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Hi! I am Marilyn, a singer/songwriter in Hudson, NY. You have landed on my personal website/ blog/ calendar, and you will find here all kinds of things about my musical life. Look around! My blog is below, but over in the right column under 'Pages', you can see links to videos, show schedules, song lists and the other musical projects I am working on. I really hope you will consider getting to a show or even have me (and my friends) come and entertain you at your party or event. People enjoy having us play for them!

When the music calls, I will be there....

Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Dance

One of the things that I have always noticed about Neil Young is his movement. When Neil plays guitar, he plays always with his whole body. If he is seated, he looks like he is going to leave the chair any second....both legs are moving constantly, he's shifting back and forth in the chair, arms moving, head bobbing....When he plays electric, he jumps and runs and bends and strangles the guitar....I had always assumed that the constant movement was because he is actually hyperactive and 'can't sit still'.....and I understand that!!!!

A number of years ago, I came across an interview, where Neil talks about letting your whole body feel the music as a listener. He spoke of knowing the music in your body, letting it move you, giving into the power of the music. So, I started to pay attention to that when I listened, especially at shows, and noticed how very much more enjoyment I have when I take Neil's advice and listen with my body as well as my mind....

I have talked here a bit about my struggle to make the music real during performance. Seems that no matter where I put my mind when I am on stage, or how good the technical aspect of playing is, I KNOW that I 'can do better than' what I just did.....it almost always seems like there is something missing....a piece of soul or heart....

I don't have that problem at home. I can get deep into the music and it is soooo satisfying inside to strap on my guitar and walk around the house and sing and move....When I move my body and dance with the guitar, my hands find new ways of hitting the strings, more interesting ways to tell the story of the song. The guitar music becomes not a background for the story, but the vehicle where the emotion lives and breathes.

That is where the magic is....and I can reach it with my body, in movement, in moving with the pulse of the song.

I keep a copy of Zen Guitar out most of the time. In it, Philip Toshio Sudo reminds us that 'you cannot feel rhythm with your mind; you must feel it in your body' and goes on to say that there is rhythm in everything and we must learn to feel it with our bodies and put it in our music. A bit later he states, 'More than knowing and playing the correct notes, the sound must have a feel -- a human pulse that resonates to all within earshot'.

Shortly after rereading that in Zen Guitar, I picked up a copy of William Westney's "The Perfect Wrong Note", and he immediately starts his book with observations on how very young toddlers respond to music....by dancing with their entire bodies. Seems this idea of knowing the music with your whole body is not just a Rock'n'Roll idea....

So, I have been paying attention to this idea while practicing. I like to play standing up, even during practice. First of all, I realized quite a while ago that the fretboard is in a different enough position standing from sitting to make a difference in number of mistakes.....so if I am going to play for others standing, I had best practice that way. When my back started to hurt and I found that standing with a guitar strapped on helps, that cinched it....I stand to play!

So you will find me with my guitar on, walking and dancing my house, playing my heart out. When I really let it go and dance and move and sing and play, I can feel the energy and expression surrounding me and coming from me and into me. There is a connection I can perceive to some larger energy, as if I am tapping into a source. Then there is magic.

Can I connect with that on stage? It feels soooo personal, I feel very open and vulnerable when that happens. My first response to vulnerable is shut down.

And it LOOKS funny to dance with a guitar. Doesn't one have to be a Neil Young to get away with that? And, I am often reminded to STAY ON THE MIC....bouncing around doesn't go much with keeping that exact distance from the mic....

So, the other day, I had the opportunity to play for my friends. I invited folks to my house for a cookout and campfire, and the time came when it seemed to me that people would appreciate some sing along....I just had some problems figuring what songs this group would know that I know!!! So, several times, the song turned solo, as my helpers didn't know the words. It was a warm night, bright fire, good friends, the beer was flowing and so was the laughter.....and I closed my eyes and started my dance....when i looked up at my tiny audience, they were with me and that didn't scare me as it sometimes does. I felt connected with the music in a way that didn't get shaken by people talking over me or even being commented on "you need to lose the motion". I felt satisfied about the music, about my connection, about my ability to tell the story with my voice, guitar and heart....

That connection to the music, and sharing it with others (someone once told me, if you have a gift like playing guitar, and you don't share it out, you are being very selfish) feeds my mind, body and soul....

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