Holy moly, I did it! / by Melanie Ida Chopko


I have so many thoughts about my experience recording for the first time. Yesterday went so incredibly well, and I'm beyond proud of the road of arriving there. 

My focus of the past two months preparing for this day few months reminded me alot of getting for my first belt test in Aikido. I remember being shocked when the Sensei, the instructor, said - "You're ready to test. So we'll schedule it for three months from now." After spending much of my life improvising things and getting along just fine, it was a completely new idea to prepare enough so that something was internalized in my body. It also turns on it's head my understanding of what and how long preparation is. Was it really just the last two months when I committed to playing my songs 75 more times, coloring in boxes on my practice log? Or did it actually start when I made a set of demos, or even 2 years ago when I decided I wanted to record my songs at all? Or actually, the seed was inside the first time I sat in front of any one of my teachers, Steve Baughman, Rachel Efron or Diana Gameros, my ability to play incomplete, but with a clear hunger to grow the technical skill I needed to express what was inside of me.

I feel overwhelmed with grace that I somehow, through all of those times, I kept coming back. With the support of people around me, I turned down the volume on my "goodness, let's hurry this up" monkey brain, and kept preparing. I kept played over and over, carved over and over with curiosity, and commitment. "Melanie," Steve would say, "Play the passage everyday like the monk washing the rice bowl, with attention and reverence." This is so incredibly outside of my nature, to stay as something unfolds, but I was willing to do it. And, yesterday, sitting in front of the Steinway piano, I understood this idea of reverence. All along it was reverence for my material, for the room I was sitting in, for the people I hired to play with me and record me.

When I first visited the studio, JJ the owner said, "This Steinway is the result of hundreds of years of evolution and learning." And I love that - the beauty and power of instrument's tone lies not just in the piano, but in the hundreds of minds and hands that lovingly created it. 

Just like my road.