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

 

KS Friday

jackettpotjjpegIn this age of brevity, tweets, freeways, fast tracks, efficiency and ubiquitous worship at the alter of time-is-money, I find this piece of music to be heart-full and hopeful.  It reminds me of the simple truth in this life: the important stuff lives in the fields beyond the achievements and striving. It’s A Long Story is beautiful and evokes a profound paradox: each moment is a long story  – especially if I choose to live IN it rather than rush to pass THROUGH it.

I listened to this album long before I met Kerri in person. I listened over and over again to this track, It’s A Long Story, and knew we were kindred. It asks you to stop and listen. It asks you to take time, to surrender any nagging efficiency, cost cutting race through life and sit in your moment. It’s a warm bath in the simple appreciation of living. It has made me smile and sometimes served as the soundtrack to my weeping. It always serves as a siren call into the present moment. That’s the heart of the artist’s gift and Kerri, my wife is a remarkable artist. On this KS Friday, hear her call from the melange, and fall into your Long Story.

ITS A LONG STORY from the album THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY (track 1) iTunes

KS FRIDAY

www.kerrisherwood.com – buy the album

read Kerri’s thoughts about IT’S A LONG STORY

www.kerrianddavid.com

IT’S A LONG STORY from THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY ©️ 2000 kerri sherwood

KS Friday

It is one of the great pleasures of my life to be down in my studio painting when Kerri, upstairs in her studio, begins to play. I always stop and appreciate how rich, how utterly fortunate I am. There is more than just music in our house. There is a source, an amazing composer, a gifted musician. She plays like most people breathe and I marvel at the enormity and ease of her gift.

From the melange on this Valentine’s week comes a Slow Dance. It is from Kerri’s album As Sure As The Sun. Friday belongs to Kerri’s music. I am particularly fond of Slow Dance. It is visceral and reminds me of a summer evening, sitting in the adirondack chairs in the front yard, sipping wine and talking. We were listening to music and without really intending it, we began to dance. Fast dances, silly dances, rowdy-run-around-dances, and finally, laughing and exhausted, there came a slow dance. The neighbors still talk about it….

 

ASATS

Slow Dance from AS SURE AS THE SUN

KERRI SHERWOOD

[a note to consider: the links will by default take you to apple music – apple’s streaming service. With respect to artists everywhere, please consider downloading your music on itunes rather than streaming your music. It requires one additional click. Downloading means the artists get paid for their work. Streaming guarantees that they don’t.]

kerrianddavid.com

Slow Dance from As Sure As The Sun ©️ 2002 kerri sherwood

Begin

my studio and all of my current messes-in-progress

“Where I create I am true, and I want to find the strength to build my life wholly upon this truth, this infinite simplicity and joy that is sometimes given me… But how shall I begin…?” Rainier Maria Rilke

But how shall I begin? It is a great and ubiquitous question. I have, in my life, worked with many, many people who passionately and at last created beautiful studios for themselves and then, in horror, sat frozen in their dream creative space blankly staring at a canvas. Or a blank sheet of paper. Or an incessant cursor on an all-white screen. Or an instrument. Their first question for me (for themselves): but how shall I begin?

A friend once told me that artists’ studios can sometimes be terrifying places. “You have to show up,” he said. “And what if, when I show up, I find I have nothing of value in me? What if I have nothing to say?” Ah. There’s the rub. Inner judges delight in confusing creative spaces with torture chambers. No one, in their right mind, will willingly step into a torture chamber. Even the hardiest creative impulse goes into hiding when judgment is on the menu.

In the category of things you can say to friends but not to clients: What if you have lots to say but are simply too afraid to say it? What if within you lives an entire universe of unique perspectives and you have created a monster at the door to ensure your silence? Who’s this judge that you fear?

Rilke wrote, “Where I create I am true….” Truth is not a frozen, fixed thing. It is alive and dynamic. Artistry is an exploration into truth (personal truth), not an answer. It is a living dynamic process, not a finished product. This same sentiment applies to all of life.

my favorite recent spontaneous art installation by 20

Tom had a mantra: a writer writes and a painter paints. He might have answered the question this way: begin. Simply show up. Begin. Make messes. Make offers. Make strong offers. See what happens. Learn. Choose. Make mistakes. Make big mistakes. Decide. Fall down. Go too far. Rip it up. Stop too soon. Use the torn pages. Learn. Play. Surprise yourself. Bore yourself. Learn. Play. Choose. No judge, inner or outer, can survive in such a vibrant creative truth-space.

An actual studio is nothing more than an expression of an artist’s internal life. How do you begin? Value your truth. Allow it to live. Knowing how to begin requires an understanding of why you stopped in the first place.

And then, as someone wise once said to me: make all the world your studio.