Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Leaving Traces

Last week I had the opportunity to visit St. Louis to be the artist-in-residence for the Jewish Community Center (JCC) day camp. I worked with kids from ages 4-14, taught them some of my music and had the chance to interact with the community in St. Louis. I had a great time and met a number of new people. I also was able to sample some of the local culture - like tasting Ted Drewe's custard, visiting the downtown area near Washington University, eating at some local restaurants and driving through the neighborhoods that make up this wonderful city on the banks of the MIssissippi and Missouri Rivers.

As the name of the town suggests, it continues in the tradition of the French settlers who claimed this area. The names of the streets, the style of the architecture represent a legacy that has descended through the ages. It made me think about the way that the language and culture that surround us really impacts the way we see the world. The words we use express unique ideas and play a large part in shaping who we are. Can we use our words to create the type of world we envision for ourselves?

This ties into some ideas from a book I am currently reading - Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell. In this book, he talks about how cultures pass down values and traditions from one generation to the next. He explores why some people are wildly successful, while others toil in obscurity. A large part of the success comes from hard work (10,000 hours in a given discipline to be precise), but there are historical and social factors factors which also come into play. Perhaps by becoming aware of the traces of our own heritage, we can bring these things into our consciousness. We can build upon the strengths of our past and hopefully learn from the mistakes of our ancestors to achieve whatever success looks like in our own time and culture.

In deep thought,

ps. I wanted to share some good news: I am currently nominated for 9 awards (in 6 different categories representing songs from 3 different albums) in the Just Plain Folks Music Awards. This is a wonderful organization which hosts the largest awards process in the world, and I am honored to be among those nominated. I will be heading to Nashville at the end of August for the awards ceremony... so wish me luck! To find out more, please visit www.jpfolks.com.