SOMEHOW I’M STILL PLAYING

When she was young, she had a vision of playing her music for a lot of people on a large stage.

Though she loved to sing, she disliked her own voice. But it was completely different for her to hear the voice of her guitar. It spoke loudly and its beauty captivated her.

She carried her first guitar everywhere until it became sandy and worn. As she “matured” her music began to fade away. Her creativity was now focused upon her art career.

She thought the music might stay if she had a more beautiful guitar. Her devotion to art, which had stolen her musical passion, allowed for the money to buy a special treasure.

When she bought it, she knew that it was special. First of all, the guitar was perfumed with a sweet, odor of rosewood. Its delicate tone resonated with every note. It was her jewel and she considered it the only true treasure she had ever owned.

When she went to play her beautiful instrument she found it very painful. Her fingers were tender and sore. If her new guitar could speak it would have told her a simple fact. It only accepted a passionate musician; nothing less was acceptable. There was no way to fool it.

Only with practice and time would she be allowed to play without pain. Sadly, it was not possible for her to do that.

The years passed and the guitar became dusty and forgotten.

Her exquisite guitar waited for her. It never spoke or called out. Many years later, she opened the case and dusted it off. She wasn’t even sure if she was ready to play it, but this time she played despite the pain.

And then one day, the pain stopped and was replaced with ecstasy.

Some correspondence with my childhood friend, Steve:

On Mar 3, 2011, Steve wrote:

It’s funny; when I read interviews with musicians they invariably say they never listen to their own recordings once they’ve completed them. But you play your own to death. I have to admit I have always wondered if musicians DO listen to their recordings a lot and just feel self-conscious or vain to say so in interviews. Steve

Hi Steve,

That’s interesting about other musicians. I find though, that I don’t listen to my old songs much, only new ones. I pick them apart. However, as I’ve improved, I’ve enjoyed listening more and more because there is less that I pick apart.

I think what has helped my new songs come out better is that I do a lot of preliminary recording to hear how the song structure and vocal sounds. That translates to a better arrangement and vocal with George.

Lately, I’ve enjoyed listening to simple, acoustic recordings to see how my voice is improving. I also want to be a better live performer and that helps me.

Thanks so much for your insight, Steve!

I thought about this exchange. It occurred to me that for most of my life I always hated to hear my recorded voice. When I began playing my guitar again, I had to listen to an old cassette from thirty years ago in order to relearn my songs.

It was painful!

Here is the truth of how I feel about my music and my recordings:

I love most of George’s instrumentation on my songs.

I marvel at my improved voice.

I am filled with amazement at the melodies to my songs.

I feel moved by my lyrics, which connect to my heart.

I believe I am listening to songs that are not my own. I believe these songs were only channeled through me.

The voice I hear singing is not my voice either. It is someone else that I could only have dreamed of being.

I recently wrote about how humor has helped me. Yesterday, nothing felt funny as I struggled with tremendous stress regarding my parents at their nursing facility.

It was helpful for me to write about my stress, for sure. Rather than be impulsive, I did not send my emotional writing to the facility. I decided to wait and see what would happen with the “feeding program” the facility promised to implement.

I began to see alternatives that were beyond fighting “policies.” I did not have a grasp of the law as I had when I advocated for my children. so I decided I might have to find other ways to manage with the situation. This morning, my mother did not eat any breakfast.

A nurse offered to feed her and my mother said, “No thank you.” That was it.

Her caregiver, Miriam, went and bought her something and gave it to her afterwards. It might have been inconvenient, but at least my mother wasn’t hungry.

Last night, I visited my parents and joined them for dinner. The progression of my mother’s dementia left me with an interesting observation.

In the beginning, when my mother didn’t make sense it happened occasionally. Now it was the other way around. That was because most of the time my mother made no sense. Whenever she had a lucid moment, I found myself desperately grabbing onto it!

I held onto the simple fact that despite her confusion my mother was able to still appreciate my presence and express how much she loved me!

I left the facility to perform at Border’s. I was playing an extra night, because my usual schedule was every Sunday with an occasional Friday or Saturday.

One of the benefits of performing regularly was that I no longer became nervous. I was familiar with setting up everything now, and extremely comfortable with my audience.

I carried my gear bag and guitar past two tables that were close to where I would be singing. The people at those two tables were conversing loudly. I had great difficulty singing my songs.

Even though I didn’t want to alienate my audience, I politely asked the noisy people if they could move back in order for me to be able to concentrate on my singing. It was so difficult for me to sing over their loud laughter that I was thinking of stopping and waiting! I decided this was good practice, and part of the challenge of being a performer. I tried to be patient.

Finally, the noisy people left and I was able to sing in a peaceful state. I didn’t have my usual, big smile, but I still felt joyful and intensely appreciative that I could share the music I loved.

I allowed my songs to speak for me. My hour was soon up and I thanked my audience for listening. I was actually surprised when several people clapped enthusiastically and one man commented loudly to me, “You are awesome!”

I packed up my equipment and waited for my “free smoothie.”

While I was waiting, a woman came over to me with tears in her eyes. She shared that her grandmother had dementia. She said my song moved her so much she had to get up and walk around.

Another man shared that he had heard me several times and would certainly be back to hear me again.

There was certain, young man who I noticed had definitely connected with my songs. I could tell he wanted to speak to me, and sure enough he smiled and walked over to where I was waiting. I said to him, “I think I’m kind of old to sing songs for someone your age.”

He said, “You might have reached millions of people with your beautiful songs when you were younger, but it wouldn’t have been the same. Your life experience is what makes your songs so touching. Instead of reaching a million people, you could have a great impact on a few and change lives.”

I thanked him and told him that the few people I’ve touched have already made my life so meaningful.

I sipped my “free smoothie” as I left Border’s. I was smiling again.

I stepped into the night air, and a vision came over me. I was playing my music for a lot of people on a large stage.

© Judy Unger and http://www.myjourneysinsight.com 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

About Judy

I'm an illustrator by profession. At this juncture in my life, I am pursuing my dream of writing and composing music. Every day of my life is precious!
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