"How do you become a bard?"
That was the first question I was asked by a student after my performance at Cherry Hill High School East on a Tuesday morning.
What a question.
I think my immediate snap answer was "One show at a time," which is true enough but doesn't really honor the depth and elegant beauty of the question.
The performance was a great one: a giant auditorium with a smaller group of kids seated close to me where I tucked in on the floor in front of a big stage set up for the spring musical performance of The Music Man.
The acoustics were incredible and I was able to perform without a microphone in what was probably the largest space I'd ever done so.
A lively discussion followed and I found myself eating lunch, waiting for my second performance of the day (at Cherry Hill High School West) and thinking about that first question: "How do you become a bard?"
The longer answer to that was surely contained in the podcast interview I did two days earlier in New York: the wonderful Leo Sidran and I talked for over an hour for what will eventually be released as an episode of his great podcast The Third Story.
We sat in his Brooklyn studio and discussed a wide variety of topics related to building a music career in the 21st century. His questions were thoughtful and honest and he ended by asking me if I felt I was a "successful musician."
I worked my way through some qualifiers but arrived at the conclusion that, yes, I considered myself a successful musician. Probably the most important and vital part of this success has been my Odyssey and widening embrace of being a bard, something I fought for almost a decade before finally realizing I had created something special that had a unique capacity to both move people and occupy a niche in the music business environment of the 21st century (which - technical business term - 'SUCKS.' Though I'd also like to point out that being a musician all the way back to Homer's time has probably pretty much always sucked in a lot of ways so...).
I arrived at Cherry Hill High School West for my afternoon show and found myself in another big beautiful acoustically sound auditorium. The was a larger audience this time and again the room was completely silent from beginning to end of my unamplified performance.
Another great discussion followed and we came to the last question.
I called on a young lady in the front row and she asked: "What do you think about after you're done with your performance and you go home? Do you think about the audience and how it was for them or more how you felt while singing?"
I told her that I thought about both of those aspects.
I should have added that I think about how lucky I am to be a bard.