Give Yourself Permission

Anyone who knows me for more than 10 minutes knows I have just a slight obsession with Billy Joel. OK, a giant obsession. I have been a fan of his since I was a child. I have every album, every box set, and have spent tons of money to see him in concert. I played those albums over and over and over as my cousins will attest. I still have a t-shirt from the River of Dreams tour. So I was in heaven last night when there were two separate television shows on that included my favorite piano man. First, he was on the celebration of Carole King’s receiving the Gershin Prize. Second, he was on American Restoration to have Rick Dale work on a motorcycle for him. Talk about television watching perfection!

While Rick was walking Billy around, he shows him an old Steinway spinet in the boneyard. What does he do? He starts to play like it’s nothing. Amazing!

Like many, I took piano lessons when I was younger. I liked it, but it wasn’t what I had hoped for. I didn’t mind learning classical, but I wanted to learn how to improv. I wanted to learn the concepts of sight reading. It never happened.

Most of my time in high school was spent in the music department. Band, chorus, orchestra, marching band – you name it, I was involved in it. My schedule was developed around those classes. Even though I loved spending time in the music department, I knew early on that I just didn’t have what it would take to go to the next level.Still, it gave me wonderful experiences and most of all, it led me to my wonderful husband – a band director.

So why am I telling you all this you might wonder? Watching Billy Joel just play a tune on the Steinway like it was nothing made me think of the first time I attempted to do free form crochet and my experience playing piano.

Um, what? I’m sure you are wondering where this is going. Welcome to my thought process…

Growing up, we are all taught to follow the directions. Color inside the lines. For me, I learned how to read notes on a page of music, but I never learned how to interpret music. I never learned how to lift the notes off the page. My crochet experience was similar. I learned how to follow directions in a pattern, but that was it. I wanted to play. I wanted to sing!

Easier said than done.

Well, luckily, I had some wonderful guidance from four specific free form artists: Prudence Mapstone, Myra Wood, Margaret Hubert, and Melanie Gill. They taught me an important lesson which was the basis for all my creativity. Give yourself permission.

What might that mean you ask?

That means to give yourself permission to NOT color inside the lines. Lift the music off the page! Don’t think about what you are doing, just do! And most of all, don’t worry about how your work will be judged.

While these may sound like straightforward concepts, they have been very hard lessons for me to learn – in my fiber arts as well as in life.

It may take time to unlearn the early lessons of childhood in order to unlock your creativity, but don’t give up.  I haven’t.

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