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Playing a Different Part of the Same Elephant

My Inner world was crying out so loud last night that my body could not relax enough to sleep. It wasn’t till I started preparing my breakfast that I began to connect with my Inner World enough to know that she was really hurting. She hadn’t stopped hurting after the few hours of sleep I eventually got.

It reminded me of the parent who is so preoccupied with working to put a roof over their heads, they forget to hold the child close to let them know how much they mean to them. Some of us are missing physical touch so much that it brings physical pain. Our Inner and Outer worlds need to touch like never before. We must do it ourselves.

In the channels of communication we have available to us, it appears that we each have not only different but opposing outer worlds. And yet I’m convinced that our Inner worlds are very similar to each other. Hermes Trismegistus said “As above, so below, as within, so without, as the universe, so the soul.” This kinda implies that our Outer worlds are not only similar but the same. Maybe our collective Outer world is like the elephant in the room and we are all blind people thinking we know what the elephant is by just touching our little piece. 

When I improvise music with a group of people that I might not ever have played with before, the song we are creating reminds me of that elephant. Each of us plays a part of this living being and we each have a different perception of what we are creating. Each of us is putting extra attention on our personal contribution, so we see it from that perspective. For instance, I tend to think the ending to the song is coming sooner than other people think. I’m just playing a different part of the elephant. 

I would add to Hermes’ list, “as in music, so in life, as in life, so in music.” It seems to happen in music so much easier than in life. Maybe through practicing this kind of listening/sharing with music-making, we can learn to do it in “real life”. Maybe we can learn that the reason I see things differently than you is simply that I’m playing a different part of the same elephant. 

Be Full of Yourself

I often say that music and life are the same. What challenges us in music challenges us in life. Where you feel restoration in life gets reflected in your music. That is why I also say that music is the perfect laboratory to develop our life goals. The worst that can happen is that you play some wrong notes and even that is a good thing because that is how we learn. And it teaches us to dig the wrong notes we play in life. Many people know the old saying that if you play a wrong note, play it again and it’s called jazz. Well, trust me, I’ve used that technique over and over again. In fact, it has now become part of my style. And I try to teach myself to live a life of jazz. Whenever I make a mistake, I make it again and it really gets funky. 

So now that we are in a major worldwide shift, I think it is a good time to make use of the music/life connection. After centuries of being taught that selfishness is what drives the marketplace, it’s getting so habitual, that we have trouble seeing through it to true humanity. That’s why during this time, when I see people being generous, it brings me to tears. Now that our lives depend on generosity, it’s like relearning to ride a bicycle. We’re a little wobbly at first, but it really does come back even after centuries of neglect. It’s who we are after all. 

There are many ways to practice generosity in our music. One good start is to give your music fully. Did you know that amongst the mountains and trees, we are considered the “Musical Animal?” Crows are the smart ones. But we’re the ones that use Music to align ourselves together in groups. It’s how we unify. If we forget that we are an organism together, Music gets us right back on track. Again, it’s who we are. 

This is how Matthew Fox says it. ” A time of shock and loss and trauma is very often a time for music—and poetry and dance and clay and painting and gardening and all the others forms of art as meditation.  With these practices we can pour our grief and sadness, anger and loss, that not only relieve our own souls but reach out to others’ hearts and souls as well.  Music and the other arts bear witness to how we are not alone”.

So, to take a chance and give your musical self to the community is a generous gift. If you think you’re not musical, it might even be a bigger gift, because it inspires others to take chances too. Share your genius. Brian Eno said, and I paraphrase, genius is a community phenomenon. We are so used to pedestalizing the individual, that we don’t notice the community from which it springs. He says that he is a beneficiary of this misconception. What this does for me is give me permission to let my genius shine, knowing that I’m not alone and I don’t have to protect it.

Then there is the listening. It’s the most important role to play in a musical group. And it seems to come easier for “non-musicians.”  “Musicians” have a lot to learn from “non-musicians.” Before the quarantine, I was doing workshops in a recovery center. One of the clients would sit quietly and knit and not sing or play. We were arranging a song one of the women had written. The knitter finally spoke up and said that I was singing the background part too loud. It was getting in the way of the lead. So I quieted way down and the song was transformed. All the other parts became stronger and the words stood out. It turned out that the person quietly knitting had the most to offer the whole group.

This is a time for listening. Listen to the nurses on the front lines. Listen to people losing their jobs. Listen to the marginalized communities in which they live.

And be full of yourself. The self is the container for the self. Be large in your genius. We need you now more than ever.

Wanted: Genius

One thing that Covid 19 is making abundantly clear to me is that just as a virus can cause unforeseen panic, death, and destruction, there are viruses that build communities. One example is the Artistic Expression Virus or what I call Artex 20. 

Another thing that is becoming abundantly clear to me is that we each have our own personal genius but it needs community to really thrive and multiply. When you think of all the famous game changing geniuses, we always want to hear the story of how they grew out of our society. And we see that the fruition of their genius was always dependent on societal conditions. It’s hard to access your genius when you’re working three jobs and you’re worried about your kids’ future. 

One of my favorite rockstars, Brian Eno said that genius comes from the community. The individual is really just the spokesperson and our society separates them out and because we are so infatuated with the individual, we can’t even see where the genius actually comes from. He said that he is one of the beneficiaries of that thing. (I’m sure I’m paraphrasing to the point where I’m making him say more of what I believe than what he said. But I found his talk very inspiring) 

The mission of comMUSIKey is foster hotbeds of genius in our communities. If there ever was a time for genius it is now.

I have prepared a web page that has links to various online resources that I am exploring.

Every Wednesday from 5 to 7 pm pacific time we will spend some time together with these resources and sharing each others’ genius.

Meeting ID: 843 792 4381

Recording Faultline

I had a wonderful experience lately, recording the trio Faultline. They are Yohan Glidden on guitar and lead vocals, Cozzy Bohrman on bass and vocals, and True Borhman on drums and vocals. These guys were amazing, recording two of their own songs plus Sunshine of Your Love in just a few hours. They are all in their teens and had never been in a studio before. I was really impressed with how they just came in a did it without nitpicking little things, just capturing their essential sound. That’s really hard for even very experienced studio musicians to do. Here are their two original songs.



To See the End

Music to Change To

I’ve been noticing lately how connected our lives are to our music. Well, if we ARE music then that might imply that our lives and our music are the same thing.  Or we can think of them as aliases of each other. On my Mac I can select an object and make an alias from it. Now anything I do to the object is reflected in the alias and vice versa. Maybe it’s the same with Music and Life. We just don’t always know which is the original.

I notice this relationship more in my students than in myself. So having written that, it might be fun to jump in to my own psyche as an example. One of my biggest blocks is reading music. When I think that reading music is mostly about following directions it makes me ponder a truth that I really don’t like following directions. I like to do things my way. So maybe I could work on being a good follower which would in turn help my reading skills. And maybe if I develop my reading skills it will teach me to be a better follower. And if reading becomes really fun (which it tends to be) I will start to enjoy following more.

I have students who are changing  many aspects of their lives through music and vice versa. Some are becoming less tentative in life and music. Some are more able to flow around life’s bumps as they develop music improvisation skills. Some, like me, are learning to focus more as they learn to read music.

I’m wondering if we can achieve all of our desires through music. Want to be more powerful?  Work on your fortissimo playing. (That means playing very loud) Want new love in your life? Put some attention on your sensitivity, your passion, and your sensualness in your music. Want to be rich? Play like there are no limits to your creativity.

In other words, play more music and live more life.

The Hero’s Journey

The Hero’s Journey

Meg Bohrman recently completed a CD at comMUSIKey that encapsulates all that we believe in with the recording process. The CD is part of a songbook of 13 songs. In each song she explores her relationship to the archetypal energy that shapes all of our lives. The recording process has been her own hero’s journey on the way to sharing her music with the world. She will use the CD and book in her work as a music therapist. Here are some tastes:

Chief Seattle’s Song

So Much to let Go

I’m in Love with a Magician

Prescott College Music on the Spot

We’ve had some wonderful improvisational music making sessions in the Prescott College Chapel recently. These were open to Prescott College student who wanted to take a chance at being musically creative.  Thank you Bill Barton for setting this up. Here are a couple of examples:

The next Music For Everybody Playshop at comMUSIKey will be Sunday January 4th at 6 pm. 327 N. Alarcon St., Prescott AZ. They are every first Sunday at 6 and every 3rd Wednesday at 7.