Reflect On It [on KS Friday]

her palette - the piano copy

I so loved Kerri’s post yesterday that, today, I’m reflecting it back to her.

Do we ever really know what it takes to do someone else’s job? We don’t know the tools used, the research done, the years of training and experience, how someone perceives their own work. We can only guess and, most often, fall desperately, arrogantly, audaciously off the mark.

Kerri’s piano dominates her studio. A black 6’7″ Yamaha grand. It is not a show piece, it is a workhorse. Littering the music stand are stacks of composition notebooks, idea journals, sketches (she is visual) and pile after pile of church music – old hymnals, new downloads of pieces she’s considering for her ukulele band, choir or handbell choir. On the floor are several heavy binders arranged in alphabetical order with the music already played, binders from the 30 years of experience as a minister of music. There is yet another stack reserved for pieces she’s considering playing with Jim, her brilliant guitarist. Lining the walls are ukuleles, a few guitars, a cello, a keyboard, several music stands, more stacks of the original recordings of her albums (note: they are not stored as sacred artifacts. Rather, they are piled willy-nilly for easy reference). My wife is a Yamaha artist (look it up) and her constantly shifting studio topography (ever-moving piles) is testament to the music in her soul, her very-long history of artistry.

Now, I’ve sung a song or two in the shower. When I met Kerri I told her that I didn’t sing and she fairly quickly called my bluff. I sing in her choir. I delight in singing with her and Jim. They are kind and pretend that I add something to their mix. Nowadays I can even pick out a slow tune on the ukulele!

All of this, however, does not make me capable of really understanding how Kerri plays or composes. I can pluck a note. I can warble a song. I will, however, never have mastery of all the instruments, I will never approach her capacity to transpose on the fly, or compose poetry and melody. I will never hear the nuance she hears, the music of silence. I do not have a natural gift of music nor an entire lifetime to exercise and explore it.

I do not know the tricks of the trade she has accumulated over decades of honing her expertise. Nor do I know the knowledge base she brings about other artists, other musicians and compositions, the instrumentation, the way she ‘feels’ an audience and adjusts, the very technical details and the very heart-based intuitions she has learned through many, many years of study and practice. I can’t understand or even try to predict the amount of time it takes (or doesn’t take) for her to conceptualize, to explore, to create, to review, to assess, to adjust, to re-create. I can respond to her work but I cannot define it, nor would it be credible for me to even try to do so. Out of respect for her work, this ‘music’ that is one of the essential things that define her, I know that I really have no idea. I will never approach all that she knows. What I can do is appreciate the enormity of her talent, the endless hours of study, pursuit, practice, passion, experimentation, frustration, rehearsal, writing, performance, teaching, research, recording, pondering, pounding and playing and playing and playing – a lifetime of experience – that has brought her to this place where she creates beautiful music that seems to take no effort whatsoever.

Making it look easy. It takes a lifetime. The woman who delivers our mail has been a postal carrier for 30 years. It is hubris to think I know what that takes. It is utter arrogance to think I could pick up a mailbag and simply know what she knows, do what she does. Experience is invisible. Value is too easily reduced to dollars and cents. As Kerri wrote yesterday, with regard to anyone, the work they do, the life-path they bring to their work, we have no idea. It is both humbling and respectful to take a step back and consider the invisible, to remember that what appears easy comes from years and years of very hard work.

 

read Kerri’s blog post on KS FRIDAY

 

 

their palettes website box copy

 

Pause [on KS Friday]

untitledinterlude songbox copy

Interlude. A pause. Breathing space. The silence between the notes. The space with no name. Untitled.

It seems that we, like all the people in our community, entered the new year exhausted. Our season celebrating the return of the light has become a season of rush and dash with nary a moment to reflect. Kerri said, in a moment of exasperation, “The bears are sleeping through this!” Nature knows what we are supposed to be doing in these dark winter months. Resting. Quiet in the branches sends all the good energy to the roots.

Take a moment. Listen. Breathe. Send some good UNTITLED INTERLUDE energy to your roots.

 

UNTITLED INTERLUDE from the album RELEASED FROM THE HEART is available on iTunes and CDBaby. Purchase the physical CD here.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about UNTITLED INTERLUDE

 

bong trail, wisconsin website box copy

untitled interlude/released from the heart ©️ 1995 kerri sherwood

Give Optimism [on KS Friday]

this season song box copy

Margaret has always been an inspiration to me. She is an artist, a maker of quilts. She is one of those rare and gifted people who enter the room and immediately all hearts are flooded with sunshine. Even on my greyest day she has invoked lightheartedness in me. When I see her and I smile.

Yesterday we received her Christmas card and letter. I can’t wait for Kerri to meet Margaret. She is a bit like Kerri’s mother, Beaky. Bright light, teller of stories. In her letter, Margaret wrote of optimism and enthusiasm, of recognizing early in her life that she’d been given those two important gifts and how they had many times carried her through her challenges.

Kerri’s THIS SEASON could be Margaret’s theme song. It is a stroll of window shopping optimism. It is a quilter making a warm and giggle-inspiring quilt for her grandson. It is a mother’s anticipation of visiting her children. Listening to THIS SEASON I am warmed with a quiet enthusiasm. What could be better gifts to give or receive?

 

THIS SEASON on the album THIS SEASON available on iTunes and CDBaby. Better yet! Kerri is having an ABUNDANCE SALE of THIS SEASON. She is selling the CD for $5 to the first 100 people who order. Go here to grab your copy

read Kerri’s blog post about THIS SEASON

 

art sale december 2018 copy

 

onthecapecloseup website box copy

this season/this season ©️ 2005 kerri sherwood

Play The Same Stuff [on Merely A Thought Monday]

string bass with frame copy“If you are a chef, not matter how good a chef you are, it’s not good cooking for yourself; the joy is in cooking for others – it’s the same with music.” ~will.i.am

I lived most of my life believing I didn’t have a musical bone in my body. I was convinced that I had a tin ear. I was afraid to sing. I carried a guitar (I named her Magnolia) with me for years – a gesture of hopefulness amidst my absolute commitment to my ineptitude – and finally gave it away to someone who could play it. An instrument needs to be played and I felt I was being selfish holding onto a guitar that I would never play. Oh, how I wish I had Magnolia today.

I didn’t just make up my fear of music. I had plenty of reinforcement, lots of shaming, before I committed to a story of I CAN’T. Over time, with more and more horror experiences, my story solidified into I WON’T. Ever. Close the door. Kill the desire.

When I met Kerri – a consummate musician – I told her this: “You have to know two things about me. I don’t sing & I don’t pray.” A few months later we were driving back roads in Georgia, windows rolled down, a James Taylor CD blaring, Kerri singing at the top of her lungs, I thought it was safe to sing along. She’d never hear me. But, she did. She burst into tears and pulled the car off the road. I shook like a leaf but we sang together and it was grand.

It took her about 15 minutes to identify my obstacle. I had to relearn how to hear. That’s it. It took a few months and a willingness to mightily miss notes and my scary story of CAN’T crumbled. I learned how to feel the sound. The music was there all along.

Here’s the magic for a beginner like me: when I am rehearsing with the ukulele band or singing in the choir, I am capable of so much more than when I am practicing by myself. Playing the same stuff elevates everyone. It’s as if we transcend ourselves. Actually, we do transcend ourselves. We sync up and the energy uplifts everyone. Even me. Especially me, a toddler in knowing that I CAN.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about PLAYING THE SAME STUFF

 

at jonathans with bear website box copy

 

 

 

 

Sail The Silence [on KS Friday]

SILENT DAYS song box copy

Albert used to come by my studio each evening and pick me up. He knew me well and feared my studio solitude. He’d take me to a coffee house and sit with me until I recovered my capacity to converse. He’d wait until I was capable of crawling out of my silence. We’d laugh when I finally “returned.”

He was right to fear. I didn’t know at that time that the work of an artist – the real work – is to comprehend and navigate their silence. To sail the immensity. We live in this odd age of the individual so an artist’s life is often like solo spelunking. So many get lost in their caves – as I almost did – or their fame (same thing).

My brother-from-a-different-mother recently directed a play. It was a great success. He wrote in the midst of his play’s triumph to tell me how hard he has to work at giving himself any credit. He wrote, “It’s amazing to think how *surprising* that might be for non-artists…” Silence, as he knows, is vast. It is bigger than any single person. When a work of art comes from the vastness it is nearly impossible to claim it. I didn’t tell him that his wrestling match is the mark of a mature artist. How do you claim the ocean or the universe? Success for an artist, unlike the success of a dentist or business person, is an infinite game.

Kerri’s SILENT DAYS could be the soundtrack for the infinite game, sailing into the immensity of the silence. She knows its yearning and awe and brings it back to share with us. I tell myself that she composed SILENT DAYS so others, unfamiliar with their silence, might catch even a small glimpse of life in the boundless places.

 

 

SILENT DAYS from BLUEPRINT FOR MY SOUL available on iTunes & CDBaby

 

read Kerri’s blog post about SILENT DAYS

 

k&dbw backs website box_ copy

silent days/blueprint for my soul ©️ 1997 kerri sherwood

Smile [on Two Artists Tuesday]

generic ukulele sip n strum (no date) copy

When we started our Two Artists Tuesday designs, our subtitle was “Making Stuff for Humans.” We used the word “stuff” loosely. The idea was to bring smiles. we were rooted in whimsy (something I constantly need to practice…).

Over the course of Studio Melange, our idea has morphed. The “stuff” we bring is not only our designs but our experiences as well. And, our latest experience was a riot of fun and the first of many Sip-N-Strums. What could be better than a beginner’s lesson with wine. It makes a good house party, a killer corporate event (we can teach anything through this magical instrument), as well as a fun night out. Whimsy, whimsy, whimsy in a world of whipped up division, ugly partisan fighting and a dedicated focus on the dark things. The ukulele is good medicine.

The ukulele is smile producing. It is impossible to pick it up without feeling playful. Even if you are being forced to play, as one unsuspecting husband was when he came to the Iron Depot Winery with his wife, only to discover that he’d stepped into a ukulele trap. He was in stage-one-full-resistance-mode until he picked up that little green ukulele. Once he wrapped his big bear paws around that little instrument it was all sip-n-smiles from that moment forward.

The quote on our site captures it best. “The ukulele is a portal through which only happy people can pass.” I’d offer this thought as well: the ukulele is a portal through which grumpy people enter their happy place. It is good stuff for humans.

 

 

read Kerri’s blog post about SIP-N-STRUM

 

pumpkinfarm website box copy

Savor Good Moments [on KS Friday]

goodmoments song box copy

When you find yourself wondering what it’s all about, play this game: fill in the blank, “In this life I have….” Fill in the blank again and again and again, searching your memory banks for all the magic, mysterious, and miraculous experiences you’ve enjoyed. The good moments.

I like this game because, inevitably, I arrive at the realization that the good moments are the smallest of moments. Although swimming with whales or seeing the northern lights are miraculous, the really good good moments are first kisses, watching your baby sleep, holding hands after the storm passes. Laughing hysterically with friends just because.

Kerri’s composition, Good Moments, is a musical river of small moments, quiet yearning, tender touches, the smell of autumn leaves. Play the game and begin with Good Moments. It will transport you back. It will unlock the door to your memory bank. It will also help you realize that this moment – this very moment – is a very good moment, indeed.

 

GOOD MOMENTS on the album THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY available on iTunes & CDBaby

 

read Kerri’s blog post about GOOD MOMENTS

 

www.kerrianddavid.com

if you'd like to see kerri sherwood.. copy 2

 

good moments/this part of the journey ©️ 1998 kerri sherwood