The music in me

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My experience recently with Deva Premal’s 21 day meditation series, for which I sang chants every day, has me thinking a lot about music and its place in my life.  And possibly provided me with an answer for some long unanswered questions.

As a child my two main interests were music and writing.  The writing just came naturally.  I did it without thinking and had no goals or aspirations. Music I loved and wanted to pursue.  I took piano lessons for 12 years, voice lessons for five.  When I sent away for catalogs from music schools I was told that I couldn’t go to a conservatory; I had to go to a university and study something that would lead to real work.

I wasn’t the kind of kid who could just take off then and find a way to earn my own way through music school (it never even crossed my mind…) so I went to Northwestern, with the promise that I could switch to the music school there if I still wanted to after some unspecified time passed.  The music school allowed only classical music which wasn’t what i wanted to study. I also realized when I met music students that my training seriously lacked theory and I’d have a hard time catching up.

Later, when I was in a band for a while I realized that all the training left me not well suited for the jazz/rock style I favored.  And then that my talents were more suited to local community theater than the kind of unique career I wanted and I gave up the music dream.

In recent years when I contemplate my talents and desires and try to figure out who I’m meant to be and what I’m meant to do I often leave music out — I mean it really doesn’t cross my mind.  And if I do think about it I turn it around and contemplate it from different views.  I feel like I should want to because “they” always talk about how important it is to look at what you wanted to do as a child.  But as far as a life purpose or career pursuit, I just really don’t want to do music any more.

The Deva Premal series gave me a new idea.  I’ve also tried lots of different paths and never had much sense that one was more my path than another.  I like being eclectic.  But I’m now thinking that I would like to pursue the singing chants more.  SInging those chants opened up something in me that nothing else has and created an amazing flow.

I wouldn’t necessarily chant to the exclusion of all else but if I were going to start taking workshops again or look for a teacher, I think it would have to do with singing chants or kirtan.  It feels like a perfect way to express that musical side and at the same time follow my spiritual path — without having to make it a career or purpose.  In the  meantime I have plenty to learn and sing with on Deva’s Mantras for Precarious Times, Moola Mantra, and Gayatri.  And if I can find lyrics for them, I have a small kirtan collection.  So I’ll be singing along with recordings for now.

Sometimes it seems to take me a very long time to work through things like this but when the right moment comes and things start coming together, wow.  I can often see that I needed years of gathering bit and pieces to get to a more complete picture.  Do you have any loves or desires that don’t seem to have a place?  Or could use a re-purposing?

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6 thoughts on “The music in me

  1. Years ago, after telling my therapist how I was happy with where I was at, but wondered why I needed to take such a torturous route to get there, he replied — “There were a thousand paths you could have taken. This is just the one you took.”

    end of subject.

    Every step brought me to where I wanted to be — and I couldn’t see where I wanted to be until I got there.

    Reading your post this morning reminded me of that ‘aha’ moment.

    I love that your studies, your career, your journey brought you to this place where not only you find joy and peace, you share it with all of us here. Thanks!

  2. I resonate with what you’re writing, though I was never into music as deeply as you. That is, it would never have occurred to me to make music a career or study music seriously in college. I didn’t feel talented at all in music, and couldn’t sing well either. I think requiring high levels of perfection is a downfall of the world of music now, and that we focus so much on making money from it, so that the joy of creating music gets lost or is never taught to us.

    Several years ago, I bought an inexpensive upright piano and started taking piano lessons with my kids because I always had wanted to learn how to play the piano. I’m currently writing songs with my piano teacher to accompany the novel I’m writing. I may write a post about this — It’s kind of a wacky process to be honest. 🙂

    I’m not writing the songs to make money, but I am beginning to believe that I could publish the music someday. My piano teacher studied music composition in college, and he’s an amazing help to me. I’m thrilled with the songs we’re creating together.

    Even so, my piano teacher’s work that pays the bills is sales for a manufacturing company. He doesn’t seem to mind that too much. He has many interests in life. Sometimes, we do our Work like creating music because something in our soul leads us in that direction.and sometimes we need to do other work to pay the bills. I think you bring up a good point, in that schools, colleges and universities don’t necessarily teach music in a way that encourages lifelong engagement with music, or outside of the box music.

    I listened to some of the Deva Premal chants, but I had so much going on that I didn’t listen to many of them. To be honest, I’m probably getting more out of reading your posts about the chants, than listening to the chants did for me. 🙂 Interestingly, I appreciate the beauty of her chanting more because of the way you talk about chanting. And it makes me want to listen again to the one Deva Premal CD that I own.

    Perhaps, you could make chanting a part of your teaching, or even the center of your teaching as time goes on. I admire that you’ve been blogging more this year, and I remember you writing about feeling a calling to write more earlier this year. Perhaps you might consider combining your heart’s desires. Maybe you could write a book or e-book about the effect chanting can have on heath and spirit and eventually include your own chanting music with it, and combine your love of writing and music and spirituality. It’s obviously not something you have to do overnight, but it could be a fun project for you. Just a thought I wanted to share with you, because I think so few people really understand the power of chanting, and feel like they are not “qualified” to sing to a large degree because of the way we are taught or not taught to create music for ourselves.

    This is a rather long comment, but I wanted to show that I read your blogs, even though I don’t always comment.

    Have a great week!

    • I love that it’s a nice long, thoughtful comment.
      I’ll be looking forward to reading about the process of writing the songs.
      Yes, I agree that schools have a tendency to take the fun out of music (all arts?). I did find a music school that leaned more toward jazz and world music but it was in California and CA was a “no” all by itself for my parents… And I had such a wonderful time at Northwestern that I can’t say I’m sorry I went there.
      Although I’ve really liked listening to the Deva Premal chants, it was only when I began singing with them that I felt over the top about it. The energy of actually singing them is much more powerful than just listening. I think that’s probably why I’ve never mentioned her before on the bog even though I’ve been listening to her longer than I’ve been blogging.
      i like your ideas for future possibilities, but right now I’m happy just to sing along with recordings. Right now I’m about to put out an e-book on applying spiritual principles to relationships — hoping that will earn enough money that, among other things, I can afford to go to workshops again and try some different teachers who chant.
      Thanks for such a thoughtful comment! Happy weekend.

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