Thursday, August 28, 2008

Simple complication

If all of your peers understand what you have done, you are not creative.
-- Henry J. Heimlich, M.D., Heimlich Maneuver® fame

Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.
-- Charles Mingus

The Franklin Park Conservatory has undergone significant renovations, and I can't wait to get inside to play harp for one of this weekend's weddings to see what has changed. Maybe I won't have to haul equipment through the myriad of fifty thousand doors and tunnels to get to the Palm House. In the meantime, last weekend I played outside on the patio and the client was lovely for providing an umbrella to shield the instrument and its player from the hot midday sun.

At last weekend's Main Street Delaware wine-tasting event, attendees recognized me from playing brunch at the now defunct Eckel's Lake and other events, and several new connections were made. This experience somehow shocked me into realizing what I've been doing over the past several years and where I now want to go. I put several of those ideas into action already but today -- perhaps because it is rainy and cooler and fall-ish -- some of the vim is gone. In the meantime, I continue to work on clearing out what I don't need or want from the house.

This stack of pavers is the first of many that I'll be moving off my property by hand accompanied by a stream of expletives. For now, this stack has merely moved to the side of the house in the new configuration of a simple temporary barricade. It is very unsightly and wonky and I don't plan to keep it there, but once these 82 pavers are gone, a nicer barricade will emerge. Perhaps it will be the ever-evolving barricade until all the bunk material vacates the premises.

Tonight I was listening to a special on minimalism in music. As they played a familiar piece from Philip Glass' Glassworks, I realized how much I needed this music during my studies. Others detested it while I was very much drawn to it. Peripheral listening leads to the assumption that nothing is happening, that it's the same thing over and over again, a very irritating style of music. Listening more closely, you see it's changing all the time. Listen more closely still, and you see exactly how it's changing in a very simple way. On the surface it sounds like a barricade of repeated complication, but in essence it's a network of simple shifts that yield it exquisitely beautiful.

One of my piano students, the founder and CEO of a major pizza chain who sold his business to an international mega-gazillion giant and then BOUGHT IT BACK, is no stranger to success and goal-achievement. But tactics he used to propel him forward in his business aren't effective in piano study. We're running up against definitions of success that make the entire piano experience feel insurmountably complicated. It's time to re-define. J's goofy pun today: I am helping this student "think outside the pizza box." Heh.

Simplifying the complicated starts with rethinking boxed-in definitions.

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