The Thing About…STREAMERS

Becca River

Saying goodbye is not something that sits well with me.  Sure, when you anticipate seeing someone again soon, it is not such a big deal. But, at times like this, at the end of a year, when one door closes, there is a tiny bit of sadness that colors the occasion. A good friend recently reminded me of one of my rituals, as a kid, at New Years parties-  I used to picked up all the streamers at the end of the party, after everyone had thrown them and they were strewn across the floor.  I would collect them, take them home, and save them for an occasion to surprise my parents. I would wait for the perfect moment, when things were quiet, and we needed a little color in our lives.  Perhaps we still do the same with memories, recall the colorful moments when we need them.

This year has been filled with so many wonderful moments. My heart is full of gratitude for all of the opportunities that I have had this year and for all of the individuals who have supported me and shared in my adventures.  As you know, I performed my first 30-minute set of original music this past March.  Additionally, I was able to perform my own music all over NYC this year.  I also had the chance to sing at Lincoln Center.  I have been blessed by so many amazing musical moments this year.  2012, you have been good to me.  So, as this year closes, I feel immense gratitude for the journeys I have had and the growth along the way.

And, on to 2013…  I look through the window of this upcoming year with new hopes and dreams.  This is the time to raise the bar and step toward goals with renewed energy and determination.  To this end, I plan on writing more songs, working on my guitar and piano skills, performing more, and RECORDING more music!  There, I said it. Now that it is out there, it will happen.  I have more surprises in store, but a girl has to keep some secrets, right?

I have several upcoming performances scheduled. One that I may invite people to will be on February 16th. Save the date if you will be in NYC.  More info on that to follow…

Thanks for sharing my journey in 2012. I am honored to have had your company. I hope you will continue to support my adventures and musings in 2013.  One can create, one can write music, one can sing, but without someone to listen, it is like a tree falling in the woods…

Thank you.

I wish you colorful streamers of memories to cast into 2013.

The Thing About…MEMORIZING

So, when I have learned music in the past, there are a few stages to my process. First, I am glued to the sheet music, learning the melody, rhythm, lyrics… Then, the song somehow gets stuck in my head and I can step away from the notation. At this point, when there is no physical guide, I can really listen and begin to interpret the music as it connects with me.

The thing is, with my own music, I have really enjoyed NOT memorizing.

I’m constantly making changes. All of a sudden, a completely different way to play something strikes me and I am in exploration mode as I uncover nuances and different ways to express MY story.  In a way, I don’t want this journey to end. I don’t want the discoveries to stop.  Yet, I also don’t want to be bound to the sheet music in performance.

And then, there is the undeniable desire to just cling to the music… Without this roadmap, the fear of forgetting comes up.

And, I have forgotten lyrics before….

One night I was performing in a really important, well-attended show and I forgot the words. It wasn’t pleasant for me. In fact, it was quite humiliating and surprising, because you never know when your mind might suddenly go blank…  And then, when it does, it is about the recovery. How quickly can you salvage the storyline and have everything make sense again? Usually I can get back on track in a flash. The thing is, you feel this cloud of shame hanging over your head and just wish you were anywhere except where you are- in front of an huge crowd of people who have just witnessed your lyric-flubbery.

Sometimes, I have come out victorious from these blunders.  All of a sudden, new lyrics are pouring out of my mouth and the words even rhyme!  How convenient! How relieving! Sometimes, this has worked out…and, other times, not so much…

Once, the night before an audition, the perfect song for that show popped into my head at around 10pm.   I decided to write my own arrangement.  So, I entered the notes and lyrics into my computer and printed it out.  Though I had never sung it before, it was a well-known 50s song and I figured I would be fine…  The next morning, I sat in the waiting room, listening to the recording repeatedly. Then, an announcement was made that instead of a full song, they now only wanted to hear 16 bars, which was less than a quarter of the song.  I went back to my freshly printed sheet music and literally began to cut it with my Swiss Army knife scissors and reconstruct it with a glue stick.  I want this to be the beginning now… this part of this verse is good…the last part of the chorus maybe…and this will be the ending… When I finished the surgery, I incessantly reviewed the quick-paced lyrics….  And then I was called in. From the moment the announcement was made to the time I walked in the room, perhaps 3 minutes had passed. Everything started off just fine.  The audition panel was smiling, possibly enjoying the song or planning their spring break… Then, all of a sudden it happened.  Something weird came out of my mouth when I was coming up on the last line and the song no longer made sense… and it was the well-known punchline of the song and I quickly started spitting out lyrics- my own- to make the joke work, somehow.  And, then it was done. Because 16 bars is REALLY short.  And they laughed.  They said my lyrics were quite ‘clever.’  That was a good word for it.  And, I got through it, but- lesson learned: Don’t re-write something immediately before you audition for a professional production. Got it.

Anyway, with my own music…

I’ve taken such care to choose every word, every note, every inflection.  And, if I could just stare at the paper, maybe it would be perfect. But, what I know about performing is that sometimes there is magic in mistakes.  Sometimes the unknown leads to an uncharted musical moment or an emotional experience that moves the audience because it is so raw and powerful. And, I want that too.  So, how can I perfectly present what I envision and leave room for unexpected beauty?  I don’t think I can. I am trying to let go of this need to be perfect, and to accept that  whatever my best is, will be enough.  But, please, (here’s the prayer-) just let me remember my own songs…