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Sept. 1: Ask Your Fairy Godmum?

MONDAY BYTE — Sept. 1, 2014

                               [Brit actor Jenny Eclair as Cinderella in 2011 production in Richmond, Photo by Peter Schiazza]

Happy Labor Day!

In celebration, here is my favorite labor-related question (for clients and others):

“If a Fairy Godmother showed up, bonked you on the head with her wand, and said, ‘you can now have the life you want,’ what would you say?”

In other words, if money and logistics were no concern, how would you to choose to live and what kind of work would you want?

I love this question because it frees us up to dream instead of being limited by our current circumstances and perceived limitations.

But when invited to do this exercise some folks are reluctant to even think about what they’d really like to be doing. Some find this difficult because their ideal seems so far from what they think possible that they’re afraid to imagine this better life.

But I find the discussion about one’s ideal life helpful. It inevitably leads to discussing what practical steps we can take NOW to improve our current situation, and what we can set in motion to move toward our dream future.

For example, let’s say you tell the Fairy Godmother you’d like to be performing internationally with a contemporary ensemble. And let’s say that you already have a group but you haven’t yet performed much.

Next question would be: based on what you’d like to be doing with your group, what would help you towards this goal?

So, do you need to gain more performance experience first locally? Do you need to gain media attention and press quotes to upgrade your promotional materials?

If so, you can start working on these goals one step at a time. And yes, it’s important to get feedback and advice along the way to make sure your immediate action steps and goals are appropriately aligned with your future goal and your current abilities.

Too many people spend their lives complaining about jobs they hate, instead of doing something about what it is they want. And yes, anything worth doing takes time and effort. If you’re looking for a magic bullet or to get “discovered,” then you are believing in fairy tales.

So I advise people to daydream first and then take action: you learn as you go and though your destination may end up different from your original concept, YOU will be the one navigating the course!

For this week: First, let’s declare this week a complaint free zone, and with that freed up time and psychic space, consider what work you’d like to add, change, or delete from your life.  So, . . . if a Fairy Godmother shows up and bonks you on the head with her wand, saying you could have the life you want, what will you say?

For info on working with me: details are HERE.
Monday Bytes archived posts are HERE.

Engaging Your Audience in Making Meaning

MONDAY BYTES — August 25, 2014

My good friend Florrie reminded me recently that with ”art music” concerts — just like the visual arts —not everyone “gets it.” It’s easy for musicians to lose sight of this, and to think that when it comes to appreciating music there’s no pre-requisite.

But for many, attending an art music concert is something to avoid at all costs.

They’ve had the unpleasant experience of feeling trapped in a concert hall, hearing a gazillion notes go by with no discernible rhyme or reason. And at the end of the performance, in the midst of enthusiastic applause, these folks may feel excluded, thinking that everyone else in the hall “gets it” — and they are somehow lacking.

Being able to make meaning from art it is one of the biggest joys in life. Think back to your own early experiences with visual art, theater, or dance, or other genres of music.  What helped you?

Audiences often benefit clues and tools to help construct meaning from art. John Steinmetz describes this as help with ”aiming your ears.” And David Wallace and Eric Booth describe the value of providing audiences with ”entry points.”

Maybe it’s time we realize it’s part of our job as musicians and teachers — maybe it’s ALL of our job — to help people make meaning.

Questions for the week: What if instead of measuring our success in terms of prestigious concerts played, albums sold, or booking per year, that we measured how well we help audiences make meaning from our art?

I’m interested in hearing the creative ways you’ve found help audiences connect to and make meaning from music! As always, I welcome your thoughts and feedback!

Recommended resources:
Here’s John Steinmetz’s classic essay with terrific tips and provocations: “Resuscitating Art Music.”

And two books for every active performer’s library:
David Wallace’s Reaching Out: A Musician’s Guide to Interactive Performance
Eric Booth’s The Music Teaching Artist’s Bible

Bonus: Eric Booth’s Carnegie Hall short videos on teaching artists.

For info on working with me: details are HERE.
Monday Bytes archived posts are HERE.

Design This!

MONDAY BYTES — August 18, 2014

With some airport layover time a week ago, I had a walk in the Toronto Music Garden. Created in 1999, the Garden is a three-acre public park on Toronto’s Harbourfront, a slice of beauty sandwiched between the busy city commercial cityscape and the boat slips near the airport.

Created in 1999, the music garden is the brainchild of cellist Yo-Yo Ma and landscape artist Julie Moir Messervey.

Inspired by the first Bach cello suite, there are curving paths that move visitors through six garden “movements” that flow from the different emotions and forms evoked.

The project sprang from Ma’s film collaboration series in which each of the six suites is a partnership with an artist from a different discipline.

After production of the film, the city of Boston was approached to create an actual garden based on the first suite: “the Music Garden.” When the Boston site fell through, Toronto Parks and Recreation enthusiastically embraced the project and brought it to fruition. The Garden also hosts a diverse summer music series of free concerts.

One thing I love about this is the connecting of music and architecture to create of positive community space, and that as a garden, the collaboration is live and growing. It’s architecture not as frozen music, but as a liquid, dynamic experience.

Take a short video tour (7:35) of the garden with the designer narrating.

Question for the week: In thinking about the connection between music and architecture, what projects come to mind that you’d like to explore?

As always, I welcome hearing your thoughts and feedback!
For info on working with me: details are HERE.
Monday Bytes archived posts are HERE.