The road ends, but the journey continues...

Tag: inspiration (Page 1 of 6)

Open Letter (debut)

Dear Teacher,
You were my very first formal classical guitar instructor…


Thus begins an open letter I wrote years ago.

The new vistas that surfing the ‘net* opened up in the ’90s prompted me to try contacting my first classical guitar teacher to thank her for the role she played in my development as a musician. I posted a copy of my open letter on both** of the forums I was subscribed to at the time in the hopes it would yield a lead towards finding her. As was common in those days, this inadvertently started a new thread on each of those forums…that of honoring those teachers who most influenced the direction of our lives.

However, it did not bring about the desired outcome.

I did not find her.

But I can still honor her***.


I have always wanted to thank-you for all you did to nurture my first forays into the world of classical guitar. I think you’d be proud of me. Not because I am anyone famous or great, but because you’d recognize the method of love I use in teaching others about our common bond: the classical guitar...


*a term bandied about along with riding the internet highway in the earlier days of internet development.

**The original ClassicalGuitarList and the LuteList are both going strong after all these years…

***Please find & read my Open Letter page neatly nestled between the PTM and DMW pages on the menu bar as part of my newly revised website.

Giving Voice: people, don't stop tryin' to make a difference.


This link goes to a short excerpt of an NBC interview (it’s only 2 minutes, please click and ponder) with Dr. Martin Luther King in 1967…still strikingly relevant to these times…(full interview here).

Quote symbol“White America must see that no other ethnic group has been a slave on American soil. That is one thing that other immigrant groups haven’t had to face…America freed the slaves in 1883 through the Emancipation Proclamation of Abraham Lincoln, but gave the slaves no land or nothing in reality…to get started on. At the same time, America was giving away millions of acres of free land in the West and Midwest. Which meant there was a willingness to give the white peasants from Europe an economic base. And yet it refused to give its black peasants from Africa – who came here involuntarily and in chains, and had worked for free here in chains for 244 years – any kind of economic base…”
Dr. Martin Luther Kingblm peacelovejustice

“You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.”
John 8: 32

Public Service Shout Out – Disc Makers Face Shields

Like most of you, I’ve been getting cookie cutter ‘We’re here for you’ emails from retail stores…some sincere, some not so much. This one is not that. This one is a ‘What we’re doing to make a difference’ with a twist. Please read and/or watch what I found in my email box this morning from a ‘store’ most every working musician is familiar with…and please pass it on to any HealthCare Worker/Hospital Administrator you may know. (And yeah, I kept in the Disc Makers advert of their normal product at the end..a small thing I can do to support their efforts IMHO)

Hello, Laura.

Warning, this Saturday email is longer than usual… or you can just watch the video above from our local NBC affiliate. (However, it’s Saturday, and you’re probably sitting inside being socially distanced—or even quarantined—so go ahead, take the time to read on.)
A little less than two weeks ago, when it became indisputable that the COVID-19 pandemic was going to sweep the nation, I was worried about the future of Disc Makers. Our orders had decreased by 50% literally overnight. We had to cut back our factory hours by 20%, and our salaried staff had agreed to a 20% pay reduction (and significantly more for execs) to make sure we didn’t run out of cash. After almost 74 years in business, I couldn’t believe a virus was the biggest threat this business had ever faced. Could this really be happening in 2020?
Then last Wednesday night, after watching the news and seeing the desperate need for protective equipment for frontline health workers, my wife asks me, “Tony, can’t you guys make some of this?” And that was exactly the spark we needed.
By Friday, our amazing team of manufacturing engineers and operations pros had come up with a prototype for a protective face shield. They ordered supplies, worked through last weekend to finalize the specs, set up workstations Monday, and started manufacturing this past Tuesday! The factory staff who print your inserts, replicate discs, and package your products—as well as office staff from every department—are now soldiers in the battle to literally save lives.
Perhaps best of all, instead of worrying how we’re going to survive on half our CD volume, I’m worrying if we have enough staff to fill the demand. Every single person at Disc Makers is pumped to be helping fight this coronavirus, and without fail, they are prepared to help build face shields. It’s one of the proudest moments of my life. I’m so impressed with how my team turned on a dime, made this happen in 3 working days, and how everyone enthusiastically jumped in to help battle this global crisis. It shows that American ingenuity, entrepreneurship, and fighting spirit are second to none.
As a country, we’re not out of the woods yet. There’s more social distancing, more quarantining, more medical emergencies ahead. But it’s heartening to see so many companies rushing to help defeat this crisis—one of them being Disc Makers.
If you have loved ones working in the medical, emergency, janitorial, food service, or any other field without adequate supplies, we’re making face shields as fast as we humanly can and are working on narrow margins to make them affordable. They can be ordered at www.discmakers.com/faceshields. Hospitals that need large quantities can email faceshields@discmakers.com. Or just forward this email to them.
Let’s go win this war!
Tony van Veen
CEO, Disc Makers
tvanveen@discmakers.com
P.S. Our factory is still open and producing CDs, vinyl, and T-shirts. Demand may be down right now because no concerts are happening (though, online sales…), but rest assured that, when you need product now or in a few weeks, we’re here for you.
P.P.S. We are doing all we can to maintain a safe, clean environment at Disc Makers. The only way that potentially impacts you is that we are not accepting any client visits or in-person product pick-ups at our Pennsauken, NJ factory until further notice. You can order online, and we’ll be happy to ship your products right to your door.

Re-stringing a Life

Andres Segovia & Augustine StringsA few weeks ago, I finally changed strings on the Prisloe (my classical guitar). After a couple of months trying out another brand, some Augustine Regal/Blue High Tensions as recommended by Segovia himself, I’m back to my standard Blue Pack (Savarez Alliance High Tension 540 J’s).
In addition to his pioneering role in elevating the classical guitar to the concert stage around the turn of the 20th century, Segovia partnered with Augustine Strings in the 1940s to develop a revolutionary (at the time) non-gut string option for classical guitars. For many years since, Augustine Strings were one of very few quality options out there for classical guitarists.
All told, those Augustine’s just didn’t agree with me. My style, my fingers; maybe even my guitar. That’s part of being a working musician, trying different things to see how they enhance or detract from one’s playing. When I know I don’t need to depend upon reliability in sound/tone due to a lack of gigs, or recording dates, I often slap on different strings – brands, tensions, material composition – just to test drive the newest innovations, those recommended by colleagues and/or those with the best reviews by other players.
The Augustine strings offered up a strong rich sound in the basses with less buzzes but were harder to coax out tone colors. Plus, the trebles took several days of consistent playing to settle them into a decent tone – albeit with a plastic-y feel and muddled sound. Yes, they lasted longer and handled my hard-driven playing well, but they just didn’t offer up the variety of subtle tone colors I use in my playing or feel good under my fingers.
They also were harder on my hands. Segovia had huge hands with sausage-like fingers and probably really needed the thicker, plastic-y feeling of the strings to accommodate that physical factor. And as far as the relationship between instrument and strings goes, remember: Segovia played a huge Ramirez with 664 fret scale and larger, 54 mm nut width.
For those of you not in-the-know about the great Segovia, I found a quality, yet un-retouched video of him playing sometime in the 1960s when he was actually in his sixties. I chose this one because it’s representative of his tone/style – his signature technique of finding just the right sweet spot on the fretboard for each note, delivering a rich deep vibrancy – all while showcasing his effortless command of the instrument.

The thing of it is, regardless of the strings used, music is played, compositions are created, techniques are explored, expanded and maintained. For myself as a musician, each time I re-string one of my instruments, there is a sense of expectation. A moment in time where everything seems possible, opening up a wide world of sonic possibilities, hopes, dreams and deep expressions of my (he)art flowing through my fingers into the outer realm.
And when the right strings are strung, those aural rewards inspire and invigorate…
The thing of it is, regardless of the strings used, music is played.
Life is lived.
And when the right strings are strung, life is magical.

I have come that they may have life, and may have it more abundantly.
John 10:10b NKJV

Insights into the creative life…Quotes

Couldn’t have said it  better myself…the following quotes by J. Michael Dolan

Uptight, Worked Up & Edgy!

Every single day, a plan, a plot, a project, a scheme or a great idea screams to be on the front burner: A song that needs to be recorded. A video that needs to be shot. A business deal that needs a push. A website that needs to be built or updated. A relationship that needs to be dealt with.

Important because sometimes our best-laid plans work out, far beyond our expectations. Other times they fall apart and fade away. That’s the nature of a creative, independent lifestyle. However, truth be told, it’s all those big plans, worthy projects and bright ideas that we’re NOT doing that continue to keep us uptight, worked up and edgy.

Two Fisted Advantage
(italics mine)

If you’re a regular reader of my blogs & stories you already know that I’m a huge advocate for artists & entrepreneurs. That’s because I’ve been both all my life and in my world there’s no difference between the two. They both dwell in the land of uncertainty and risk and they both have to use creativity and innovation to negotiate their way through it. That’s not all…

A songwriter (composer) composes the music he hears in his head.
An entrepreneur creates a vision for the future that she sees in her mind’s eye.

A painter prepares a canvas for her next artistic expression.
An entrepreneur prepares a Powerpoint presentation for his next keynote.

A writer processes words that stimulate and entertain.
An entrepreneur processes words that motivate and inspire.

A singer (instrumentalist) nervously stands in front of his audience and shares his soul.
An entrepreneur nervously stands in front of her shareholders and shares her vision.

Neither one would last long in a regular 9-5 job because both have a relentless muse and an untamable creative spirit which they simply MUST follow. And unlike others, A&E’s have an advantage: the unique ability to devise, create, invent, fabricate, formulate, manifest and cook-up ways to make a buck.

Important because if our world ever crashes, it will be the crazy, genius artists and risk-taking entrepreneurs who will survive to inspire us and point the way out of the rubble and into the light.

Giving Voice: Gaelynn Lea, Violinist

Friday, July 26th was the 29th anniversary of the signing of the ADA, the Americans with Disabilities Act. It was also the day I first learned of a remarkable musician on the PBS Newshour – Gaelynn Lea, Violinist.

Notable quotes from her interview:

“Adaptive music is not as common (as adaptive sports) but I hope that it becomes more common.”

on playing the violin:

“I realize that you probably don’t know unless you have a disability that you spend every day modifying everything. I’m not concerned with doing it the way everyone does it, because I can’t really do anything the way other people do it. So, for me, finding a way to play violin was just a matter of time.”

The final set of lyrics to her newest release, “I Wait” written in defense of the Affordable Care Act, protecting those with preexisting conditions:

“We need a seat now at the table, so please invite us.
Or
Don’t pretend to care.”

Poetry Shoutout: “In Brigantia” by Andrew James Murray

In Brigantia by Andrew James MurrayGood poetry meets you wherever you are then draws you into its world. Seamlessly weaving place, perception; revelation, inspiration. Touching both the mind and soul.

The poetry of Andrew James Murray does just that and his second published poetry collection, In Brigantia does not disappoint.

~~~

I prefer reading poetry in the deep of night, the early recesses of morning. I like to take my time and linger, savoring each line and nuanced word choice within the context of the whole of the poem.
Yes, I flip through a new volume upon first receipt, even skim a few lines, but ultimately, the hunkering down with a new collection of poetry is an anticipated event – date – I make with myself for some dark day, quiet evening or womb-like twilight.

~~ Phrases to savor ~~

“From this soil,
seeded with the dead,
beautiful things will grow” (from: In Brigantia)

“Our country is too small
for road trips.

There is nothing epic
about these squeezed shores.
Where are we to go
to find ourselves?” (from: Motorway)

“A dog barks itself
into tomorrow,
clawing back the shade.” (from: Nocturnes)

~~Regarding process~~

“Some lines come to me when travelling, such as with Railway Platform.
We passed through a station (without stopping) which, due to rain sweeping in, appeared abandoned, except for a guitar case no doubt left by its owner who was seeking shelter while waiting for his/her train.
I was thinking about how platforms are normally busy places of greetings and farewells, and maybe some of those could, somehow, be held in the atmosphere and tapped into to work as inspiration to creative people. Like the owner of that guitar case.
Like seeds growing in darkness.
That’s how my mind works! And that’s how that poem was born before we’d reached the next station.” – Andrew James Murray

~~~

In Brigantia can be found at Amazon and Amazon UK

~~~

Andrew James Murray, Manchester UKAndrew James Murray is a writer and poet who is still firmly rooted in his childhood town in Manchester, England.
He has a wife who keeps him grounded, and four children who keep him young.
Among other things, he loves history and roots, books and writing, spirituality, landscape, music and the outdoors-all of which he can become a tad obsessive about.
He also tracks Great White sharks throughout the world over the internet, much to his wife’s consternation.
He can be found writing about anything and nothing over at City Jackdaw and at Coronets for Ghosts for all things poetry related.
Andrew is currently working on his first novel.

(He)art at its best

Just finished a fantastic time on the practice stool with the Prisloe.

Again.

(He)art at its best.

I’ve had a long string of days blissfully playing and practicing, composing and creating, with a focus on deep working through pieces yet to be recorded.
And all profoundly satisfying with more in store tomorrow and the next day and the next…

(He)art at its best.

Jude, their polydactyl cat

Jude, their polydactyl cat


Mon Ami #? (family name handed down throughout the budgies)

Mon Ami #? (family name handed down throughout the budgies)


Since settling in our daughter Michelle and son-in-law David’s home – house and pet sitting during their reunion vacation in Cote d’Ivoire* – my music has been asserting itself from deep within, taking center stage.

(He)art at its best.

Before leaving FloTown, I worked through fingerings, adding dynamics and interpretive notation to my scores for use in the Swimming with Swans Music Folio part of the total SwS project. I focused entirely on the task of getting those scores closer to publishing perfection. Often with the Prisloe in one hand and the other on the computer keyboard entering it all on the NOTION score program. Then taking that needed info and tweaking it on the page so it looks nice and uncluttered**.
This is the grunt work that occurs after the ‘fun’ part of creation. Kind of like the next-to-final, another next-to-final and yet another next-to-final edit before the truly-final edit of an author’s WIP***.

(He)art at its best.

I promised myself I’d get back into the delights of daily practice focusing on technique, exercises, etudes, sight reading, exploratory composition and learning new repertoire once we left FloTown and arrived at our destination.
I promised my music (and the Prisloe) this same reward for waiting patiently even though her cries for attention were persistent and enticing.

(He)art at its best.

And you know what? The music is rewarding me! Unleashing continuous waves of inspiration, direction and ‘living water****’ spilling forth from my (he)art through my fingers and into being.

Shelby their whippet-mutt, a WIP by Michelle

Shelby their whippet-mutt, a WIP by Michelle

~~~~~

END NOTES:

* Michelle has been gathering her last batch of data/research for her PhD thesis these past months in Cote d’Ivoire and David is joining her for a final week vacation before their return to the States.
** click here for a great article on how much notation is enough notation, if you’re a composer/musician this will be interesting for sure.

*** click here for a similar process as applied towards visual artists
**** “(S)He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his/her innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” John 7:38
Yes, He is my source…

Andy's Insights from a Parisian

Reprinted here from Andy’s blog:

After Speaking With A Parisian

andys notre dame spire

Surviving Revolutions and World Wars, Notre Dame’s spire has long been a familiar sight to generations of Parisians, puncturing the capital’s skyline for over 800 years.

Back in the 1500s, the culture that we had built in the West embraced multigenerational projects quite easily. Notre Dame. Massive cathedrals were not built over the course of a few years, they were built over a few generations. People who started building them knew they wouldn’t be finished until their grandson was born.

-Jamais Cascio

Maybe it’s hubris, but we expect our creative monuments, our works of art, to last forever. Fixed points in man’s timeline.
Last night I spoke with a Frenchman, a Parisian, who was in mourning, speaking of a devastating cultural loss. I began to think of iconic buildings whose loss would affect we British people similarly. And then, as a Mancunian, a particular building in my own city, regularly seen but perhaps taken for granted by me.
I struggled to make a connecting comparison.
Then, the morning after that conversation, I woke to a photograph and an idea that, within all of last night’s images of destruction and despairing, I had lost touch with: there’s always hope.andys cross image

 For You are my hope, O Lord God; You are my trust from my youth.
Psalm 71:5

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