A few months ago at work, I was asked to head our office’s team in our annual organization-wide charity event.
“Ask” really isn’t the most accurate way of putting it. I was “voluntold.”
I was okay with this for a few reasons. First, it always falls on the person who has been at the office the shortest time to do this. Second, as my boss put it to me, it’s a good chance to meet more people and demonstrate my leadership abilities to everyone, including the higher-ups. And third, it’s all for a good cause.
After a delayed start due to other pressing work matters, the past month and a half have been really successful: Events have been planned, money has been raised, and we are on pace to surpass lasts year’s charitable take by quite a bit.
But in addition to helping coordinate events and get the word out, I’ve been asked to participate in one.
You see, for the past few years three of my colleagues–including one of my managers–sing and play Christmas carols on their guitars (and one bass) for a few days, “busking” for donations. One of them was unable to play due to work, so I was asked to fill in.
On Friday. To play on Tuesday. And I was given a binder full of 20 or so songs to learn.
“How hard can Christmas songs be?” you might ask?
There are your simpler ones, like “Santa Clause Is Coming to Town,” “Frosty the Snowman,” “Silent Night,” and “It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas.” These are as basic as you’d imagine.
And then there are some with very sophisticated chords and harmonies, as befitting the jazz-and-classical-influenced age in which they were written, songs like “I’ll Be Home For Christmas,” and “The Christmas Song.”
So of course I jumped at the opportunity. It fits in with my self-imposed guitar challenge, which, while not on pace to happen in the year 2016, is still something I am working towards.
Like I said in that post, working on your weaknesses will help you improve in most other areas.
We all know that putting yourself in uncomfortable positions is the best way to grow. Or, as the late, great Frank Zappa put it, “Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.”
My particular weaknesses in this case are: 1) Sight-reading chord changes, 2) learning the more esoteric chords, 3) I am not a guitar player by training (I am a bassist), 4) playing with a capo (visually, it just messes me up), and 5) I have not performed in public since 2012.
And although I got maybe an hour’s worth of total practice (including learning some lead lines for a few of the songs), our performance went great! It was a hell of a lot of fun, we raised a lot of money for charity, and most importantly, I felt calm, didn’t get nervous, and was about 70% pleased with my performance.
(The other two musicians were thrilled I was able to fill in so adroitly on such a short notice, which gave me a huge ego boost. They took a chance on me, taking me at my word that I’d be able to pull my weight. It’s always good to be someone others can rely on).
But this got me thinking. And since this is a blog, dammit, and not a diary, I’d like to share some of these thoughts.
The interesting thing about this whole experience has been the concept of visualization. Continue reading “Talking to Yourself: Not Just for the Crazy”