September's my favorite month. Autumn leaves and freshly sharpened pencils. School supplies and new school clothes. Don’t you find it of lasting merit, the unending quest for growth, for improvement? Ensuring one does not create future regret for today’s mistakes, which is unavoidable only by doing one’s best at all times. Even if one doesn’t get where one thinks one’s supposed to be. What peace in the knowledge that one has done all one can. Like packing as many ones into a paragraph as one can! September in sum, time to learn stuff like why does the impersonal pronoun "one" sound simultaneously pretentious and soothing?? More essentially- how to sustain the enthusiasm that September seems to inspire?
The promise that a new school year holds is intoxicating and invigorating. Some of you know that my side hustle is teaching English. I often go into the studio with young Italians who are writing their material in English and take a look at their lyrics, help clean up any errors and aid with pronunciation. To my mind little is more magic than recording music honed over countless hours; being able to help with some of the subtleties in a turn of phrase from one language to another is a delicious puzzle. The immense talent of some of the musicians I’ve worked with, like Joan Thiele,
and The Crowsroads
among many others, makes this a rewarding and compelling task, it’s fascinating to take on this small role in their projects.
However, that’s an all year round gig. The September fever hits me when I work with my two young homeschooled students (12 and 14 ). Great students both; they are voracious pupils. Fluent in Russian, Italian, German and English they additionally have scores of side studies which they attack with vigor. Piano, guitar, drama, dance, photography- they excel at these pursuits as well! However, they are children and while their enthusiasm is at its height at the beginning of the new school year, eventually... it can flag. It’s challenging to keep that eagerness flowing and a primary goal of mine when organizing their curriculum.
Then too in September our gigging schedule has calmed down a bit after the frenetic summer season; time for me to continue studying as well. Current self-imposed course load consists of a class online on the Open Studio site called Define Your Voice with Dianne Reeves and a gripping ’Way of Story Writing Course’ with Catherine Ann Jones on DailyOm. Of course the study of piano and work on my vocal Achilles heel, or rather, heels is never-ending. After MY enthusiasm for the return to my happy nest of a studio begins to wane and I begin grumbling and berating myself for not having had the discipline I own now when I was younger and the constant catching up I seem to be doing. I need to remind myself of the same thing I tell students. It’s so easy to become discouraged and so important to remain constant, most especially when it seems you are going nowhere. Progress usually occurs in incremental stages and it can be terribly frustrating not to see immediate results all of the time. But you know, "we only get what we give".
The key seems to be, for both my students and for myself, a careful time management strategy allowing for diligent focus yet without holding on too tightly. Being kind to ourselves and patient with the process is also essential. Keeping an eye on the prize with dogged discipline, and permitting ourselves time off for good behavior- vital. It's equally as important to celebrate the little victories as it is to shake off the frustrations. I know, I know, all that's easier said than done- the eternal balancing act- but oh so rewarding when one can make it work.
Good luck all ya'll- we can do it! I'm raising a glass to you filled with the fruit of another essential labor of September here in Italia (grape harvest!). Alla salute! To growth!
"The beautiful thing about learning is nobody can take it away from you. " B. B. King
"I am learning all the time. The tombstone will be my diploma." Eartha Kitt