finally have a website! This project has been in mind for quite some time, but due to numerous factors, a website has been long in coming. As in, sometimes I wondered if it would ever happen,

And with the happening of the website comes the happening of my first blog. This is big news, people. As in, first blog . . . ever. (Insert drum roll, please!) Here we go!

Perched in front of my computer, my ten fingers are twitching and itching to make this happen. The thoughts swirl and whirl. What to say? Where to start?

That’s when I look at the framed piece of artwork that reads:

“Start where you are,
Use what you have
Do what you can.” **

“Start where you are.” I know that sounds simple, but for we swirly-whirly-brained types, sometimes we forget where we are. Maybe the Tilt-A-Whirl in my head will finally come to rest once I rediscover where I am.

(Delete drum roll . . . a moment of silence is needed, thank you very much!)

Ah, I know where I am. I’m in a grateful place. 🙂

As I explore this grateful place, I quickly realize there’s so much to be grateful for! There are so many people in my life who have been part of my life-journey and I could never name them all! But here are the stand-outs:

So grateful for a husband who loves me and unfailingly encourages me to make music – to teach, to write, to perform – and to risk trying something new (like a website!). You know that phrase, “Wind beneath my wings?” Yep, that’s him.

So grateful for kids who love me and have logged in many listening hours of piano music over the years. They have graciously dealt with countless hours of scales and improvisation and the incessant repetition involved in working out fingering and other musical bugaboos. A mom couldn’t ask for better, or more patient kids.

So grateful for friends and family members who have listened to the swirling and whirling of my brain and encouraged me to keep pursuing my musical heart desires. They have, time and again, helped the swirls and whirls morph from dizzy spells to a dance.

Grateful to 237 Marketing and Web Design for walking me through this whole business of building a website. Seriously, having them at my side has been SUCH a gift – without them it would have never happened.

And above all, I am, from the bottom of my heart, so grateful to God for His gift of Life, and the gift of Music. Without Him in my life, the songs of my heart would be meaningless.

Gratefulness. I like starting here.
What happens next, I’ll have to wait and see. But it’s happening . . . it’s finally happening.

**Thank you to Arthur Ashe!

Ten Grands on the Green

Saturday, July 25 @7pm

The Reserve Vineyards and Golf Club in Aloha, OR

Tickets go on sale April 2015