To quote a friend of mine, “I’m educated way, way, way beyond my intelligence level.” I am what’s politely called a polymath – I love learning about most everything. Except music.
Music has been the giant hole in my education. I took guitar lessons for about 2 minutes as a child, and sung in the choir in middle school. College had me sputtering and gasping through a yearlong music appreciation class that made zero sense to me. I have tried to understand musical notation, and one would think that a strong mathematics background would help, but not in my case.
I had given up hope of ever truly understanding music – I assumed it was just not a skillset I could figure out, so I moved on to pastries. I’m good in a kitchen so run with your strengths right?
One of my strengths is public speaking, and I wanted to improve my vocal ability, and reached out to a friend from Westside Toastmasters – Elizabeth Agnese. She is a voice coach, opera singer, and music teacher who I figured could help me with some breath exercises and improve my ability to project.
We started working together in January with my goal of breath control and her goal of teaching me music. She’s winning.
Elizabeth brought out song books, children’s piano lessons ( I bought a keyboard, which has always mystified me ), musical note books, Italian voice exercises, basic music notation workbooks, and with a gentle patience she started to teach me how those dots and lines on a page translate to a keyboard and then to my voice.
She’s teaching me to sing, but more importantly she’s teaching me music in a way that no one ever has, and I am understanding it now. The experience of working with her has been utter joy at finally cracking a code that seemed impenetrable. I would highly recommend contacting her at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to learn music or have children that need a music teacher for private lessons.
On Saturday after my voice and piano lesson with Elizabeth, I was so excited that I went to Santa Monica Music Center (www.santamonicamusic.com/) to shop for a songbook. That’s where I met David Huerta, the Santa Monica native salesman. He went to SamoHi and plays multiple instruments. We chatted about their rental program which is designed for students in such a way that you can rent to own most instruments.
Sunday I was invited by my friend Declan Joyce, the famous actor, to sushi and a play. Impossible to turn down that offer. He took me to see Danny and the Deep Blue Sea which is playing at the Edgemar Center for the Arts on Saturday nights and Sunday Matinee through the first week of September, unless it is hopefully continued.
Neither of us had any idea what the John Patrick Shanley play was about, but it was directed by Carl Weathers and starred Tanna Frederick and Robert Standley. Both actors are seasoned professionals and under the artful direction of Weathers gave exceptionally powerful performances of an intensely emotional play about two lonely, lost souls with truckloads of baggage.
Frederick’s performance was agile and raw. She tapped into an emotional well that brought me to tears with her stark revelations and pain. Standley was a force on stage that was volcanic in his emotional flow. Together they played off each other like a well tuned engine. Surely that is due to their history of working together in shows like The Rainmaker and Jack and Jill, but clearly the direction of Weathers has brought forth their creativity in new, powerful and moving ways. The set design was quite creative. Rather than have a busy stage with lots of distracting colors and objects, the set is all dark grey so that you were visually focused on the actors and the few props that they used which I found to be a insightful choice.
When I speak publicly, I know the toll it takes on me emotionally and physically to generate an experience for my audience. That knowledge gives me a much deeper respect for what Frederick and Standley have created onstage. This show is not for children, but it also not to be missed by adults.
Danny and the Deep Blue Sea is playing at the Edgemar Center for the Arts through the first week of September and tickets are available at http://www.edgemarcenter.org/danny-and-the-deep-blue-sea/
It was a weekend full of the arts for me, and reminded me once again why I love living here so much.
David Pisarra is a Los Angeles Divorce and Child Custody Lawyer specializing in Father’s and Men’s Rights with the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He welcomes your questions and comments. He can be reached at email@example.com or 310/664-9969.You can follow him on Twitter @davidpisarra