Archive | Creative Process

Articles, info, life lessons

Las Brisas Songwriters Retreat = Great fun!

Here are a few pics at the Retreat … in April 2011… near Murietta, California.

Here I am with host, Niki Smart (left) … enjoying the view!

(L-R) Niki Smart, Gil Hager, Rick Robertson Van Horn & wife, Debbie

John Braheny, checking email on his iPhone, rarely this relaxed!

Niki Smart, yoga instructor, in front of Las Brisas Retreat

(L to R) John Braheny, Rick Robertson Van Horn, & Gil Hager (seated)

John Braheny with lyricist, Peggy Glenn

Designing our own pizza for dinner... creative!

Next time we do a Songwriters Retreat in this lovely location, I hope YOU will come along. We so enjoyed the luxury of time to spend together, with few interruptions, to focus on our creative endeavors!


This Year, Change Your Mind

This article, This Year, Change Your Mind, is written by (physician, best-selling author, and professor of neurology and psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center), Oliver Sacks, M.D., and appeared in the New York Times, on 1/1/11.

He starts off by acknowledging that, at the New Year, many of us re-new our intentions to improve our physical bodies, with improved diet, exercise, etc.

But in this article, Dr. Sacks reminds us,

” …  they can strengthen their brains in a similar way.”

The whole article is well worth the read, especially if you know anyone with learning or memory impairments, but my excerpt here has to do with music

While it is often true that learning is easier in childhood, neuroscientists now know that the brain does not stop growing, even in our later years. Every time we practice an old skill or learn a new one, existing neural connections are strengthened and, over time, neurons create more connections to other neurons. Even new nerve cells can be generated.

I have had many reports from ordinary people who take up a new sport or a musical instrument in their 50s or 60s, and not only become quite proficient, but derive great joy from doing so. Eliza Bussey, a journalist in her mid-50s who now studies harp at the Peabody conservatory in Baltimore, could not read a note of music a few years ago. In a letter to me, she wrote about what it was like learning to play Handel’s “Passacaille”: “I have felt, for example, my brain and fingers trying to connect, to form new synapses. … I know that my brain has dramatically changed.” Ms. Bussey is no doubt right: her brain has changed.

Music is an especially powerful shaping force, for listening to and especially playing it engages many different areas of the brain, all of which must work in tandem: from reading musical notation and coordinating fine muscle movements in the hands, to evaluating and expressing rhythm and pitch, to associating music with memories and emotion.

Whole article: This Year, Change Your Mind.

[Photo by me… of a prized possession of mine, one that really changed MY mind. This is a test pressing of the album, “Imagine,” by John Lennon. It was given to me to play on the air, which I did a lot, when I was the  first full-time female radio DJ in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1971.]


Quiz – Right Brain vs Left Brain

This one is from The Art Institute of Vancouver … (A lovely place, if you decide to visit!)

It’s a “creativity test” to find out if you use more (%) of your (click here) “Right Brain vs Left Brain.”

It’s free to take the quiz and it determines the score for you. Then, read the in-depth details to, most likely, confirm what you already know. I found it to be a bit of Myers-Briggs blended with Keirsey.

Have fun!!

[Photo taken by me, of John Braheny (left) & Jon Iger, president of the Arizona Songwriters Assn. exploring The Musical Instrument Museum, in Phoenix, 2010. They’re exercising their right & left brains!]


Woody Guthrie’s Archive Sparks Songstress’ Creativity

I’ve always been a fan of folk music … so this news item caught my interest.

What a unique opportunity, when someone allows you to co-write, or re-do songs that were started so long ago … sort of like being placed in a time machine … with someone as great as Woody Guthrie. Wow.

Woody Guthrie’s archive sparks songstress’ creativity

From the article: 

“It’s the rare artist who gets to collaborate with a true legend — especially one who passed away 41 years ago. Jonatha Brooke was invited by Nora Guthrie, the daughter of Woody Guthrie, to go through the songwriter’s archives and pick lyrics she would adapt to song.”




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