My Musical Journey: The Message

When I was nine, my sister Ria had piano lessons. Being the little brother, I thought I should be able to have piano lessons, too. To me it looked like fun, and I wanted a turn. So mom signed me up.

A lady in our neighborhood, who was also in our ward, taught many kids piano lessons, and for only $3 a week, it was a pretty good way to go, though I didn’t find out until later what a generous teacher I had to charge such a small fee for those valuable lessons.

The lessons were fun, and I learned all the basic musical terms and skills, and obtained a very basic piano proficiency. By the time I had been taking lessons for a year, however, I was tired of practicing, and after a few weeks of dragging my feet, I stopped going to piano lessons.

Years went by, and I didn’t touch my piano books. They were a thing of the past, and any time I considered playing, I remembered how boring practice was, so from the time I stopped the lessons, I stopped playing the piano entirely.

As a young man of fourteen, I loved listening to music while drifting off to sleep. I would stick in a favorite cassette and let it play through to the end. However long it took me to fall asleep, I would always get completely wrapped up in the music. As I made a habit of this, I soon found that the mere act of turning on music and closing my eyes did something to me. It was as if the sounds were wrapping around me, filling me. I don’t know how to describe it, but that simple, quiet music had an overwhelming effect on my whole system.

It was at that time that I came to a realization of the power of music – just a few simple notes, played at just the right… well, everything! The tempo was perfect, the notes were perfect, played at the perfect volume at just the right moments. What was it about this mix of sounds that drew a person in so completely? Was it the flawless skill of the artist, or was it something independent of the musician? Did the music itself somehow convey the sense of completeness and power that I felt?

Much of the music I listened to was religious music, and the powerful feelings I felt while listening to that music were always accompanied by an intense spiritual high that made me want to be better, do more good, and reach out more to bless the lives of more people. But a lot of the music I listened to was simple New Age music, which at that time was sometimes called Easy Listening music.

One night, while listening to some of this gentle music, I felt something unique – or I heard something, but with my feelings rather than my ears. It was as if someone or something was sending a clear message through while my mind and heart were in such a susceptible state. The message was simply this: “You can give this gift to others.”

I lay motionless, still wrapped in the feelings and power of the music. The words had been clear. You can give this gift to others. What gift? Music? The ability to play music? The feelings that the music expressed? Though the message had been clear, I didn’t know for sure what it meant.

The more I thought about it, the more I felt that it was time to go beyond simply listening to and enjoying music. I needed to make music.

But how? I didn’t play any musical instruments, and my voice was nasally and boisterous. I would have to learn to play an instrument. A flute? A brass instrument? I didn’t have any instruments, and I didn’t have access to any instruments – except…

Yes. The piano. The family had a piano. I would would get out my old lesson books and start learning to play first thing after school the next day.

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Music, Art, and Media Series

Lex De Azevedo, A Closer Look at Popular Music

Here’s a link to the LDS film site we mentioned in the podcast:

Here’s a list of popular LDS artists – most of which were not around during the “I’ll Build You a Rainbow” era.  Not to diss the song or anything, but it’s definitely an oldie.  All of the musicians listed here have at least some LDS-themed music.  This list is not comprehensive, but these are some of the leaders of Continue reading Popopopopular!

25 Second Teaser from the New CD

Play Button

25 Second Sample

Here’s another 25 second teaser from my newest CD to be released in the next few weeks.  The name of the CD is The Ancestor, and this is a sample from the song that bears that name.  Enjoy!

By the way, the Deseret News has a section known as Mormon Times which wrote an article about my music this week.  Check it out at the Mormon Times Website.

Also, thanks to L.T. Elliot for her kind words in a blog post about my music.  Thanks, L.T.!

See More posts with music from The Ancestor CD

Awesome Musician Bloggers

I’ve been on the lookout for other musician blogs. It’s fun to connect and get to know how other musicians are doing with their music, and how they are using the blogosphere to share what they have discovered.

Many musicians have family blogs, religious blogs, and so forth, but there are some who’s blogs are focussed on music. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Paul Cardall: AMAZING musician.  I’m linking you to his website, because he has links on his front page to all five of his blogs – one of which is a music blog. All of his blogs are fantastic – check them out!  And what an incredible guy.  He’s now awaiting a heart transplant, too, and blogs about it.
  • Career Songwriter Blog: Andrea Stolpe does a great job explaining the ins and outs of both songwriting and the music business.  A must subscribe for music and especially lyric writers!
  • Piano Musings: If you would like to learn to play the piano by ear, Edward Weiss knows his stuff, and even offers classes.  His blog is very insightful and goes into detail about the intricate skills required for one who is learning to play the piano outside of the traditional sight-reading piano lesson style.
  • Sher the Love: I just discovered this one last week, and love it.  It’s a fun blog about the life of the musician Sherrie Shepherd, so check it out!
  • Solo Pianist for Peace: Louis Landon shares his thoughts and feelings in a very unique and personal way that makes his blog thoroughly enjoyable to read.

There are loads of others, but these ones are fairly regular in their posting, and are probably my favorites that I have found so far.

I would love to find more. Help me out and tell me in the comments about any musician blogs that you know of!

– Chas

Arrangement Practice Series: part 1

Arrangement Practice 1

I’ve decided to try something a little different today.  I don’t know how it will work, but I thought it would be fun to try.  In case you’ve ever wondered how a musician comes up with arrangements (cover music), I’m going to show you – at least this is how it is for me.

Some of you are familiar with the hymn, “I Stand All Amazed.”  I have been intending for awhile to come up with an arrangement of it, though I’ve never tried with this one before.  I’ve attempted to play it from the hymnbook, and have played the simplified hymns version from sheet music, so I’m quite familiar with the tune, but I’ve never tried to make my own arrangement.

So I’ve decided that for this particular hymn, I would record every bit of practice I do on this song – every minute that I’m working on this hymn, and publish that practice on my blog.  That way, you will hear exactly what I’ve been doing with it.  Obviously it will start rather pathetic.  It’s my first try at it.

My intent is to give non-musicians an idea of what I am doing when I come up with an original arrangement of a well known tune.  You might say I’m trying to expose some of the mysteries of composition.

If you want to know how to develop the skill to be able to work with a tune – or in other words, if you want to know how to get to where I am now, you’ll have to read the “Play by Ear, Write by Heart” series that I have been doing on this blog.  There is much of it yet to come.  But this series, we’ll call it “Arrangement Practice Series,” will be from my first attempt at a tune through to the finished product.  Maybe I’ll even throw in commentary along the way (none of which was spoken while being played – I simply don’t have the ability to do that).

I have no idea how many episodes it will take to have the finished job – maybe 2, maybe 20.