The Creative Life – Day Three

This morning I decided to get up extra early for a sunrise hike up the mountain to a spot overlooking the Garden of the Gods.

It was a beautiful morning, and so neat to look out over the sprawling Colorado Springs metropolis as the sun rose.

This is a shot looking behind me with the Garden of the Gods in the background.

The morning consisted of two workshop sessions where we had to choose from a list of five sessions, each one being presented by one of yesterday’s creativity panel members. It was a hard choice! In the end, I opted to go first to a session on The Psaltery Principle by Dr. Greg Cope. I had a chance to visit with Dr. Cope several times earlier in the conference and found him to be a wealth of insight on education and musical literacy. He has designed and built a line of easy-to-learn portable instruments to make music-making accessible to a larger percentage of the population.

His driving passion, however, is to encourage people to incorporate daily worship into their lives, much like King David expresses through his writings in the book of Psalms. In our session we spent some time reading and discussion some Scripture passages about worshiping God through music, then he gave us a crash course on the psaltery and the bowed lyre. It was so much fun, and I see incredible potential for utilizing instruments like this in the studio!

For the second workshop session, I decided to go to one by Ken Lewis on the role of a producer and a support musician. He emphasized the importance of listening, utilizing ambient sounds, and evaluating each scenario for maximum effectiveness. Then we spent the bulk of our time finding anything around the room that could be used to create sound, including some cool percussion instruments he brought along for the purpose, and recorded a multi-track piece by creating our sounds in time with a beat he provided. Some of the sounds used were: turning the lid of a white board marker, pouring water from one cup to another, crinkling a candy wrapper, tapping a piece of cardboard with a pen, plucking the inside of the mouth, and running a pencil along the side of an old radiator in the room.

After we each recorded our sounds into an audio editor, Ken masterfully mined out the best combinations, looped them, and strategically placed them to create a backup track that was pretty cool sounding! It was a fascinating group project, and one that got all of us thinking “outside the box” to notice and then harness the sounds all around us to create something new and fresh. Another fun studio project, I think!

Lunch was again followed by an afternoon of free time, and the evening was spent in a time of Community Presentations.

It was a long, but very meaningful time as one after another of the conference attendees got up to share to what Michael Card dubbed “a 100% affirming audience.” He said, “If you do something well, we will love you. But if you mess up or make a mistake, we’ll love you even more.” What a freeing concept that does wonders to encourage people to share and give of themselves without fear of judgment or rejection.

Some shared previously written songs; others shared new works created during their time at the conference; still others shared spontaneously as they felt moved to do so during the presentations. Michael Card, Phil Keaggy, and Ken Lewis graciously (and amazingly!) volunteered to accompany anyone at their request and easily improvised along with whatever original or arranged song the individual played for the group. In addition to being incredibly blessed by the experience, I was inspired anew to invest more time developing the skill of playing by ear and improvising at the piano.

It was very late by the time the last presentation was over, but somehow most of us still had a hard time pulling ourselves away to go back to our rooms and call it a night. The far-reaching impact of such an experience will probably never be fully known, but I know it’s already making a difference in my perspective of teaching music and how I view studio recitals/performance experiences…

Share and enjoy!

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