Thursday, December 11, 2014

Cramming: It's Not Just for Exams Anymore

Ever since my first piano recital -- in Chattanooga, Tennessee at the advanced age of 8 -- I realized that I love performing music. Granted, in that first-ever public performance recital, I was merely one of what felt like a multitude of awkward children in a hot and stuffy room, each clutching our sheet music in sweaty hands while awaiting our turn on the stage for our single song.

I bought my first guitar just before my sixteenth birthday. It was a classical guitar, with nylon strings and the traditionally extra-wide, flattened fretboard. Completely unsuited to my style of playing and musical preferences. But it was cheap and it was all I could afford, so I was thrilled just to have it.

I was 18 when I first picked up a bass guitar -- almost by accident, but that's a whole 'nuther story -- and discovered that I loved playing bass. If my parents had previously been perplexed by the distorted cacophony I had been creating with my second-hand electric guitar and equally low-fi amplifier, I can only imagine their furrowed brows over the low-frequency rumblings working their way up through the vents from the basement. (Parents of musicians don't get nearly enough credit for their years of long-suffering endurance as we learned our craft.)

My American friends recently celebrated their Thanksgiving Day. I was privy to many social media reports of what my friends are deeply grateful for.
In Canada, we celebrate Thanksgiving much earlier (first week in October), generally because it's still warm then, and we are therefore more disposed to being thankful.
I'm reminded, by both holidays, to be thankful for the gift of creativity, whether as a writer or as a musician. I thoroughly enjoy performing live, and I also love the creativity and hard work in the recording studio.

Even when I've been spending four-to-six hours a day (as I have been this past month or so) learning and memorizing songs for the various bands I am a part of (Public House Band, Feet First, & the J.S. Garcia Band), subbing in with Easy Fix (when their regular bassist isn't available), special occasions like the recent CD release party with Norm Strauss, or leading worship at The Well -- my mind may be crammed full to bursting with all the songs represented, but I love it. The opportunity to perform with such an array of talented & creative people is a gift and a privilege that I am very thankful for.

CD Release Party with Norm Strass & Band -- more gigs coming in 2015!

And, while we're on the topic, it's also why I haven't been writing as regularly. There is an ebb and flow in the creative arts, and I'm learning how to adjust and flow with it. Especially as  I seek to excel in more than one artistic expression.

I am anticipating a greater emphasis on writing in early 2015, once the "front-loading" of learning so many songs in a short period of time gives way to the more moderate and balanced pace of rehearsal and live performance.

But for now, I'm just grateful. Very much so. (Even for the cramming.)

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