Thursday, March 14, 2013


The Lead Sheet
music and the brain

Volume 1

"Music is a perfect storm for the human mind:
 beautiful in form, intricate, and eternally new."
2012: Unplanned Birth of the Momager* ~ it happened to desire to write about my experiences sprung from feelings about what my teenage son, a high school junior, is accomplishing playing string bass.  Surprised!  And just a little bit in awe of what he has been able to do on his own, taking full advantage of what the San Francisco Bay Area has to offer in  extra-curricular musical instruction, performance and recording.  In the beginning, my support was mostly utilitarian: rides and tuition, the occasional request for advice, extreme calendar management.  But, in the space of one year, I'm a full-on 'Momager'.  I didn't know, I didn't expect, I didn't choose to have my own world become as deliciously embroiled in serious music and the making of such.  In addition to the 3 excellent groups in which he plays in high school, I find myself managing the demanding schedules of 4 extra-curricular bands and orchestras with weekly rehearsals in Berkeley and San Francisco.  The Bay Area music education scene is thriving: these experiences have been incredible, the instruction specialized and unique, the educators experts in the field.  We ride the train a lot.  We also spend hours in the truck and here is where the magic happens: these bandmates of his have crazy conversations about the differences in how they each view certain compositions, how they approach improvisation, the amazing solo their friend just laid down, and the absolute joy that ensues.  That joy, so deep and multi-layered, unique to each, that joy deserves more attention, it's passion.  (Some one should really write this down!, I think to myself.)  Their answers are all different and they are all correct.   From a brain standpoint, it is like a perfect storm of synapses, hormones and electrical signals, all the more elusive to the teenage male brain.  Because of a book I’d been reading about music education written by a cognitive scientist (more on this later), I struck upon the idea of asking musically gifted kids a few questions...
The big idea for The Lead Sheet is to document the ideas of the next generation of professional musicians about music, their relationship with their instrument(s), and how they each approach the concept of improvisation.  I got help from the kids crafting 5 good questions.  I will ask each young musician the same 5 questions in an interview planned for each volume.  On special occasions, I would love to interview masters and educators in the music field and perhaps ask the same 5 questions.   
Because of their age, these students must have some parent support in order to consider extra-curricular, specialty programs in their geographic area.  And, as many of these parents are also dear friends, I know they have something to say about their loud houses and their experiences raising these unique children.  In the next volume, I'll share defining information about music and its brain correlate that will hopefully add to your understanding and enjoyment of music.  
I am a great believer in the idea that there are many ways to do something right.  I am always interested to hear other people's take on things.  I find that often, even a slightly different perspective can open a whole new view.  
Please sign up for regular email updates.  Be part of the conversation and share your experience often.  Pass the link on to your friends and family, teachers, music teachers, kids in school music programs or taking private lessons, and their parents.  You will be amazed at what goes on in your head while you strum or pluck or blow or bow or...even just think about it.    
#Face the Music

* I am advised that Kris Jenner has coined and trademarked this new term.  My compliments, Kris, it describes how my situation feels perfectly, minus the celebrity aspect. (MOMAGER - Reviews & Brand Information - Jenner Communications Inc. Woodland Hills, CA - Serial Number: 85021877,

1 comment:

  1. Many gracious thanks to Josh for a thoughtful & engaging reply and for being the ONE.