Imperfection, Practice, Self-Care, Songwriting

The Weekly Plan

These days, it seems, I’m always juggling just a bit more than I can handle. If I happen to have some free time, I like to fill it with more things. I know this isn’t quite optimal. I’m a human being, not the terminator. I need time to rest, relax and let go to be at my best. 

I also know when I’m resting the things I’ve been focused on start to gel and connect in my mind. New ideas arise when they have time to mulch and grow. 

So when I heard Jordan Harbinger talk on the Essentialism podcast about his weekly planning I was very interested. At the end of each week, by Sunday night, he blocks out time in the next week. He includes blocks for free time, rest, chatting with people, and family. He also uses fifteen minute blocks which seems reasonable to me. Sometime last year I had read “Atomic Habits” which talked logging everything I do to the minute. I undertand the point, but it was a big commitment, and a little overwhelming. A fifteen minute block is closer to a bite size morsel, an amuse bouche of time. Not too big, not too small.   

This is all well and good. But of course I’ve tried planning out my weeks in advance before. Who hasn’t? So what’s new as I’m approaching it this time? 

I have a better awareness of a habit I have for turning schedules into a cudgel or stockade. Something to both lock myself into and beat myself with, which I know does not work.  

What I’m suspicious will work, is more bite size morsels, this time for the planning itself. Something to start off this new habit that can be done easily. Something bite sized schedule-wise could be to simply simply planning out the first hour each day, or even the first fifteen minutes. The idea here is to get in the habit of sitting down and doing some scheduling each week, and to grow the habit from there.  

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Music Theory, Songwriting, The Muse, Writing

Saturday Songwriting: I Needed a Myth

Sometimes things can be virtually the same, even though they look pretty different. That’s the case with the C and G chords on the guitar. They are built in the same way, but use different notes. Also, their fingering on the fretboard appears pretty different because of the how the guitar is tuned.  

This week, why not play around with just the G and C chord in a song? 

What happens if you only use two chords, G & C major, in a song anyway? Some thoughts that may or may not be useful to you if you decide to use just these two chords: 

1) There are five notes in these two chords.  C, E G, B, and D, which are Do, Mi, Sol, Ti, and Re, in Solfege.  

2) These two chords share only one note, G, or Sol. 

What happens when you use a note in the melody that’s in the chord, what about one that isn’t? 

What happens when you use a note that isn’t in either chord, but is in a scale the chords share? (This might be F, or A (Fa or La) in the key of C.  (In the key of G, the notes would be A or F#, (La or Fi in solfege) 

Stretching things a bit further—what if you were to write a melody in the the relative minor of one of these chord (Am for C, or Em for G) 

These are all just questions and experiments. If you like, work with one that feels comfortable to you. Simply playing around with only two chords could be plenty.   

The Prompt:

Here’s a link to Ann James Massey’s “The Connoisseur”

The Musical Idea:

Here’s a downloadable pdf of the worksheet above:

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Imperfection, Inherent Self-Worth

The Conference Lobby

 A while ago, friends of mine went to a music conference for the first time. The goal of conferences is generally to meet people, and let them know what you do. You know, networking. A person is given a name tag and set loose on awkward cocktail party of people all looking to make the right connections.   

My friends approached it a little differently. They found there wasn’t a lot going on in the main lobby was empty most of the time. People milled around, rested on the couches, or merely passed through.   They grabbed their instruments and started playing. For lots of musicians the opportunity to join in a a jam is better than milling through an awkward meet and great. Those musicians would join in. Concert promoters would pass and sometimes stop to listen. By the end of a weekend of doing that, lots of people knew who they were and what they did. 

A few years later they’ve gone from leaders of the song circle in the lobby to leaders of the community and the conference itself. Merely starting a song circle in the lobby didn’t make they leaders, but it’s an example of how they consistently looked for spaces where something could happen, something that would be fun and help others and simply started doing. When others got interested, or wanted to take part, they invited them to join. What the empty space you see?


What Change Do You Want?

Who do you want your customer’s want to become?   

Michael Schrage calls this question, “The Ask.”

The idea is, that a person who is selling something is trying to make a change. It’s possible that change that person is trying to make might be simply to move a dollar from another person’s wallet to theirs. That makes them little better than a con man though, and we’re better than that.

We want to offer a customer that will make their life better. A change that they’d be excited to tell others about. A change that will earn their trust. The kind of change that makes a person excited to work with you again.  

Who do you want the customer to become?  

Songwriting, The Song Well, Tunesday

Tunesday: Oct 13th: Curtain Won’t Quite Close

Every Tunesday I post a boldly imperfect, one-take song draft of a song. This was written from a prompt offered on March 28th, earlier this year, “Curtains that don’t quite close.” (You can receive a new prompt every Friday in time for Happy Hour by signing up here).

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The fabric of a lost touch
The last piece of drapery
A light cracked through the window
The low fruit on the tree

The end of a performance
in this darkened heart of mine
the ghost light and the doormice
the pain ripened on the vine

When the curtain won’t quite close
It’s not time to take a bow
When uncertainty of what I see has punch me in the nose
The curtain won’t quite close

The hands aren’t striking midnight
but my fear is everywhere
the vigil of just one candle
A chill in the night air

The spotlight of a question
The hope within a pause
the proscenium of starlight
the open heart of awe

When the curtain won’t quite close
It’s not time to take a bow
When uncertainty of what I see has punch me in the nose
When that time is now

When that time is now
I fear I’m reaping what I sowed
but the dreams aren’t flickered out . . .
I fear I’m reaping what I sowed
Time to scream and shout
It’s what a pillow knows of dreaming
but the dreams aren’t flickered out
but the dreams aren’t flickered out