Several weeks have passed, and again I’ve found myself struggling to follow a regular blogging schedule. I think about writing often, however, during the midst of the day, I am inundated by the mundane tasks of everyday life, practicing, chores, errands, teaching, email, phone calls, administrative tasks for my business, etc., and by the time the end of the day approaches, I’m too exhausted to consider writing anything…or if I do, what I write is lazy, poorly executed and not of a quality that I’d feel comfortable publishing. And that’s with a personal assistant! Once a week, my fantastic personal assistant, Mandoline, comes to my office and helps me with all manner of tasks. I don’t know how I ever got along without her help! One day, when I have a real budget, I want to hire an assistant full time!
Anyway, I shall attempt to bring you up to date with what I’ve been busy doing over the past several weeks:
On April 9, 2009, I taught the first session of my class at the Jazz School in Berkeley. A few months ago, I proposed teaching a class on the music of Stevie Wonder, and everyone at the Jazz School seemed excited about the prospect. Initially, my concept revolved around working with keyboard players, but it was suggested that instead I teach an ensemble class. I had a few weeks to prepare charts for the students, but given the fact that I had no idea who would show up, I really couldn’t begin charting until the class structure had been determined. So, at the last minute (as in the night before class), I stayed up all night doing quite literal transcriptions of Stevie’s recordings for the class. A classic example of my tendency towards perfectionism, I had no reason for putting that much detail or so many hours into class preparation, but I did it the night before the first class, and again for each of the past 3 Wednesday nights. I can’t do it anymore. My fatigue level has reached a new high (low?), and if I don’t find a way to get more down time, I’m afraid I may break. We’ll see…wish me luck in overcoming a lifelong habit of perfectionism… Nonetheless, I’m having a great time with the class. The students clearly love the music and are very responsive to my coaching, which makes teaching so much easier!
I’ve had several performances at local restaurants where I sing and accompany myself on the piano. This is a new phase of my musical journey. I’ve played hundreds of gigs as a solo pianist, but only in the past few months have I started singing too. All of a sudden, I get more requests for performances as a singing pianist than as a solo pianist! I must say that I am enjoying the process of honing my skills in this new role. My confidence as a lead vocalist is growing (singing background is ENTIRELY different), and I’m working on building a repertoire. I’ve had several friends stop by the restaurants where I’m performing, including on one night in Burlingame, my yoga buddies Karen, Janet, Jenny, Jamie and his friend Michelle; my friend Alan brought his friends Noelle and Guy. On a different night in Danville, my yoga buddies LaShara & Jaime brought 2 of their friends, and my music colleagues and friends Angela, Sandra, and Sandy and her friend Lisa came to my gig. Lisa even built up the courage to sing a couple of songs with me. I do enjoy accompanying, so in my gig promotions, I encourage people to come perform with me at my gig in Danvile. It’s fun and gets the clients involved in my performance in a more intimate way. Performing as a background artist is quite isolating at times.
I had lunch with one of my mentors a few weeks ago. Bill Bell has been a steady and supportive presence in my musical life, and it was a pleasure to sit and catch up with him over lunch. Mr. Bell (I still can’t bring myself to call him by his first name) is and has always been a great inspiration for me. He’s an accomplished musician, instructor, composer, and conductor and has always graciously shared his insights, both musical and otherwise, with any number of Bay Area musicians, both aspiring and professional.
Those are some of my recent musical adventures. I will try to be better about writing…