Improvising

Back in October, I played with the Muncie Symphony Orchestra during Muncie Art Walk, a really fun event that showcases artists and musicians in venues throughout downtown Muncie. After the short MSO concert, I wandered around, with my viola on my back, of course, and ended up in a little art shop that was having a reception. They also had a guitar-playing singer providing really excellent music for the event. I was enjoying listening to him (and eating the free food! Yum!) when he took a break and called me over (instrument cases are a great conversation starter). Turns out Bryce Taylor remembered me from BSU new faculty orientation. He works in the psychology department, but the reason I stuck out was that I'd gone to North Texas... as had he. So we struck up a conversation, exchanged cards, and eventually I went on my merry way.

A few weeks later, I got a really wonderful email from him that included:  "I did listen to some of your performances on your website.  I am not well-versed in classical music but you play beautifully, very expressively.  I would love to have you play on my first CD that I will be putting out in the next few months."

Shortly before I moved away from the Dallas/Fort Worth area, I had started playing on recording sessions. It's a very different kind of work than orchestral, solo, or chamber playing, and I really enjoyed it. I didn't have an opportunity to do it in Lubbock, and thought my session days were over. So I was delighted by Bryce's email, and we started a long chain of communication that has culminated in my recording with him. We had our first "real" session yesterday morning.

What's a little scary about it, is that Bryce is a true singer/songwriter, in the sense that he plays and sings what he feels. He writes out the lyrics, but not the notes!! So it's been a very interesting experience for me, because I am improvising to his pre-recorded songs. Aaaah!!!! Yes, that's my classically-trained-fear-of-improvisation coming out. I'm pretty darn good at playing music that is written down on a page... but when asked to play what comes to mind, I get scared. What if I play I wrong note, or something that sounds bad!? 

But Bryce is so warm and appreciative of my efforts, and it's not as scary as I thought it would be. We got some pretty good material for one of his songs yesterday. We'll meet again next week and work on another song. It's such a different experience than what I'm used to. I feel my "square" classical brain expanding just a bit, and it's exciting. I think the finished product will be most excellent.

Happy practicing!