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I’ve been meaning to share some thoughts on the topic of ear training as well as an update of the lullaby album, but it’s been an, often wonderfully so, but nonetheless, full-court-press crazy busy kind of time.

Also, I’ve been a bit stymied because, while listening to the roughs from the studio, which I brought home with me a couple weeks ago, certain I loved them all, was done with all the recordings, and that the next step was mixing and mastering, I discovered that a few songs probably should be re-sung after all…one due to a diction thing I inadvertently did which I think will make it less nice to listen to if I don’t re-record it, and other technical things I came across including that I am just not as melodically strong, as dead on center-certain as I should be in a couple of the songs, which puzzled and frustrated me.

As I mentioned in my last post, recording this album and getting to work with the fantastic musicians accompanying and recording me has been so educational (and inspirational) -- like years of music lessons compressed into a few weeks. When I asked the studio owner/musician Craig Dreyer for advice on the songs that were not as melodically strong, he quickly broke some big topics down into what are essentially principles and exercises of ear training that I’ve never actually considered before. As he aptly (but kindly) put it when I was struggling with a song I’d thought would be the easiest and fastest to record of the whole collection but which I got tripped up over: All you’ve got to do is sing in tune and in rhythm. The rest will take care of itself.

From having this experience and listening to the roughs over and over, realizing how often I practice without accompaniment or practice while doing other things, I decided to do as much ear training as I can, bone up on these foundational exercises before approaching the mic again, surround myself more in just the sounds of these particular songs.

So, during this busy time, when I haven’t been pretty much running around having a great time getting to be a part of whatever activity my daughter is up to, or running around busy with less fun but necessary tasks, I’ve been getting back to the music fundamentals. Hitting the practice rooms and setting up an old keyboard in my living room to practice with. And while this is proving useful, I cannot say that my smile in the picture here, just after one of these ear training sessions, is not one tinged with relief. However, I think that ear training, even just a bit and in small increments, is the single best exercise I can recommend to anyone who didn’t study music or needs to practice on the fly like I do.

Yesterday evening though, I didn’t practice intervals or play melodies while singing at a piano. Instead, I sat with my guitar in the kitchen playing and singing the soon to be re-sung lullabies.

It was the last thing I’d done of the day and I was pretty tired, not at my musical best. In fact, for a moment I wondered if any of my ear training had been progress yet. But then my daughter came in, sat next to me, and did something she’d never done before. She began to sing along with me, to sing her lullabies instead of listening to them. As we made our way through the songs, I realized that her energy and her voice was leading me through the melody this time, not the other way around. She also made some great suggestions, all of which I am using and will bring along with me next week when I am back at the microphone.

I can’t help but smile about my daughter helping me get ready during the home stretch of recording the lullabies I wrote for her...and that when I was getting a bit stuck, she led me through the songs I wrote for her.

But how could this not be the case? She inspired them all...every word and every note and all the spaces in between...

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