I was exposed to music as a young child, learning hymnals, Broadway musicals, and classical pieces. By age twelve, I played the flute in school, and sang in chorus groups. I discovered the world of popular music in college—James Taylor, Helen Reddy, Rod Stewart and much more.
Soon after Phil became a songwriter, he asked me to play some piano parts on his songs. When I asked him for the music, he said there was none, and I would have to improvise. This was a shock. My brain never did this—I was addicted to following the little black dots on the page.
Creating music with Phil was completely different from previous music ventures. And, it seemed separate from my health career. Yet the more we created and performed our music together, the more we realized how music is a natural extension of our shared life's mission of promoting health.
One of the most exciting things is taking what is created in rehearsal and playing it live, especially with other musicians. Sharing the joy and benefits of music is an ultimate experience.
Through repetitive listening, I trained my brain to play the notes that were naturally in my head. To my surprise, each new piece of music began flowing with harmonies and melodies, not just with my voice but flute, piano, and organ too. That led to my singing lead vocals for some of Phil's songs.
One day, I found myself in Los Angeles playing two songs for music producer Rick Rubin, which we would later record in his studio: "A History of Secrets" and "Is It Love If You Fall?" are on Phil's second CD, "Between Us" (and you can hear them on the music player above).
There's something really special about being in the studio recording with great musicians. We learn so much about all aspects of music every time we do it--from tempo and pitch to melody and timbre, and even the power of silence.
Suddenly, Phil was writing songs on the guitar for me to perform on piano. I loved arranging music—interpreting songs with my emotions. Improvisation set me free from the restriction of notes, especially with the newer jazzy and bluesy sounds. And then it happened: I had plenty of songs for a new album.
Besides a whole lot of fun, the recording process has been therapeutic, enhancing my listening abilities, expanding my creativity, and helping my whole brain be better. Stretching my piano and vocal awareness, working harder to play and sing at greater levels of ability is an ongoing process.
Throughout my personal life and professional career, I've witnessed the power of music on the brain. But being this engulfed in making the music proved so much more potent. No matter how good ones brain is it can be made better through music.
Overcoming my anxiety in the recording studio was a new challenge. It’s different than performing—everything you record is dissected, and every beat or pitch that’s off by so little seems greatly amplified. It’s a perfectionists dream.
The journey from playing popular music to the seriousness of creating original parts or interpreting whole songs is more than fabulous. Learning to harmonize in particular opened up another new world of musical creativity. Singing itself is so healthy, whether in the shower or a live performance, it's a powerful therapy for everyone.
Recording is one of those things that, once you're a little comfortable with it, you want more and more. Especially making a whole album, and the privilege of working with so many talented musicians and engineers.
Engineer Mark Lanus had a great sounding piano in his studio. Fortunately for us, he's also a great musician, playing on several songs.
Phil's music was the perfect match for me. He also co-produced the album, and played guitar on many of the songs.
Andy Seagle co-produced and mixed the album too. His healthy obsession with sound helped bring out the essence of the music.
People often ask what else I do: being able to grow sunflowers taller than me is quite exciting too...
...as is growing a lot of fruits, vegetables and other foods...
...and preparing them all for daily delicious feasts!
But a new album? Wow! A real dream. This is the back cover.
This is the inside--it's part of a painting I did in 1982, a self-portrait. And it lists all the great people who made the album possible.
Now I look forward to the excitement of performing the new songs...
...In fact, we’re going on another U.S. tour in the spring of 2013. I just hope there will be plenty of grand pianos along the way!