Golden Globe


Meryl Streep’s departing line of her acceptance speech. The best artists are oftentimes those who are the most tortured of souls. My Happiness Project journal prompt last night brought me to a stark realization. I have been frantically searching for the past 2 years (the years of the dark night of my soul), for that which brings me happiness. I used to know this very easily. Even though I also used to know utter torture as well, I also used to know and have extreme happiness and joy in my life also. I have been desperately seeking that in so many different facets and coming up empty-handed. New and old are all disappointing me equally. Music seems to be the only thing that still never fails me, only I can fail it. In to it, I always pour my broken heart…


The brain on auto-pilot


For those who have ever partaken in musical training, or even a sport, piloting a plane, gaming, any form of constant motion training activity…

As you become more of an expert in your given field, your brain becomes more comfortable with your craft and with its ability to recall the information necessary to complete the task necessary. Based on the cross-reference with your training and your innate abilities, your brain makes its best guesses to help you execute the moves you need within the split second it has to process the information and send messages to your motor system in order to make the precisely correct motion necessary.

There are many factors that can affect your brain’s ability to accurately send the correct messages at the most consistent rate possible. Of course, repetition of the correct motion during practice/training is always important. Without being comfortable with the decisions it makes, the chances of accuracy on a regular basis are significantly lower. The brain will get bogged down and overworked in trying to constantly make decisions it is not comfortable making if the actions are too new to the physiological body.

However, one can train/practice all hours of the day, and if there is a lack of concentration in the moment of performance, the brain will second guess itself and make the wrong decisions. All it takes is a slight distraction, an unexpected sensory input in the heat of the moment, an overtired mind, weary eyes…and all the practice in the world goes right out the window. In fact, when someone knows that they aren’t as prepared as they should be, they tend to pay more attention and often perform better than they expect. Conversely, at times when someone is extra confident, they tend to become lackadaisical on their focus and make more mistakes then would be expected.

With the new developments in the health fields, and the surge we have seen in diagnoses of ADHD and Autism in recent years, we now know how much a lack of ability to focus (ADHD) and an oversensitivity to sensory input (Autism) can affect people’s ability to function and how much it can mask their true brilliance. Most of the children and people who carry these diagnoses are quite intelligent, often of above average intelligence. But their paralysis of these all important areas of functionality hide their ability to function with efficiency and ease in the way that those who do not have these diagnoses can function.

As I believe I alluded to in an earlier blog post, I have been formulating a grand hypothesis and theory on musical training, and it may transfer to other disciplines as well. It will take me some time to form a fully cohesive theory and strategy to combat this deficit that we have overcome in a slower manner up until now. I believe there is a.faster way to achieve more consistent success if I can pinpoint the correct tools to train the brain from the outset. I have just postulated in this post a very small glimpse in to the ideas that I am simmering inside my brain. One of my 7th grade students is even so inspired by it that she is structuring her science project based upon my general theories and ideas. I am very honored that she is so inspired by my thoughts on music to further investigate them for her science project. I look forward to working together with her and helping her with specific examples and to seeing the specific path she takes and what her exact findings are. I am very convinced that I have hit on a very unique and novel perspective that has not been truly explored in this manner and has not linked everything together in the manner that I have connected the dots in my brain. Some day…..Some day my theories and thoughts will come to fruition and the world will see that I do have a worthwhile contribution to leave as my legacy.

Art by Josephine Wall

Mind over matter


There is no doubt about it. The mind is amazingly powerful. People have healed themselves from terminal illnesses just from willing it away with the power of their mind. The old adage states that you can do anything you put your mind to. But is the mind reactively the sharpest and strongest of our functions?

It takes parents training their children constantly in the art of “biting the tongue” before children can even come close to being able to sensor their emotions. And if you have a child like mine who has Aspergers, this is exponentially harder as people who have autism often have no filter or take even longer to learn how to implement one. My daughter literally says everything that she thinks. She is a constant babbling brook. She narrates everything she does and thinks. Yet she scored in the 97th percentile on the first ever standardized test that she took last year in both language and spelling and 96th in social science. This is almost 20 percent higher than the rest of her actual class. So her brain is more than developed. Yet she can’t use that brain power to tell herself to keep thoughts inside her head and quiet to save her life. She functions on constant reaction first. This poses a major issue at home when she expresses every single thought out loud, she can come across pretty rude and obnoxious when she is told something she doesn’t want to do or hear. Even with medication, she has a hard time controlling the reaction that her brain has before she speaks.

For me, I have always been overly sensitive. This is based on my incredible high levels of anxiety. It is both genetic and environmental from growing up in a volatile home during childhood. I used to cry EVERY SINGLE DAY OF MY LIFE. I couldn’t help it. Whatever it was that would trigger me that day, I couldn’t hold back the tears no matter how hard I tried. And believe me, many times I tried. I hate how splotchy my face gets when I cry. I look like a red and white cheetah for hours after I have cried. It is utterly embarrassing. I couldn’t begin to start controlling the tears until I finally got on both an anti anxiety med and a beta blocker that was originally prescribed for my migraines but also happened to work amazingly for my anxiety and crying. I have been able to remain a functional human being despite all of the challenges I have faced in life. And so many people who have gone through far less than I have are far less functional than I am. My mind got me through all of that. I self healed. I have only ever seen a therapist for 2 months of my life and that was last year to help me deal with shifting the relationship dynamic with my parents. I handled my life entirely on my own, which is even more amazing. I am adopted which is a trauma in an of itself, I was raised by a father with Narcissistic Personality Disorder and a mother who has multiple psychological issues because she was mentally and physically abused by her mother. My mother was a pill addict for a few years of my life. My father is gay that I uncovered when I was 21 and had to tell my mother and confronted him. They still remain married today despite his 13 year affair with the same man until that boyfriend of his died earlier this year. My father took his own insecurities out on me and my mom because he can’t handle who he is. I raised 2 teenaged stepchildren full time whose addict mother turned them against me which posed some major tensions and issues for several years. My biological daughter was just diagnosed with Aspergers which does not make her defective, but it makes things challenging as a mom. Things have never once been easy for me in my entire life. And I’ve dealt with a of this entirely on my own, through the power of my mind. But when I’m in the heat of the moment, I do not react well. When I feel overwhelmed, I cry. No matter how hard I try not to, my brain can’t stop my reaction from crying.

As a music teacher, I have started to percolate on a very large scale idea that I will eventually be able to put together in to a larger presentation lecture or book and maybe develop a product. But one of the large themes that this is based on is that I have noticed in lessons with my students that the visual input trumps their logic. Regardless of the fact that they can answer immediately after playing something incorrectly and give me the correct answer as to how they should have played it, if there is some inconsistency in the way the music is printed that makes it look visually different than it should logically or than it does normally, they will reactively play it wrong.

There are ways to sharpen the brain and exercises and brain games for many things to advance our logic skills, but the reactivity in some areas, especiqlly the sensory areas, needs some development, if it can ever be overcome. Perhaps our senses reactively are just more powerful. And maybe this is why my brilliant child with Aspergers struggles with sensory input and emotional reactivity. She may be more highly evolved than I am. I have not found that to be out of the realm of possibility, that people with Aspergers actually have more highly developed and advanced brains…food for thought.