Tag Archives: emotions

Transitorily Yours

February 22, 2017 by
Photography by Amy Lynn Straub

Editor’s note: This is the first installment in a new Encounter column focusing on millennial life by Brent Crampton. To share your significant life experiences, email millennials@omahapublications.com

Today is Jan. 7, 2017, and yesterday I walked out of House of Loom one last time. It was a place that I co-owned, DJed at, and curated events for. The scene I left was only a shell. There were no swirling lights or sounds, no Victorian lounge vibes, and certainly no lively, booze-fueled conversations. Just an echo of the life that filled that place for 5 1/2 years remained (along with the bustle of a construction crew ripping a hole in the wood floor).

Loom was many things to many people, but to me it was a lovely little social experiment that blended cultures, creatives, and communities. Categorically, it was a nightclub and event venue, but to the folks frequenting its experiences, it was a place where patrons and friends could mobilize around causes, express emotions, mourn passings, and celebrate life’s contrasts.

The influx of people was so fluid that you could not distinguish it as a straight or gay bar, but simply as a people’s bar. On its best nights, it brought together folks who normally wouldn’t intersect in our city, and lifted us out of the doldrums of our daily lives.

It is rare for a business to shut down without the force of an unpaid bill. As a friend and fellow small business owner says, it is a gift to be able to close on your own terms. And that is exactly what we did. For myself and the other owners, House of Loom was never meant to be permanent. It was a successful social experiment. And it was time to move on.

I have spent the past 13 years of my life fervently dedicated to contributing to Omaha’s nightlife. With this new year, I embark on a new chapter—one where the loud and flashy peaks of club life are swapped for the quiet joy of watching my 1-year-old baby stand on her own for the first time. Now, spontaneous social gatherings are traded for intimate dinner parties (often planned months in advance). Instead of falling asleep as the sun rises, I wake up  with the sun.

It is a different life—one with its own advantages. My prior life could never hold a candle to this new world. In fact, as I write this, my baby daughter is napping away on my chest after a messy meal of liquified plums, apples, and carrots. She is tuckered out, and so am I.

This brings me to why I am writing this column. During this next chapter of my life, I will be taking some time to hibernate in the creative womb. The invitation to turn to the reflective act of writing seemed like a synchronistic opportunity. Instead of only sharing my notions of creativity and thought from behind a DJ booth, I will gladly be able to do so in this space.

Much like my life right now, I am going to ad-lib my writing. Most likely I will touch on topics ranging from the social impact of nightlife (of course), the curiosities of parenting (because I’m new at this), food (because I get giddy when I eat good food), and inclusiveness and equality (because of our new president), all through the millennial lens of a 30-something, post-nightclub-owning new papa.

Here’s to new beginnings.

Brent Crampton previously co-owned House of Loom and is co-owner of Berry & Rye, a bar in the Old Market. A multi-award-winning DJ in a former life, he now prefers evenings spent at home with his family.

This article was printed in the March/April 2017 edition of Encounter.

Resolution: 
Create Myelin with Music

January 23, 2014 by
Photography by Omaha Conservatory of Music

Martin Fischer, a famous physician, said, “I find four great classes of students: The dumb who stay dumb. The dumb who become wise. The wise who go dumb. The wise who remain wise.”

As each new year begins, it’s always a time of self-examination. We are more willing to ask that difficult question, “Which class of student am I?” We often resolve to start that “new” activity, either for ourselves or with our children. Understanding the learning process and its impact on neural connections can be just the spark we need to really begin that new adventure.

Repetition enforces knowledge

Myelin, a brain connection insulator, directly affects our ability to develop any new skill.

Imagine a cloudburst shape representing a neuron. When you learn something, a dendrite grows out of this cloudburst, creating a new pathway to other neurons. As you repeat a new activity, myelin begins to wrap that connection. Each correct repetition creates another layer of covering. Just like a well-insulated electrical cord, this myelin coating provides better speed and implementation to whatever skill is deeply practiced.

Dr. Shinichi Suzuki, a well-known Japanese violin pedagogue, defined skill with the following equation: Skill = knowledge + 10,000 times. In other words, having skill (doing something well) occurs when you have the knowledge (that’s the learning part!) and then repeat it many times. Once the knowledge is taught, a student can begin the 10,000 repetitions required to achieve high levels of ability and create strong myelin coverings. During the initial spread of Dr. Suzuki’s philosophy, the world was shocked to see a child in diapers playing a very complicated violin piece. How was this possible? Knowledge wrapped with heavy myelin.

It’s a great plan to learn something new and then repeat it enough times to form a skill, but we need the motivation to do it!

Well, here’s some motivation for potential learners (which includes everyone!):

  • Up to the age of 30, naturally occurring waves of oligodendrocytes (or oligos, for short) create myelin.
  • From 30-50, we can still create strong myelin, but we no longer have naturally occurring waves of oligos.
  • After 50, our existing myelin begins to deteriorate, but at least 5 percent of our oligos stay immature and ready for use throughout life. As the old myelin is deteriorating, you can create new myelin, which keeps your brain alive and well.
  • Incidentally, when Einstein’s brain was examined, they found no greater number of neurons or bigger network of dendrites than any other brain. What they did find was massive amounts of myelin. Einstein himself stated, “I know quite certainly that I myself have no special talent. Curiosity, obsession and dogged endurance, combined with self-criticism, have brought me to my ideas.”

Master teachers provide motivation

So how can we take advantage of all those oligos waiting to transform into myelin? As a musician and parent, I would be remiss not to mention the advantages of choosing a music education. Playing an instrument is one of the few skills that requires the correct “answer” (playing the right note) within a specific time frame (in the correct rhythmic structure), while also engaging the amygdala—the brain’s emotional center—as well as integrating the right and left hemispheres.

Developing a new skill always requires dedication, and finding a master teacher is essential to this process. Input from an expert fuels motivation, encourages repetition, and facilitates learning. Being a part of a music studio connects a student to a community of peers, all working to develop expertise on their instruments. A great teacher brings targeted knowledge to each student’s specific needs, as well as innumerable ways of approaching the same concept if it isn’t grasped the first time. Experienced teachers have developed sturdy myelin wrappings on their “how to teach” connections.

Each day is an opportunity to challenge ourselves and our children with something new. It takes courage and energy, but the result will most certainly be a higher quality of life with quicker neural responses and connections. This is our mission, should we choose to accept it. However, this message will self-destruct in 30 seconds, unless repeated through deep-practice to create 
myelin.

The Omaha Conservatory of Music has an outstanding Artist-Faculty who are highly qualified music instructors, as well as active performers in the community, offering private and group instruction in strings, piano, guitar, voice, winds, brass, and percussion. Join our musical community today by calling 402.932.4978 or through our website at www.omahacm.org.