As you are receiving this (Tuesday morning), we will be recording five new songs written with the second grade students and teachers at Archer Street School in Freeport, New York.
Right now, Beth is teaching a private yoga session, so I have a bit of time before we hit the road and spend the night in Hicksville, NY about a twenty-minute ride from tomorrow’s gig.
Recording sessions require a lot of preparation – recording the guitar part and what we call “guide vocals” for the kids to follow when they’re singing. Previously, we sent them rough rehearsal versions so that they could practice prior to tomorrow’s session.
Most of the kids and their teachers get a bit excited and a few get super anxious for the sessions. Like us, they want the final product to be good, so our job (in addition to the tech and making sure that they sing the right lyrics and notes) is to create some joy snd lightness in the room. When the kids feel safe and cared for, they tend to sing their best.
When I was in elementary and high school, I had great music teachers and chorus directors whose examples I still follow. Joyce Gober and George Trautwein’s laser focus on quality still guides my preparation, but their example of how to foster joy is present during recording or a performance.
I always tell prospective clients, “Our goal isn’t so much to create the next generation of songwriters, but to teach creativity, collaboration, revision and building one’s inner sense of quality.” In so doing, it’s really a collection of life lessons within an arts-in-education structure.
As we all age, our bodies may decay along with our mental acuity. However, what we grow instead is an ability to provide information and wisdom of how to move through life with determination and Grace. That’s another reason for us to find places to teach what we know. We are simultaneously ending one life (our own) and seeding other, younger beings with what they need to grow.
The artistic heroes of my parents generation and our own are often given to teaching Master Classes. But it’s not just artists who can help the next generation. Craftspeople, Caregivers, Librarians, Religious Leaders, Farmers, Managers, Salespeople and many others have lots to share with those just starting out. So, too, do grandparents who have gifts galore to pass on to their grandchildren.
It’s beautiful, really, what we can pass on to someone else who craves a mentor. And it may be something so simple or profound – like how to smile on a long grocery line or how to cry during the loss of a pet. Younger people are watching us. What we do and how we do it matters more than we know.
So, as I get ready for another long trip away from the comfort of my hearth and home, I feel better knowing that I have chosen to do what my mentors did for me – to pass it on.
May you know how special your talents are and may you seek to give away that which will fill another’s heart with your gift. I matter, you matter and we are the light that someone needs.