I’ve been quite lucky to be part of this Teaching Artist movement over the last thirty years. Thanks to my involvement with Young Audiences of NJ and the CT Council on the Arts, I’ve been able to take in some great professional development courses and mini-sessions that have shaped what I do as an artist. I even came to recognize myself as a “artist”, beyond just a “musician”.
Often, we get to hear a keynote speaker that has changed system of thought. Eric Booth, author of the Teaching Artist “bible”, challenged me to take home some of what we learn and apply it to our own home town. Out of that, I began our own Teaching Artists of the Lehigh Valley and that has become a template for more local artist meet-ups.
One year, a photographer gave an opening speech called Three Sixty Five. He challenged himself to creating art every day for a year. He randomly selected the theme “Skull” for no apparent reason. But, he began a year-long project to find, create, share something with in that parameter, with the caveat that he had to post it online every day. He had to publish it, and that was a factor that made sure he stayed on course. Eventually, he formed a following of others who started sending him their images, even troops stationed in Afghanistan. What he found out that, not only did he have a book at the end of the period, he found himself to be a much stronger artist.
Thanks to the pandemic, I now have the rare opportunity to attempt such an extended work of art. Once I began to post a song a day online, it dawned on me that I could adopt his process to my music. So, hear I am, posting a song at 4:30 am or so, spending time in my kitchen recording tunes, learning new ones, revamping old songs from repertoires past and playing my guitar every day. I’m also finding that I’m extending my art into performance for the camera, design and production of the videos on my computer and working on promotion, too.
After six weeks, I already feel stronger as a player and performer and I’m finding friends enjoying waking up with one of my songs and a cup of coffee. That’s pretty cool.
But I’m not doing this just for the social value I get out of compliments and a number of daily hits (though I do get a warm feeling), I am doing this so I remain engaged as an artist and, therefore, continue to grow. I do believe it’s the publishing that makes this exercise so important. You can’t hide it under a bushel, as the song goes.
So, there ya go. A song a day. I think I can, I think I can……