Feel creatively blocked? Career counselor and consultant JoAnn Braheny (pronounced bra-HAY-nee) to the rescue. Based in Los Angeles, JoAnn is practically the guru of developing and maintaining artistic creativity. Her husband, John Braheny wrote what is considered the songwriter’s bible, The Craft and Business of Songwriting, now in its third edition, and between them the pair teach both the nuts and bolts and the more ethereal sides of songwriting through her workshop and Web site, Goosing Your Muse.
Since we are at the beginning of a new year and many artists have made New Year’s resolutions that involve their music, I thought it would be a good time to check in with JoAnn for some creative advice on staying inspired throughout 2010.
- JoAnn Braheny, the artists’ best friend
CD: Can you explain what you mean by “Goosing Your Muse”?
JAB: I actually searched Google for “What is a muse?” and here’s the response: Many artists, writers, poets and musicians have said that their creative work has been inspired by an individual whom they refer to as their muse. A muse is someone who has such an influence on another that he or she becomes the focus and inspiration for that person’s creative work. The term has historically been used by men to describe the women that they have been in love with and made the subject of their work.
Basically, the idea of goosing your muse is to stimulate people’s creative process, to provide some way of helping them think “out of the box,” be even more creative and to discover ways in their own experiences/adventures that delight themselves and others.
CD: How did you start helping artists to goose their muses?
JAB: This question has three answers. First of all, my older brother is now an opera singer. But when we were kids, our parents worked. When he had to babysit me, he dragged me around our hometown, Chattanooga, Tennessee, to his interminably long voice lessons, auditions, rehearsals and performances. I got to see, first hand, just what it really takes to work full-time in the music business. I also got to play backstage with makeup and costumes and props, but I was perfectly happy not being in the spotlight. (He, however, won voice scholarships to both Julliard in New York City and Curtis Institute in Philadelphia. He still sings bass-baritone, lives in Germany and performs all over Europe, Russia, Israel, USA, etc.) I learned from him and his colleagues how valuable a support person is for artists. I liken artists to champion race-horses or Olympic runners. It’s not just about having a good idea, or talent; it’s about being productive life-long.
The second beginning was when I worked, several years ago, in a music publishing company at a small indie label (now defunct), called GRC Records, in Atlanta. Songwriters/performers would stop by my office where I was learning about copyrights and licensing songs for international markets and they would play me a demo or two. They seemed to want someone to bounce song ideas off of. As I am not a songwriter or singer/musician, but a major fan of all kinds of music, I was glad to take the time to listen. (They knew I had “ears” because I’d already been Atlanta’s first full-time female DJ at a popular rock station.) Those songwriters let me into their world of trial-and-error and allowed me to voice my opinions because they knew I was objective and not brutal.
The third beginning of how I got my own muse goosed was when I worked in Talent Development at Walt Disney Imagineering (Glendale, California) with graphic artists, painters, designers, animators, architects, etc., and helped to develop workshops for them such as, “Managing My Inner Critic,” “Interdisciplinary Dynamics,” “Collaboration Skills” and so forth. What I realized at Disney is that it doesn’t matter if you’re a songwriter, musician, singer, painter, sculptor. At any level of expertise in any artistic endeavor, you will still find yourself working through a lot of the same mazes of trial and error and to make a product that others will want to own.
Continue reading ‘Fine Tunings: JoAnn Braheny, Muse Gooser’