Okay, so I think my title really came from a tween movie, but it fits here so well. I am often asked how I can have so much talent and creativity. The answer is always the same and it comes down to the Fundamentals.
I often tell the story of learning to play the organ. My grandfather played the organ, piano, guitar, banjo, and the ukulele . I remember when I was just knee-high to a grasshopper (I was a very small child when I was little) going to visit my grandparents up in Eureka California. They lived with my great-grandmother (Granny) in a Victorian home. My Grandmother passed on at just over a hundred, this last year, sot that tells you a little about my Granny too. She still wore the button up boots and long “Granny” dresses. In the living room sat my Grandfather’s organ. He would sit down at random times and fill the whole house with wonderful gospel and bluegrass music. I personally loved when he played the banjo, but most often it was the organ that he played. I was so awe-struck by the whole thing that I begged him to teach me to play. At first he told me I was too little. I was one of the three little kids of all the cousins, so it seemed to me that I was always too little. I persisted till he finally told me that he would teach me to play if I could get up onto the organ bench all by myself. The organ bench came clear up to my arm pits, and I tell you I worked and worked and worked at get up on that darn bench, as it kept tipping over on me again and again. I did not become discouraged because my desire to learn to play music was stronger than an organ bench tipping over on top of me. I believe it took me like what seemed to 2 hours, but I am sure it was just a little kids idea of what 2 hours felt like.
I finally made it up onto the bench, and do you know what he taught me to play first? Scales! I played scales till my fingers hurt, and when I would ask him when I would get to play music his reply “when you are ready…”
My Granny died a few years later and my Grandparents moved to Tahoe and we all lived together in a multi-generational home. My lessons of my scales continued, and so did my question of when would I get to play a song. The answer stayed the same, and I continued to play my scales everyday religiously. As time went on, I started to get bored with up one octave and down one octave, so I started mixing my scales up. One day as I was playing my mixed up scales very creatively, I asked my grandfather again, “When do I get to play real music?” His answer was simple, “You already are, listen to yourself!” I had stuck with my discipline and now I just sat down and played music. As time went on I started to play the gospel and the blue grass that I so loved, but I never did learn to read sheets of music. I could only play by ear. I went on to play the flute, clarinet, french horn, and guitar. Eventually, lost interest in my music, but that is another post for another day!
I have told you that I am an artist, and I will have to get around to posting some of my artwork on here too, but when I started off drawing again I was knee-high to a grasshopper. I don’t know how old I was, I never remember not drawing. I use to take my coloring books that I never colored in and draw the pictures that were in them. I thought they were just reference books for young artists. My parents found my stack of empty coloring books and my equally big stack of drawings I had done on my mom’s typing paper. Ooh I just dated myself with that statement, it has been a long time since the typewriter was around. They were amazed at my artwork, and explained to me that they would get me my own supply of paper so that I would stop using her more expensive typewriter paper. Turns out she had been wondering where all her typewriter paper was going.
The lessons started. My dad who at one point and time was an army photographer, then a professional photographer and an artist also, started teaching me to draw. Now for those of you who wonder why it is that you don’t even know where to start on a drawing let alone really how to draw, I have to tell my lessons again began with the fundamentals of drawing. I did not start out painting masterpieces, but I started out practicing how to draw a straight line, how to draw a curved line, then an S curve, how to stipple and cross-hatch, and then how to draw a perfect circle freehand putting one exactly on top of the other leaving only one pencil line. The fundamentals are in fact learning to control your hand eye coordination with a pencil, then a brush, and eventually took me to glass cutting for stained glass, and on to calligraphy, and of course photography. I was 12 years old when I started studying as an adult under a renowned artist in the area where I lived. My freshman year of high school I was accused of cheating on a pastel piece, because “No 14-year-old could do work of that level” After a discussion with my parents the grade went from an F to an A+. Every project after that in high school got A+ on them. Because I spent the hours studying and practicing the art of drawing and painting.
In college an English Professor taught me to write, but this time she taught me first to just put thoughts on paper for 20 minutes a day, and then to write first and edit second. We practiced everyday. I fell in love with a new medium while I was in her class, and a new habit of putting words on paper first and then editing them later. We need to make sure that we have learned the fundamentals of whatever it is we are doing in life. You have heard the phrase that practice makes perfect, well it is true! If you talk to any professional football players or sports athletes you will find that they practiced harder than any one else. You know that incredibly small kid who should not have made the high school football team because he is just so small. He not only made the team, but made it onto the Varsity football team. Well that kid I guarantee you works out harder and practices more than any of the other kids. That is quite frankly the only way you can make it to being the best or at the top of anything is working harder than anyone else. Knowing the fundamentals of what you do, and continuing to practice and learn more no matter where you are or how good you get is an absolute necessity of life.
You need to keep tipping over the organ bench till get up on top of the bench sitting solidly, it gets easier the more times you tip it over!
Peace and Harmony,
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http://www.the777man.come Our blog there we are sponsoring a Murder Mystery Writing contest. Come join us in the fun.
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