Musicians on Vacation

It’s an ongoing issue.  

“Technically” I’m on vacation.  Technically I’m sitting in a pub in England writing this blog.  But it’s not really a vacation.  The only difference is I don’t have students for two weeks.  And I’m in England.  

Is it really a vacation?  

In two weeks time, I have co-written 4 4-hand piano duets and one 4-part choral piece. Unto myself, I’ve also written another 4-hand piano duet, 2 blogs, and the beginning of 3 poems. I’ve learned 2 pre-existing duets (well, one and a half. The Dvorak is really difficult and I’d rather study it and do it justice than try and pound it out really quickly.) Reading-wise I’m on my third book since I left.  And there’s more.

We’ve actually been scoring the pieces we wrote – taking turns filling in the bits we wrote and sending the files back and forth which is also very time-consuming. If only we didn’t write music that was so challenging…

That’s a lot in only 2 weeks time.  

It’s not really a vacation.  Nothing is ever really a vacation.  

Brighton at night

The first few days I was here I was practicing 4+ hours a day. To some people that probably sounds like torture – but I was loving it. I rarely have that much time to just sit and study a piece I didn’t write. It was heavenly.

This trip has been much more relaxed than my last writing excursion to the UK. Last year Mishkin Fitzgerald (of Birdeatsbaby fame) and I teamed to write, record, and release a 5-song EP to our Patrons. And we did it in 8 days. It was phenomenal, but I also caught a cold on the plane ride the way over so it was tough and we were scrambling up to the last minute. That was a 10 day trip in total – this time I decided to come for 2 weeks and it’s made a world of difference.

But even when we knocked off early for the day – it’s still not really a vacation. For example, the night we took off to go do a tacky/fun local ghost tour ended up inspiring the titles of 2 of our songs.  

Every trip is basically an inadvertent R&D excursion.  Inspiration is hiding where you least expect it. Possibly found in the destination or sometimes in the journey itself.  I’ve had so many great conversations with fellow artists who all adamantly agree that it’s part of our job to get out there and see the world. Follow inspiration wherever it leads.

It’s also hard to take a vacation from your work when you love what you do.

I began scoring when I woke up this morning.  3 hours later I stopped to take a shower and then I wrote 16 more bars of music on the computer while I waited for my hair to dry.  Another hour. I finally made myself stop and close the computer – saying (out loud to myself- because I’m that person) “You MUST leave the house.  Go.”  Only then did I finish getting ready which brings us to the pub, the pint – and the fact that I’m technically still working because I’m writing a blog right now.  

See what I mean?  When your work is your passion it’s hard to leave it behind at home.  

The only exception seems to be when you run into a puzzle you can’t solve. Or you’ve been in it for so long you feel like your brain melted.  Then the only option is to try to shut your brain off.  

Sometimes reading does that for me – but typically I also like relatively challenging books.  So if I have brain melt the book won’t help – then the only real aid is truly stupid TV. Stuff that takes NO brain power at all.  That stuff is like a bandaid on my poor brain. So maybe the closest I ever get to “vacations” are the 2 hours where I let my brain stupify in front of the TV at the end of a hard day. I guess a 2-hour vacation is better than no vacation at all.

While I am looking forward to getting home I must say I really enjoy having times like this on my calendar where not only do I get to work hand-in-hand with talented and inspiring artists like Mishkin. It changes my perspective and gives me new personal goals for the rest of the year.

A gigantic extra thank you to my Exquisite Patrons for making writing trips like this possible – I hope you like this year’s album of classically-inspired pieces. They’ll be up by the end of August on Patreon! xoxoxoxox –Kat

Mish and Me. Typical.

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