You Have to Keep Writing

I was lamenting the other day about how little book reading I’ve done in the past ten years. Most of the books I’ve read since I moved to Houston were borrowed from the library. For each book I own and physically keep here at home, I have also read dozens of books that I no longer have access to.

In response to my moanings, Pearl said, “That’s because you do most of your reading on the internet now.”

She’s right, of course. I do read a lot of articles online now. If you look at the time I spend reading online, and compare it to the time that used to be invested into reading books, it’s probably about the same.

Not sure why I mentioned that. It has nothing to do with what I’m writing about. He he he…

Eddie Lewis Writing Music photo by Pin Lim at Forest Photography

I read an article online recently called Six Rules for Composers. Rule number seven (because #3 was scratched out) said “you have to keep writing.” Reading that reminded me of the only period in my life that I ever stopped composing.

I was so angry and disappointed when I contacted BMI to ask why my compositions were never getting sampled, that I ended up taking about a three year hiatus from serious composition. By that time I had been composing for about thirty years with literally hundreds of original works to my name. My music was (and still is) being performed all over the world, but for various reasons, none of those performances count towards getting sampled by BMI.
That means that there is no monetary reward for my writing outside of the sheet music sales we make at our store (http://www.tigermusicstore.com).

It was Ben Pokluda who jolted me out of that hiatus. Ben hired me to write music for Jazz Forever and it rekindled my love for composing. I wrote over 120 arrangements for the band in just short of two years.

As a result, the creative juices are flowing again. I am currently working on a saxophone quartet that I’m calling “True”. The first two movements are completed and the last movement should be done soon.

I’m writing the quartet for my friend, Woody Witt. The composition is the first piece I’m writing using the new and improved chord generator. For those of you who have been following that part of my career, you will know what the Spider Chords were. Well, the last time I composed a Spider Chord work, I had an epiphany about how to change the software so that it produces the results I was originally looking for.

The software is finished (I had to learn to program in JAVA, but that’s another story for a different blog post). I can no longer call them Spider Chords because the change I made to the software removes the visual that the name was based on. So I have decided to rename it to “Love Notes Chords”.

So yes, this is exciting for me. The first Love Notes composition is nearing completion! And yes, it’s everything I ever hoped it would be.

Ha! There’s a moral to that story. I will have to write another post, later, and title it “The Iron Eagle.” I will share the moral of the Spider Chords – Love Notes Chords story then.

Till then, it’s time to get back to work again. Lot’s to do.

Have a great week everyone!!!

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Current Happenings

This has been the busiest July and August I’ve had in over a decade and I haven’t had much time to write. But here is a quick update to get everyone caught up on what we’ve been working on lately.

Photo by Pin Lim - Forest Photography

Photo by Pin Lim – Forest Photography

Taylor High School Master Classes

I was hired to do two weeks of master classes at Taylor High School, in the Katy area. The students have been wonderful and I think they are enjoying our time together.

My emphasis, and it is almost always my emphasis when I teach in any context, is on teaching them how to practice. This is even more important in the context of these summer master classes because of the damage I’ve seen done to some of my students at similar events.

A lot of trumpet teachers like to use this time to cram all of the All-State music into two weeks. For students who are serious about competing for the All-Region and All-State bands, those two weeks can be disastrous. Anyone who knows anything about proper practice knows that you cannot get All-State level results from two weeks of cramming.

So I approach this differently from other master class teachers. Like I said, my emphasis is on teaching the students proper practice techniques. I have already told them that we are not going to cover all of the music in the time we have together. They need to take what I have taught them and apply it to the music in their own practice time.

Which, really, when you think about it, is how it should be anyway.

Wouldn’t you agree?

Highway 20

New Trumpet Book – The Calling

Pearl and I are also working on a new book release. I have compiled most of my unaccompanied trumpet works into a single book (over seventy pages long). At this point I am spending my spare time editing the music and trying to wrap up the text.

I’m very excited about this book. It is sort of my version of Fisher Tull’s Eight Profiles. I’ve been wanting to put this together for years now and recently decided to jump in there and get it done.

I am considering writing one more composition the finish the book off. And if I do decide to go in that direction, it will take a couple more months before it’s ready to go to the printers. But aside from that, we really are in the final stages of the content creation phase of the book. Of course, there’s a LOT more effort that goes into it after the content is finished.

Programming Again – Spider Chords Becomes Love Notes Chords

Over the past couple months, I’ve been teaching myself how to program in JAVA.

Why would I be learning yet another programming language????

It’s kind of a long story, too long for this quick update, but I will share it in the not too distant future.

For now, just know that I am working in Netbeans and the functional aspects of my new Love Notes program are completed. I’m actually ready to begin writing compositions with the chords it is already generating for me.

This is such a big deal to me. Ha! I don’t want to tell you the full story yet. It’s kind of hard to not spill all of the beans. Let’s just say that something I thought I had failed at fifteen years ago is actually working now because of a few modifications I made to this new version of the software.

I wrote the original chord generator in the mid 90’s. Yes, for those who didn’t know it already, I have been an amateur programmer (aka “hack”) since I bought my very first PC. I’ve learned about half a dozen different languages and actually thought I was going to quit all of that – due to time constraints. But I’m back in the saddle again, chunking out code…and to be perfectly honest, I think I like JAVA more than all the other languages I’ve ever learned. So maybe I’ll keep coding for a while after all.

The original software was called Spider Chords. I never distributed it, so you won’t know it as a piece of software. But if you have been playing my compositions, or use my duet book, you may have seen the word “Spider” pop up hear and there. Those were compositions based on the results of the software.

Yes, I know that sounds cold. But believe me, it’s anything but.

But like I said, I will have more info for you about all of that in a later blog post.

Quasi EP

Ok, so I’m a little embarrassed even mentioning this new recording project because there are two other recording projects that, on the surface, seem like I have forgotten about. But it’s not how it appears. I’ve been working on the “Quasi” recording since I first bought my home recording equipment. I lost track of how long it’s been, but I’m thinking at least four or five years???

This recording is a collection of some of my trumpet works. There are unaccompanied trumpet solos (like the ones that are included in the new book, “The Calling”), some duets, and a hand full of trumpet ensembles.

Probably the most important piece in the collection is an ensemble I finished composing about six months ago that I call Trumpets of Jubilee, scored for twelve trumpets. I had been working on that piece for about seven years and I’m very excited about the way it sounds.

I’m calling the recording Quasi because of a comment someone made about my music, back in the early 90’s. He said he liked it, and he liked the way I played, but he said, “It’s not classical music. It’s quasi classical.”

He he he….

Little did he know that I took that as a great compliment! I like that what I do is classical enough to be in the genre, but different enough that someone like him needed to add a prefix. 🙂

Anyway, like I said, this recording project has been in the works for years and the fact that I’m beginning to wrap it up now does not mean that I have forgotten or changed my mind about the other two CDs, Rivers of Life and Faces of Praise. Those two CDs, God willing, are going to come to fruition just like Quasi is. It’s just taking me a little longer to get it done than I had expected.

So, that’s all I can think of right now. There is more going on, but I will update this post with that info as I remember.

Because The Calling and Quasi are still in the working stages, please feel free to share your thoughts and ideas with me.

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A Marriage Perfect In Christ

Pearl and I taking a selfie before the race starts.

Pearl and I taking a selfie before the race starts.

While I’m on the subject of marriage…

Anyone who knows me well knows that I love to take long distance walks (four miles or more at a time). This is something I’ve enjoyed since I was a kid…might be a boy scout thing. One of the reasons I love these long walks is because it gives me just the right combination of time and stimulation (seeing stuff along the trail, etc.) to delve deeply into my thoughts. It is a time when I can pray and spend time listening to what God has to tell me.

Being the kind of guy who will jump at any opportunity to take a long walk, I did so back in December when it was time to pick up our car from the body shop (we had been in a wreck about a week before Christmas). On that walk, I was praying about my role as a husband and praying for our marriage. I was acknowledging to God that our marriage is not perfect.

That’s when the Holy Spirit said to me…

“Your marriage is perfect in Christ.”

Wow!

What a liberating message!

Ha! Can you guess why I was praying about my imperfections as a husband? I made a stupid mistake (wrecking the car) that cost us money, money that should have been invested into other areas of our lives…other financial needs that we face in our marriage.

I was feeling like a failure that day as I walked to the body shop with our check book in my pocket.

The Grass Is NOT Greener

It is not Christian to look at our marriage and say to yourself “I wish my marriage was like theirs.” That was not the point of my post yesterday.

To be totally honest with you, my readers, I don’t post the positive marriage stuff nearly as often as I would like, simply because I know there are people out there who would read into my writing something entirely opposite of my actual message. It has happened before.

When I first married Pearl, I wrote a long blog about how God had blessed me, in spite of being marred and scarred and defiled by my divorce. I wrote about how I felt that God had blessed me in great abundance because I stayed true to Him and I stayed true to my ex throughout the entire process…not only during that marriage but also during the divorce that followed. And yes, I believe God blessed me greatly because I stayed the course.

But when I published that blog post, a friend of mine read it and told me that part of the reason he was leaving his wife was because of how blessed I was after my divorce. That broke my heart. You cannot imagine how much it hurt me to know that me celebrating my new marriage and God’s blessings was being used by satan to ruin other people’s lives.

So no, I don’t just blabber my mouth off all the time about how good things are with Pearl. I consider that to be irresponsible behavior.

The truth is that the grass is never greener on the other side. I like how Pastor Don Nordan says it, “The grass is only greener on the other side because it’s growing over a septic tank.”

So when I publish posts like yesterday’s anniversary message, it’s important that my readers know that the path to a more Christ centered marriage is not through sin. And coveting another person’s life (or marriage) is a sin (Exodus 20:17).

Only Perfect In Christ

The truth is that our marriage is perfect ONLY in Christ. Take our Lord and Savior out of the picture, and what’s left is nothing special.

It would be a lie to give the impression that our marriage has no problems. I won’t write about those problems BECAUSE THEY ARE NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!!! He he he…. But that doesn’t mean there are no problems at all.

I hope that makes sense.

If you are having problems in your marriage and you are beginning to feel like you married the wrong person, then think again. That’s not Christian! NEVER use our marriage as an excuse to turn your back on your spouse. I mean it! Nothing would hurt me more to find out that someone had taken what is so good and perfect, coming from God, and using it as an excuse to bring misery into the lives of their own families.

Okay, I have now just spent too much of our anniversary day writing this blog, but I felt the Holy Spirit prompting me to write these words…and to do it now. And I know that Pearl respects this.

We are off to celebrate now.

Have a wonderful day everyone.

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Eight Years of Marital Bliss

Galveston Road Trip 046

One of the biggest miracles I ever experienced in my life occurred eight years ago when Pearl came to the United States and we got married. It is our anniversary tomorrow and I want to spend a little time writing about our marriage.

A Very Important Day To Us

You see, our anniversary is a very important day to us. We actually started celebrating on Monday but our anniversary date isn’t until Thursday.

Why the big hoopla?

Because Pearl and I have old fashioned, traditional values when it comes to marriage. Our marriage is our life. The only thing more important to us is our faith in Jesus Christ…and even that is something that we live out together.

We work together. We eat together. We play together. We do almost everything together.

In fact, most people find this surprising, but we actually go to bed together and wake up in the morning together. There is no Eddie Lewis without Pearl…no such thing. We might as well be connected at the hips. The only time we are apart is when I have a gig (musicians’ wives know that going to gigs with their hubbies soon becomes a major drag).

This is not a very popular way to live today, and I think that’s part of the reason why we celebrate our anniversary so much.

Vive la Difference!

I like being different. I like that what we have is different. It’s not only that we are together almost all the time. It’s more than that. We spend our days together striving to live according to our beliefs and principals. Our anniversary dinner date is a good example of what I’m talking about.

On American standards, Pearl and I do not eat out much. She cooks most of our meals and we don’t need to go out as often as most other people we know. So we limit our restaurant meals to certain special occasions.

But even that sounds different from what it really is. I’m not saying that, on special occasions we go out to enjoy a good meal. Not at all. I’m saying that, on special occasions I take Pearl out to eat so she doesn’t have to cook on that day. What Pearl makes for us at home is, in my opinion, far, far better than what we eat in restaurants.

But yes, on special celebration days, I like to treat her to something nice that she doesn’t have to cook.

Anyway, getting to the point…

This year I wanted to take Pearl to Monument Inn, but it’s a bit more expensive there than what we usually get. You see, that’s part of our story. We work together at living frugal lives. This is one of those principled things I was writing about earlier. We believe in being good stewards of what God has blessed us with. So even when we do eat out, we try to use coupons or eat at less expensive restaurants.

That means, in order to take Pearl to Monument Inn, we decided to not eat out at all for the three months leading up to our anniversary.

Monthly Lunch Dates

Pearl and I typically eat out for one lunch date per month, on the same date as our wedding anniversary. It’s a tradition we started a year before she moved here from South Africa.

For the past three months, Pearl and I chose to do OTHER things to celebrate “Our Day”. The picture of Pearl above was taken on “Our Day” a month ago when we went on a drive to the beach. We did something of a Galveston Beach nature tour. He he he… In fact, that was a nice break from just sitting at a restaurant.

The good news is that we can go to Monument Inn tomorrow and enjoy a nice meal and do it without feeling like we are spending too much money. We won’t have to pick cheap items off the menu or skip the desserts.

I Love This Part of Who We are

I am in no way suggesting that our marriage is finished growing. We haven’t reached marital nirvana or anything like that. But this is something that I really love about who we are as husband and wife. We strive to live according to our beliefs. Even though we haven’t perfected our married lives yet, with God’s grace, we are moving in the right direction.

A Head Start With Festivities

One of the things we don’t do at home is deep fried food. That’s one of the reasons we are going to Monument Inn tomorrow. Almost everything else we eat at any restaurant is something Pearl can make us at home.

Whenever we do go out, Pearl will ask me what I like about the meal. It’s not long after when she is making the same dish for me at home. Check this out:

Pearl's goodness 004

This is a picture of Pearl using fresh herbs from our garden to make her version of Olive Garden’s potato soup (Zuppa Toscana). Like I said, celebrations began on Monday and we won’t be slowing down until my first student on Saturday morning.

Pearl's goodness 007 Pearl's goodness 018

Another goodie Pearl made for me this week is shortbread cookies. I have loved shortbread cookies since I got to make them for the entire school in jr. high school. However, Walkers cookies are very expensive. So once again, Pearl did some homework and every once in a while makes a batch of cookies that taste even better than Walkers! One batch is like $30 worth of cookies if they had been bought in the stores.

Can’t Do It Without Pearl

Pearl and I believe in what we call “Traditional Marriage”. I unashamedly stand before you as the head of our home. This is something we talked about for two years before we married. We both have desired this kind of marriage all of our lives and now we are living it out.

And I know from experience (this is where I clear my throat and look around the room for knowing glances), that traditional marriages are impossible if only one side desires to live this way. We wouldn’t have a traditional marriage if Pearl wasn’t an active player on our team. I hope that makes sense.

My yearly anniversary message is always about celebrating Pearl, and I’m sure that this blog post probably seems to be talking more about me than about her. But that’s the point I am trying to make. We’ve been living this close for eight years now. The line between Pearl and I is becoming increasingly more vague. There is no more Eddie Lewis. There is no more Pearl Lewis (Berndt). We are one! Not just in theory. Not just in sentiment. But in a very real and practical way. We are one.

This year I am celebrating HER by celebrating US and the life we have lived together. She has given me the kind of marriage we both think is good and right. And it’s working for us.

Thank you Pearl for eight delightful years. I’m looking forward to the rest of our lives together.

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Benefits of Crafts

Pottery as a craftHere’s another blog post from Pearl.

http://www.drpearllewis.com/benefits-of-crafts-for-children-and-adults/

As I said in a post a couple weeks ago, I am changing the direction of this blog. I want it to function as a central hub for all of our online activities. Now that Pearl is blogging again, it only makes sense to include her in that as well.

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Make-A-Face Greeting Cards

Rainy Day Crafts "Make a Face" DIY Card KitPearl has a new product out at her Etsy store. It’s called Make-A-Face Greeting Cards. These are fun craft kits for children. Read more about it at her blog at DrPearlLewis.com.

Like it?

Go straight to her Etsy shop, ZisubuArtique, to buy a few kits for your children or students. I’m sure they will enjoy “making faces” and sharing them with family.

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Pearl’s Official Book Launch – Healing Patterns

Healing PatternsThis is just a heads up to let everyone know that Pearl’s book is now officially launched. You can read more about it at her website:

http://www.drpearllewis.com/new-book-launched/

Also, here is the first promotional video for the book (background music by yours truly):

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