Friday, July 23, 2010

I Followed My Own Advice, and. . .

I followed my own advice, set a deadline, and made two songbooks! (It didn't hurt that both kids were away this week.) Heading off to France today to present the new tunes at the Dordogne Jazz Summer School in Monteton. I'll be sharing the stories at

Friday, July 9, 2010


I’ve shared stories before about my friend Dave, an amazingly talented ad writer (who unfortunately passed away a few years ago.) One of the first things he said to me, when he wanted to write some zingy phrases for my promo materials, was that he couldn’t be creative at all without a deadline. I was surprised and confused. I felt very uncomfortable imposing a deadline on someone who was doing me a favor. I just wanted to say, oh, just whenever, you’re a busy guy, I’ll just be thankful whenever you can squeeze it in! But he demanded a date, so I handed him one.

I was asked a few months ago to write a piece of music for my grandmother’s 90th birthday party. Luckily, I had a deadline, or the piece would have never been born. I did put it off as long as possible, until panic set in. It’s not that I didn’t try – I actually started on a few ideas. I just couldn’t get anywhere with them.

This week (by the way, the party is in two days) I really put some effort in. I had written a kind of outline of an idea, and then decided to write variations on the chord structure. I noticed that I could make decisions much easier with the deadline looming. A surprising peace and calm came over me. From measure to measure, I improvised a few notes, and wrote down what I liked. In what seemed like no time at all, I was done. Not because I worried myself with choosing THE RIGHT NOTE. I was just happily jotting down something that worked for me in the moment.

This is something I really must consider, regarding a few of my projects that are up in the air. Maybe if I set some deadlines for them, they will actually happen!!

(I’ve set a deadline to finish this post before dinner, so out it is going, no time to edit!)