Dixon Place Tickets on Sale!

I’ll be doing the fully produced, theatrical version of Tentative Armor at Dixon Place here in New York City on March 19th at 7:30 PM. Click here for ticket info! I am really excited to be performing at Dixon Place, it’s a staple in the experimental theater scene and…well, it’s a actual theater. My musicians, my gear and myself can spread out and I can move around and and and and and YAY! The wonderful Adam Fitzgerald is directing and I’ll be joined by my fabulous string trio. 

Improvisation and meditation

A couple of things happened with the beginning of the year.

1. I was invited by a group of my spiritually-minded friends to explore meditation for 90 days. Originally, we were calling it a 90-day meditation challenge, but we changed it to “exploration” to take off the pressure.

2. Digital Entrepreneur Kristin Lajeunesse (Will Travel For Vegan Food) and daily songwriter Jonathan Mann got all up in my head (independently of each other though later I discovered that they are connected and have worked together, it’s a small internet after all….) about the idea of the Fun-A-Day Project, in which participants choose one activity and commit to doing it every day for the month of January.

It wasn’t until January 2nd that I decided how I could participate. Improvising some music everyday!  At first I thought I would meditate before each improvisation, but the music has become, in many ways, the meditation. Well, has become the practice. oh. Maybe it’s both.

These is a particular place to which I can be transported when I am playing music. Often it seems out of my control to connect deeply to the expression of music. It happens or it doesn’t, but something about this practice has me existing more closely to the source of that deep, soul-like connection and I am starting to learn how to turn it on myself. This after only 16-ish improvisations. Kinda cool.

Anyway, it has been fun, sometimes frustrating because I want to get synthy at times, but “piano-y” has been insisting. You can check out the videos below, or on my YouTube page.

 

Studio Fund Update!

The studio fundraising is going great, so I am going to extend the time to this Friday, January 3rd. You can read all of the details here, but I wanted to add here that I have solidified the contents of the Michael Harren Swag Box.

Here’s what you get for $30.00 or more:

1. DVD containing the professionally filmed debut reading of my show, “Tentative Armor” along with the video for “Go.” in a handmade cover. I’ve only shared bits of this, so this will be some cool history as the show moves forward.This was my first solo performance and the premiere of most of this work.

2. Handwritten lyrics to “Go.” on some fancy paper. Numbered, signed and dated in case I am famous one day and they are collectible.

3. Homemade cookies!

Disclaimer: This is some DIY shit! I am putting all together by hand, so don’t expect professional packaging!

The funds will go directly to upgrading my home studio, enabling me to have an even more productive year than last.

Go here for details on how to send the bucks and I’ll get with you about sending your stuff! Thank you!

I need some studio help.

Yesterday as a (halfway) joke I posted on my FaceBook page that I needed some new studio monitors and I wanted someone to buy me some for Christmas. Lo and behold one kind soul sent me $100 towards their purchase (Thanks, Lisa!) and another joined my Inner Tribe at the monthly level (Thanks, Eban!). I decided to go ahead and see if I could raise the money for the speakers this way.

Here’s the plan:

I am sending out an end of year thank you gift to my Inner Tribe Members (you can read about what that is here) which will include some material I haven’t shared with anyone else (and may not ever) as well as a tasty treat or two. If you subscribe as a Inner Tribe member by Monday or donate at least $30 using the button on my support page, I will send you the gift as well. If you donate $120 or more, I’ll also give you a year Inner Tribe membership along with the end of year gift.

yamaha-hs5-studio-monitor-pair-36027709-0-1386670913000

The desired new monitors. Ain’t they pretty?

The sad tale of my monitors:

It’s really not that sad, as they have lasted me a long, long time. I have had these guys since 2003, when I bought them used. They have travelled with me from Texas to Koinonia in Georgia, to the dirty Jerz and finally to Brooklyn where we reside together now. Over the past couple of years they have begun to make more and more noise (static, crackle and hum) and they are now at the point where they are entirely unusable for mixing my music.

Why do need them?

I am beginning work on my next single, “Invocation,” which I plan to mix almost entirely myself. Being able to listen to my work clearly and accurately is vital for a good mix, which I can then share with you, gentle listeners. I have rearranged my apartment so that it is now rehearsal friendly, having these monitors will make it much less expensive to have rehearsals with my string players for my next show in the Spring. Not to mention my podcast and the free work I do for fellow independent media producers like Big Fat Vegan Radio, and [a really cool one that I can’t share yet], and vital PSAs like this.

In conclusion:

I need about $350.00 more to buy these awesome Yamaha HS5 Studio Monitors. I will send you cool stuff if you help. All the buttons and links you need to send money can be found on my support page. Thanks!

21 Days of Minimalism: Day 3

Packing Party (lite)

I really felt like I was cheating by not packing everything up, but I did thoroughly clear out some junk.

I started in the bathroom. My apartment is small so I don’t have room for a dresser. All of my clothes that aren’t hung up, I keep in this linen cabinet. Here’s what it looked like before I got rid of some stuff:

Cabinet Before

and after:

Cabinet After

This is a bit deceiving, however, because I just dropped off a bunch of clothes at the laundry. Here’s the closetCloset Before before:

…and after:

Closet After I’ll see how all of this feels after I add back the clothes that are at the laundry. I have a huge black garbage bag with clothes to donate tomorrow.

I also tackled this junk drawer:

Drawer Before

now it looks like this:

Drawer After

As a point of reference, here’s a photo of everything I owned when I left Houston just over 7 years ago. How quickly stuff accumulates!

stuff

It feels like I put a big dent in things today, as well as another big batch of paper scanning. More sheet music OUT THE DOOR! More tomorrow!

21 Days of Minimalism: Day 2

Planning

cords

I’ll admit I waited until this morning to do yesterday’s task: writing on a calendar each of the days of the journey. I’ll be out of town on October 17 and 18 so I took those days off from the challenge. There are quite a few days of “unpacking” scheduled, and since I’ve decided not to  physically pack things up. I will use each of those days (I think) to focus on one of several areas in my apartment I feel there is “stuff build up.” My closet, my medicine cabinet, the cabinets under my kitchen sink, and the “junk drawer” in my kitchen.

I feel a little like a cheater since I am not doing an actual packing day today, but given my small space and the fact that I have so little stuff, I think it makes more sense to approach it this way. I plan to be extremely aggressive in choosing what I get rid of.

A couple of weeks ago, I listed a bunch of CDs and DVDs on Amazon, and they have been slowly selling. I may choose to just give some of these away, since I am not making much money off of the sales and it seems a very slow way to get rid of this stuff. I have a couple of collectible box sets that I may hang on to, but…well… We’ll see.

In paperless world, I spent another 45 minutes or so scanning yesterday. I’m feeling overwhelmed by how much music I still have left to scan, but I am encouraged with how nice it looks in my Dropbox folder. I am really excited to be rid of all these binders and stacks of music. I am debating whether to store all of this music in Evernote as well as Dropbox, but I think my naming system for the music is pretty clear, I can’t imagine needing to take advantage of Evernote’s search functions.

So today is “Packing Day.” I will use it to set up a concrete plan for how I’ll handle each of the upcoming “Unpacking” days and to make a big dent in the clothes I no longer wear.

 

21 Days of Minimalism: Day 1

How To Make A Damn Decision

Knob

I gave a good amount of thought to my “musts” today. Here’s the new list:

  • I must spend money wisely
  • I must pray and meditate each day
  • I must exercise at least three times a week
  • I must eat healthy foods at every meal
  • I must be creative every day
  • I must be of service to others every day
  • I must grow as a person every day
  • I must be grateful every day
  • I must live in the moment

I noticed that some of my musts in the original list read like negative affirmations, so  things like “I must improve my diet” became “I must eat healthy foods.” I kept that spirit in mind with the others. I already have a practice of writing a gratitude list every morning, but this makes me want to think more carefully about the list each day, and do it more mindfully.

There are a couple of the future tasks like getting rid of my TV that I am already balking at. Some of those tasks may get shifted into something I find more manageable. I already know that I am going to do my own take on packing day. I don’t have a space to stack boxes, nor do I have boxes. I am thinking that day will be a massive clean out of my closet and the cabinet where I keep clothes and linens. There’s a bunch in there that can go.

Finally, I spent about 45 minutes scanning music into the computer as well as some handwritten notes I took while working on “Five Tasks Of Grief.”

This feels good.