A few months ago, my old friend Jimmy asked me to teach a songwriting workshop at The Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago. Which is a huge honor; the school is my happy place.
But putting together the curriculum was challenging. If I've never mentioned it before, songwriting is a religious experience for me. It's a daily practice that is incredibly hippie and personal.
I sit at the piano. I start by quieting my mind of self-conscious thoughts, and then I picture a song floating above my head. I believe it's my job to channel that song from the sky and put it on paper. So I start playing the piano and singing as hard as I can. I blurt and sing and pound and blurt some more until I feel that I've sincerely captured a piece of a song. Then I build on that piece until I've written a full-fledged song, a song that I believe fell from the sky.
How the hell am I supposed to teach that?
On Saturday, I found out.
The workshop was this weekend. At the recommendation of some friends, I decided that the best way to teach the class was to channel a song right in front of them. I've never laid myself that bare in front of strangers before. I was terrified to be so vulnerable while people watched. My hands were quivering and sweaty. I had a hard time breathing. But I committed to it, and I blurted and pounded and sang my little heart out. The result?
The class had no problem doing the same. I watched them create some of the most beautiful spur-of-the-moment music I've ever heard. We all got vulnerable together.
Reader, this week, I had a lot of gentle reminders that there are times in life when it takes strength to being vulnerable. Putting ourselves out there requires tremendous courage. Life is too short not to take chances. I hope you get the opportunity to take some this week. I'll see you next Monday. -Em