Recently, I had the privilege of taking part in the Just Plain Folks Music Awards. I went to the Wild Horse Saloon in Nashville, TN and joined 600 other musicians and industry veterans in a celebration of a widely diverse collection of music, spoken word and instrumental songs. Over 42,000 albums and 561,000 songs were submitted for consideration. I am proud to say that from among this wealth of talent, my 'Bridging The Gap' album was named Best Jewish Album for 2009. And my song "Give Me The Strength" came in #3 in the Best Pop Song category. Beyond the wonderful feeling of recognition for much hard work, this particular awards process means a great deal to me because of the one question judges are asked to answer:
"Does the music move you?"
A deceptively simple mechanism for screening material, but one that gets at the heart of what music is all about for me. The question of whether the song is a "hit" or whether there is a "market" for the material is secondary to the power that music has to create lasting and profound change in its listeners as well as for its creators.
I would like to share with you another piece of positive feedback I received recently that means as much, if not more, to me than any award. It comes from a parent of one the preschool students at Temple Solel where I do music on Thursday mornings:
"One important element in our decision to choose Solel for our daughter's care, was the varied stimulation the children receive each day. However, Thursday stands out as "the big day" in our daughters life at Solel - and that is because she gets to dance, watch, and listen to you! I cannot tell you the difference in her personality when I pick her up on Thursday afternoon - she is giggling and full of smiles (and I'd swear she is playing an air guitar).
Todd, that is result of the time you provide to the pre-school children and your super personality and talent. I am confident the other children enjoy you as much as (our daughter) (although I think she may be your biggest "little" fan!)"
To me, this type of feedback reminds me of why I became involved with music in the first place. Music is such an amazing vehicle for conveying the emotions and appreciation of life that are so often difficult to put into words. I am very aware of the awesome responsibility that this power carries with it, and try to do my best to always use that power for good.
I wish all of you a very uplifting and musical week. To those of you celebrating the Jewish New Year, a Shana Tova u'mtukah!