27 February 2013

First Signs of Spring

"The wood is decked in light green leaf.
The swallow twitters in delight.
The lonely vine sheds joyous tears
Of interwoven dew and light.

Spring weaves a gown of green to clad

The mountain height and wide-spread field.
O when wilt thou, my native land,
In all thy glory stand revealed?"

-  Ilia Chavchavadze,

I am longing for spring. For the bright green bursts of buds to liven up the trees and the landscape to be infused with color and life. While I find a quiet beauty in winter, I am sick of the stark contrast of this vista. I long for sunshine and warm breezes, new life pushing through the dank dark mounds of earth, for the birds to begin their chorus of trilling happiness.
I created this bracelet called "First Signs of Spring" inspired by the cheery cherry blossoms and little birdies of the woodblock print for the Art Bead Scene February challenge Heijinja by Toshi Yoshida.

I sculpted a bird's nest box clasp in polymer clay and painted a turquoise patina on a little brass birdie in a copper love knot nest. The blooms are silver plated and Czech glass, Swarovski crystal and coils of balled headpins along with intricately detailed polymer clay blossoms from the lovely Miss Elaine of TooAquarius.

Tomorrow is the reveal of the February monthly blog tour that I curate from all the entries in this month's Flickr pool. I hope you will join me at the Art Bead Scene tomorrow! 

26 February 2013

Inspired by Music

Today is my day over at Earrings Everyday where we write about a new pair of earrings every day!

I have been working on my pieces for the Challenge of Music reveal that will be happening right here in Friday, March 1st. I hope you will join me! I think that this will be a very intriguing musical journey.

One of the musical pieces that I am inspired by is called Shadowplay. It is a very lyrical piece of music that grows and morphs through the movement. I always feel uplifted when I hear it. I am working on a necklace but took a break to make a pair of earrings.

I like the rustic nature of them, the fact that they feel very organic in their curlicues and twisting feels right with this piece of music. Here's a little teaser...

Go over to Earrings Everyday to see the full view!

What are you working on in your creative life?

19 February 2013

12 Things I Want You to Know

1:: There is nothing that you could ever do that would make me love you any less. I might not like you at times, we might clash and disagree, but I will always love you. There may come a time when we fracture each other's hearts. I will be there with a tweezers to pick up all the tiny pieces and mend it to make us stronger. My love for you knows no limits and can never be lost. No matter what. Period. Be loved for who you are.

2:: True beauty is found within. It is not the clothes on your back, or those terrible Ugg-like boots you know I dislike, or the clothes or make-up or accessories. It is not on the outside, it comes from deep inside your soul.  I want you to be healthy with your choices, your meals, your body so that when your inner beauty bursts forth people can't help but be dazzled by you. When you are beautiful on the inside you shine on the outside. Be beautiful inside and out.

3:: I will be your best friend, your confidante, your cheerleader and your teacher. But I will be your mother more. You will never be too old for me to hug you and rock you and soothe you even when you get up in the middle of the night and traipse past two bathrooms and around to my side of the bed to tell me you are about to be sick. I will be there to hold your hair and yes, scratch your back, despite the fact that I bought you that really nice back scratching claw thingy. Be sure of my love.

4:: You can be anything that you want to be. I mean that. Anything. And know that we will support your path and the choices you make to get there. Don't limit yourself from dreaming big and changing the world. If you don't follow your inner passions you will be the only one holding you back. The world is waiting for exactly who you are to make a difference and to set all the stars in the sky blazing. Be a difference maker.

5:: Experience all that you can. Step up to new challenges with open arms because those challenges will teach you who you are. Opportunities are doors opening all around you. Have courage to see what is on the other side and step on through. Go big. Fail big. Make a splash. Keep an open mind about people that are unfamiliar to you, things you don't understand, situations you fear, because when you have the opportunity to make connections with new people, learn something new and test your limits you will be living a full and happy life. Be a participant in Life.

6:: Cultivate good friendships. There is nothing more special and satisfying than the love of your good friends. They will be there in the rough times and the fun times and the sad times and the happy times. There are days coming when there will be heartache caused by the rifts between you and those you thought were your friends. The best way never to worry about anyone gossiping about you is never to gossip about anybody. Good friends will never leave you. Hold those friends like eggs. Shells are easy to crack. Remember to treat them as you would want to be treated and know that your self-worth is independent of your who your friends are but will always be raised by your true friends. Be a good friend.

7::  I know you are not ready to test the waters of dating, but I want you know this so you are prepared, because those days are coming. Don't ever lose who you are in a relationship. Boys will come and boys will go in your life. If you feel you need to change to feel someone's love, if you don't feel cherished for who you are, then it isn't true. A strong man will never be threatened by a strong woman. There will never be a man who will love you more and longer than your father and he will be the rock upon which you will build all your future relationships. Always know that you are daddy's little girl no matter your age. And someday, many years from now, when you do find that one relationship that rises above all others, know that it will be an act of courage, commitment and sacrifice to carve out a life with this one true love, but it will also be the most fun you will ever have with your best friend. Be cherished.

8:: Your body is a temple, a sacred vessel created by God. What you put on your body, in your body, surround your body with and ask of your body should recall that God made this structure and it is beautiful. There is no need to alter, change, enhance, cover up, slice into, ink upon or otherwise deface the beauty that is you. You may not always like the way you look, you may want to compare to others, especially those that are airbrushed and plastic and impossibly perfect in the pages of a magazine. Know that you are exactly what God wants you to be. God doesn't make mistakes. Respect yourself. Take good care of yourself and this temple as it is where you will live for the rest of your life. You are stronger than you think you are and you have no idea yet as to the strength of your body to accomplish amazing things. Your body is not just yours, it is a gift for your future husband and will be unwrapped together. Trust me. It is worth the wait. Be strong.

9:: Never be afraid to laugh at yourself. It is okay to do foolish things, just don't be a fool. And laugh lines make your face more beautiful the older you get. Be happy.

10:: Be grateful, humble and compassionate toward others. Seek to leave the world a better place and spread love in every way you can. Love with all your heart. You will get hurt. But pain is a blessing of life. Without it we do not know the fullness of what it means to be human. Be a lover.

11:: It's okay to not know. Ask questions. Knowledge is power and when you don't know something it is an opportunity to learn. And you need to learn something new every day. Always dare to say and do what you know is right. Speak your mind. Learn how to say 'no' and not feel bad about it, and 'yes' when you can fully commit to it. Being assertive is not the same as being aggressive. Making tough decisions is part of life. Make decisions for yourself and don't be afraid to go against the flow. Be inquisitive and courageous.

12:: You are called by God to be creative. How you choose to be creative is what makes you unique. Hiding your creativity or comparing it to others is not healthy. You have a gift to give this world. Find that thing that is your passion, that makes your heart soar, that lights your fire and spread your wings and ignite the world with your muchness.  Be creative.

Happy 12th Birthday Tiny Dancer! You are my greatest treasure. I love you!

14 February 2013

Sharing Your Music

Good to know from RUCHI Design on Etsy

Sorry for the silence this week. I am starring in my own version of the zombie apocalypse. Armed with disinfectant spray and wipes I am attempting to eradicate the evil forces that have taken hold of my two children. Wash your hands. Be well.

One of my participants in the Challenge of Music asked me if I had any suggestions for sharing the music on a blog. Good question! I hadn't thought about that (duh!) when making up the Challenge rules, one of which is you need to find a way to share the song on your blog.

So I did a little research and came up with some options for sharing music on your blog whether you are in the Challenge of Music or not.


This is the website that a lot of people, including me, would turn to for music sharing. But this site relies on videos that are uploaded by other users. That might be fine, and you might find the song that you are looking for, but the quality of the videos is generally questionable. Still, if you can find a video with the song you want to share that is acceptable, they make it very easy to grab the code that you need to embed the video into your post. Select Share>Embed, copy the code they give you, and select the HTML tab in your blog editor and paste that code into the field.

SoundCloud is popular with musicians and music-lovers both. You can upload your songs to SoundCloud to share, which is pretty cool if you are a musician and you want the world to hear your sound, or you can search the database for thousands of songs. Find the song you want and select Share. From there you can choose the site you are interested in sharing the music on, like Facebook or Blogger, or you can copy the code provided to embed. When you select the little pencil button next to the widget code, this allows you to Edit the Widget by changing the look of the player. I especially like the graphical representation of the sound
Another music sharing site that has a lot of songs available is GrooveShark. Find the song you like and then you can click the little arrow button to find different ways to share. 

Like the others, the embed code is provided. And you can share it using different themes and preview before committing. I like that this is a very small and simple widget.

When you select a song to listen to through GrooveShark, a widget pops up at the bottom of the screen and you can load up the tray to play a whole personal playlist. I can see that I will be using this service in the future for late night studio sessions!

For those of you working on the Challenge with me, please know that I am in the same creative boat as you. There are so many wonderful pieces of instrumental music to choose from.But that is the hardest part. I know that once I settle on the instrumental song that I will be inspired by the music to create. It is finding the music that is the true challenge. I am looking for something that forms images in my mind and evokes strong emotions. As I have been listening to songs I have been sketching, but I have no idea what song I will pick and what these scribbles will have to do with the finished project. These doodles might not look like much, but I am certain that they are helping to form the rhythm and the balance of the piece that I will create. If you are in the Challenge, what are you doing to help you pick the music for your inspiration?

If you have found some other music sharing sites, feel free to share them in the comments. 

05 February 2013

Japanese Cherry Blossom

“In the cherry blossom's shade
there's no such thing
as a stranger.” 

~Kobayashi Issa 

This month the painting inspiration at Art Bead Scene is Heijinja created by Toshi Yoshida. Yoshida was a Japanese printmaker in the early part of the 20th century. Yoshida was a skilled artist from the age of three when he showed remakable talent in woodblock designs alongside his famous artist father, Hiroshi Yoshida. 

There are so many intricate details in this painting. The strong lines of the architecture to the fanciful roof line. The blossoming cherry tree with the soft pink blooms. The Japanese mother feeding the birds with her young child nearby wearing colorful traditional robes. 

 My goal this year is to come up with designs each month that are inspired by the Art Bead Scene inspiration art. The poppy red pagoda dominates the scene of this painting. But to me it is sort of a backdrop to the everyday life that is happening in front of it. People come and go on the street. A young woman stoops to bless the birds with some food, teaching her child respect for all creatures. And above it all the cherry blossom tree, with its profusion of sweet smelling blossoms, hints at the impermanence of life. Those blooms are very short lived and when they fall, they do so completely. So in Japanese culture they have been associated with Samurai warriors because like the bloom, they are prepared to fall completely and unreservedly. In other cultures, the cherry blossom has different connotations. In China, these blooms are heralded as evoking strength and femininity. So I am reminded to stop and soak up the beauty all around me and not to overlook the little things that make life sweet.

Besides being my go-to fragrance from Bath & Body Works, I love the delicate and fleeting nature of cherry blossoms in the spring. With the snow piling up outside today, it is hard to believe the there will be blooms but I know they will come.

The Simple Truths Sampler Club this month received a LIMITED EDITION botantical bird in a cherry blossom pattern (my apologies if the members haven't received it yet! They are on the way!). I started making the botanical birds last fall with some Sari Snapshot style and then in winter with the holiday botanicals. This year I have a plan to make a new botanical bird for each season. For spring, it is the spring sakura botanical bird. A limited number of these made-to-order pendants are available for sale. Once the limit is reached this pendant will be retired.  

But I also have a few more cherry blossom items in other shapes and sizes that are available. A wonderful way to welcome spring!

What is your favorite way to welcome spring?


04 February 2013

Joined Perception: To See with Your Ears

As part of the quarterly Challenges, I am attempting to write a post each week that will explore more about the subject matter for that theme. Since February is all about Music, I will share some research that I did to prepare for the event.

In thinking about what direction I wanted to lead the participants for this Challenge, I thought about my own musical journey. I am a product of the times, and my musical tastes when I was young consisted of the popular music of the day on my transistor radio, the scratchy Beatles records in my mother's collection, the Big Band or Jazz standards that my father preferred or the wonderful world of 8-track tape players that my father swore would be all the rage (anyone remember those? That big 'chu-chung' in the middle of a song that signaled it was moving to the next track?).

It wasn't until I had my first taste of classical music in college that I really opened up to all sorts of music and the power of music to really move and uplift you. It was from this place that I wanted to take the Challenge this year. So only pure music, instrumental music, music without lyrics. I want you to be moved by your music choices and bring your own experience to the music for this years' Challenge.

I mentioned in my earlier post the movie Fantasia. That had a profound impact on me. The fact that music could be perceived as colors and shapes and textures and forms was intriguing. And that phenomenon has a name: synesthesia.

So I started doing a little research. 

Joined Perception

Synesthesia - in Greek syn (together) and aisthesis (perception) - is a neurological condition in which one sense (for example, hearing) is perceived simultaneously with another (such as sight). Numbers that float in space (spatial sequence synesthesia), maps of numerical sequences (number form synesthesia), linking taste to words (the rare lexical -> gustatorial synesthesia) and even assigning personality traits to ordinals like days of the week or letters of the alphabet (personification synesthesia) are some of the 60 documented types of this neurological condition. The most common and documented form of synesthesia is grapheme -> color synesthesia which joins objects such as letters, shapes, numbers or people's names with a sensory perception to color. Basically, people who experience synesthesia link more than one sense to another,  literally meaning "joined perception."

The number of people estimated to experience synesthesia range from 1 in 200 to 1 in 100,000, meaning there are probably many people who have the condition but do not realize what it is. The most common expression of synesthesia usually involves letters and numbers and colors, like seeing the word B E D as red or the number 5 as blue. Synesthetes do not have the same perceptions across the board (meaning that someone else might see the number 5 as orange) but their experience is involuntary, something they don't need to think about and it is highly individual and memorable so that it is the same no matter what. 

I found it most interesting the there are more women than men with this condition, more left-handed people than right-handed, and that it can be very common within the same family which shows it as a genetic trait.

Cross sensory metaphors abound in our written language - loud pattern, bitter wind, prickly laugh - however, imagining those poetic connections don't make you a true synesthete, just someone who sees the world through rose-colored glasses (another cross sensory metaphor!). 

Seeing With Your Ears

Chromesthesia is described like seeing fireworks in relation to sound. About 40% of synesthetes 'see with their ears.' From the clatter of dishes to the bark of a dog, and especially music, each sound that occurs would bloom and move around and then fade when the sound ends. According to noted neurologist Richard Cytowic, chromesthetes see music as a 'screen' in front of their faces, like a transparency in which colors and shapes move and morph in relation to the sound. For them sound has characteristics that change the hue, brightness, scintillation and directional movement, like that Soundtrack oscilloscope in the opening scenes of Fantasia.
"In 1842 when Liszt took over the post of Kapellmeister in Weimar, he astonished the orchestra by saying, 'Oh please, gentlemen, a little bluer, if you please! This tone type requires it!' Or, 'That is a deep violet, please, depend on it! Not so rose!' The orchestra eventually got used to the maestro seeing colors where they saw only notes." ~ Richard Cytowic, Wednesday is Indigo Blue: Discovering the Brain of Synesthesia
I read that Franz Liszt and Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov were both affected by chromesthesia and disagreed over the colors of the musical keys. 
Modern musicians with synesthesia include pop artists like Eddie Van Halen and Stevie Wonder, jazz guitarist Tony de Caprio (who has a really intriguing investigation of Color Imagery) and classical violinst Itzhak Perlman. Since they produce music that is truly groundbreaking and seems to come from another realm, it should come as no surprise that they have this gift.

Chomesthetes rarely agree on the exact color of a given sound, but even non-synesthetes experience sound in colors. Loud tones are described as brighter than soft tones and lower tones as darker than higher tones. Synesthetes might choose more precise colors for varying pitch, timbre and composition of a piece of music, but even if you are not a synesthete, you surely translate the experience of color to what you hear.

Other Noted Synesthesias

Emotions - > colors
Emotion - > smell
Emotion - > flavor
Emotion - > pain
Emotion - > smell
Emotion - > temperature
Emotion - > touch
Flavors - > colors
Flavors - > sounds
Flavors - > temperatures
Flavors - > touch
General sounds - > colors
Graphemes - > colors
Grapheme - > flavor
Kinetics - > colors
Kinetics - > sounds
Lexeme - > touch
Musical notes - > colors
Musical notes - > flavors
Musical sounds - > colors
Odors - > colors
Orgasm - > colors
Pain - > colors
Pain - > flavor
Pain - > smell
Pain - > sound
Personalities - > smells
Personalities - > touch
Personalities - > colors (auras)
Phoneme - > touch
Phoneme - > flavor
Phonemes - > colors
Smells - > flavor
Smells - > sounds
Smells - > temperatures
Smells - > touch
Sound - > flavors
Sounds - > kinetics
Sounds - > smells
Sound - > temperatures
Sound - > touch
Temperatures - > colors
Temperature - > flavors
Temperatures - > sounds
Time units - > colors
Touch - > colors
Touch - > emotions
Touch - > flavors
Touch - > smell
Touch - > sounds
Touch - > temperatures
Vision - > flavors
Vision - > kinetics
Vision - > smells
Vision - > sounds
Vision - > Temperatures
Vision - > touch

Of course, true synesthetes cannot choose to have this condition, but I wonder if they would? I would say that this would be a great gift to be able to experience the world in such a multi-dimensional way, a richer experience of all that is around you... or would it be a curse? The movie Fantasia is what I would expect to be the closest thing I will come to knowing chromesthesia, or the sound to color synesthesia. And while it might be great to experience from time to time, I wonder how it would be to have every sound accompanied by the color dance or every word a color and never be able to turn that off.

What do you think?  
If you could have one of those forms of synesthesia,
which would you choose and why?

Just a reminder that today is the last day to sign up for the 2nd Annual Challenge of Music.
The form will close at 11:59pm tonight!
(Don't forget that it is a double-opt in! Watch for the email to confirm your sign up!)

I hope you will join me!

02 February 2013

Wellness Words Jewelry Challenge & Focusing on Life

Thanks to Miss Tracy Statler of Make Bracelets for hosting this awesome blog hop!

Last year I had been considering something similar when I got a suggestion from someone to do so, but I already do enough hops (sign ups are on for the 2nd Annual Challenge of Music - join me!) to add this. But it is such a great idea, so I am very happy that the lovely Miss Tracy did! I hope she makes this an annual thing! (hint, hint ;-)

Since words are my 'thing,' this was right up my alley. And I had just chosen my word for the year
and an image for that word

... but what sort of pendant or charm to make?

Of course I had to go with my Simple Truths. I have long wanted to offer a pendant or charm to those who choose a word of the year to frame their steps on the journey with a simple talisman that they could wear. I have bezels in all shapes and sizes and metal finishes, but of course, I thought that I needed something different.

I found the perfect bezel from Nunn Designs.

Since the focus would be on just One Word, I wanted something simple but not too large. The loops at the top and bottom were ideal so that it could be used as a bracelet bar or in a necklace or as a pendant. And the pretty stamped back was an added bonus. I thought that perhaps if I liked them that others might as well and they would be able to order their own word.

So, of course, I bought them in my favorite three metal colors: antique copper, antique silver and antique gold. And as luck would have it, two of the colors were on back order, or I would have had this done a lot sooner to offer. But there is always next year! I do have all the colors now and will work on some designs and patinas to offer them in for my shop this spring. But custom orders are always an option!

Copper is my favorite. So I stamped the word  b a l a n c e  in the center using a much larger and deeper set of stamps than normal (so if someone wants one of these, I would have to figure out what stamp might work best for their word - but I have about a dozen of them! Have you learned that about me, that if one is great, 12 is even better?).

Now, I could finish this in my usual bright color style, but I have been having fun playing with the Swellegant line of patinas and knew that I had to use that. I wanted to make it look like one solid piece of metal. I apologize for the delay in having my post ready, as I had to focus on one of my Big Rocks last night (my family - we  traveled to see my son and his team win their basketball games about an hour away), and then got a migraine (health - another of my Big Rocks) so my creative time (one of my most precious Big Rocks) was compromised. And patinas take time.

Originally, the thought was a bracelet. What a silly idea! I don't wear them that often and I find them a challenge to create, so I went with a necklace instead and dreamed about it all the way back in the car last night. I remembered that I had the perfect beads - drilled Michigan beach stones - that would work perfectly with my cairn of stacked rocks image. (BTW, I see that AllyBeans is having a 20% off sale through this weekend only. Good time to stock up on your rocks!)

The Key To Balance
 I found this tiny luggage key in a bag of keys I picked up at an antique store. Not liking shiny silver anything, I played with the Swellegant patinas. 
In my embarrassingly massive stash of art beads, I found this tiny enameled heart lock from C-Koop. By the way, I am on a self-imposed bead diet and already I have cheated. (Thanks, Miss Malin!) One of my Biggest Rocks is to create out of the chaos that is my studio and use what I have. It really is too much for one person.
The wellness word pendant I created and the solid copper chain that I patina-ed still need to cure a bit and maybe have more applied before I can finish it with a sealer, but you get the idea.
The stack of rocks is kinetic and can spin, something I am sure that I will play with when I wear it. This necklace is long, so no need for a clasp.

I know that I will wear it with everything, since it is in such neutral tones. I can already tell that I will hold onto this as a touchstone to remind me of my need for b a l a n c e in my life and that if I don't put the Big Rocks first, the rest will not fit.

Thank you Miss Tracy for inviting me to play! Please go and see what the other 50 designers did for their Wellness Words. 


Additionally, it is week four for the Focusing on Life challenge hosted by Miss Sally Russick of The Studio Sublime. Our task this week was to find a heart. I struggled with that until I realized that I had just made a few wee Lovey-Dovey Owl pendants for my shop. These will be listed later today in case you are interested in them for your favorite Valentine! ;-*

01 February 2013

The Challenge of Music

A painter paints pictures on canvas. 
But musicians paint their pictures on silence. 
~Leopold Stokowski

One of my favorite Disney movies is Fantasia.

The first time I saw it was about the year 1976. I was eight years old.

I can recall sitting in the darkened theater with the surround sound blaring. The live action orchestra came on the screen lead by Leopold Stokowski as conductor in silhouette with the Philadelphia Orchestra around him. It was so unlike anything I had ever seen.

I remember vividly when the narrator introduced the Soundtrack to the audience as a vertical shaft of light like an oscilloscope. This quivering line becomes a character in the show, at first timid and quite shy and then bold and proud as it shows off its musical patterns. I was mesmerized by the way that sound could be shown to have movement like this, whether it was the dialogue of the narrator, music or the sound effects. The Soundtrack demonstrates the sound of a harp, violin, flute, trumpet, bassoon, bass drum and triangle. And I recall hoping that there would be more of that in the film.

The narrator goes on to tell us that there are three types of music: music that tells a definite story, music that paints a series of pictures and 'absolute music' that exists for it's own sake. What follows is a musical kaleidoscope that takes the viewer on a purely fanciful journey through all three types.

To prove the point about 'absolute music,' the orchestra plays those haunting first notes of J.S. Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor. As it is played colors come alive on the screen. Yellow streaks of light fill the backdrop and abstract shapes and forms start to move about in circles and swirls in tune with the notes of the instruments. The music builds and blasts off like fireworks, with colors and sparkles dazzling in a synchronized dance of light, color and sound. Stokowski stands on the podium backed by a glorious sunset until the music dies down and the screen fades to black.

That is the first time that I realized that music had color, texture, pattern, movement and light.

Fantasia was the first commercial film shown in stereophonic sound. This is where the sounds are recorded onto separate tracks so that you can play them back and have the illusion of audio perspective. No longer were soundtracks flat and one dimensional, but with the different channels of sound you could have the notes cascade over you like water and come at you from all directions. I remember that it was as if I were sitting in the midst of all those wonderful instruments and I was a living part of the symphony!

The idea for this film actually started with the creation of the short The Sorcerer's Apprentice, as a way to increase this little mouse's flagging popularity. The eight minutes when Mickey dons that famous blue cap is one of the most enduring images of him - and the most famous segment of the film. This little short set in motion a groundbreaking piece of cinema showcasing eight beloved classical music compositions with over 1,000 animators and staff composing, creating and conducting this masterpiece all on a $2 million dollar budget (which was a lot of money in 1940 when the average live action film of the day cost 1/4 of that!).

Although the initial reviews of the film were positive, the public didn't seem to get on board. They preferred the simple animations and die-hard music fans found it very low-brow to be placing such pure and revered music with animated and, at times, downright silly images of dancing hippos and prancing satyrs.

For a child who grew up tuning into The Wonderful World of Disney every single Sunday night, it was magical. I recall that the images were funny, quirky, somber and even scary at times, like Mussorgsky's Night on Bald Mountain. Definitely evoking images and telling stories.

Now that I am older, I can't say that I entirely disagree about how juvenile some of these animations made the music seem, but there was no denying that it was a wonderful way to be exposed to these classical and instrumental pieces of music that are part of our common experience. And I still get a thrill watching this movie.

Today this film is regarded as a classic. It has been re-released many times over the years, and it even spawned a sequel called Fantasia 2000, which carried on the tradition (although my heart is with the original).

Individual Instrumental Interpretations

To this day I have a hard time listening to the music on this soundtrack and NOT thinking about dinosaurs during Stravinsky's Rite of Spring or dancing mushrooms during Tchaikovsky's Chinese Dance from the Nutcracker Suite. But even so, it remains a marvel of animated delights and it all comes down to the music. Each piece is so powerful and masterful, so individually intriguing.

These instrumental pieces of music sparked some amazing interpretations. Each piece of music has a personality filled with color and texture and shape and life. As a part of our collective human experience, these classics are accessible to anyone, no matter where they are in the world, because they are not limited by culture or geography or language barriers. That means that each person hearing them can bring their own experience to the music to interpret it in new ways.

Poetic License

I used to teach a poetry unit to my 7th graders. It is hard to get them to see that poetry doesn't have to rhyme, so that was my goal. Back then I was a multi-disciplinary teacher before that was even an idea. I just did it naturally. In our study of poetry, we crossed over into art and math and science and music.

One of my favorite poetry activities involved instrumental music.

I would play an exerpt from the Nutcracker Suite asking them to free write while listening, sharing the images, the colors, the movement, the feelings that the music evoked. Invariably, they would tell me stories of the dancing mushrooms, and winter fairy sprites drawing delicate patterns in the ice, and fights with mice and ballerinas. They always had the same answers.

Then I would play a completely different instrumental piece, something they likely had never heard before, and ask them to write again. They would be so moved by the piece that they would scarcely look up, their pencils scribbling furiously, filling page after page. And the images and colors and feelings that they spoke of now were each completely different, influenced by their own unique experiences and colored by their imaginations.

I would have them fold that piece of paper into fourths and cut it. (They always balked at this.) Because they no longer could read the whole story they had written, they were able to highlight words and phrases that were powerful and colorful and full of force and life on their pages. We would then call out the lines randomly and assemble a class poem from their collective offerings. The result was always incredible. All inspired by a piece of instrumental music. And not a smidge of rhyming to be seen.

If you are up to it, I would encourage you to try this technique. It is fun to do! And maybe your words, your poetry, will have a cherished spot in your creation!

Are you getting inspired yet?

When I was in college I had to take a fine arts class. I took a classical music appreciation course commonly referred to as "Clap for Credit" (you got points for attending musical events and bringing in the program). At that point in my life my musical landscape was populated by Madonna and Depeche Mode, not Mozart and Brahms. I thought it was a snooze-fest. But I stayed through those concerts and grew to appreciate the incredible nuance of that music. Eine Kleine Nachtmusik is a favorite and Mozart's Requiem still gives me chills (note: the Latin voices are more instrumental than choral to me).

So, if you haven't figured it out yet, our Challenge of Music for 2013 will involve finding a piece of instrumental music - meaning no recognizable lyrics - as our inspiration. We are looking for one of these three types of music: music that tells a definite story, music that paints a series of pictures or 'absolute music' that exists for it's own sake.

Instrumental music doesn't have to just be orchestral or classical in nature, and it doesn't have to be boring. I can assure you that it won't be for lack of choices... the challenge will come in deciding on which piece to choose! It can come from any genre - solo instrumental, chamber music, jazz, rock, contemporary, new age, etc. World cultures that have instrumental music as part of their tradition are a good choice as well. I am sure that whatever your prefer in musical styles,there is an instrumental choice for you! Or maybe you want to make this a true challenge and find a new-to-you piece of music to enjoy.

I am asking you to stay away from choral music simply because those words of the lyricist tell a story. I want you to find a piece of music that moves you so that you can tell your own story with it. That is not to say that there can't be any vocalizations in the music (the vox humana can also be considered an instrument to be sampled, like the Latin in Mozart's Requiem), but I would suggest that it be secondary to the instrumental accompaniment. While you could certainly choose a very well-known piece, like those on the Fantasia soundtrack, I would strongly suggest that you try to find something that is not so heavily influenced by another person's vision. Otherwise you might only see dancing hippos and that might be hard to translate to jewelry or accessories. ;-)

Ready to take the Challenge?

1::Go to the tab above that says 'take the challenge' and sign up. Participation is limited to the first 80 who sign up between February 1st-February 4th.

2::Start thinking about a piece of instrumental music for your inspiration. (Don't worry, you don't have to know right away what song, just start thinking!) If you can't think of something, try going to a music site like Pandora and listening to their stations of instrumental music. Remember that it can be from any genre, any time period, any culture. Select a song that moves you. It can be one that speaks to your soul, moves your feet, brings back a memory or never fails to put a smile on your face. Something that brings powerful emotions. Spend some time listening to it before settling on a song that makes you feel inspired. You might be surprised to find something new that you really like!

3::Mark your calendar: Blog Hop on Friday, March 1st.
We will be creating whatever you want inspired by the piece of music that you chose. My choice is usually jewelry, but why not painting or drawing or sculpting or writing poetry or any creative way to channel the music. Or why not combining your creative outlets? You will need to find some way to share a bit about that music, and hopefully a snippet of some sort, so that we can all enjoy it and be taken on a magical journey with you and be moved by the music, too.

I hope you will join me on a musical journey!

I don't know how successful I will be, but I plan on bringing you some more musical inspiration posts each week until the reveal day. There was so much information that I gathered while researching this that I just have to share some of it with you!


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