Saturday, September 25, 2010

Producer vs. Player

I was recently meeting with a choreographer and visual artist in town on a project we are planning for summer of 2011 and we found ourselves discussing a tangent unrelated to the project, as we often do, about the producer vs. the player.

The choreographer and myself are quite solidly producers.  Meaning that we are always fielding ideas and we are always in need of at least executing some of these ideas.  We also know that it is impossible to instigate all ideas, but they keep coming and we file them away for another day.  To continue on the subject of my last blog post "No, I won't fall into your trap" and how some people will just insist on discussing the bad points of every performance (I have been guilty too.), the choreographer and I were conversing on why that happens with some.  Our answer was that some artists are producers and some are players.

Producers have an innate need and requirement to follow out and complete the ideas that surface in their brains while players actually have no connection to this kind of existence and are merely just executing what is given to them or asked of them.  What then happens is they are first to see all the problems with the situation since they are just participating in a fraction of the whole and cannot see any of it from other angles, all angles, or the producers angle.

We need players, and we need more of them than producers, but I would like to ask that if you are a player to make an attempt to see it from the producers point of view, which quite often is by a cyclical  process connected to the audiences point of view.

Producers can from time to time be players, and players can be producers.  Players can grow and become producers and producers can burn out permanently or temporarily and become players.

Again, on Thursday, September 23 at the Des Moines Social Club for my CD Release concert I found myself as a producer and a player simultaneously.  This happens a lot.  And, another thing that happens as a result is this huge tug-of-war in my mind that goes on starting the day before.  As a player I am quick to notice all the problems and how this situation is not ideal for "Players" and as a producer I am trying to ignore that player and concentrate on the enormous amount of logistics and loose ends to get the event running smoothly.

Despite all of the points that maybe could have made the event a drag from a player's perspective, it was yet again another non-refundable experience for me in my life, the venue was hip, the audience was an endearing collection of individuals, and I sold some CD's!

Monday, September 20, 2010

No, I won't fall into your trap!

As artists, we are given permission on that one day we pass into the "professional" world of art making to feel content with knowing that sometimes what we present to the public is not "perfect".  However, it is a huge struggle to see the picture from both vantage points; from our angle where we know everything that should happen and when it should have happened, or from the audiences vantage point which in general knows none of that.  When I am working with a student who is about to perform a piece in a couple days and they are still having troubles with sections, whether because they continue to neglect to prepare it correctly or it is going to just take more time I find myself saying quite often, "no one knows the piece, just perform it and look like you know what you are doing."

We ride a fine line between doing a performance that we may feel wasn't the best and standing tall for our admiring audience while graciously thanking them for all their compliments.  Which, let me remind you that their take on the performance is so different from your take on the final product than you can possibly imagine.  We are so far away from what the general public sees that it is amazing we still beat ourselves up over mistakes we make in performance.

I was recently re-reminded that it is very rude to tell your audience, whether an artist or general public, that their opinion was wrong and they have no idea about what they saw.  Which is basically what you say to them when you let them know something didn't go so well just after they have complimented you.  Of course I know this and would never do this (I think...?), but when it was relayed to me in that way, it seemed like I was hearing for the first time.  There were about 3 years in my 20's that I followed the mantra, "my mistakes are my intentions."  And then I got smarter I guess and well, I am now desperately trying to find where I hid that mantra.

So you ask, what is all this leading up to?

Last winter I embarked on what I thought was the first of it's kind; I began planning with the composer and the carilloneur a concert and world premiere of a new piece of music for carillon and percussion ensemble.  And once again I surprise myself, and the concert went off without a hitch on September 12, 2010!  (You can find it on YouTube.)  The composer was present from Utah and the audience was huge, and the weather was perfect.  The concert was outdoors, so I was somehow able to pick the most gorgeous day of that particular week back in March.  A brass quintet performed with the carillon prior to the percussion ensemble, and then we came out and re-awoke the crowd (at least that's what I thought from my vantage point, which was right in the middle of 8 drummers!) for a great performance of Christopher Rouse's "Bonham".

So far, you might think that we had a stellar event, and yes, we did.  However, one (an Artist) might look at that event and be able to say it was too hot that day, the audience didn't get a since of the true balance because they were sitting under the trees off to the side, at times the carillon was not with the percussion ensemble, the wind was annoying and threatened our music several times, and outdoor concerts are a drag.

So basically, this was relayed to me quite often by many people, but all in bulk by a certain person that was involved with the concert that will go unnamed.  And, well yes, I knew all of this, I happen to be there, remember...a side note should be made that this person didn't bother to stay and watch our portion of the concert.  I refuse to fall into their trap.  I have done it plenty of times in the past, and maybe I have set the trap before too, but damn it I learn from my mistakes, of which are many, and this time and hopefully all other times I will not fall.

The concert was amazing!  The students did marvelously!  The weather was perfect!  The audience loved it and I had a blast!

Don't fall into the trap.  Remember to remember the good components.  Remember to be as naive as your audience, you will find a certain appealing peace in what you do and have done.

"Your mistakes can be your intentions."

Go forth, and enjoy what you create!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

"The Artist and sleeping"

"The Artist and sleeping"
I am quite possibly a half-insomniac.  Again, my brain likes to create, think, plan, and be challenged and active all the time.  This is my first curse and blessing (my second curse and blessing is an addiction to being uncomfortable).  I can usually keep up with the daily activity of my brain...well, by now I would hope that I am used to it and know how to follow it.  However, coping is another matter.  Artist, or rather performers, are just on different life schedules than others.  We usually are more actively creative at night.  I think this is because there is less outside stimuli and we automatically gravitate to places in time and space that will allow us to be most productive and not distracted in our creative brain.  We usually perform at night and therefore this sets our daily clock into a mess.  When do you eat dinner?  When is it time to settle in and decompress from the day?  AND, how the heck to you turn off the instant replay on this thing?!?  I think the remote control is broken!

Yes, my remote control broke about a decade ago and now it is set on level 11 all the time...if you get my drift.  However, I think as a lifetime growing artist it is probably better to be this way.  Most certainly if you want to explore every corner and puncture fully through all the dura.  I write this post not to solve the issue of sleep deprivation and artists, but to just comment on it hoping to own it more for myself and maybe help someone else to feel solace in owning it.  Maybe one suggestion, which I am starting to implement myself is to give yourself one hour a day to be that wildly creative over-the-top artist.  Then, resurface yourself and feel the satisfaction in what you are able to do with your over developed imagination.  Remember, there are many people out there that don't tap into any imagination on a daily basis.  We were chosen to be this person, the creating force, and it's certainly ok with me that I was chosen, so now exploit it and don't reprimand and squelch it.  More on this in the future I'm sure, in the mean time I hope you find some good sleep.

Why do this blog (journal)?

Similar to this photo from my first "real" vacation in several years to San Francisco this past summer my brain frequently feels like it is bursting with thoughts and ideas about artistic things.  So much so that I almost feel weighed down by it.  So I don't know how long I could have sat in that position inside the redwood, but I imagine that after not too long things would start to be very uncomfortable.  I started this blog (journal) to occasionally put down some of my creative thoughts and ideas, which will hopefully make room for more (!) and be interesting and insightful to others.