Strengths and Weaknesses – An Observation

Over the past few days I have been thinking about strengths and weaknesses. In particular, I have been thinking about those strengths and weaknesses that our inherently our own. I teach a wide range of students. I have young, young … Continue reading

Just Say NO!

Creative Infrastructure

Doughnut A first year graduate student in my arts management class presented a paper this week on arts labor economics.  Her undergrad degree was in acting so she had never delved into the topic formally. She certainly understood through anecdotal observation that there is an imbalance between artist labor supply and artist opportunity and that artists are often paid less than their peers in other fields (to put it mildly).  Among the factors she considered was that artists are often willing to work for low or even no pay because the joy of doing the work is payment enough.   In concluding her presentation, she posed a rhetorical question that I paraphrase here: How can we make this vicious cycle of artist oversupply and underpayment stop?

Following this presentation, I returned to my office and this email:


I want to reach out and see if you have any film students that…

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Gratitude: Talent


The Mad Pianist playing Horowitz’s piano. Photo: TLG, 2011

Not many people know exactly what I do for work.  To be honest, there are times when I am not exactly sure what I do when I am at work.  My schedule and functions change fairly regularly – mostly monthly.  I work with the elderly in a long-term care setting but I am not a nurse.  I work within the recreation department but I like to view myself as a “non-licenses music therapist.”  As a result of all of my music training, I have the opportunity to share music with this population.  It is a hard but so very rewarding group of tasks on a daily basis.

Today, as they were getting ready for dinner, a lady wheeled herself up to me.  She said, “When are you going to play the piano for me again?  Can you do it right now?  Do you have something you can play for me?”  At the moment, I was getting ready to attend a staff meeting but we made plans for me to play for her this weekend.  I am going to play some Bach, Beethoven, and a piece composed just a couple of decades back.  Her excitement is kind of funny, at least I think it is.  Nearly everyone at this facility knows that I play the piano (and some know I play other instruments as well) but she is really one of the only ones that seeks me out to play for her.  She is an artist and so I keep trying to tell her that I will play for her if she will paint me a picture.  I think she has figured out that I will play for her anyway.

As a part of my weekly schedule, I have a music group.  Those involved in this group are usually all long-term patients.  They have varying illnesses, cognitive levels, and use of their limbs.  About a month ago, I was leading my music group and they decided that it would be fun to work on some Christmas songs and then record them.  They want to be able to give CDs to their family members for the holidays.  Now, I thought (and still think) that this was a terrific idea.  Little did I know at the time how much work this was going to be for me.  As a group, we picked five songs to work on:  3 traditional carols and 2 of the more “modern” Christmas tunes.  One of these I had never heard and we are learning the words tomorrow.  I have had the opportunity to arrange each of these pieces for the group.  They will be singing and playing various percussive instruments.  I will be on the keyboard and I have arranged for some of my musician friends to assist us.  The closer we get to the recording date, the more excited everyone seems to get about this project.

So, for today, I am grateful that I have this opportunity.  I get to see the smiles on each of the faces of this population.  I get to see the impact that music truly has on each individual and their varying circumstances.  If anyone doubts the power of music to heal and to bridge gaps, come visit with me.  I have seen Alzheimer’s patients become more coherent and balanced.  I have seen behaviors decrease.  I have seen people come together because of the music.  I am a believer.

I am grateful for being given this talent that I can share with the world.  My mom is always telling me “don’t hide your light under a bushel.”  I could be content, mostly, with living in the shadows but that is now what I have been meant to do with my life.  I have a gift and the accompanying training to bless others and to bring a smile and commonality to the lives of those around me.  I will not squander my gift.  I will showcase it and allow it to grow even further.

What talent are you sharing with the world?  I want to hear from you!

Peace and love,

The Mad Pianist Continue reading

Sensory Gratitude

For today’s gratitude post, I thought that I would focus on something that has always concerned me – my senses. My most long-standing fear has been the loss of any of my senses. When I was a child, I used to pray every night that when I awoke the next day, I would have the ability to see and to hear and to use all my senses like I did during that day. So, as you can see, this is something that has bothered me for quite a long time. There are times, even now, when I repeat these same pleadings in my prayers when I am exceptionally worried about them.

For most, this would be something that is not thought about regularly. I have no real idea why it is for me. Growing up, my paternal grandmother had lost her eyesight – or most of it. I remember having to go to her house (she lived just through the block from our family) to help her read a recipe or help her do other things that required eyesight. She still continued to live a rather full life but my parents (and us children) had to step in and provide assistance. So, perhaps that is where the loss of sight phobia comes from. As a musician, the loss of hearing is terribly frightening. Anytime I get a cold and lose a portion of my hearing, I freak out. Luckily, it is only a temporary ailment when it occurs.

So, for today, I am grateful that I do possess my senses. I have the ability to see the world and the beauty that exists. I can hear so much majesty – organized music, sounds of nature, my parents voices, my own voice, and everything that makes horrible and beautiful sounds. I can smell (most of the time) – I love the smell of flowers (especially lilacs), pine trees, and freshly-washed laundry. I can taste the difference between bitter and sweet, sour and tangy. I can feel textures under my fingers. I can snuggle under my favorite blanket that is so soft and warm and feel that it is the opposite of uncomfortable.

I am blessed. For this day, at least, I possess all my senses and will try not to take that for granted. One day, I may wake up and not be able to see or hear. So, for today and today alone can I feel this amount of gratitude. Tomorrow, I will take as it comes and know it will be as it is meant to be and I will learn whatever lessons I am meant to learn.

Peace and love,
The Mad Pianist

Image obtained by: Artsyfrog

Gratitude Day 5

Happy Election Day! For today’s blurb on gratitude, I wanted to focus on voting. I know you’re probably all like, “Whatever for?” Well, it really was not so long ago that I, as a female, would not have been able to vote. I think it is important to be able to exercise these democratic rights that we do have. It may be an off year – a year for nothing national to vote on – but it is important. In my voting district, we are just voting on local council seats and a few bond issues but I still have made it a part of my day to vote.

How do we get the youth to see the importance of voting? It is by doing it ourselves. I do not know the current statistics but in the past voting for young adults (18-30) has been an extremely low percentage. I am in that age range myself and I know that we are being bombarded by opinions left and right. It can often seem as if our vote just does not matter. We are the new leaders in our communities and the future leaders of the world. We need to figure out where we stand and why our views matter. If we want a better world for ourselves and the future generations, it is up to us to make that happen.

Several decades ago, there were some very determined people that decided that I should have the right to vote, the right to exercise my opinion, and the right to make a difference. For them, I express my thanks and my determination to make my opinions matter. I want to live in a better world. I start today by voting in my local elections.

Have you voted?

Peace and Love,
The Mad Pianist