I inhabit two entirely different worlds in a given week…or day…or hour. Being a musician and a mom of two kids in elementary school is a balancing act. And lately, I’ve been keenly aware of how important that balance is to my life.
Its no surprise that trying to figure out the business of music can sometimes be pretty anxiety-provoking. How to afford to record, if and how to sell physical albums, and (most important for me) how to get the music out there (live or digitally) so folks fall in love with and want to connect to and be a part of the music; all these things are part of my day to day “day job”. And then, for me anyway, there is the pressure of the creative side of it all. Yes, even that can be less than peaceful at times. I can definitely suffer from writer’s block, lack of inspiration, over self-editing or just plain self-doubt.
But I’ve been blessed (challenged?) with this other side of life that balances it all out. It’s hard to spend too much time angsting over whether the hook is hooky enough, or if enough people are going to come to the gig, when I’m trying to put together the perfect costume for Quinn’s Pioneer Day, or working out how to get Clara from a play date with her best buddy to dance class on time so she doesn’t have to miss either. When I’m with the kids and just being and doing whatever it is we’re being and doing together, the drama that can be a big part of the DYI musician’s world seems really inconsequential.
The fact that both of our kids are musical and inspired to make music is really a gift. It means that more and more, I don’t have to keep the two parts of my life so compartmentalized. That means some of the in-the-moment, “this isn’t brain surgery”, “Don’t try, just do” energy of mothering can invade my music-making and -business running. And that is a good thing.
Just the other day I got this bug to start working up a few songs with Clara that we could sing and play together. She has a strong voice and a great ear, can play just about anything she hears on the keys, and recently picked up the uke. Tap that. So when Ernie Tokay asked me to work up a song from “Tea for the Tillerman” to perform at his annual “Meet Collides with Fire” Fest, I figured let’s start there. Clara and I are working up our very own version of “Wild World” with my folkie “I grew up on Cat Stevens” take, and her pop music, “lets add a run in there” vibe Can’t wait to see where it lands!
Meanwhile, Quinn has been working his butt off on the drums because he wants to join us on stage behind the kit. And the truth is, he’s almost there – he started playing last August! He’s just got rhythm in him. The other day he found me sitting glassy-eyed in front of our pro-tools rig up in the music room*, taking a break from comping vocals for the new CD and asked me to beat out a rhythm on the desk for him. He started mouth beat boxing (is that what it’s called?) and it was so cool. So I started humming a tune, and the next thing you knew we had this cool groove/song going on. Should’ve hit “record”, but I was just too into it. Next time!
We don’t have the multi-colored bus, and there aren’t enough of us to be the Jackson Five (definitely the kids preference over the Partridge Family – “they’re just kinda cheesy, mom!”), but we are printing up t-shirts: #ThisHouseMakesNoise.
*There is no one room in our house that can contain the music. There is a piano downstairs in the living room, recording equipment on the 2nd floor, guitars and keyboards on all 3 floors, drum kit in the basement, a cahone as coffee-table in the family room, and every utensil in the kitchen is a potential music-maker: #ThisHouseMakesNoise.