Practicing The Piano

A-Modern-Promise-by-Francis-and-the-Lights_GfQ16rn5sTgx_fullThe blogging (pronounced: BAHLAWGING) gangsters should issue me a late pass for my failure to keep up with the lightning speed of Internet updates. I’ve officially abandoned the daily update grind — you can keep up with Rap Radar and Nah Right for the new news. One of the many things I have slept on lately is Francis and The Lights. After a quick visit to their website, I discovered an interesting project that involved Francis posting videos of himself rehearsing the piano for two hours minimum per day for nearly two weeks in preparation for a solo piano showcase at Joe’s Pub on July 11th. Francis created a tumblr page archiving each recorded rehearsal for the purpose of transparency and “keeping him honest”. He (or someone he hired) compressed each video session into manageable 2 minute segments showing the passage of time (and intensity of focus). Francis reminded me how much I respect artists who occasionally reveal glimpses of their creative process (which is often purposefully obscured — what and why are we hiding?!). While I understand the function of fantasy and magic in creative output (and showmanship), there is something to be said for sharing one’s practice beyond the final product of a song, album or performance. In my experience, projects such as Francis’s deepen audience’s pre-existing relationship to the music making process. That is, one should never assume their listeners are not also musicians (or producers or composers etc.) I’m particularly sensitive to this assumption because oftentimes men position me statically as a “fan” (an unfortunate by-product of ego tripping…and patriarchy). I digress (although you can expect a more comprehensive entry on the gendered myth of mutual exclusivity soon)…Initially, I wanted to call attention to Francis’s work ethic. I aspire to the level of discipline Francis demonstrates in these videos. Somehow, I always manage to derail projects before they’re completed (self-sabotage? letting the “little hater” get the best of me?). Ever since graduating from Wesleyan, I’ve been hungry for structure. In truth, artists and writers need strict regimentation to evolve their craft (it’s not just athletes, y’all!) In fact, this entire blog is an exercise in writing regularly…a small gesture of transparency. Similarly, the homie Sam Han recently started posting drafts of his essays (another bold example of sharing ones works in progress). Blogs have tremendous potential to be interactive platforms that invite the exchange of ideas and skills. Why battle writer’s block and paralyzing procrastination alone? Let us freely expose the messy chaos of our internal processes! I have no idea how this entry turned into a defense of vulnerable and self-conscious creative production but no matter, enjoy these videos and drop me a comment or two:

Watch more practice videos HERE. Listen to Francis and the Lights HERE. Follow Francis HERE.

3 Responses to “Practicing The Piano”
  1. Linde says:

    Thank you so much for this post! I definitely feel that blogging has helped me with a lot of writer’s block moments, and there is no point in toiling alone. Also, I like how you highlight that it’s not just about fandom but collaboration and creation, maybe through less immediate ways than a jam session, but seeing the process of people you admire helps. Also it’s nice when someone like Francis can take advantage of what some people think is an overly voyeuristic culture, and use it to actually give people a glimpse of who they are as an artist. By that, I mean what actually makes them an artist, someone who works to get better at their craft, as opposed to only hearing some personal anecdotes and seeing the final stage show.

  2. Jillian says:

    Yes. Mmmm been thinking about this a lot lately. Thank you for this post, boo. Lately, I’ve been resenting the structure that FIT imposes upon me but in truth- I do need it. If I didn’t *have to* go to class and *finish* projects, would I otherwise make time to sharpen my skills? I find it admirable that Francis can commit to a practice regimen like that. Um… I think I have more thoughts about this but I’m doing overtime at the office. You know….so I can pay for art school….the one that I go to in the hopes of honing my craft.

    Okay, forreal, I’m coming back to this. Hold me accountable Isa. I want a conversation about this. Ummm maybe even a phone date if you’re into that sort of a thing….

  3. Selim W says:

    This is so great! I agree with so many things and wish you digressed more about ego, patriarchy and fandom! But a side note about transparency of art, i’m working on a duet called cocoon and we’re presenting our work-in-progress(always) weekly – i’m thinking of it as a wonderful learning tool for both audience and performer. Also from you through me back to you: “we write-think and feel-(with) our entire bodies rather than only (with) our minds or hearts” (Minh-ha, 1989:36). With so much love.

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