The Arts are not Free

The other day found me wandering around Facebook. A group post caught my attention. An organization was interested in showcasing the diverse talents of its community. It wanted to reach out to dancers and musicians in various genres to audition for a chance to perform on stage in front of people that would be interested in their work. The top five acts would be selected for this wonderful opportunity. Because I do not engage in Facebook drama, I posted something on my on wall.
What makes people think that artists want to perform for free? A quality arts education program is not cheap because most of it is done through private lessons. Such people often train from childhood and have a wide variety of fees which are associated with their passion. I wondered if this organization would feel comfortable conducting business without a financial transaction? If musicians perform for free, they can not eat dinner. If an artist paints a picture and gives it away, they are unable to pay for more paint. If a dancer performs without proper compensation, she may not be able to get that massage that her body needs because she has been in the studio for hours everyday working that routine.
The arts are not something that just happen over night. It is tradition and appears in every single culture on earth. They contribute to health, wellness, religion, and spirituality. Whenever the arts are removed from schools, the crime rate increases. It goes against the natural order of life. Is it that severe you ask? Think about starting your day in the Spring and never hearing the birds sing. How would that make you feel? The next time that you watch JAWS, turn off the sound and see if that shark is still as scary. Visit the churches in Europe without paying attention to the artistry.
People fail to understand the value of such beauty. People do not understand the passion that is involved in creativity because perhaps they lack it themselves. Such lack of respect and ignorance contributes to this constant advertisement of: perform for free, do this for a lower price. I see it everywhere. I should seek an organization that fights such things because it is getting on my nerves.

Bridal Consultation: The Love & The Music

It is not my practice to do bridal consultations. My schedule is quite busy between performances and spiritual readings, not to mention workshops, classes, and….I like to sleep daily. However, I made an exception for a returning client, and it has left me reconsidering my own policy because of what transpired. It was simply a proud moment for women.
The future mother-in-law made the appointment for herself and the bride to meet with me. When I opened the door, there were four women present. All of them were invited in to grace the nice soft sofa. There was the mother of the bride, the future mother-in-law, the bride, and the aunt. Each woman was excited about the upcoming nuptials and were obviously enjoying the preparations. They were present to support the young bride as she carefully made her musical selections. The smiles, chatter, and insightful questions all made for a delightful time. It was refreshing to see two families coming together to work as one bloodline.
It was rather fitting for me to see the strong female support as one woman moved forward to embrace the love of her life. What a far cry from the mother daughter issues that we so often hear about. I often here about the celebrity wives that have issues with each other and go so far as to attack in bouts of physical emotion. Instead of getting therapy, they splash themselves all over the screen for high ratings at the demand of money grubbing television networks. There should be more displays of the support and love that truly does exist. These feelings were the bottom line in the middle of a business transaction. So, yes I am here rethinking my own policy….

Professional Harpist
Crystal Sawyer
866.592.5926 X0

The Djembe Drummer

He smiled at me and asked for a business card. This particular Sunday afternoon found me performing at a holistic conference in Fort Lauderdale. He contacted me a few days later only to find me in the middle of a dress fiasco. The dress looked horrible and the sales lady had to comfort me because my face had crumbled to the ground. A large gasp was covered by my hand. She felt my pain and rushed to my side, “Oh sweetie its not supposed to hurt that much…” . The phone rang in the middle of the comfort session, and I heard a male voice on the other end. It was bad timing on my part but perhaps a distraction was needed given the fashion disaster and all. (A late night picture text to a friend brought about the words: BURN IT).
We started talking about this and that. It did not take him long to chime that he wanted to talk to me about performing at his best friend’s wedding for free. Allow the word to settle. Do you feel the length of that pause? That was my reaction as well. He went on to say, completely oblivious to the pause, that he did not know what my financial situation was like but that he did not have a lot of money. (Regardless of my financial situation, it certainly was not about to improve by talking to him!). He did not know anything about the particulars of the friend’s wedding, his best friend’s wedding, but was sure that I could work something out with him because he was a producer….as if I was looking. The next line that he threw at me is now an infamous classic: “These are very spiritual people and if you are able to do this, you will see how things will manifest in your life”……hold that thought.
A few weeks prior to this joke of an individual contacting me, I my proclaimed admiration for one of my mother’s social groups at her church. It gave me such an invigorating feeling to know that these retired ladies would get together once a month in their place of worship just to enjoy the company of each other. I wanted to perform for these wonderful women that were showing me that there is life after retirement. They welcomed me with open arms and were so very appreciative of my efforts. Do you know that I now have a regular client because of this performance? She saw me there and asked for my card. This is called beauty.
Let us now return to the djembe individual. It should be noted that he is actually a Bob Marley looking musician that happens to play Latin drums. Any product or service that is remotely close to the word spiritual comes with a hefty price tag. Have you tried purchasing a crystal? Perhaps you have visited a metaphysical store. Did your mouth drop wide open? Yes, I know. Try getting a cleansing or a reading. You won’t be able to do so without some serious cash. When he said that infamous line to me, these are the things that went through my mind. You are probably wondering why the conversation went as far as it did. Remember, he caught me in the middle of a dress fiasco. In order to avoid future pointless conversations, I texted him prior to my paid performance that I was unable to grace his friend’s (wait…his best friend’s wedding he knew nothing about), event.


It was the height of my grad school semester. Notes, schedules, and exams were all about. When the poet called to inform me that he had, “an awesome gig” for me, I listened. He said that it was a performance with him in Miami. I had no problem with that. When he told me that the pay was, $75.00, and he knew what I charged, the red flag was thrown on the field. Its one thing for me to miss a graduate level class for an actual performance that pays money; however, its entirely another thing for me to miss class for a complete waste of my time. He was soon listening to me decline such a generous offer. He put a great amount of effort into convincing me that this was something that I should do. His persistence made me realize that he had promised these people a harpist prior to talking to me and now, he was in a nice salty pickle. I added the hot dog; with mustard.
Quite some time passed before I heard from him again. It was a surprise to me that he even thought to contact me for round two. He had a talent showcase happening at a local Truth Center and inquired about my prices. He gave the illusion of starting out on the right foot. However, given his past actions, I knew better and told him that the price list would be mailed to him. A second phone conversation informed me that the Truth Center would be able to afford me but would love to have me perform because of my outstanding talent. There would be others performing as well, and my services were simply out of their budget. My voice wanted to say that the pastor would not be giving away his services, why should I be placed in this position? What I heard my voice say, which was a shock to me, “This does not sound like an event where I should perform.”
What people fail to realize is that when I perform, it is not just time out of my day in a formal gown behind an expensive instrument. More often than not, I have nightmares about something happening to me prior to performing. I worry about setting up my schedule properly so that I can have an effective performance and please the client. Bad weather can throw off my driving time or re-route me entirely. The emotional tax is a part of each performance. My body also remembers the performance in that my arms often get tight and require a massage.
No, there is no way that I can perform for free. My car requires gas. It has an insurance bill, and the bank still expects payment for the check that it gave to Honda on my behalf. My music lessons were not gratis. My dresses are not gifts. The instrument costs more than my car which does not include the strings or music. I can not be paid for the emotional involvement.
Poor poet. He is not the first and unfortunately for me, he is not the last. He called the next day while I was shopping with a friend in Aventura Mall. Because time with my sisters is not allowed to be interrupted by anyone, his call was promptly sent to voice mail. He was now inviting me to attend that very same showcase. It is my assumption that if I attended, I would fall in love with the event and offer to perform out of the kindness of my heart. Needless to say, the poet never heard from me again and vice versa.



by Crystal Sawyer (Notes) on Tuesday, October 4, 2011 at 7:59pm

October 3, 2011

I went to Walgreens one day to have some pictures enlarged. The Walgreens guy assisted me. We got to talking, and I told him that I was a musician. This seemed to be of great interest to him. He mentioned that a PR Firm, which also employed him…as what I have no idea…was having a grand opening in Pembroke Pines. He said that within his community there was only the same man that always did all of the special events. I could come and perform for 1.5hrs and then he, the gracious Walgreens Guy, would introduce me and then I could be the one to perform at all of the special events. I smiled and said, “Ok, may I have an email address where I can send a pricelist?” He firmly responded if I understood what he was getting ready to do for me. I firmly responded yes, and if he understood how many times someone has duped me in such a grand offer before. Obviously, I had no intentions of working without proper compensation. He realized this after he called to confirm my performance, and I made it extremely clear that I was not going out of my way to perform for free. Mr. Walgreens Guy had two jobs and thought that I would work for free….what was Mr. Walgreens Guy smoking? I do not really go to Walgreens anymore…but when I do, I see Mr. Walgreens guy and shake my head.


It was two years ago when I realized that I had more to offer than what I was doing. I had always been under the impression that I had a side career as a musician that helped me with everything in life. It was a personality clash with a wedding coordinator that prompted me to make a statement. I did not study music my entire life to simply be the background music for a wedding. There is much more to the life of a musician. I had developed a talent for improvisation while on the job, and decided that it was high time that I did something with it. The result was my debut cd: “THE BEGINNING”. My world was suddenly filled with photo shoots, editing sessions, and composing. I funded the entire thing myself. It was something that made me proud of myself.

It was around this time that I began to see things differently. I realized that there were countless businesses that I supported: food, gas, dance, hair, nails, clothes, mailing supplies…it dawned on me that I used to have a company. Why, I even received a scholarship in college to attend a womens’ business center so that I could learn more about the world of business. Unfortunately, due to the hardships of life, it went by the wayside. Since it wasn’t my main source of income, there wasn’t a major issue because of its vanishing. Now, I realized that I wanted it back. I needed it so that I could refine my mission and go forward. It took a year before it was mine again. It felt great to see my business name once again.

Since then, I have taken business classes, massaged former clients, reached out to new ones, and have managed to acquire an assistant. Her efforts alone have helped me a great deal in attempting to streamline my life. I still maintain two jobs and try to live as much as possible. Such juggling can be quite difficult. Her presence is a present from the creator. She shall be front and center at my recital next month selling my tank tops that as well as my cds. There are plans for a second cd as well as artistic collaborations. Since 2010, I have composed and performed for dancers, poets, and artists. Why, I even wrote music for a theatrical production.

This is not to say that the road has been free of obstacles. There are some months when my phone does not ring for any engagements. Incoming checks do not always arrive on time. Contracts are cancelled due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control. I tire of people asking me to perform for free or for a reduced rate as if I do not have a mortgage that does not afford me such luxuries. Sometimes, I just want to take a nap instead of fighting traffic to be on time for an engagement. The flip side is that I have more of a say in what I am doing because I am in charge. That alone give me a feeling of satisfaction that I do not have during the day.

How long have I had to take directions from someone else or conform to something that no longer serves me? The day that I realized that I was stuck in the Matrix was a sad day. While I was asleep, life was fine. Once I realized that my situation no longer served me, my discomfort became unbearable. I am still making strides towards fixing my predicament; however, the road is hard and slow moving. It is not impossible. In my heart, I know the time will come for that complete break through moment which I desire so very much with all of my being.

It pleases me to be able to have resources at my fingertips that are able to provide me with assistance with just about everything in my life. I have begun to offer some of these resources as workshop presenters for Lady Speaks. A guest astrologer is with us during the month of October, and Raks Chakra is visiting as well. I have seen the need for mothers to understand more about how their children learn and a local educator that is currently finishing her studies as a doctoral candidate has agreed to do a workshop with this subject matter.

I wanted to share these sentiments with all of you this morning because of my realization. Anytime that I have had the courage or even the mere notion that a change was required and my foot had to be stomped on the ground in order to make it happen, I have seen progress and felt joy. Many of you have reached out to me about this insurance company that will not go away. The second mistake that I have made with them is that I have continued to entertain what they need to say after I have voiced that I am no longer interested. Why? I am afraid of being perceived as rude or a person that isn’t nice. Well, where has being nice gotten me in this situation? Let’s go back to my cd. I created that because of a situation that brought me to tears. I was able to take something that made me feel horrible and turn it into a beautiful situation for myself. The feedback that I have received from my music has been that of a standing ovation.

Now that I think about it, this is the day after the Fall Equinox. What better time to reflect upon regeneration, rebirth. Certain names come to mind: Kali, Oya, Demeter, Persephone. The seasons are in transition. The sun will not be as dominant anymore and will begin to give way to shorter evenings and cooler temperatures. The leaves will change colors and fall away from the trees. It is time to look into the other side of ourselves. Darkness does not mean evil. Our shadows are a part of us and do not exist without the light. What strengths lurk there that often go unnoticed?

Maybe you have something that you want to share with people or offer on a grander scale. You owe it to yourself to look into it. We as women spend so much time supporting everything and everyone else with little to no regard for ourselves. There is never going to be a good time for you to invest in yourself. You have to choose to make the time and guard it. There are people that get extremely jealous because they see others doing what they have not done for themselves. My response to that feeling is that you can not be upset for not seeing the results for the work that you choose not to do. Oh, its too hard. Life is hard but you are still living it…or existing, which one? You have only to see this desire in yourself and share it with the universe. Help will appear. You may not even recognize it when it does, but do not let that hinder your efforts. Find your resources and build your support group. TRY! Failure means that you made an attempt.

I was told to do a blog back in 2008, but never gave much thought to it. It took the words of a dear friend that had a heart to heart with me. She said that I only discuss certain things with certain people. Why not share that information with a larger audience with the correct platform? Go out there and find it because you can. Your voice is loud and strong. That was last summer. Now, here I am blogging away, creating circles, and sponsoring workshops. Women contact me with all sorts of situations, and I am more than happy to assist. Why, I even have a budding male following.

When the year started, I was getting ready to return to my day job and take a nap. Be your own inspiration and positive people and things will rally around you. This is not something that I have read. It is something that I am living. I am going to list my upcoming events with this post. They are also listed on the classes page. If any of them speak to you, please feel free to contact me for more information. Walk your truth and be your light.

Intro to Astrology Class $25/$30 Sunday, October 7 4-5pm
Autumn Recital Sunday, October 28 5:30pm
Raks Chakra coming soon…..
Multiple Intelligences (TBA)

Connections Happen

Friday, July 9, 2010 at 10:18pm ยท

There I was again. Alone in a quiet solace. My stage was gone, and my life had encircled me yet again. Darkness set in, and my thoughts beat loudly in my head. The beat pressed for more until a picture painted itself in front of me. My heart longed for you…hold me in your arms and allow the light of your heart to radiate my entire being was said barely above a whisper. As my eyes fell to the floor, my heart fixated on its obsession, its reason for beating. The love erupted from me and I began to strum. Pluck their sadness into the universe until it vanishes. You have the power, you have the art…turn the vision into a reality. Be the dream sweet goddess. Be the dream…heal the world. Spread the light. Connect with the universe.