gorgeous, obscure & soft-hearted by Melanie Ida Chopko

You may be sick of hearing Jingle Bells by now, so I wanted to share with you the current musical jewelry in my mind, favorite winter and Christmas music from Sufjan Stevens, beloved friends Robinson & Rohe and of course, Charlie Brown. We've got songs instructing humanity (Midwintersong & Lo' How a Rose), reflecting on seasonal depression (Sister Winter), family christmas gone awry (finally, right?! That Was the Worst Christmas Ever!) and just plain ol' bad ass goodness (Mary Had a Baby)I think you'll love them - write back and tell me what you think!

(I can almost play that Vince Guaraldi piano piece - whoa! A Christmas/musical development miracle.)

I'm wishing you a Happy New Year and days rich with warmth and connection as we walk in the dark.

As the light leaves by Melanie Ida Chopko

point arena, ca

point arena, ca

Mostly every year I host a winter/Christmas concert in my living, and this year I'm so pleased to share it in a larger way on December 17th. This devotional music is my remaining link to the spiritual community of my childhood, and each year I find even deeper meaning reclaiming the Christmas story and having a more nuanced relationship with winter.

TO THE DARK with special guest Kin
Friday, December 15th

House Concert
details coming soon

Sunday, December 17th
The Monkey House, Berkeley
RSVP here for tickets & address
6:30pm doors, 7-8:30 show
(we know it's a school night!)

The carols acknowledge the grit and darkness in our world, in our own human hearts, and call forth our light. Clear directions to care for the most vulnerable and imperfect members of our communities, choosing to see their divinity no matter the surroundings, their homeland, their history.

In contrast to a culture obsessed with production, these are songs of reverence to the seasons of fallow fields and quiet reflection that make possible a year of growth. To the rich humous of the quiet, the empty, the unknown - the very things depression tugged at me for years to make space for.

They are stories nudging us to take direction from ancestors, stars and secret signs. To know with treat with dignity both grief and uncertainty, and see the pin pricks of light and love emerge as we do so.

My friend Kin will join me for this series, and we'll play old world carols, songs of the solstice, funky Christmas spirituals, and new songs too. And, of course, have you sing along.

Pebbles in the Bucket by Melanie Ida Chopko

 CLICK HERE to download an empty Pebbles log for your own creative project.

I'm making a new watercolor version of this for my Institute of Sound students- (you can download one too, at my link above!) It's one of the tools I created for teaching and quickly realized it was something I had been needing all along for myself. How easily can I think the playing isn't progressing, but my log shows the facts: How I spent my week, where to keep  carving instead of traipsing around. Whether or not I actually spaced out completely (like the week of Oct 9!) My hero Austin Kleon (of Steal Like an Artist) calls them logbooks, like we're on a ship logging its progress over what seems like an undifferentiated sea of process. This summer I started a digital version of this that's shared with one of my teachers, Moorea Dickason - a fantastic way to turn up the heat a bit on following through on my goal of playing 2 hours a day, 5 days a week.