Tag: music

Charlie’s Room: Rainy Afternoon

The afternoon was cool and overcast. There was enough light to read by, but it felt later in the day than it actually was. They had eaten lunch late, so no one was in a hurry to start cooking dinner.

Marianne and Charlie were drawing up plans for the garden. They had the spring garden coming along well, but it was time to start transitioning things for summer and planning for fall. Luckily they kept a pretty detailed garden journal, so they were able to look back to previous years for help.

Isaac was reading. The story was getting to an exciting point where he kept turning pages to find out what happened next. He was so interested in the story, that the world around him faded away.

Suddenly, he felt Charlie tapping his arm. “Dad, dad, dad, dad, dad…”

“What?”

Charlie folded his arms across his chest with a frown. “You weren’t listening. We were asking your opinion on cantaloupe.”

“I like cantaloupe.” He turned back to his book and read the first sentence of the next chapter.

Charlie tapped his arm. “But do you like it better than honeydew melons?”

Isaac shrugged. “I like them both.” He began reading the first sentence again.

“That didn’t help.” Charlie began tapping his arm again.

Marianne laughed. “I told you. He’s too busy thinking about his book to think about gardens. We can ask him later.”

“Fine.” Charlie stopped tapping.

Isaac read the first sentence of the next chapter for a third time, but this time he wasn’t interrupted. It wasn’t until the next chapter break that he noticed it was raining. He looked up and realized that the room was a lot darker than before.

He was leaning in a lot closer to his book. He straightened up and stretched his head from side to side. Ouch. How long was he hunched over like that?

The house seemed quiet. He looked around. Marianne and Charlie were curled up on opposite arms of the couch, fast asleep.

The rain continued to tap against the windows. If he listened closely, he could almost hear music. He stood up and walked to the window. Outside, he could see brightly colored dots hovering around the flowers. They were the size of bees or maybe butterflies, but more luminous, and they seemed to be humming to the rhythm of the rain.

He watched them weave around the flowers in whirling patterns of color for a while. However, the humming and the rain and the snoring behind him were all making him a little sleepy. Isaac sat back down in his comfortable chair, picked up his book, and read the first sentence of the next chapter. Then, he fell asleep.

Of course, he didn’t realize he’d fallen asleep until he woke up later, startled out of sleep when he dropped his book. Marianne laughed. “You’ve been sleeping for a while. I guess the book wasn’t as interesting as you thought.”

“It was the rain…” Isaac stopped and listened. “The rain stopped.”

“It put us to sleep, too,” Charlie said. “We just woke up.”

“Sometimes an afternoon nap is just what you need.” Marianne smiled and began to gather up the papers on the couch.

“Since we took a nap, does that mean we can stay up late to watch a movie? Dad doesn’t have work tomorrow, and I don’t feel at all tired anymore.” Charlie jumped up and did a little dance. “See, full of energy.”

“That does look like a wide awake sort of dance,” Isaac said. “Do you think there are falling-asleep dances?”

“I wonder what that would look like?” Marianne thought for a moment and shook her head. “I don’t usually think of dancing as something that would put you to sleep.”

“Maybe if it was the kind with the long, slow music,” Charlie said. “You know, the sleepy kind of music that doesn’t seem to go anywhere.”

Isaac thought about the little dots of color and the humming and the rain. “I think you’re right. The music does matter. So, what kind of music is wide awake music?”

Charlie didn’t have to think about that at all. “The theme song for the newest dinosaur movie! We can watch it right after dinner, and we won’t feel at all sleepy.”

He was right.

Musical Confidence

Even an introvert needs to get out and spend time with people every so often. In addition to routine outings and trips, it’s good to see new things and meet new people. When I stay home and my world stays small, then every little problem looms large. My art draws from the same small well of inspiration and starts to feel stale.

In order to get out and find inspiration, I like to take classes and learn new things. But, all the people and the new experiences can be scary and overwhelming. Luckily, I have a secret weapon.

When I feel myself curling up and tensing, when my shoulders start reaching for my ears and my head ducks, when I want to dart away and hide or shuffle my feet as I walk, then I know the stress is getting to me. Mentally, I play a calming tune, usually Edvard Grieg’s Morning Mood from Peer Gynt. I don’t know why that one seems to work best for me, but it does.

Shoulders back, head up, I glide to the music as I walk. I imagine I’m going to go talk to someone I feel comfortable around. Calm, I tell myself. The music plays on inside my head and I breathe out the tension and breathe in the calm.

I once wrote about how music can help with creativity. Music is also great for lifting moods. On down days, I play my current favorite musical selections for motivation. On Sundays, I play hymns and other sacred music. I’m sure I’m not the only one.

This weekend, I’m going to a writing conference. There will be lots of classes to take and lots and lots of people. I’m excited, but also very nervous. Luckily, Grieg is coming with me. As long as I remember the music, I know I can walk the halls with confidence and feel calm. Wish me luck!

What music do you find calming? Motivational? What is your favorite sacred music? Do you have any helpful tips for dealing with large crowds?

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Music is Great

As I type this, I’m listening to music. The three cockatiels who live in the cage behind me are chirping their approval. They chirp loudly whenever I sit at my computer to remind me to play some music for their entertainment.

I don’t always work to music. However, it’s nice to do sometimes. Music seems to make it easier to tap into that timeless, emotional, artistic part of my brain.

Sometimes I worry that adding a soundtrack makes me think my work is better than it is. I think that maybe I’ll use the music as a crutch, and neglect to add the emotional cues to my work, relying on the music, even though the reader won’t have that benefit. I always make sure to reread my work without listening to music, just in case.

There is no denying that music adds to my creativity. I do most of my brainstorming for my cartoons at my children’s orchestra and choir concerts. There is something about live music that just makes it more alive and electric somehow. Listening to recordings just isn’t the same.

Recordings are great too, though, when live music isn’t available. It’s nice to have music on demand. Often, I just want to hear a particular song or three, and it’s so nice to be able to listen to it right then. Technology can be awesome.

Music can be a comfort, a support, an encouragement. It reinforces memories and influences emotions. It’s pretty powerful. Of course, music is an art form itself, and musicians are artists. Speaking to emotions, the heart, the memory, is one of the things that art does best.

Since artists are people too, the art they experience affects their emotions and in turn affects their art. I believe that just as music can inspire me and others as we write, paint, and create, there are musicians who are influenced by writers and painters and other artists as they create their art. Seeing, hearing, experiencing the work of other artists is inspiring.

So, if you are seeking for a boost of creativity, listening to music is a great place to start. Which music? Well, whatever music you find inspiring. I assume that depends on what you need at the moment. I know I listen to a variety of different things at different times.

Do you listen to music as you work? Does it boost your creativity? What kinds of music do you like to listen to?

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