There comes a time when one must grow beyond what one has expected of themselves, when fear is dashed against a wall and creativity is expanded. This is such a time.
After 15 months of writing on WordPress.com, I have decided that I must pursue a more lucrative venue for my blogs. I am moving to a new site that I hope will provide some revenue from my writing.
Please visit my blogsite at http://powodzenias.blogspot.com/ I will continue to write on the topics that are important, personal, introspective, and global. I hope you will continue to follow me there.
Thank you all for your many visits over the last months and I look forward to seeing you at Powodzenia’s Eclectic Blog!
Best wishes always,
Students are funny little animals. They burrow into your heart for a while and then, when they are ready, they scamper out into the world to make their way on their own.
The best part is, though, sometimes they return to visit.
Since beginning my classroom teaching, I’ve been blessed to have students who have been with me since seventh grade, graduated, gone to college, and moved onto their own careers. They’ve gotten married, had children, and still, with everything else going on with their lives, they’ve chosen to return to check in on me and to let me know how they’re doing.
I recently closed a show with a former student who is within a month of graduating. When he first came into my class in seventh grade, he was a scrawny little kid with big eyes, more energy than an electric company is allowed to store, and a vivacity that is unmatched.
For his senior project, he decided to do a benefit for the Sacramento Ballet. He pulled together a gaggle of singers-dancers-actors to create a revue. His cast was phenomenal.
Every senior in his program is supposed to have a mentor in his process. Originally, Alex Stewart, my former student, had chosen a very talented young man with whom to work. For reasons not clearly understood, this fellow had to attend to his own family business out of town, leaving Alex to find another person to fill that role for him.
Although I had stopped teaching at his school, he decided to call me to ask if I would mentor him and music direct the show. I was between shows and I knew some of the cast he had selected, so I was more than willing to donate a bit of time to Alex and toward a worthy cause.
Over the six or more weeks I worked with this terrific team, I had the best time and the show was a huge success. Everyone was thrilled, particularly the Executive and Artistic Director of the ballet company, Ron Cunningham. Because of Alex’s work and focus and the determination and talent of his cast, his outstanding show brought in, in ticket sales, concessions, and matching funds, nearly $6,000 in profit to the beneficiary organization.
Alex is 18 years old.
The show, “At the Ballet: A Musical Revue,” was sold out both nights and the reviews were clear raves from every front.
This was an important time for me because I got to work with a very talent former student and his equally matched cast, and also got to be a part of a worthwhile cause. What more can a fellow ask?
My little animal returned to the burrow for a time and warmed my heart once again. Now, he’s focusing on returning to the outside world, ready to take on the theatrical world by storm… and he will!
After years of teaching voice privately or in a school setting, I’m taking my lessons on the road, as it were.
I’ve been joyfully affiliated with Woodland Opera House for twelve years and finally, I’m beginning vocal classes there. It’s exciting to have yet another part of my life experience melded with this 100-plus-year-old theatre.
As I’ve been preparing for my classes, I’ve been wondering why some people are afraid to sing. Could it be because as the breath of sound begins, it resonates with one’s heart? As this intimate expression of our feelings and art exits our bodies, it doesn’t stop until it finds its way to another’s heart. I suppose to some, this might be fear-inducing; however, not to me.
This truth is simultaneously intimate and grand.
The fear that we may feel is like a pain when we’ve been injured. They are both simply messages to our brains that we have work to do to make things right. Because fear and creativity cannot co-exist, we know that once we get beyond that fear, we have every opportunity to grow creatively and emotionally, and some would say, spiritually, through our art.
If you are interested in participating or simply want more information check out my Facebook page for these lessons, James Glica-Hernandez @ Woodland Opera House.
Group lessons are on Thursdays at 6:00 PM.
Individual lessons are on Saturdays between 9:00 AM and 2:00 PM.
I also teach privately from my home in the West Natomas area of Sacramento, California on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.
I look forward to hearing your voice.
For great websites presented directly to you, go to: http://alphainventions.com/
I presented a lecture at the University of California, Davis in the Mondavi Performing Arts Center. It was my first time.
It was a preview before the production of “All is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914” by the phenomenal men’s vocal ensemble, Cantus.
It’s strange that after forty years of writing journals entries, poems, letters, short stories, children’s books, federal regulations, business plans, and myriad other pieces, I am at a place in my life that I must consider the concept that my writing can earn income.
With all the various types of work I’ve done, including positions in pharmacies, employment services, public health, education, and the arts, I have never found a passion greater than what I’m doing right now in writing. The ability to spend my days at my computer, creating new thoughts, making them concrete on the page, and ensuring that each word and phrase exactly represents the message I am trying to present is a true gift.
As with any art form, I have no idea how successful I will be in the future; however, just being able to pursue this dream is taking me to places beyond anything I’d ever imagined in my feelings of satisfaction and creativity.
Yes, I’ve waited a long time for this moment, but the moment is here and I am so incredibly grateful. The most surprising aspect to all of this is that I feel more prepared to do this kind of work than anything else I’ve ever done. If the truth be told, I actually feel as though I have important things to say. As someone who has always humbly questioned his own value, this is an important step in my professional growth as an author.
To God, my parents, and teachers, I offer my deepest appreciation for providing me the education, opportunity, and focus to be able to reach for this goal.
This photo by Shane Taylor of a man watching the forest burn around his home got me to thinking. As beautiful as that forest was, this man’s perspective must have changed dramatically when the magnificent trees that surrounded his abode were destroyed. His life would never be the same after that day. As he struggled to make sense of this ravaging destruction, ultimately, this may have created something amazing for him. It did, after all, provide us with this dynamic image, if nothing else.
It is the same for those of us who aspire to artistic endeavors. As often as we’d love to be certain of our subject matter that is to go on the canvas, manuscript paper, or writing tablet, it just isn’t that way for some of us. We await our inspiration. We struggle to find the theme, color, texture, movement, or sound, that will reflect what we are feeling inside. The challenge is we sometimes don’t know what we’re truly feeling inside.
It is in the vulnerability of ourselves that we find an open archway to our creativity.
I have often taught my students a variation of Marianne Williamson’s phrase, “Fear and love cannot co-exist.” My offered mantra is, “Fear and creativity cannot co-exist.”
Although fear can clearly show us where we need to focus our attention, like the pain of a wound, it isn’t until we are beyond that fear that we find depth in our artistry. Each word, each brush stroke, each jeté, is a testament to our willingness to go to another level of intimacy with our creative heart.
Personal relationships operate very similarly to artistic endeavors. The more available we are with our raw heart open to the object of our affection, the more likelihood there is to a true union. One can have the structure of marriage without intimacy, but it is often brittle and unsatisfying. In the same way, one can write a paragraph without spiritual openness, but the words are simply strung together without much more purpose than popcorn tinsel at Christmastime. Without vulnerability and intimacy, nothing is really offered and nothing is really gained.
I struggle with these issues as I attempt to grow my art. My paintings are sometimes functional, but not dynamic. My words can be pedestrian when I so want them to change another’s cells. My music is a wet match when all I want is a roaring fire. There are days when my mediocrity feels like knives in my heart and I want to give up.
Of course, when one is aware that it is only when one’s heart is naked and exposed that art flourishes, one… I… am obligated to look at that honestly and go past my fear of “average,” to keep my face pointed toward the brightest part of the sunlight to attain, if not excellence, then truth.
I daily commit to putting words on paper, even if it represents rudimentary language and thought, because I know it eventually speaks to my tenacity of purpose and my desire for deep intimacy. I commit to keeping my face to the brightest part of the sunlight in my art and in my life.
This evening, I went to see some of my former students graduate from the school where I used to teach vocal music. There were some definite surprises for me there.
When I began teaching in 2001, it was a fluke. A friend of mine called me on the phone in the middle of my retirement and said, “James, we really need a singing teacher here.”
I had sworn many years ago never to teach in a classroom setting. Of course, I never thought I could since I hadn’t completed my degree, much less acquire a teaching credential. This was, however, a charter school that specialized in the arts, so I didn’t need a credential. I did have plenty of experience, having had my first student in 1977. I had directed vocal music regularly since the early 1990’s. I was as prepared as someone could be without the credential, I thought.
The day I began, the co-founders asked me why I wanted to teach there since I was so over-qualified? Ah, how things were to change.
As the years progressed, I realized I had a lot to learn, but as I had often been told, teaching came naturally to me. As my supervisor at the time told me, I was an intuitive teacher. While that was a plus at that point, this same person eventually decided that pedagogy was much more important.
I resigned my position in 2008 when I realized that the school had changed so dramatically that these adjustments were sucking the life out of what was once a dynamic and formidible educational institution. The spirit of our organization was barely flickering any more. I had to get out. I had lost my voice with the administration and for someone like me who spent his life helping others find their voices, this was untenable to me.
As I was having my final meeting with the Executive Director, he offered me two beginning vocal classes. He wanted some “new blood” for the other vocal music classes. His words, not mine. It was of no interest to me at all. This school was breaking my heart. Teachers expressed they felt the same way, but were afraid to leave in this economy. Parents said they wanted to change schools, but knew that most other schools were more dangerous for their students. The children themselves said there was something missing that was there in the past. Everyone got the same message except the administration.
Other than a couple of brief visits to the campus, I really haven’t been back since I left. I attended several performances. I couldn’t help but think, “This is why they wanted me gone, so they could have this level of quality at their school?” Again, I was not alone in this assessment.
As I arrived at the school this evening, teachers, students, and parents greeted me with the most genuine happiness I remember in a long, long time. If I had to call it anything, it was almost relief that I felt as they hugged me.
“Nothing is the same since you left, Mr. Hernandez.”
“There’s been a spark missing since you left, James.”
These are actual quotes I heard tonight. Even the Executive Director did not seem as joyful as he had been in years past as he sat on the dais.
Everything from the singing of the National Anthem to the keynote address was vanilla pudding. It was Wonder Bread. It was white rice. It was beige.
This was no longer a performing and fine arts academy. It was a traditional, plain school.
Yet, the one thing that amazed me was that with all the changes notwithstanding, the children have grown up to be creative, motivated people. I attribute that to the tenacity of the amazing teachers on campus.
They have fought valiantly against the brutal criticism and desperate neglect offered by the Program Coordinator and Co-Founder of the school. Both of these administrators have their priorities firmly established although they have not considered the needs of the people involved. It is all about the awards and recognition and scores. The people, with spirits and minds and hearts, seem to have become functionaries to the administrators involved.
The Program Coordinator, in all her ingenuous behaviors, is not above being obviously phony in public when everyone knows how she really feels. I was embarrassed for her.
Yet, the children advance. What is it in them that allows them to grow in this way? They are like roses growing in the desert. They are like albino shrimp living in the deepest sulphuric recesses of the ocean. They are strong and resilient and protected by really great parents and phenomenal teachers.
I have held my tongue for a year, and now, at long last, I am speaking my mind in an open forum. It feels great!
God bless the children for their success. May their journey be full of joy and wisdom enough to learn from their challenges and celebrate their accomplishments.
I won’t be back for another graduation without a specific invitation. My time there is over. They do grow up. What’s surprising is so do I.
Billy Crystal’s character tells Danny Devito’s character in “Throw Momma From the Train,” that “a writer writes, always.” It’s true. Just like a painter paints and a sitter sits. Where my quandry emerges is, not unlike a tree falling in a forest, if one is not published, are the words still more than simple emotive and physical scribbles on a page?
I saw on Craigslist a call for poets to submit their poetry about losing one’s mother. I happened to have lost two mothers, one by birth and my “real” mom by adoption. I have poetry about their deaths.
There is no pay involved and if one or more of the selections are chosen, one receives a copy of the book. I’m certain it is self-published and will come, if at all, with flimsy plastic pages and smeared print. So, why, you may ask, am I submitting my precious gifts at all? Because, my friends, a writer writes always and then they get published.
Am I cynical in believing that what shows up on my resume counts, even if it is a small self-published document like this? Is it important for me to know that perhaps thirty people will own a book with my poetry in it, even if most of those people are the publisher’s family members?
I think it is important. It is valuable at a few levels. One, it states that one believes in his or her work enough to submit it to another person, a stranger, for consideration. Two, if it is published, it is a legitimate entry on one’s work history. Three, someone is there to hear the tree fall in the forest. Someone, outside of the few intimates around one can share in this artistic rendering. With all that going on, one should be very pleased.
Art is about choice making. Every word, brush stroke or note is a message from the author/artist/ composer about who he or she is and what is in their heart. Sharing those choices adds to the pool of veracity and beauty available for the greater consumption.
Yes, it is about self-discipline. Yes, it is about the work. Ultimately, however, it is about the willingness to open ourselves up to others joining the party in our spirits. It is about joining together, artist and patron, to share a common experience.
My door is opening and this is my journey over the treshhold. It is exciting and unnerving and about time.
So, write writers! Paint painters! Compose composers! Always! Just remember to celebrate your art by sending it out to just one stranger if you get the chance. But, finally, it’s your choice.
A Composite Life
By James C. Glica-Hernandez
May 31, 2009
Pieces of lives vie / Budding from one plant / To view the new sky / Each at altered slant.
Every florid bloom / A different shape / Yet all stemming from / One seed held agape.
Each bud, skewered view / Each stem, strong, alive /Each leaf, light renew / Each bush, longs to thrive.
Buds now deadly spent / From its weary limbs, / Dried and cruelly rent / Color finally dims.
Memories linger / As new buds grow. / Changing hues finger / New petals to show.
A few months ago, a group of us decided to produce a film called, “Two Tears in a Bucket.” The script was written by a new friend of mine, Dave Garcia. He asked me to take one of the roles and line produce the picture. I was not terribly busy, so I agreed.
I’ve never had anything whatsoever to do with film in my life before this. Nothing. Not one tiny thing.
It was going to be a lark. Sure, I’ve produced many theatrical stage productions before, but this was a new adventure and I’m always up for a new adventure.
We cast the film, worked out the logistics and began rehearsals, which I think are important. I did the acting coaching, some of the directing, location management, scheduling, budgeting, and many of the other activities a line producer does. The more I got into the process, the more enjoyable it became. I realized that I was actually pretty good at this. Although I had no formal training, after thirty years involved in theatre, I understood the concepts.
Our cinematographer/editor came along and we were ready.
In the middle of this process, we were fortunate to do a tiny little six minute film, “Out of the Frying Pan,” which, incidentally, can be seen on YouTube.
This film was a great training ground for us. We learned what we could do and what we couldn’t do given our limited resources, limited time, and limited experience. We were fortunate to have amazing people around us to get it done at all.
Once we were ready to begin filming, “Two Tears…” we felt as though we had a head start.
Tonight, a few of us gathered to see the first cut of our film. I was prepared for the worst. We’d done our best, but with few exceptions, we were neophytes.
What I saw tonight was a surprise and a pleasure. The first cut of our film was a testament to all the dedication, love, and effort everyone had pulled together for this project.
The film is now going to the composer for the score. Rick Dean Sumners has the responsibility to reflect the heartbeat of the piece. Yet, another joyful connection in my life because I’ve know Rick a long, long time and know that he’s going to do a superlative job.
We have a real film developing here, ladies and gentlemen; a film of which I am so deeply proud. I can hardly wait for you to see it.
This is what comes from true collaboration and focus. At this point in my life, I suppose an old dog can learn some new tricks.
The process, quite honestly, has been a rollercoaster of emotions for me, but worth every moment. I suppose that’s what comes from being willing to take the risk to make yet another dream come true.