Making Music Happen

Most of you who know me personally know that music is a central theme in my family and our home. It was a huge part of my past (having worked for 6 years toward a guitar performance degree) and a significant part of what made me who I am today. Although I rarely play anymore, as life, work, and children have engulfed my time, it does give me a certain measure of credibility and experience in working with and alongside my husband in his ongoing and consistently driven musical efforts, and also in instilling musical passion in my children. I have discovered that the active practice of our life’s various loves often waxes and wanes as time marches on and our circumstances change with its beat. But just because we may not participate actively in the same passions throughout all stages of our lives, does not mean those passions have died. For whatever length of time we did practice them, we wrote them on our hearts and made them a part of whatever we choose to practice in the future – in my case, blogging, gardening, hosting book clubs, raising children, and supporting the passions of those I love (just to name a few). But I digress…

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This post is about music. And it has been quite a week for musical happenings in our home. The first and most minor event is that I restrung my classical for the first time in years! Given the above diatribe about life’s changing passions, I hope this does not cause any of you to immediately assume you will be hearing the classical renderings of Diana Scarborough (as last heard circa 2005) any time soon. But it is a step. A small step. It opens the window a crack so that if I feel the whim and decide to exercise my fingers a bit, at least it won’t sound like doo doo. (Did I just say doo doo? I’m such a MOM!) But the most pleasant side effect of this effort is that my hubs, who plays all the time, will now be able to play my guitar if he wants to. And it is a BEAUTIFUL instrument. I know that I am biased toward it in the much the same way parents are toward their children (OK, maybe not that much), but it really is lovely. This classical can sing. And it has been hanging on the wall, un-played, for far to long now.

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The second musical event is that our oldest son, Aiden, was given his first real instrument! From the time he was old enough to favor one instrument over another, drums have always been his biggest love. And the kid’s got rhythm. He doesn’t just beat around and make noise like most 4 year-olds would. He creates beats. He jams. He writes lyrics and melodies to accompany his playing and he gets after it. When a good friend saw him playing at a party recently, he was so taken with his ability and inspired by his passion that he determined then and there to buy him his first kit. The very next day, he did! It arrived in the mail a few days later and he has been playing every day since. Lessons will be soon to follow, but for now, we are just letting him revel in the excitement and joy of playing something his size that belongs to him and makes him feel proud.

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The last and most important event is that Jonathan (aka Hubs) has completed and self-released his first album – an accomplishment several years in the making. Music is easily his biggest passion and the thing he gains the most fulfillment from in life. He has labored for a long time to meticulously perfect and pour himself into these 11 song. Writing, performing, and producing every bit of it in our home studio in the sparse time that life, work, and children have left him to work on it. But he never gave up, even when he felt like it didn’t matter anymore. That it could never get done. That he could never find the time. He did. He pressed on and now he has something beautiful to show for it. The beginning of a legacy. I don’t know if thousands of people will hear it in his lifetime, but some will, and those who do will be changed by it. And now he has walked through that door, closed it, and is free to walk through the many that lay ahead. I am so proud of him. And if any of you would like to experience the reason for that pride, click his image below to hear a sample, download the album, or order an actual CD. It is surprising, unique, and full of life… just like he is. I am excited to share this piece of him with the world.

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Pearls Before Breakfast – Training Our Minds To Take Note

On days filled with plumbers and toilets, caulk disasters and puke, sometimes its hard to see past all of the shit (literally) to the beauty that I try so desperately to draw out with this blog. I have been mining my days and thoughts lately trying to seek out positivity, not just to write about here, but to adjust my own mindset and derail the doldrums. So far, I can’t seem to find many gems, but at least I’m digging.

In the mean time I wanted to share an article that I recently came across on Facebook. The article, a Washington Post piece entitled “Pearls Before Breakfast,” generated international discussion about how we perceive and appreciate beauty, art, and music, and eventually won the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing in 2008. It addressed the idea that context can play such a huge roll in how we discern beauty. That outside of the contexts in which we expect to find it, beauty can be elusive and our appreciation or even awareness of it can be minimal if we do not train our minds to take note.

Here is a brief summary, verified by Snopes, of the extraordinary story:

“A man stood in a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that thousands of people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

Three minutes went by and a middle-aged man noticed there was musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried up to meet his schedule.

A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping continued to walk.

A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.

The one who paid the most attention was a 3-year-old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried but the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk turning his head all the time This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.

In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the best musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written with a violin worth 3.5 million dollars.

Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston and the seats averaged $100.

Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and priorities of people. The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: Do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?

One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be:

If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?”

Perhaps we should all take a little more time to stop and smell the roses . . . hear the music . . . watch the sunset . . . be drawn in.

Lullaby

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been singing my son to sleep. First as I was nursing him before bed, later as I was rocking him in my arms after his bedtime stories, and now as I kneel beside his big boy bed and he snuggles all of his animals. But tonight he sang to me. With the smallest, clearest voice, carrying a good tune, he softly sang two of the songs I usually sing to him and my heart melted. All the weights and stresses of the day disappeared as his tiny voice magically soothed my spirit. It seemed to be a foreshadowing of a time when I may need him to tuck me into bed. A gentle and sweet reminder that sometimes I need to be taken care of too. And often it is the people I believe to be least capable of doing so that surprise me with the tenderest care. I am truly blessed.

Celebrate Good Times!

Well . . . I did it. I turned thirty. And, you know, I don’t feel any different. I don’t feel older or wiser, more capable or mature, less prone to worry or doubt. I don’t know exactly what I want to be when I grow up nor whether the things that fulfill me today will still fulfill me tomorrow. I discovered that it was not some magic number that would change my life and my outlook and the way that people saw me. It was just another day and I am just me. All the things that led to this point in my existence are as valuable (or invaluable) as they were the day before and they still make me who I am whether I am defined by the numbers 2-9 or 3-0. These may seem like silly realizations to those of you who have never been bothered by aging or plagued by the fear of leaving a decade behind, but for me they are profound. And I am relieved to have accepted them and moved on to embracing what the next decade has to offer.

I was extremely lucky to be able to celebrate the event by taking a day trip to Memphis with my family. And despite the freezing rain all day, we had a wonderful time. I felt completely blessed to be surrounded by the people who love me honestly and simply for who am and who value me more than anyone else. Here are a few glimpses of what that love looks like and why I am not afraid to begin the next decade with these boys by my side!

Experiencing the Peabody Ducks up close and personal!

Me and my sweetheart!

Magic!

I'm not sure what the tongue was about, but he LOVED riding the trolley (aka train) around downtown Memphis.

And so did we!

"Nostalgia on Beale St." - need I say more?

I DO know what the tongue was about in this one. Rock on DUDE!

My sweet little man rocking out on his "guitar."

As soon as we left the Gibson factory, this is what happened. He is clearly not ready to skip naps yet. Even with all the cold rain and noise of Beale Street, sleep overcame him.

A beautiful picture on a not so beautiful day.

20 Minutes later, he got to wake up to THIS - an authentic blues band at BB Kings! Needless to say, he was impressed.

As was Mama!

Sitting behind U2's drums at Sun Studios! He was pretty stoked, although somewhat disappointed that he couldn't play them.

All in all, a lovely day full of great memories to ring in the next 30 years! Cheers!

Meet in the Middle

I’m just going to be honest… it’s been a rough day. Feeling sick all day, worrying about the baby’s wellness, stressing at work, hosting a baby shower while feeling rather un-plussed about babies at the moment, and demonstrating a patience level with my son that would give the worst of moms a run for their money. It is sometimes hard to sit down and write what you hope is positive inspiration for others when what you really want is for someone to spontaneously appear and inspire you. As I was expressing these thoughts to Jonathan and telling him that I didn’t know if I had it in me to write tonight, he suggested I post a poem that I loved. He hoped it might benefit me as much as my readers and at least keep up my regular posting schedule. I highly doubt this is what he had in mind but it has been running through my head for the past couple of days and, despite all my better judgements and taste in music, I love this song and its message of tolerance and forgiveness:

“…I’ll start walking your way
You start walking mine
We’ll meet in the middle
‘Neath that old Georgia pine
We’ll gain a lot of ground
If we both give a little
Cause there ain’t no road too long
When we meet in the middle…”

So often, particularly when we have days like I had today, we expect people to just come to us and cater to our needs, forgetting that there are two people involved in any relationship. And we may be struggling, but they may be too. We all have hidden cares and burdens that we carry around and it is not fair to expect the other person to come all way. But if we both make an effort to meet each other where we are, it is so much easier to get there.

If you hate this song and now have it stuck in your head for days, I do apologize.  If it is one of your guilty pleasures, as it is mine, then enjoy and try to remember as you belt it out in the shower tomorrow that as much as we want someone to meet us where we are, that someone most likely wants the same thing.  So lets all just  . . . meeee-eeeet in the middle!