All of you know we are musicians. The Gypsy Carpenters is a musical duo. To the non-musician being a musician seems like some magical power. I used to be one of those non-musician types. Now I hardly consider myself a musician but I have some skills. I can still remember when I was consumed by this new found magical skill. I wasn’t very good but it still a powerful life transforming skill. New friends, new ways to pass time, a new inner critic to deal with.
Strangely my inner critic was hardly noticeable for the first few years. I was very generous with the, “I’m just a beginner. I can make mistakes.” I leapt into many situations where I found myself over my head. It served me well. I was invited to play because I had the chutzpah to try. Now I am more cautious. I miss those days. In karate they call it the Beginner’s Mind. The goal is to always bring a beginner’s mind to your practice. I have lost it. I have fair to middling skills. I know I will never be great. I can play along and enjoy singing and picking. In this comfort zone my inner critic has found a nitch. She has the habit of saying, “You’d be better if you practiced. You’d be better if you listened to more music. You should try harder…” and so forth. She’s ruining my vibe. The irony of hearing this voice when I run a music school encouraging people to enjoy the skills they have does not escape me. Am I setting a good or bad example?
Part of this syndrome is due to life on the road. Burt and I are isolated from a steady supply of music pals where we can motivate and be motivated. In Baja we have some short term overlap with our friend Tom and he does inspire but there’s not enough time to really get a groove going. I have so many other things I want to do. The other factor of life on the road is it’s really hard to get the instruments out of the case when we live in a trailer. I always advise newbies to keep their instruments out so they can pick them up any time they feel the desire. Baja helps there to. Our instruments can be out all day long in the rumpus room.
Another key to motivation is to take gigs. Burt and I are still seeking this year’s home place. Last night we had a brilliant idea that turned into a big disappointment. We tried a new restaurant in downtown Pescadero. We knew the space had great acoustics because a previous owner had had us over for a jam once. Turns out the current owner has built a bit of Cabo. It’s flashy and loud inside. The prices are in dollars which alienates locals and long term visitors besides being illegal. We decided it was a no-go for us even before we learned who owned the place. We’re not quite ready to play in a connected joint. Yet. On the up side the drinks were big and strong and a solid deal at 2 for 1 happy hour. The food was pretty good but pricey.
So our only steady gig right now is our mini-music class in Pescadero. Burt and I do songs and dance for half and hour and Yvonne and Alejandra teach English the other half hour. We split the class in two and send half back and forth. We also drive half the kids to class. It’s a big commitment but we are in 100%.
Coming up we’ll be singing some English and Spanish folk songs at a rally in Todos Santos next week. It is an honor to be asked to lead the crowd in song. This is something we know how to do. I am nervous and have lots of internal and a few external voices to deal with but I am tapping into my beginner’s mind and going full steam ahead.