When I first heard this poem, my mind immediately flashed on a photo I took during my Summer of Dad – that of a lone rose thriving in the midst of Ma & Dad’s overgrown and neglected garden.
“…for my blooms have served a purpose…”
From Just Thinkinga collection of “little writings which may produce some little thoughts” here is Colin Chappell reading his poem, Just a Rose.
Note: All proceeds from book sales will be directed to Colin’s daughter who was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2007. She is still fighting, but the treatment programs have taken their toll and she is unable to hold down a paying job for a variety of reasons. She is therefore dependent on benefits from her disability provider…She uses her time to volunteer for non-profit organizations, and has been involved in giving some dignity to the women who are living on the streets in Vancouver’s downtown East-side…She has also written a number of poems, two of which are included in the book!
Once-upon-a-time there was a classical guitarist with severe performance anxiety. Throughout her years as a working musician, she managed to control it through judicious elimination of caffeine on the day of playing and maintaining a regular pre-performance regimen including the use of breathing exercises learned during delivery of her three children. Nothing really worked all that well, uncontrollable shakiness of the hands often threatened to take control of the show.
Recommendations of relief by self-medication using beta-blockers began to sound quite appealing, but her natural aversion to non-organic approaches to dealing with life’s issues held her back from taking the leap on that avenue. Good thing. Most who went that route, acquired other side effects that only compounded the basic performance anxiety problem.
Then one fine day, rumors of the Banana Cure began circulating among other afflicted cgers.
That was one cure this lady cger was willing to investigate further. Coming from a scientific background, she tried her best to set up quasi-experiments to see if the Banana Cure had any merit or if it was purely placebo.
“Have you ever thought of bananas as a natural remedy? New research shows that bananas contain tryptophan, a type of protein that the body converts into serotonin, which is known to help you to relax, improve your mood and cause you to feel happier…Bananas are a natural stress reducer! Potassium is a vital mineral, which helps normalize the heartbeat, sends oxygen to the brain and regulates your body’s water balance. When we are stressed, our metabolic rate rises, thereby reducing our potassium levels. These can be rebalanced with the help of a high-potassium banana snack.” Bananas; Nature’s Remedy
Bottom line: consuming a banana an hour before performance, then a second banana about 30 minutes before performance did indeed take the edge off of shakiness in small muscle movements required during precision performance situations. Once that edge was removed, entrance into the creative zone opened up the thrill of performance in the moment – taking control of this lady as a conduit for musical expression.
Note: A few months ago I stumbled upon this site – validating my personal findings. In a graph showing various methods to help curb performance anxiety, the Banana Curehad a 45% effectiveness rate…
The site’s featured documentary film, Composed, goes into depth on the subject of performance anxiety; offering hope, solutions – but most of all encouragement that those of us who struggle with performance anxiety are not alone…
“The film explores what without exception all of us, performers, have experienced and known well – first, love for our craft and stage, and then performance anxiety at the other end of this beautiful and exciting spectrum. Congratulations to the director John Beder and his team for completing this project and for inviting all of us to a meaningful and necessary conversation.” Maestro Christoph Eschenbach
About 6 weeks ago, while planning our extended stay in Colorado to continue the hands-on process of getting Dad’s estate settled, I contacted a longtime colleague about collaborating with me on the recording of my Goat Suite (Saga).
Her willingness to work with me under challenging circumstances – finding snippets of time to rehearse, then laying down tracks at the recording studio – was refreshing.
So, tucked in between sorting files upon files of papers, packing up shelves of books, trips to drop off never ending donations at ARC, lining up realtor interviews, meeting with tradesmen for quotes on needed repairs on Dad’s house, working around my brother’s schedule to get certain estate things done; as well as working around my colleague’s own teaching and wedding gig schedule, we did indeed get started on the recording of my Goat Suite (Saga).
Sometime during our only rehearsal on a Sunday afternoon before our Wednesday recording session, my colleague tossed out a casual comment about ‘working with the composer’.
Say, what? Are you talking about me?
Re-tuning my ears, I heard her say something about enjoying working with the composer for learning what is wanted in the piece or some such comment.
In essence, referring to me – Me as Composer.
On the day of our recording session, I enjoyed this new-to-me experience of being the composer overseeing a musician in the nuanced shaping of her part and finalizing its recorded form! This talented professional laid down 2 tracks – the cg2 parts to movement #1 & movement #3 of my Goat Suite (Saga) in less than 1 ½ hours!
With 1 ½ hours left on the session clock, it was my turn.
I laid down the cg1 part in a flash for movement #1 and worked with the recording engineer on getting a final studio mix ready to add the rain stick part at another time.
Terry W. Lilly playing the rain stick during my Swimming with Swans presentation at the Goodwill Cultural Center, June 2017
Interesting aside: hubby has agreed to play the rain stick on the recording – he did a great job demonstrating its use during the Swimming with Swans presentation at the Goodwill Cultural Center in June and I think it will add greatly to the personal significance of this project.
In the event that there’d be time left over from the GSS session, I held hope to record my original solo piece Gift for TWL.
Yes, indeed, I was able to slip it in and did four takes with the 4th being the pot of gold. Only had to ‘borrow’ a very few notes from previous takes and it was done.
I guess I’m back to being an on-the-road working musician – ahem – composer.
Me & the Goodwill Educational & Historical Society, Inc Board Left to Right: Ada Lyn Jones, Donise White, James Boyd, Laura Bruno Lilly, William Remmes (President), Louise D. Bevan, Rev. Carnell Hampton, Ruby Jean Boyd
I fully intended on posting a ‘thoughtful article on my first SwS presentation’ as mentioned here. Obviously, I haven’t been able to quite pull one together. Yes, the June 3rd featured event at the Goodwill Cultural Center was a huge success and the thrill of introducing the public to my Goat Suite (Saga), the related creative process and how it all occurred while in the midst of our non-traditional between homes journey was some kind of high. But what really makes this experience stand out for me is the fact that all of the Goodwill Educational & Historical Society, Inc board members attended it. In the world of the working musician, this is quite an anomaly.
I keep perusing these two photos* taken afterwards. The genuine expressions of joy shining through the faces of those photographed remind me of the spirit of the place; the delight of the moment.
On the steps of the Goodwill Cultural Center Mayesville, SC Left to Right: Laura Bruno Lilly, Terry W. Lilly, James Boyd, William Remmes
I have long since done my own personal ‘performance assessment’, ferreting out solutions to challenges encountered during the actual performance. Specifically: in the transition from spoken word performance to the focus required in performing on an instrument – a very real hurdle for the brain in switching gears.
Quotes and clips have been gathered for use in future marketing and grant proposal endeavors; bits of prose and musical phrases have been tweeked; new contacts have been made and old ones reignited…I’m ready to move forward!
*photos by Jayne Bowers used with permission; content of photos used with permission
As I sit here sipping the last of my Pinot Noir from dinner, the eve of our Wedding Anniversary, I’m reflecting on 39 years of marriage to the same hunk of a man, my TWL. As mentioned before in a previous post, he’s my James Taylor of a guy back in the day when we first met and has morphed into my stalwart protector, staunchest supporter of my (he)art and deepest devoted Father and Grandfather of our progeny.
TWL is the ‘name’ we jokingly refer to in e-mails and snail mails to each other, letters defining his initials. It is also part of the name of a solo classical guitar piece I composed and dedicated to him on the first Christmas (out of three) during our between homes experience: Gift: for TWL (actually performed in context with the Goodwill Cultural CenterSwimming with Swans: the music program presented on June 3rd).
In honor of our 39th I present to you a favorite youtube representing one of his special passions: sailing. Keep in mind that the video shows ‘motoring’ rather than actual sailing, regardless of the sung lyrics!
Saturday, I introduced the public to my ‘Goats in the Garden at Midnight by the Light of the Full Moon’ experience. Complete with slides, commentary, creative process steps, hands-on musical demos and a ‘performance’ of my Goat Suite as theFinale.
It was a huge success! (with much for me to contemplate for further improvements on the presentation as a whole)
I thought this video would be the perfect ‘placeholder’ until a thoughtful article is completed on my first SwS project presentation.
FYI: Dodger in the video is a Boer Goat, as were MamaGoat, TerryScape and Larry (and Tater)
My blogger-poet-friend, Andy, is a native Mancunian. These are excerpts taken from his account of and reactions to this attack of the innocents.
Around the time I went to bed the bomb went off.
I was totally unaware of what had happened until around 3.00am, when my wife woke me. Friends from around the country, indeed the world, had messaged us. Then, bleary eyed, we tried to process just what had happened.
There was footage of the panic; people searching for lost children; a distressed woman rang our local radio station with a horrific account of what she had witnessed; friends of ours announced that they were safe.
The friend of my little girl was at the concert with her family. There were other people attending that we know. My daughter herself was at a concert in that same venue just a couple of weeks ago. The arena can be accessed through the train station which I have been commuting from. Not so long ago I attended the Young Voices competition as a staff member with my children’s school choir. 8,000 children were present that day. Suddenly the horror that regularly unfolds throughout the world was on our doorstep…
…Manchester is no stranger to such atrocities. There was the IRA bomb of 1996 which utterly devastated the town centre. The Manchester we know today rose from the ashes of that day. But back then everybody had been evacuated, miraculously nobody was killed. Last night it was people targeted.
It was children.
…Today has been a difficult day.
-The girls from my daughter’s class crying this morning in the playground in fear for a classmate who attended the concert. (She did not come into school but she was safe.)
-The tales related personally to us by people who were there, as well as someone who treated the injured in hospital.
-The distraught woman begging on television for news of her (still) missing daughter.
-The story of the homeless man, normally passed by and ignored on the street, who ran to help the injured, cradling a dying woman in his arms, comforting a young girl who had lost her legs, pulling nails from the faces of children.
-The victims beginning to be named, the ages, the photographs.
…It was announced that today the country would observe a minute’s silence to honour those killed on Monday. Where else could I go to honour this but Manchester? Despite the unprecedented step of the army being deployed to assist the police throughout the country and the government warning that another attack was imminent, avoiding this crowd was never an option.
Manchester solidarity in Germany
My fellow Mancunians came good again: what a fitting and emotional morning it was. There were tears amongst the defiance, balloons filling the clear blue skies. And the fantastic moment when the crowd burst into a spontaneous rendition of Don’t Look Back In Anger by Manchester band Oasis, followed by thunderous self-congratulatory applause.
How ironic that an action designed to cause division has created a unity I have never witnessed before.
Adding to the emotion of the day: while gathered in the square, I received a message from a former student of ours, telling us that his family were standing with us in support, and here in Germany his family were flying at half mast a British flag in solidarity for his former adopted city.
For local news videos of the various marches held in Manchester – go here for the laying of flowers at St. Anne’s Square after the minute of silence and here for the Muslim families marching to the arena in sympathy with those who lost loved ones in the blast.
Andy’s comment below servess as a sort-of followup to the above excerpts:
I’d like to put on record how proud I am of my fellow Mancunians. Not just the emergency services but the everyday people, how they came together in response. A page was set up on FB with people offering beds for the night, transport to and from Manchester, baby food, clothing, etc. The local hotels took in children separated from their parents, taxi drivers ferried people from the city centre free of charge, queues formed outside places for donating blood. Thousands are having the ‘Manchester bee’ (the worker bee is a symbol for Manchester in reference to its industrial revolution past) tattooed on their skin with proceeds going to charity. Over five million pounds have been raised in three days. It is not often I’m moved to be proud of where I live, but this week I have been. Immensely. The best of humanity has been witnessed emerging in the shadow of the worst.
Oh-and that homeless guy. He has been given a house, money, a job. As he said at the time: “Just because we’re homeless doesn’t mean we aren’t human. People, children, needed help.”
My blogger-buddy Anna visited Las Cruces, New Mexico for the first time a few weeks ago and posted a few photos and thoughts on the desert. What a treat to see the familiar through her newbie eyes.
Final Goat Family Portrait: Larry, Terry Scape, Mama Goat and Tater
I’ve been immersed in that period of time during our between homes journey lovingly referred to as living ‘on the compound in the desert outside Las Cruces, New Mexico’. Place where my Goat Suite Saga was born.
In less than two weeks portions of my Swimming with Swans project are going to be presented for the first time to the general public. MamaGoat, Tater, TerryScape and little Larry along with all of us humans and critters of the compound will be introduced to a group of locals as far away from life in the desert as one in the US can get. I often joke that we came from a Mile High here to the Swamplands…but we also came by way of the High Dry Desert.
Most readers of this blog know that I received a Puffin Foundation Grant for the recording of my Swimming with Swans: the music. One of the requirements for gaining the grant involved the pre-securing of a venue in which to present completed grant-proposal material.
Goodwill Parochial School becomes The Goodwill Cultural Center
If not for Camden Writer and author, Brenda Bevan Remmes, I would have never known of this special spot nestled within an isolated area between Mayesville and Sumter, South Carolina*. Steeped in a long history of struggle, nurture, and yes, healing – The Goodwill Cultural Center aka The Goodwill Parochial School was recently restored to serve as a local heritage and arts center – offering historical, cultural and educational events to the public.
Brenda introduced me to this gem in the swamp about two years ago when the GCC held one of their first sponsored events by the Magnolia Singers from Charleston – shortly after the Emanuel AME Church shootings. I was amazed at the group’s desire to reach out in their hurt and offer insights into their culture while spreading a healing balm through their talented singing.
WINDOW TO THE WORLD
REFLECTING ON OUR PAST AND ENVISIONING OUR FUTURE, WE AFFIRM THE RICH HERITAGE OF THE GOODWILL SCHOOL THAT OPENED DOORS OF OPPORTUNITY IN 1870, AND THAT IS A WINDOW TO THE WORLD TODAY THROUGH THE GOODWILL CULTURAL CENTER.
I don’t pretend to understand the South. However, I have found a slice of something I like to call the ‘true spirit of a southern community’ in the Goodwill Cultural Center.
Over the course of these two years in attending various events at the GCC, I’ve observed the interactions between the locals. It’s obvious to this outsider the love and commitment these individuals have towards each other and towards working through its own healing-path. A sort of living reconciliation rooted in historical interconnectedness which touches me deeply.
This is a slice of the South I admire; a slice of the South not often seen by outsiders.
As such, I am both humbled and honored to be a small part in the GCC’s continuing legacy as a featured guest on Saturday, June 3rd.
I saw that phrase at a blog I follow – she has the t-shirt and everything – I really related; albeit I’m not in the trenches of hands-on childrearing anymore, it still rings true. At least for me – an older gen Mom. Yeah, I’m a GrandMom, too, but not hands-on due to circumstances way beyond my control (sigh – it is what it is) so that’s why maybe memories of being a younger Mom still resonate loud and clear. Here’s the poetic part of her blog post (be sure to visit it for the rest of the story)