Sunday, November 21, 2010

How to live life on the fly

Since I was asked to play the flute in church, and I am SICK of the same ol' arrangements I've played about twenty million times each, I asked my exquisitely talented friend Barbie to put together an musical arrangement for me. Seriously, go see her site (and take a listen--she's got audio samples) because I don't gush for just anyone. I knew she could whip something up faster than I whip up a Jello dessert and it would taste a whole lot better, too. So, about 3.7 seconds later, she was done arranging the hymn and it sounded beautiful. I know! Talk about a slow day!
photo credit
Here's where it gets interesting for me. Barbie's blind, and so sending me a written version of the song is a bit of a challenge for her. Talented though she might be, she's not so good at sending out ESP versions of her musical scores and I'm not so good at receiving psychic messages. So she cooked up a recording (so I haven't eaten lunch and I'm into food metaphors today) and sent me an mp3 file which I was able to download thanks to the advanced technology I have now mastered. It's called email. Yup, that's right, I even know how to open and read messages. Not only that, I can click on the download button.

So I listened to the piece and learned it by ear. You can listen to it (see sidebar, I Believe in Christ) and learn it by ear if you want to, also (please note this is an mp3 file and that no real people were harmed by playing an actual musical instrument in this version). This is neither me nor her playing but it is Barbie's composition. Amazing, right? I'll be proud to say I knew her before she was famous. But if you're going to learn it like I did, please take longer than two weeks to figure it out or I will hate you forever.

Learning music by ear is not so easy for me. But here's another scary thing. When I went to her house to practice, Barbie said, "Do you need a music stand?" and then she started laughing when she remembered I don't have the sheet music. That's right, I can't hike the stand up high enough to hide my face when I'm playing. I thought about coming to church half-naked because I figured standing up in front of everyone with no stand would be way more exposed. With no sheet music, I have no crutch. It's just me, my flute, a talented accompanist, and my brain. That's all I've got to rely on. It's scary. Who knows what could happen? But it's also kind of freeing for the same reason. Who knows what could happen?

The same principle is true with sewing. I've been experimenting for the last few weeks with sewing without a pattern. That's been fun, too. When I give myself the freedom to figure things out on my own, I make mistakes, but some accidents have turned out beautifully. Like when I made a skirt too short and had to add a ruffle. It turned out all purty on me. Or when I made the neck too wide on a dress and I had to add some darts.

In my novel, I'm doing something similar with my massive rewrite. I know the basic story, but I'm not holding myself to all the events that occurred in previous versions. I'm writing with the same characters, but I'm not making them say or do the same things this time around. I want to discover what they'll do when I know them so well and I put them in different situations.

So I'm trying to learn to not be terrified of doing things without a plan, and hoping the creative part of my brain won't disappoint me when it doesn't have the usual back-up methods to save me from myself.


Talli Roland said...

Wow, Barbie must be so talented! And so must you.

I must admit, I love playing music by ear. There's something very satisfying about grasping the tune and getting it right!

Melanie said...

So, how did the performance go?

Aubrie said...

That's great you blog about flute as well! Church is a great audience to play for. They always love whatever I do, and flute on hymns sounds so pretty.


Heather said...

That really was so beautiful in Church, I never got a chance to tell you guys that. I loved it. You are very talented--with both the flute and sewing. Oh, and writing. Hmmm, makes me feel a little jipped in the talent department! :)