Jacob Heringman, lutenist - Diary
Itís a quiet Wednesday evening, and Iím alone in the house. Zan is in France, doing the Fretwork thing. Here, no great events have occurred; just the quiet life, at the moment. The course is going well and continues to be a joy as well as a great big challenge.
On the music front, Iím in the middle of two months without a single concert, which is probably the biggest gap Iíve had in my performing career since I "turned professional" 13 years ago. On the one hand, this is frightening, since I rely on my music to make a living, and at the moment Iím going increasingly into debt by not working and by paying for my Alexander Technique training. Itís also frightening because I, like so many musicians and actors and dancers, thrive on approval and achievement (as well as on the rather grand world travel and fast pace of life). On the other hand, this break from performing -- partly enforced by the fact that Iíve chosen to do this training course, and partly enforced simply by the fact that thereís not a lot of work around at the moment -- is wonderful, because itís given me some distance and perspective. I no longer feel the need to gain anyoneís approval other than my own. (Actually, thatís not true. But Iím making huge strides in this direction.) Iíve realized over the last couple of years that I play music to satisfy myself and, I hope, to give something meaningful to those who wish to listen. If I can earn a living from it, this is helpful. But itís not why I do it. My music started out as a typical overachieverís attempt to gain approval and love -- to be noticed. (Although this was coupled, of course, with a great love of music and a talent for it.) Over the years Iíve learned to find the sense of self-worth within, which has removed one of my reasons for being such a driven performer, and which has made me a happier person. (Iím not saying that there arenít major lapses occasionally, when I feel worthless, as I so often used to feel.) Now Iím left with the nice part -- the freedom to choose to make music for musical satisfaction. It will be interesting to discover whether the lessening of my "achieverís drive" will cause my music to suffer in quality (fewer hours of practice, less pushing and self-promotion, etc.). I suspect it will not. I have no intention of giving up the solo work, nor the other bits and pieces of work that I find rewarding. In fact, I would still like very much to do more solo concerts. Sometimes many months go by without any. It doesnít make sense to put all of this work into preparing solo recordings, and then not to tour the material in concert extensively, while itís "under my fingers". And yes, I do have to find a way to make a living. My guess is that this will come from teaching the Alexander Technique to musicians and others. We shall see.
Itís Spring here. Lots of colours are in the garden, and an explosion of growth seems to be taking place.
I too seem to be emerging from a difficult time, and feeling more positive.
The course is a huge challenge, and some of the darker aspects of the self which I was encountering were threatening to overwhelm me a few times. But I seem to be deriving lots of positive benefits from these encounters, and I feel myself growing stronger and returning to a position of better balance.
So much wonderful and intense stuff has been happening on the course -- stuff that would be very very hard to describe in words, since a great deal of the communication takes place with hands.
Iím also spending a fair bit of time preparing for Virelaiís early May recording of Renaissance Love Songs.
This my last DGM Diary entry, almost exactly two and a half years after the first, begun in September 1999 in response to Robert Fripp's invitation/challenge.
The journey has been interesting, revealing, and has presented me with much food for thought. As Andrew writes, a record of this kind provides the writer with the opportunity to look back on the ways in which he or she has grown, changed, developed, moved on. In this respect, for me, it has been an ideal time to keep a Diary, as the period of the Diary marks a period of great changes in my thinking and in my priorities, as regular readers will know.
The question arises: for whom has this Diary mainly been kept? I would say that I did it mainly for myself (though it was also a useful way of keeping friends and family abreast of what I'm up to, given that I don't have a lot of time to keep in touch with everyone I'd like to keep in touch with). But many people have been kind enough to write to me with very positive feedback, particularly in recent months when my Diary was becoming a forum for a very personal account of some of the highs and lows of my training as a teacher of the Alexander Technique. Apparently the tortuous goings-on in my mind and body have made sense to many people, and have even found strong resonance in some people. I thank them for this, and for the positive feedback. It's nice to think that some of these musings have been of interest and maybe of help to people besides myself. And it's wonderful to have made some very special new friends through the Diary, and, more generally, through DGM.
Where from here? I'd like to hear suggestions about that (firstname.lastname@example.org). I'm considering various things: whether to continue keeping a Diary; if so, whether to do so in a public forum like another website, or privately; if publicly in a website, then should it be on my own website (which I haven't got at the moment, but may set up)? Or on the website of the record label for which I'm now making solo records (AVIE)? Or in some other online community?
My connection to DGM is twofold: I've released two CDs for DGM, and I've had a lively interest for more than twenty years in the music of KC and RF, which has been a major influence on my music-making. Since I joined the label, this long-term connection has been strengthened by the development of friendships, correspondences, and joint projects with a number of DGM-related people. I very much hope and expect that these will continue. I'm especially grateful to Robert for introducing me to Andrew Keeling, who has since become a greatly valued friend and a wonderful collaborator on several ongoing projects.
But my direct connection with DGM as an artist on the label is at an end, and for this reason I can't see myself moving my Diary to a site for things crim-related, which is something that some of the other diarists may do. I don't particularly belong there.
There was a brief period in DGM's history when the label experimented with the idea of releasing records by artists who were not in any way related to RF/KC/Guitar Craft,etc. (Although I suppose we were all linked by certain similarities of approach to music and music-making.) I was part of the experiment, but the experiment is now over, as far as I can tell. DGM, as far as I can tell, is once again a vehicle purely for the afore-mentioned artists and projects. I am grateful to Robert and DGM for inviting me to be part of the experiment. It was a chance to learn a great deal, and it was the impetus to create two recordings of which I remain proud.
One frustration was and is that my records did not get distributed properly, for lots of complicated reasons. The fruits of several years' worth of very hard work and much emotional investment have not been heard by as many people as I'd like. In that sense, the experiment could be said to have failed, from my point of view. However, this disappointment is balanced by other things. Firstly, I was given the opportunity to have the experience of making the recordings. This experience was rewarding and worthwhile regardless of sales figures. Secondly, thanks to DGM's unorthodox policies which greatly favour the artists, I own the recordings and may be able to re-release them with better distribution in the future. Thirdly, in many ways I've been very generously treated by DGM; they assumed the risk of taking on an artist who had little commercial potential, but who had, as Robert seems to have seen it, much artistic potential. Finally, I've had the pleasure of working and dealing with a great bunch of people.
Those readers who want to, please keep in touch. Many of you do anyway.
And for those interested in my next solo release, Jane Pickeringe's Lute Book, look out for it on the new label "AVIE", where it's being released on 8 April.
Thank you, and best wishes to all.