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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

how the spirit speaks

If you know me, you know my passion for the piano.

As funny as it may sound, I have struggled with having the gift and talent to play without reading music for about 20 years now. I am so thankful for the opportunities I have been given to perform for others, learn & grow and come closer to God because of it.

Today I played for a bit, thanks to Mark Elton leaving his piano at Jacob Terry's home, where I live, and when I was finished I felt an overwhelming feeling come over me that, admittedly, brought me to tears. I walked away from the piano and thought - what I just played sounded amazing - how the heck did "I" play that? That's when I felt overwhelmed with emotions of astonishment, gratitude and humility. I don't know how to play the piano - I sit down and play out what I am feeling or am inspired to play - which can range from church hymns, showtunes, classical to my "own" compositions.

As many of you know, I have accepted an offer to complete my graduate studies in NYC this fall and do plan to move there. I originally became interested in NYC to go to musical theater school (AMDA) or even, possibly, Juilliard to study piano. Later I talked myself out of it for numerous reasons - most of all - I am afraid I could never support myself on an "artist's" wage.

After playing today, my desire to really study and learn music and piano started to flicker again into a rampant wildfire. This is my passion - piano and music is how the spirit speaks to me the most. There are so many doubts in my head about following that path, not to mention - I am already lined up to go to school for my other passion - nonprofits & urban policy.

I know many of you are musicians - and don't rely on your music for a steady income. I guess I wanted to know how you feel about music and your talent in your life. Did you ever face the dilemma I face and how did you deal with it?

Anyway, I just wanted to jot this all down and get it out.

You have been caught Jey Walking


Lauren T. said...

I can comment on this, but not from a musical perspective. (I took piano lessons for five years and was never very good.) However, I love practicing massage therapy and I am not currently massaging full-time. I just couldn't make enough money to make ends meet, even with a roommate, so I fell back on my business degree. For a while I still did massage part-time, but there just weren't enough hours in the day to work a full-time job and see clients at the health club in the evenings as often as I wanted to. So now, my goal is to work full-time, get my student loans paid off, and maybe one day if/when I'm not fully dependent on my own income, I can start practicing full- or part-time again.

Would it be possible to start taking piano lessons once a week, just to learn how to read music, music theory, etc.?

Clint said...

Hmm...from the other side, I almost talked my way out of film for fear of making enough money. Now, I struggle sometimes with money (I'm not poor, but my credit card has had to save me a few times) and unfortunately I've discovered that by making film my profession, I've become disenchanted with it. For me, mixing my passions with money is a sure-fire way to kill interest (and I wanted to work in film since I was, like, 14). Because I no longer have burning passion for creating visual art, I lack a lot of the motivation I'll need to advance my career creatively.

But maybe I'm just going through a quarter-life crisis. :-)

jey walker gladstone said...

I definitely think piano lessons - even basic lessons - are necessary. There's no good reason why I haven't taken them yet.

I am also afraid of mixing money with my talent. One reason being that because it is a work of art - how do I set a price to it - and how do I expect that others will like it enough to pay me enough to live on? Secondly, I think that the stress of trying to put out albums, performances, making money off of it would make me sick of it eventually. Who knows...

thanks for your comments.

The Smith's said...

Good to see you love!

Greg and Lara said...

I consider myself one of the rare and most fortunate of musicians that I have been able to support myself with music. For me, there was never any choice. I'd rather be starving and be a musician than do anything else. But I think there is also a lot more pressure on men to provide a good income. I was poor, but I was happy, and that's all that mattered to me.

I think before you even begin to consider a Masters, you should take lessons from a university professor. It seems to me that piano is something that you do for you, it's very personal and spiritual and intimate. As a music major, you really lose the aspect of playing music for yourself and for pleasure. It becomes work, oftentimes grueling, and your personal interpretations are subject to a lot of criticism. If you take a few lessons, I think it would give you a much better idea if this is something you really want to pursue. And if it is, I always say "There is a place for everyone in the music world." It may not be full-time, but there are always opportunities to play your music, as you have already seen countless times in your life.

Congrats on NY...I didn't even know!

jey walker gladstone said...

Lara - I am sorry I didn't get the message out to a lot of people.

I was accepted to Milano The New School for Management & Urban Policy (New School University) for a MS in Non-Profit Management.

I wouldn't have been able to go to AMDA or Juilliard for a Master's yet because my undergrad in Advertising is not a good enough prereq (from what I understand).

I do want to study music theory and piano - it definitely is my passion and I have never cared too much about being rich - I just want to be happy.

It was actually Bishop Dean who got Juilliard stuck in my head after talking to him about AMDA (musical theater) - I had just missed the deadline at that point to apply for the piano conservatory program.

Anyway, I am stuck as to what I should do because the answer always comes that in this matter it doesn't matter which I choose as long as I make good choices. God will bless those who make good choices and follow a path to Him.

So, why can't I have both? That's the unanswered question...

autumn said...

i think that's a beuatiful talent to have and definitely worth developing. if it comes that easy to you, then it's truly a God given gift, not just something that comes from 20 years of lessons. and God given talent is always more beautiful and pure than any other kind. (Like josh groban- to me, his voice is flawless. while yes, he still developed it at school, he had it to begin with.)

even if you take lessons and work on it and never make a dime, but you touch one person to the depth of their soul with music, that is a powerful gift that makes it all worth it.

jey walker gladstone said...

it's funny how some problems never go away - here i am - more than a year later - still wondering if i have made the right decision