For the last year or so, I’ve been getting together monthly for ‘Artist Night’ with two friends of mine: one a poet, the other a musician and recording artist. In these get-togethers we have been sharing with each other our most recent oeuvres, whether in poetry, music or other area of art, followed by discussion, constructive criticism and/or workshopping. I owe a great debt of gratitude to these friends for helping me with a number of lyrical and structural choices in the songs on my upcoming album. They have truly been helpful to me, as I believe, I have also been to them.
These Artist Nights have become a dreaded and revered monthly occurrence for each of us, as they push us to create and subsequently present our new creations to each other. These are often still in a vulnerable, raw phase… I myself have written a number of songs specifically because of the pressure of wanting to perform something new for my two friends. But, this is a very good sort of pressure. Also, in this room, I fear not getting hurt or ridiculed, as I trust both of these artists immensely. There is a feeling of equality and mutual respect, without which this sort of thing would in fact not even work.
Last night’s Artist Night was different for me. I decided to bring into the room a new challenge I am facing. After performing for my whole artistic life as a vocalist only, I am now taking the steps to become a singer-songwriter who plays guitar (and piano) on stage. This perhaps seems like a simple transition, but it is actually…well…a Thing. I am so used to moving, dancing, swaying, flinging my arms around, crouching, grabbing the mic, the microphone stand, or both…. But now, with the guitar, doing any of that stuff looks distracting, in addition to mostly being impossible anyway. But this I wasn’t quite so aware of before last night.
After performing a song to my friends last night, they helpfully expressed to me that swaying and moving like I do with the guitar is not such a great idea. Hehe… As I’ve practiced at home, it had not occurred to me that my movements on stage will be severely limited by the microphone, which will not be moving with me when I play the guitar. Also, apparently it looks kinda weird…. I tried it over, this time with a mic and a stand, and it started looking a hell of a lot better.
My point here is two-fold. One: there’s a lot more to think about than one would expect, when it comes to the simple act of starting to play an instrument on stage. I have much to learn. The second point is this: how awesome to have friends helping me along the way..! How wonderful it is to finally trust others; how rewarding it is to be brave enough to give and to receive. It has taken much emotional work on my part to open myself up like this to other people, but I’m thankful that I have. The world in my eyes is friendlier than it has ever been.
“You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh