Welcome To The Creative Act

A pro-musician making sense of the creative process within the context of his life experience.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Do schools today kill creativity?

This video is a must see. How can we as a society help people realize their Creator given talents? Is there a moral imperative regarding the nurturing of talent? Is our education system addressing these concerns? Sir Ken Robinson gives a fascinating talk on these questions. RR

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Flute circle controversies

I have been reading emails from Native American Flute (NAF) players and makers concerning a flute circle that is experiencing power struggles and an attempted takeover of the organization. Even lawyers are involved. All of this is truly unfortunate. It is a sad reality that not everyone out there that is playing NAF has the best of intentions. I have met some truly wonderful, loving people who play the NAF and I have also met some that make me question the role that it plays in their lives. This is really nothing new. One of my friends was essentially booted out of the flute circle that she founded and spent much of her time nurturing because other members did not like the way she tried to keep the commercial motive separate from the circle's more educational and philanthropic mission. A sad state of affairs. More often than not, I find friction in circles coming down to either the power motive or the profit motive or a mixture of the two.

NAF can be a life changing instrument. I know it has changed mine in very profound ways that have all been good. I say that because I am happy and the people around me all seem to have very good feelings toward me because of my flute way and the way I walk the straight road. I am sure many NAF players can attest to its positive influence in their lives. If some some players are honest with themselves, they might have to admit that they use the flute rather than the flute using them! That is where folks can get into trouble. As a good teacher once said, "Repent, walk the straight road!". It's not too late. May the flute use us for good in our lives and the live's of others. The Creator of all things wants to make us a hollow bone so that He may play a good song with us. The flute and the drum are great gifts to us. We have to respect them and each other. My two cents... RR

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Business and creativity

My apologies for not posting much these past few weeks. I have been working on my taxes and it tends to take me away from more creative endeavors. I have been doing my own accounting for many years. I suppose I could hire an accountant to do it for me, but I find that I have a better understanding of my business when I do it myself. It also helps me to track deductions more efficiently.

Most musicians shy away from accounting for their business because they just don't have the mindset for it. Math and accounting principles are the least of their interests. I must admit that I don't get a big thrill taking care of these task either, but I find it to be a necessary skill in running a business. I can see what costs are beneficial and which aren't. For instance, I recently paused my Google Adwords account because I found that the cost didn't really benefit my business. The cost of the account was as much as any business revenue it was bringing in. I was essentially selling CDs to benefit Google stock holders! I have sold many more CDs with my other low cost marketing efforts (Myspace and YouTube) and I don't have to pay Google Adwords fees anymore.

In the 'old days', Google Adwords was a good buy because competition for choice search key words was not as great and so the key word bids were lower. Now, bids are exorbitantly high and it just doesn't make good business sense for me anymore. My research has shown me that other small businesses such as mine have had similar experiences and now Google is reporting lower revenue and profit. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

Balancing my creative energies with 'mundane' tasks such as accounting is a challenge for me. The flip side would be for me to ignore these vital tasks but my business would suffer. My experience has been that when my business suffers, my creativity suffers because my mind is preoccupied with my suffering business. I just have to bite the bullet and pay attention to all the necessary aspects of a creativity based business. RR

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Microphones and other thoughts

I thought I would jot down some thoughts concerning microphones since I am starting to record the new album. I use an AKG C419 wind instrument microphone for performance. It clips on to the bird just right and has a gooseneck which allows for adjustment of distance to the soundhole. It also has a built in vibration dampening system and a foam windscreen. I have used these microphones for at least ten years and own several for back up purposes. I have learned that AKG is discontinuing this mic and is replacing it with their new C519 line. The C519 is less expensive but may not be as responsive. I might get one just to try it out. The AKG C419 now lists at $300 at most online music stores. I think the C519 lists for about $175.

I am recording my next album with a Rode NT1-A microphone. This mic is said to be one of the quietest out there and for the price it is hard to beat. I wouldn't be using it if I didn't like it. I am also using an SE Reflexion filter which is a device that is used to help screen the microphone from stray ambient noise in the room. The microphone is placed in the sweet spot of the concave shaped filter. Used with a simple sound deadening backdrop like a comforter or douvet, you can record in a home studio in the same room as the computer you are using as a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation). I'm kind of amazed. It beats putting that ugly acoustic wall treatment all over my studio. That wouldn't work anyway as I live in a Pueblo style home with large wooden beams on the ceiling and lots of windows to let in the sun. Who wants to mess that up?

On another note: Want to hear something powerful? An audience member came up to me after my Hotel Santa Fe performance on Saturday night and said "Your flute music made me feel like a warm blanket of love was covering me on a cold night!" Flute music and love for all the Creator's creation seem to go together in a way that I can only call miraculous. RR

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Indigenous Native American Prophecy

I thought you might enjoy these videos concerning what certain elders think about the times we live in. I am busy doing my taxes these days so I can't blog as much right now. In the meantime, enjoy... RR

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Thoughts on The Creator

I spent the afternoon with a friend of mine at Ghost Ranch. It was a cold, blustery day but the visit was a warm one. We spent the afternoon talking about The Creator, Christ and the power of Love. He is from Scotland and I always enjoy his Celtic take on Christianity. He in turn encourages me to share my take on Indigenous Native American perspectives on Christianity. It was a great afternoon of sharing which I look forward to doing more often.

Belief in The Creator, for me, is a necessity. I have been at the brink of non-belief and found that belief, for me, makes my life and livelihood possible. I honestly could not bring my songs through if I didn't believe in the spirit world and The Creator who creates the songs in the first place. I enjoy the good feelings that result when I think about The Creator and His blessings. It works for me and it seems to work really well. RR

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Getting motivated!

I have posted this presentation by motivational speaker Tony Robbins because I thought readers might enjoy his thoughts on the underlying motives behind achievement. Back in the day, I was a very timid person when it came to thinking of myself as a successful person. It took alot of 'reprogramming' on my part to start changing my thought patterns in a way that might lead me to a successful career in the music business. Along the way I have met alot of musicians that seem to have a difficult time breaking their own chains of negative thought. I try to help with an encouraging word or some advice because I want all musicians to be successful.

In the final analysis, it takes alot of work to dig yourself out of a hole of negative thinking. Most musicians don't want to expend effort in that direction although my experience tells me that next to practicing good music, the practice of positive attitude ranks next in importance in the building of a successful musical career. An old jazz player once remarked to me, "You know Ron, making a living as a musician is the hardest way there is to make an easy buck!" It can feel like that way sometimes because the music business is full of pitfalls, blind alleys and rejection. I have long felt that the music business is about the survival of the persistent and the determined. That's the way it has worked out for me. I just refused to give up! RR

Monday, March 3, 2008

Tony Robbins motivates you in 20 minutes: TEDTalks

A great presentation on the underlying motives behind achievement.