Music is such a fluid thing, such a soul satisfying thing and for me and it is so much better when it’s shared. I love making music with people.
When I was in high school I was privileged to have some amazing teachers and peers to work with. My high school choir teacher, Miss White, was truly remarkable. She was fresh out of university when she started instructing us and was only a couple years older than the 12th graders when she began. Her approach to a new piece of music was to be flexible. She would often suggest changes to a piece and listen to us if we thought a chord could be made more beautiful by adding a 7th or 13th. By the time we performed any piece of music for an audience it was often heavily redlined with our personal changes. We worked together to make a published piece better. I loved that. I felt that we all worked together to create something better than the original.
I also played French Horn in my high school band. Again, I was so blessed to have some amazing musicians at my side and I aspired to be able to play as they did. There is something astounding about sitting in the middle of the band where I sat. The trumpets and trombones blared behind me with the fat sounds of the baritones and tubas backing them. The clarinets smooth tones were to my right, flutes and oboes hauntingly melodic in front of me. The saxophones were squawking to my left and the steady beat of the drums thrummed through us all. I literally had goosebumps every band class. The very vibrations from the music we played ran deep through me and seemed to anchor my soul. I felt such a sense of belonging there. My French Horn too was a part of me. It’s such a beautiful instrument just to look at but to hold it close, fingers caressing the keys and the feel of the brass resonating in my hands…wow. To be able to produce such beautifully glorious sounds with nothing more than my breath felt akin to magic. When I graduated to playing in an orchestra the feeling was only magnified. Now I had the timpany to my right with it’s deep booming sounds and the sweet sustained harmonies of the 2nd violins in front. The sound of a full orchestra surrounding me felt like the final destination in a pilgrimage. The attainment of nirvana. I think they should sell a seat for every orchestral performance that is right smack in the middle. Like returning to the womb you are surrounded by the bliss of a beautiful piece of music. It permeates you, caresses you and sinks deep to your core.
Now, years later, music is much more of a solo venture for me. I sit by myself in my living room and write. Most of what you hear is all my map. That is to say that for most songs I wrote the chords, melodies and words in the order you hear. Then I bring it to my producers Glenn Sawyer and Rich Veltrop who add the additional instrumentation to bring the piece to life. I liken it to bringing in a black and white outline and letting them color it in. Different producers will color a song differently but the basic outline is always the same. Don’t get me wrong. It’s cool. I love what they are doing with my music. But I crave the interaction with other musicians. The collaborative effort in which together we create something amazing. There is a moment when jamming with people when all the sudden you realize you are all on the same page. You are all for that moment moving in the same direction and something magical is happening. You can feel it like a tangible thing in the air. It’s usually at this point that I realize I’m grinning from ear to ear and have to hold back the urge to laugh. It is one of the very few things in this world that gives me true joy. And I miss it.
Maybe one day I will find people to actively collaborate with. People who find happiness in the feel of strings under their fingers or drumsticks in their hands. People who are looking for what I want: to make great music and have a good time doing it. That’s my latest goal. We’ll see what happens.