"No matter where I am, your teachings fill me with songs." - Psalm 119:54 (CEV)

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Joys of Music

I love music.

I really do.

Sometimes it's just hard for me to see -

Like now.

Something about recording,

Snatching ten minutes at a time to capture one take of a song,

Doing that eight to - yikes - ten times

Spending hours working out chords -

It's just not very fun for me.

I want to get to the part where I can just play,


And enjoy it.

At times like these, it's hard to remember

That, just a couple of months ago, I would get so excited at the prospect of a song,

Literally jump up and down (yes, like a little kid) in anticipation.

(Kind of like I did when I got Invisible Empires at the Christian Bookstore)

I forget that I'm obsessed with music.

But, oh, I get so terrified sometimes.

Just the idea of giving a concert -

Knowing how I shake and tremble when I perform for others,

How last summer I thought I forgot the lyrics,

That overwhelming fear I felt -

It scares me.

Even just practicing with someone else around, I get insecure,

I worry.

"What if they don't like it?"

"What if they don't think it's any good?"

Then, of course, the root of it all:

"What if they don't like me?"

I probably shouldn't care,

But I do.

With time, it's gotten better,

But I think that,

To some degree,

I will always feel like this.

It's just part of being human.

I've been questioning, too.

Maybe I shouldn't be doing this at all.

Maybe it's not worth it.

It's so difficult,

And I know so little.

I haven't the slightest clue where to begin,

How to give a concert,

Promote a CD,

Tour the country,

Be a starving artist.

It's scary.

It's risky.

It's intimidating.

Yet just a few months ago, I was sure that this was where He wanted me -



Doing music -

Whatever that would end up looking like.

I don't think that's changed.

I've just gotten more scared.

Maybe it's because,

With everything else going on,

It's been hard to keep my eyes on Him.

It's quite a wonder how I got to it,

Sara Groves leading me to Christa Wells,

Christa Wells leading me to Ann Voskamp,

Ann Voskamp's Delicious linkroll leading me to a random Shaun Groves post -

Not even about music -

Then I think I kept browsing through some of his other non-music-related posts

Until I came across one with a cute little button at the bottom:

"Re:Write Online Songwriting Workshop"

One was for Thursday morning,

And I asked,

Volunteered to pay for the class,

And Dad agreed.

I don't think Mom was too happy,

But she didn't say anything.

(Other than "paid for", that is.)

So, having gotten about five hours of sleep,

I sat through a three-hour songwriting workshop.

Honestly, I wish it'd gone on forever.

(Well, maybe not forever, but you get the picture.)

A lot of people said they would never write the same way again.

I'm not sure I can say the same,

Though he offered a lot of helpful insight.

A lot of people said they learned a lot.

I definitely learned from his advice,

But a lot of what he'd said I'd already figured out on my own,

Learned in the music theory class I took fall semester,

Or done and then abandoned long ago to better express myself.

Yet, when I was asked about the class, I said it was amazing -

And it was.

Going through his rewrite (proofreading) checklist,

Starring one or two things I need to watch out for,

Looking at all the others thinking, "I do this . . .

Maybe I'm not so bad after all?"

Listening to him talk about how we shouldn't be too quick to say we're finished,

How good it is to be humble and accept criticism,

How much we need someone to rip our songs apart,

Help us make them better,

And I'm sitting there thinking of how much I'd appreciate someone to do that for me,

Someone to be brutally honest with me,

And how overly critical I am of myself.

The songs are never finished, just "finished",

Always works in progress,

Always open to change.

If I'm honest with myself, though,

My problem is, I don't change them.

One, because I write them as well as I can in the first place, change a few lines, then have absolutely no ideas for how to make them better than they already are.

Two, because no one rips my songs apart for me and tells me how to make them better.

Three, because I'm scared that if I change too much, not sure that what I'm changing will make them better, I'll just make them worse.

I knew the moment I saw it that "Re:Write" was something I needed to work on.

So, in the future, I'll definitely be rewriting more.

What was truly amazing about the workshop, though,

Is that I felt motivated again.

I could understand why I love music,

Why it's so much fun,

Why I keep doing this -

And I wanted to keep doing it.

Dad and I were up late last night,

Coming up with chords for the song I currently consider to be "my best".

(Of course, others might disagree . . .)

It was amazing.

I started with D and Em chords . . . through the entire song.

I was told that was an interesting progression,

But any progression gets boring when you listen to it for five whole minutes.

Dad hummed a bass line as I played,

Came up with major-minor sevenths,

Major-major sevenths,

Added in the second scale degree . . .

And, if none of that makes any sense to you,

The point is, it sounded awesome!

I knew from the beginning that this song deserved an awesome piano accompaniment.

I think it's going to have it.

Now I need to record it,

(Which is going to be difficult, as the subject makes it emotionally tough to sing.)

And once I do that,

Someone's going to rip it apart for me.

In fact, Shaun Groves himself is going to rip it apart for me,

As part of the class.

And, honestly, I'm terrified, . . .

(It's hard, as an artist, to let your work be exposed, especially when you've put so much of your soul into it.  What if someone really hates it?  What if you aren't really any good?  What if . . .?)

But I'm also excited,

Because I want to get better at this,

Because I love this,

Because it brings me joy.

If anyone's interested in taking Shaun Groves' online songwriting workshop,

There's still one session available tomorrow.

More may come up on his store in the future.

I highly recommend it! - Totally worth the time and money for any songwriter.

Updates on the CD:

I got two more songs recorded,

The accompaniment for the bonus song was pretty much finished last night (pending suggestions),

And I'm ready to record two more.

Three more after that need some work on the accompaniments,

And then I have four more that need major, major work on the accompaniments.

As to whether all thirteen (technically fourteen) tracks will get done by the end of August, that's still up for grabs.

I've been envisioning concepts for cover art, but haven't gotten too far yet with that,

Especially since I can't put too much together until I know how many tracks I'll have.

So, making progress . . .

Rather quickly, actually, this week . . .

But still a long, long way to go.

(Which reminds me of a Christa Wells song . . . sorry, phrases do that to me.)

Dad and I did get one song mixed, though.

I have to say that, even though the piano sound wasn't recorded stereo (two channels, right and left speakers),

Having my voice line up with the accompaniment was awesome!

Then with the bass line and the reverb -

It was almost like a real studio recording, but obviously not as good.

Still, I'm getting pretty excited!

That's one part of doing this CD-making thing that's good.

The closer I get,

The more excited I get.

Maybe more of that joy in music will be returning soon?

(Hopefully some joy in God will be returning, too . . . I'd take that over joy in music any day.)

Well, that's all I have for now.

Thanks for reading!


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