Kevin and I recently had the pleasure of working with a great teacher and extraordinary musician and performer by the name of David Gordon. Known in the Monterey Bay area for his warm and knowledgeable lectures and vocal master classes at the Carmel Bach Festival (www.bachfestival.org - now in its 76th season), his ability to enchant audiences as a performer of folk music, and nationally and internationally as a renowned opera singer and Bach interpreter, Kevin and I had summoned our courage back in January and engaged him for a 1-on-1 performance coaching session to take place at our house on March 16th -- this past Saturday.
What a reward we received for our daring! In the course of two and a half hours, we learned so much about how to move forward as musicians and performers. Not just through small fixes (which we also needed and received) but primarily through sweeping, paradigm-shifting alterations in mindset, body awareness and reorganization, and performance preparation practices. It was like going to a deep well and scooping up buckets of distilled artistic intelligence.
After months of dragging our feet, we had finally reached out and asked for this gift of teaching. That was a milestone in itself, because it required us to believe that we: 1) were worth it; 2) were "good enough" to work with someone we admired so much; 3) could afford an additional expense; 4) could find time in our schedules to rehearse enough for it, etc...
Then, between early January when we arranged the session, and this past weekend when we actually had it, we were faced with a series of opportunities to either prepare, or not prepare. And quite honestly, we did some of both! In maybe 6 rehearsals we were able to mostly-memorize a 40-minute set, complete with transitional "patter" with a theoretical audience, and add percussion elements to six of the seven songs. Though we could undoubtedly have used even more preparation, we still moved leaps ahead in the two months of anticipating David's visit.
Then we had the actual adrenalin-inducing experience of inviting someone so accomplished into our house and into our creative space, singing for him, and sharing ourselves "warts and all"! The live-ness of that sharing, the in-the-moment exchange of energy, ideas, and memories, was deeply rewarding and validating. We are still feeling stunned and grateful for David's clear insights and true kindness.
Now, standing on the other side of a long-anticipated event, we have some wonderful take-aways (in addition to plenty of new homework!). We have been reminded that it is worth it, even necessary, to reach outside of our comfort zones to grow as artists. That even showing up imperfect is better than not showing up. And that the greatest artists want to see their craft bloom in the hands of future generations. That generosity humbles me, and makes me want to grow into an artist who will have something worth passing down as well.
I wish you creativity, gratitude and daring, until next time,
P.S. For more about David Gordon, including a host of tools and free downloads for musicians, visit: http://spiritsound.com