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It’s true that writers should write every day. But what if you are also a musician, like I am? Is it better to practice music one day and write the next day? Should I try to cram both things into a day also filled with a day job, exercise, the Yale Brothers Podcast, music gigs, reading and other pursuits?

I have tried both approaches, and I am beginning to realize that my writing and my music would be better served if I practiced only one of these things per day.

Of course, if I were to eliminate my day job I would have ample time to pursue both disciplines on a daily basis – but I also like to pay my bills.

Most people enjoy ticking off items on their to-do lists, but how far should a person go with this? I mean, it would be ridiculous to include bodily functions on that list, no matter how gratifying it would be to put a bold line through those activities with a Sharpie.

Can there be any deep work if you only write for 30 minutes a day? Is there a level of mastery to be attained by sitting at the piano for the same?

I suppose we take what we can get, but I am sure that devoting the proper time and attention to one of these disciplines per day will set the table for a more profound experience.

Am I wrong? I know there are plenty of you who have multiple passions.

Thanks to the march of technology, on-demand media, incessant notifications and myriad distractions, we have become fragmented. Our attention is divided at all turns and we have trouble being still, living “in the moment” – and achieving the coveted sense of flow.

Without the opportunity to drill down, the time to allow thoughts and processes to become fully formed, we find ourselves trapped in a self-imposed prison of superficiality and mediocrity.

Lukewarm gets spit out.

The Yale Brothers – Photo by Joan Powell

Recently at LuLu’s North Myrtle Beach, my brother and I played Skynyrd’sFreebird.”

Interesting choice for a duo consisting of a piano and a guitar. Doesn’t the recipe call for three guitars?

No matter.

Early in the evening a couple of people shouted out “Freebird.” I am sure most people are joking when they shout that out at live shows because shouting out “Freebird” is a thing – so much so that a new response to the request – two middle fingers up with a “here’s two – no charge” – also became a thing.

But we did a short version of the song, complete with piano and guitar solos – and people loved it. I even did the little organ bit at the beginning before switching to piano. My brother sang.

It’s always fun trotting out songs like this – and it certainly helps when folks are surprised and tickled about it.

I also like the idea of playing snippets of other songs that people request. It helps to foster a feeling of connection and a sense of goodwill. In a setting like LuLu’s, it’s all about the experience.

Performing with Chris is always a good time. The fact that we are twins makes for an interesting vocal dynamic, and our harmonies are tight. This covers a multitude of musical sins.

Judging from the crowd at LuLu’s, I bet the season in Myrtle Beach is going to be a busy one. I only hope that common sense will reign supreme.

Check out the Yale Brothers Podcast. We’re having fun with it!

Photo by Alexandr Podvalny on Pexels.com

Yesterday, I got to work hungry.

I felt depressed and angry at the same time – so I was hangry and low-energy.

But here’s the thing – we were busy and as time went by I still hadn’t sneaked off into the office to eat.

I am a friendly guy – and people kept coming into the store. I knew many of them and I hope I was cordial enough – and I am sure I was professional enough to everyone. But this sense of edginess would not go away until I ate, and I knew it.

I imagined that many people don’t ascribe this edginess to a lack of nourishment, but rather it becomes some sort of existential dread…

I can see why.

If we don’t understand what’s going on in our bodies on a physical level, our default is sometimes to blame our minds for our sense of ennui or unease – and then our emotions take over to amplify this situation.

You feel that you are spiraling out of control.

Every task you do in the moment feels herculean and somehow inadequate.

You lack enthusiasm, find it hard to engage with others and have trouble being genuine. Thank God for the masks in this case, right? You might be squinting, but it looks like you are smiling.

This is not like you.

You are a nice guy. Most people agree that you are a nice guy.

There is a good reason you feel like bitch-slapping a complete stranger, and you don’t need therapy to figure it out.

Eat!

Photo: Brendan Wright/BWI Images

I was a music major back in the dark ages…starting in 1980.

I spent two years at Los Angeles City College, or LACC. As you might expect with any music program, I took classes in music theory, harmony and piano…

For some reason – it was insufficient attention and the fact that I was not very disciplined – I never got to the point where somebody could drop a piece of music notation in front of me and I could play it on the spot.

I regret that. I should have been more devoted to the instrument. I have said before that my piano-playing style is a conglomeration of ADHD, trial-and-error and muddling through. There is much more about my piano journey HERE.

I have a great ear, though, and I can also play like hell from a chart.

But that’s not why I wanted to write this.

We also had choir and voice classes, including sight-singing (solfeggio). Somehow I was OK with that. Way more than sight-reading piano music.

Early on, the professor in charge of the choir stuck me in the tenor section.

Problem was, I couldn’t sing that high. Still can’t.

That was a mistake – so I just pretended – using falsetto or simply mouthing the words. I should have said something, but I was not exactly a self-starter back then.

In voice class, another professor named Wes Abbott knew I was struggling with the high range. I remember complaining about it to him, and he recommended a renowned throat specialist named Hans Von Leden. Some names just stick with you, and a name like his is hard to forget –

But my then girlfriend’s dad was an audiologist and I went to see a throat guy in his practice in I think West Covina or San Dimas. I don’t remember exactly what the guy did, but there was nothing inherently wrong with my throat.

My brother and I could sing high before our voices changed – and the same girlfriend’s mother seemed relieved when she met me in person, because I sounded like “a used car salesman from Van Nuys” when I called for the first time to speak to her.

Well then, I have a low voice – and I should not have been placed in the tenor section.

Which brings us to rock ‘n’ roll…

When I was growing up, a vast majority of rock singers – and pop singers for that matter – seemed to ascend into the heavens with their vocal ranges. Think about early Elton John or Billy Joel for instance. Or Robert Plant. Or the late Tony Lewis from The Outfield. They must have had a Vise-Grip attached to their nether parts…

Steve Perry, anybody?

Not me. Or my brother.

In some band lineups, we tuned down a half-step to give us a little breathing room.

And the transpose button has long been my friend.

I enjoy playing and singing Elton John songs – and I take a perverse comfort in the fact that he can no longer hit the stratosphere. But then again, at least he used to.

I’m somewhere between Tom Waits and The Smithereens’ Pat DiNizio. Somebody once said I sounded like Elvis Costello, but he can sing higher. Randy Newman, maybe.

Acceptance.