I’ve been absent again. I’ve been playing a lot of music and it’s been keeping me away from the (computer) keyboard. And also work at the Toy Factory is heating up again, as in addition to the giant extra project I already had on my plate building a new storage and display facility for toys, one of the larger toys I work on is undergoing a new design, a process that has put me in charge of stuff I didn’t use to be in charge of. And then my boss got usurped by another department for 6 months, quite unexpectedly, and so I’ve got some extra things to do there as well. I’ve shifted a little too seamlessly to a 10-hour day, but strangely, I’m kind of liking it. I’m also becoming resigned to the fact that I will never be caught up. It is the way things are.
But music making has been therapy. Some nice things have been happening with the music I play on Sundays. Not such definable things, but we’ve had some moments where everything just clicks and it feels great to play. Last Sunday, we got a very unexpected round of applause after a piece that we were enjoying so much that we were kind of surprised when it ended, an Irishy tune that was a duet between me on violin and my favorite singer. It was a bit of a challenge for me in that I had to sightread up a sixth, which is not something I’m used to doing, but I think the extra concentration required somehow enabled what happened, focused the performance. Because it’s such a chore to transpose at sight, I memorized it fast — one of the things all this playing is doing for me is improving my musical memory — and what was supposed to be a meditation for the congregation became another kind of meditation for the musicians. I’d arrived at the church tired and a little crabby, but left after more than three hours of playing (across two services with some rehearsal in the middle) feeling energized. Somehow as an adult I’ve finally found the flow I had a sense for but couldn’t control as a violin student.
But violin is the least of it, because I’ve become a little obsessed with the guitar (I can hear Mr. Spy saying “A lot obsessed.”) I play every single day, for at least an hour, I think, although I don’t really count it and it’s often a lot more. I don’t think I’ve ever been this virtuous about anything, nor do I think I’ve ever wanted to be expert at something in quite the way I am about the guitar. But it’s not like I say to myself, “If you want to be good, you need to practice everyday.” It’s that it is literally the first thing I want to do when I walk in the door after work. Every day. I think about it while I’m at work. I practice fingerings on the subway, figure out chord progressions while barreling down 35th Street on my way to the office. It feels more and more like an extension of my voice, a way of connecting and disconnecting with the world at the same time. Or something like that. I don’t really know how to explain it. I like the headspace it puts me in. The best therapy I can think of for a hectic day is sitting on the roof as the sun goes down and the dark comes up and playing…whatever comes to mind, really.
Because I pretty much think about playing guitar all the time and because I’ve had some trouble writing here of late, I’m thinking it might be time to try another music meme. Somewhere up at the top of the page is one that I never finished. I may give it a try. Or I may just talk about the songs that I’m working on. Or maybe a mix of the two. I’m not planning on turning this into a theme blog. I’m just trying to rebuild the habit. In addition to playing, I’m doing a lot of listening, as I try to get my head around what songwriting might be like. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what makes a good song, why well-written songs are not always the ones you respond to, and what makes songs meaningful enough that you’re okay with playing them over and over and over again until you can get your fingers to remember the sound.