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

 

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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

 

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Bark Your Opinion

K.Dot and Tripper

K.Dot and Tripper

Tripper Dog-Dog-Dog does not like the ukulele. He is not shy about expressing his opinions, particularly where his musical tastes are concerned. For instance, Kerri has a djembe (a very cool drum) that he adores. My frame drum, on the other hand, makes him frantic and filled with angst. I was certain that it was my playing and not the drum that drove him nuts until Kerri tried my drum and he was equally distressed. So desperate was he to silence the offending sound that he tried to put his head through the drum. He bit the frame. We can no longer play my frame drum in the house as it evokes the inner rabid wolf spirit in the normally calm and reserved Tripper Dog.

Our house is filled with musical instruments. Dog-Dog hangs out under the piano when Kerri plays. He wraps himself around her stool and chews a bone when she practices her cello. He sleeps through my clumsy first attempts at new guitar chords (or, perhaps my playing puts him to sleep). His broadmindedness snaps shut at the ukulele. He will go to great lengths to stop the strumming. If we contain him in the kitchen he howls.

Tripper Ukulele Interruption

Tripper Ukulele Interruption

I’m considering an experiment. If you’ve not yet discovered Jake Shimabukuro, do yourself a favor and listen to his work. He is a ukulele master and makes those four little strings sound like a full orchestra. He plays rock and jazz and the blues and anything else that you can’t imagine coming out of a ukulele. Go see his concerts. You won’t believe your eyes or your ears. I have a Jake Shimabukuro CD and am considering slipping it on the player while Tripper isn’t looking. I’m wondering if his disapproval of the ukulele might dissolve in the face of mastery. I’m wondering if Tripper Dog-Dog might gain an appreciation of the ukulele if introduced to deeper levels of sophistication. He is, after all, a puppy and generally open to learning new tricks.

As an old dog, I, too, am open to learning new tricks and the ongoing lesson in this life is about what I can and cannot control. Whether or not Dog-Dog ever grows to appreciate the ukulele is definitely out of my control. What is in my control is this: I will love him either way.

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