2018 Recap + How I'm Approaching 2019 Differently

Welcome to 2019!

Welcome to 2019, happy to be here!

Before I get into planning the new year, it’s really important to look back on the year we’re finishing, and acknowledge all that was learned and accomplished (even if you feel like you didn’t do that much, I bet that it’s a lot more than you thought!) I’m posting my highlights, not as a brag or an encouragement for comparison, but to set an example that we all deserve to recognize our accomplishments and be proud of ourselves!

2018 was a really big year for me, crazy and challenging, but overall a good one. Here’s some of what I did:

WORK

PERSONAL / TRAVEL

  • Celebrated my 35th birthday + Tom’s graduation (after 4.5 years in school) on the same day!

  • Denver to celebrate a friend’s 40th birthday

  • New York City to see the installation at MoMA PS1 that Tom helped with

  • Cabin weekend in Northern Minnesota

  • New Orleans to attend Being Boss NOLA

  • Door County, Wisconsin for a wedding during the peak of fall color

  • San Francisco Bay Area for a gig and to visit family

  • Celebrated my 12th anniversary w/Tom!

  • Purged a lot of stuff from the apartment, which was years overdue and felt amazing!

LOW MOMENTS

(I share these in the name of keeping it real - it’s definitely not all highlights around here)

  • Being on my own for almost the entire Kickstarter - Tom was gone in NYC, working on the aforementioned MoMA PS1 installation

  • Sick with the worst cold I’ve had in years while recording my album

  • Felt burnout / “post-partum depression” after album release, which coincided with the sudden onset of winter and seasonal affective disorder

  • Tons of moments of “can I do this?”, “how am I going to do this?”, and other self-doubting thoughts (they’re not very Instagrammable, but we all have them!)

FIRSTS

  • First time feeling positive about winter, by getting outside for a walk most days (it made me happier than going to the gym)

  • Started writing my first piano trio

  • First in-person breathwork experience - I participated in a circle at Constellation Acupuncture with Amy Kuretsky on New Year’s Day

  • First craniosacral therapy (I’ve never been more relaxed - my friend Sara is made of magic!)

  • First time being a podcast guest (on the Essential Omnivore podcast, hosted by my awesome nutritionist Lucia Hawley)

  • First time getting cupping

  • Finally got comfortable with talking at performances

  • First sheet music sale

  • First time dying my hair - purple highlights!

  • First Kickstarter

  • First radio interview (on Jazz88, to talk about my album)

  • First album

  • First Facebook Live video that was entirely spoken (on holiday self-care)

CONNECT (My 2018 word of the year)

I really embraced this word of the year by collaborating with and meeting lots of other cool musicians and artists, some of whom even became good friends! I also attended some great events such as the Minnesota Music Coalition Summit, New Music Gathering, Giant Steps, and Dissonance’s Unhappy Holidays.

Looking back on this list, it’s really clear to me that I did too much in 2018 - I don’t regret having done any of this stuff, but I worked too hard! I am feeling pulled toward being more present/intuition-focused, and away from tying my worth to achievement (oof, that's going to be a process.)⠀

So what’s in store for 2019?

I’m approaching this year very differently than past years.

After all that I did last year, I have a strong desire to simplify, in terms of things I’m doing, and in the material and digital realms. In the past, I have often treated new year planning and goal setting like arriving hangry at a delicious buffet - I always overdo it!

I don’t normally plan for a whole year at once, but this year I am being very choosy, so only things that truly feel good and right will make my list. (And permission to change our minds whenever we want is implied!)

In support of these goals, I also joined Mara Glatzel’s yearlong circle called Cycle, “conscious planning for women who want to get shit done without sacrificing their self-care” - rest is not optional! The first retreat was last weekend, and I’m already really excited about being part of this community. (This is not an ad, I just really love Mara’s work and have found it so helpful.)

So, appropriately...

This year my word of the year is JOY.

  • Joy as a goal instead of a byproduct.

  • Doing things that feel good just for the sake of feeling good (something that I often ignore in favor of getting the next thing done, and the next, and the next…)

  • Making music that brings me joy, which I can then spread to others

  • Helping others find their own joy

Feeling good is not frivolous - it helps us show up for the important people in our lives, and do work that impacts others positively.

I do have a short list of things I’m excited about doing this year:

TASKS

HABITS (small changes work!)

  • Re-starting a daily practice and/or composing habit that feels good

  • Reducing my mental input (consuming too much information on the internet is like the mental equivalent of eating too much) by utilizing the Screen Time feature on my phone, and not picking it up immediately in the morning

  • Setting aside time in the morning for journaling and meditation - I know that I need more space in my life for thinking and processing

But, I also plan to check in with myself regularly to make sure that my goals still feel aligned with what I want and need - no “shoulds” allowed, unless they’re practical things in service of goals I’m excited about.

If all of this new year talk doesn’t resonate with you, that’s okay, you do you. I fully believe that the new year can be a fresh start, but shouldn’t elicit pressure or frustration. If you’re feeling a fresh start next week, or on a random Thursday in March, go for it - I’m wishing you an inspiring start to 2019!

If you chose a word of the year, share it in the comments, or share something you’re excited about doing in 2019!

End-of-Summer Update + Navigating Transition

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Hey everyone! I know, long time no blog (except for sheet music releases and Kickstarter stuff) - all summer, in fact!

If you’ve missed the style of writing from my usual blog posts, you can still hear from me every week in my newsletter that’s chock-full of supportive real talk about staying well while doing creative work. Sign up at the bottom of the page!

Now that we’re past the ceremonial beginning of fall, I thought I’d pop in to let you know what I’ve been up to.

If you follow me on social media, I know you couldn’t have missed the Kickstarter for my upcoming album Florescer.

(Spoiler: we did it! The project was funded, which I am SO grateful for - thanks very much to everyone who contributed!) I also did a really fun online concert to celebrate the last hour, which you can watch here:

If you did miss the Kickstarter, don’t worry, because the official album release date is coming up soon on October 24, and you’ll be able to buy and stream it through all of the usual places - stay tuned for more details on that.

And, if you’re in Minneapolis/St. Paul, you’re invited to my album release show on October 18, featuring all of the guest musicians on the album (Tim O’Keefe, percussion, Jenny Klukken, marimba, and Laura Harada, violin). I’m also planning on live-streaming it. More details here.

If you want to stay in the loop on the album and upcoming gigs, be sure to hop on my gig mailing list here!

So, what else did I do all summer?

A lot, it turns out! No wonder this summer seemed to go faster than ever. Workwise, I:

(NON-WORK) FUN STUFF

  • traveled to Denver to celebrate a good friend’s 40th birthday

  • traveled to New York to see Dream the Combine’s installation at MoMA PS1, which Tom spent most of June helping install, saw some college friends, and got to have a lesson with my teacher Vitor Gonçalves.

  • visited Tom’s family cabin in Hackensack, MN

  • drove to Iowa for a friend’s wedding

  • spent as much time with family and friends as possible

  • saw some great music: Ivan Lins, Bobby McFerrin, Matra, Hamilton de Holanda + Roberta Sá, and the Twin Cities Jazz Composers Workshop premiere concert

September is always a pretty crazy month, with the beginning of the school year, but this year promises to be even more so, as I wrap up Kickstarter rewards and prepare for my album release. I’m also going to New Orleans to attend the Being Boss Vacation at the end of the month, which is coming up fast! I’m really excited to connect with more fellow creative entrepreneurs, and keep living out my word of the year (CONNECT!)

NAVIGATING TRANSITION

All in all, it feels like a really big transition time right now:

  • I’m adjusting to a new school year, in a new teaching space

  • The seasons are changing (yet teasing us with warm weather, right when I was ready to be cool and cozy)

  • Tom is a few weeks into a new job

  • Etc.

I’m reminding myself:

  • That transitions of various sizes are constantly happening and take mental energy

  • That bigger and/or simultaneous transitions take even more energy

  • Even “good” transitions can be hard, and that’s fine

  • I need to cut myself some slack, generally, and especially during these times

  • I don’t need to start anything else new during a transition time, unless it’s something I really need

  • I can (and should!) do extra nice things for myself when I’m feeling out of sorts

  • I don’t need anyone’s permission for that...and neither do you!

If you need permission to go a little easier on yourself, here it is!

Are you going through any challenging transitions right now, school year, seasonal, or otherwise? How do you deal with it? Let me know in the comments. (You got this.)

Album Title Reveal!

I am so excited that my album finally has a title: 

Florescer (Bloom)

A few nights ago, I was really tired, had just gone to bed, and of course, that moment was when my overactive brain chose to prevent me from sleeping! (Don’t you love that?) Unlike most times this has happened, however, it was actually productive! I couldn’t get the word “bloom” out of my head, and images of hand-drawn flower art kept popping in.

The next morning, it still sounded like a good idea, and also sounded cool when translated to Portuguese, which feels appropriate for an album of Brazilian music. Then, I read that May 29 (this Kickstarter’s launch day) was the Full Flower Moon, the usual name for a full moon in May. The deal was sealed.

Though I might be a little biased because I was born in May, it’s my favorite month, because of the arrival of greenery and beautiful blooming trees. The Hasses also tend to be botanically gifted people (which I strive to be) - my dad has even co-authored a book about roses - so flowers seem baked into my DNA.

I also find myself using metaphors about planting seeds and growing things all of the time, and, of course, this quote is one of my favorites, which regularly inspires me to get moving on my goals:

If you haven’t already, please back this Kickstarter to help it grow and bloom, and make the album a reality!

Thanks in advance for your support - if you can't support financially, sharing on social media is great, too!

If you want to stay in the loop on the album and upcoming gigs, be sure to hop on my mailing list here!

2017 Recap + Welcome 2018!

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Welcome to 2018!

And, congratulations, we made it through 2017! (Phew.)

I certainly am happy to turn the page on the calendar - 2017 was a difficult yet rewarding year of growth, in which I did lots of cool things but also dealt with burnout and a lot of anxiety. After trying everything holistic that I could think of to help, I finally decided to try going on meds, and after some extra rest and big lifestyle changes, by the end of summer, I was feeling a lot better - I had to actually listen to my body when it told me what it needed, again and again. I think this stuff is important to mention (#endthestigma), because we all struggle behind our highlight reels that we show to the world on social media - you’re not alone! And, every time we go through a big period of struggle, it brings us to the next, more evolved version of ourselves, which I’m always grateful for afterward.

Some firsts from this year:

  • Getting a studio to teach private lessons at MacPhail (a long time coming!)

  • Seeing Hermeto Pascoal and his band at SFJazz in April

  • Creating and facilitating a set of composition prompts for creative musicians, which is now a free 5 day-course (more about that below!)

  • Starting a regular networking happy hour for women musicians in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area with my friend Lauren Husting

  • Receiving my certification from MTNA and became a Nationally Certified Teacher of Music

  • Attending the Giant Steps conference here in Minneapolis - so inspiring!

  • Prioritizing rest and self-care for real (instead of just talking about it a lot and not giving myself what I need)

  • Trying breathwork as a way to turn my mind off (it works) and connect to myself

  • Going back to eating meat again after 14 years without it (with some excellent help from Lucia of Essential Omnivore!)

  • Getting really into drawing, so much that I decided to get one printed!

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Other highlights:

  • Performing 3 sambas that I arranged for solo piano at a MacPhail faculty recital (what I learned from that process: here and here)

  • Choro rodas with local and visiting friends

  • Playing more Brazilian gigs on piano, especially at the National Flute Association Convention with Jane Lenoir and Tim O’Keefe

  • Finishing 2 100 Day Projects of writing 8 measures of music per day

  • Performing my own music several times

  • My 6th time at California Brazil Camp - ensembles with Hermeto Pascoal, Jovino Santos Neto, Vitor Gonçalves, and Alessandro Penezzi!

  • Seeing Anat Cohen and Choro Aventuroso (including my teacher Vitor) at the Twin Cities Jazz Fest in June

  • My 11th anniversary with Tom (celebrated with sushi and sculptures)

  • Growing new friendships with a few awesome women musician/artists

  • To my surprise, I also somehow managed to read 54+ books this year (and I didn’t start tracking my reading until March, so it was probably more like 60!)

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Also, in 2017 I picked two words to focus on for the year, guided by Susannah Conway’s workbook Find Your Word: LISTEN and INTENT (see last year's recap post for explanation). Those words kind of worked for me last year, but they didn’t really stay at the forefront of my mind, although I think that I still made some changes in those areas.

New Year’s resolutions get a lot of flak, but as long as they’re specific and actionable (actual goals), I’m into it - I’ll take any fresh-start energy I can get. All of the reflection that I did in 2017 has enabled me to have more clarity about what I want from 2018, and to feel more ready to begin (or really, continue).

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Ways that I want to CONNECT this year:

  • To my own intuition and purpose

  • To the expansive feeling I get when I’m doing things that bring me joy (in work and in life)

  • To a sense of ease and lightness

  • Being mindful and present in my interactions with others

  • Forming meaningful connections with other musicians and composers (especially women)

  • Showing my work as fearlessly as possible

  • Letting go of things that don’t give me meaningful connection or help me get closer to how I want to feel (hello, mindless scrolling!)

I’m not the type to plan out my whole year at once, but here are some of my big goals for 2018:

  • Revamp my morning routine to always include meditation and journaling (probably 10 minutes of each) before I exercise

  • Record an album of my Brazilian arrangements and compositions (finally) and crowdfund it

  • Collaborate with more women musicians (already talking with a few people)

  • Launch a sheet music store of my compositions and arrangements (this one I’m committed to doing by the end of January!)

  • Publish 1 piece per month for the rest of the year

  • Start writing more pieces for instruments other than my own (and start writing a trio for my trio)

  • Start using my voice more (literally) - starting with Instagram Stories

  • Leave time for fun and hobbies (reading more fiction and graphic novels, drawing, crafting, etc.)

And one I already completed this week:

Launch my free 5-day course of bite-size composition prompts

If you're a musician who has thought about writing but didn't know where to start, if you're looking for some idea generation, or camaraderie with other creative musicians, this is for you. If you're interested, sign up below and join us!

I have a good feeling about this year - I’m wishing you an inspiring start to 2018! 

If you chose a word for the year or have music-related goals you're excited about, share them in the comments!

Currently: December 2017

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I’m currently out of town in Raleigh, NC for a concert with my friend James Newcomb on cornet, so it’s time for another Currently post!

  • Feeling a mix of disbelief and relief that this year is over (I always love a fresh start, new year or not).

  • Getting excited about having only 3 teaching days left before winter break.

  • Thinking about the projects I want to finish before the end of the year - launching my sheet music store and a free 5-day course with bite-size composition prompts for busy musicians.

  • Trying to finish up the Braid Branding E-Course so that I can revamp my website and business cards a bit.

  • Refusing to get swept up in holiday madness - I have a few more gifts to buy and wrap, but nothing else is obligatory.

  • Soaking up the energy of my friend’s adorable and goofy 3-year-old son (who would play with me nonstop if it were possible).

  • Bringing winter with me wherever I go (apparently) - it’s supposed to snow here in Raleigh today.

  • (Wishing I had brought a winter coat.)

  • Drinking massive quantities of tea (what else is new!)

  • Loving having my drawing habit as a way to unwind, and proud that I finished a drawing and sent it to print (look for those in my sheet music store, launching soon!)

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  • Listening to Elizabeth Gilbert’s Magic Lessons podcast - I forgot that I hadn’t finished all of the episodes! It’s great flight listening.

  • Feeling triumphant to be finishing Brass Week - on Monday I accompanied my friend Lauren Husting on a concert of low brass works by women composers, on Friday James Newcomb and I presented a concert/workshop at an area high school, and tonight we will perform a program of music by Jewish composers at a synagogue in Cary, NC, all great collaboration experiences.

  • Enjoying a break from the normal routine while I’m out of town, but also…

  • Looking forward to being home with Tom and Rusty (this damp rainy weather is really making me feel the lack of a cat on my lap!)

  • Reading Binti: Home by Nnedi Okorafor and about to start Braving the Wilderness by Brené Brown, probably on my flights home tomorrow.

  • Still pondering my plans for 2018 as it gets even closer - look for a 2017 recap and 2018 goals post at the beginning of January.

  • Celebrating the awesomeness of others, and telling them about it (seriously, do this, it’s great).

  • Reminding myself to rest. Whatever holidays you’re celebrating (or not celebrating), don’t forget that you’re allowed to take time for yourself, as much as you need.

Tell me what you’re celebrating right now, big or small - write it in the comments below!

Start of Summer Reflection

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2017 is not quite at its halfway point yet, but since I’m a teacher, I think in school years, and the beginning of the summer is a big transition point, so I’m now reflecting on the goals I set at beginning of 2017, how my approach to work and life has changed. I don’t always focus so heavily on making yearly goals, because a lot can change in a year, so I’ve been trying out Kathleen Shannon’s chalkboard method for goal setting, in which you make a chalkboard (mine’s really a piece of thick paper board with Post-Its on it) that lists your goals for the quarter, and also leaves spaces open for things you want to bring into your life. See my chalkboard for Q1 of 2017 here, and I'll have to post about Q2 sometime soon, too. 

During most of April and May, however, my schedule got so crammed with work that I really was only surviving, not thriving, and was most focused on getting through it than on my biggest goals (with the exception of my 100 Day Project, 100 Days of Writing Music, which continues to feel great and in alignment with my goal to do more creative projects).

This was also right after I spent my spring “break” running around Minneapolis and San Francisco at a whirlwind pace, rather than resting and recovering from a really busy March (when I had already felt burned out).

My summer schedule has been a breath of fresh air for sure (real weekends instead of just 1 day off per week!), but I am still feeling the fallout from 6 weeks with hardly any rest. I’ve known for a while that I had been working on too many projects at once, but it’s finally come to the point where my body is telling me to stop, via exhaustion and anxiety. I’m also working out some health issues related to digestion, so during June, a lot of my brainpower has been devoted to planning, cooking, and eating food. Slowing way down feels like the right thing to do, as I recalibrate my life and re-focus my goals, but there’s still a lot going on this summer in the work realm, such as:

  • teaching 3 days a week for 8 weeks of the summer

  • watching some great Brazilian music this month: Seu Jorge’s Life Aquatic this Saturday, and Anat Cohen w/Choro Aventuroso the next weekend (including my teacher Vitor!)

  • playing Brazilian music: Festa de São João with Batucada do Norte in July (yeah, we’re celebrating it a month late), and a flute-piano-percussion set at the National Flute Convention in August

  • playing a series of MacPhail Hour concerts at senior/assisted living facilities around the Minneapolis/St. Paul area with a cellist friend

  • NCKP conference in Chicago in late July

  • completing my projects to become an NCTM (Nationally Certified Teacher of Music)

  • going to visit family in the Bay Area and attend California Brazil Camp for the 6th time in August (and study with Hermeto Pascoal!)

  • continuing my 100 Day Project through July 13 (and maybe longer if I feel like it)

Now that I listed all of that, it’s making me feel like I’m actually going to be pretty busy this summer (especially according to my new standards) - I’m glad to be taking some time to ruminate on my intentions moving forward, so that priorities (and time to actually enjoy my life) don’t get squeezed out by busy-ness!

What's on your must-do list for summer? 

Currently - June 2017

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I’m taking this week mostly off (I only taught on Monday, but am definitely still doing a bit of work).

Here’s what I’ve been up to:

Enjoying long walks - (I’ve been walking down to the Mississippi River and back most mornings lately) and patios. 

Reading a lot - about to finish up Marlena by Julie Buntin, and Stories of Your Life (and Others) by Ted Chiang is up next - it includes the short story that the movie Arrival was based on.

Watching House of Cards Season 5 - it’s a bit painful given all of the crazy stuff happening in our actual government. I need to balance it out with regular doses of Leslie Knope

Listening to silence more often than not, otherwise my brain has been getting overloaded.

Trying to keep up with the news in very small doses (all I can handle).

Catching up with friends, now that I actually have some free time.

Adjusting to a new diet - with the help of a nutritional therapist - in order to stabilize my blood sugar. So far no carbs before dinner hasn’t been as hard as I thought, but it does take some planning.

Cooking a lot more, eating a lot more vegetables (it’s CSA season!), and drinking beet kvass every morning (still a little strange, but definitely not bad).

Performing a little bit - I played my choro Anelante (Wistful/Wishful) at a composition recital at MacPhail on Sunday, and have a wedding gig on Saturday (let’s hope I survive the projected high of 97 - it's outside 😵 ).

Composing music for my 100 Day Project, 100 Days of Writing Music - follow along on my Instagram here, and listen to the music on SoundCloud here.

Pondering my goals for the month of June, and for the summer - it will go fast!

Looking forward to my trip to Chicago for NCKP (National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy) in July, and to Cazadero, CA for California Brazil Camp in August.

Do you have any summer adventures planned, music-related or otherwise? Tell me about them in the comments!

Spring Break Recap and Hermeto Pascoal at SFJazz

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I’m still re-acclimating to the Central Time Zone after being in California for only 3 days, and I’ve been back for 5. Jet lag is real (and maybe I'm just bad at sleeping). Since I still feel like a total zombie, this post will be on the shorter side. But, I had a very musical spring break last week!

On Monday I went to my friend Lauren’s DMA trombone recital and a Brazilian jazz show at Jazz Central, which featured three of my friends, both very fun and inspiring. On Tuesday I ran around packing and planning for my trip to San Francisco, and managed to find time for starting my 100 Day Project (more about that below).

I had a great time in the Bay Area, but it was certainly a whirlwind. I landed on Wednesday and went straight to Half Moon Bay to visit my aunt, uncle, and cousins, then headed to Oakland to meet friends from California Brazil Camp for dinner on Thursday. I stayed with one of them that night, in her lovely little house with a piano. We did some jamming that night, and went for a walk in the beautiful Mountain View Cemetery on Friday morning, between thunderstorms.

Then, I went to another Brazil Camp friend’s house to rehearse for a show that we have here in Minneapolis in August, at the National Flute Association Convention. From there I headed to yet another Brazil Camp friend’s house to drop off my bags and head to the Hermeto Pascoal concert at SFJazz (the main reason for my trip). I got to stay in his studio with a Steinway grand piano, too! (Piano lodgings are pretty sweet.)

Piano lodgings #1 and #2!

Piano lodgings #1 and #2!

To say that the concert was amazing would be an understatement. It’s really clear that all of them have played together so much that they almost have a psychic synergy. The core group was made up of piano, woodwinds, drum set, auxiliary percussion (including squeaky animal toys), and Hermeto on various instruments (including a teapot filled with water, and an animal’s horn - Hermeto believes in everything and anything being musical!) Jovino Santos Neto, who used to be the pianist in Hermeto’s Grupo, was a guest and played on most songs, and guest appearances by Rebecca Kleinmann on flute and Claudia Villela singing were also great. The joy was palpable, and Hermeto is as playful and spontaneous as ever, even though he’s 80! This video is a really good example of the spirit of Hermeto.

I had a great time reconnecting with friends from Brazil Camp (one of my pianist friends was sitting next to me, by total coincidence - so fun!), and am so grateful that I got to go to this concert.

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On Tuesday last week I also started a 100 Day Project: 100 Days of Writing Music. Every day from April 4 until July 12, people around the world are undertaking various creative projects for 100 days. I've been wanting to get a better composing habit going, so I'm going to write 8 measures of music every day, post it on my Instagram with the hashtag #100daysofwritingmusic.

Today is day 10, and I’m really enjoying it so far. Even when really tired or otherwise occupied, I’m glad to have this commitment to creativity, and some interesting things are already happening.

I’ll be recording these and uploading to my SoundCloud page soon, and also will be putting up video on Instagram Stories - follow me here to keep up! 

Also, if you're doing a 100 Day Project, let me know, and post a link in the comments!

On Community

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Ever since I took Kayla Hollatz's Crickets to Community course last fall, I've been percolating on the idea of community and whether I'm satisfied by the communities that I belong to. And the answer is: not very - I feel pretty isolated most of the time, since, on most days I work by myself during the first half of the day and am teaching kids for the second half. While that is rewarding in its own way, it doesn’t leave me with much time to interact with peers, and the busier I get, the less energy I have for interacting (#introvertproblems).

So, even though I belong to many different music communities, I often feel removed from all of them as I get stuck inside the hamster wheel of work. Some of these communities exist on the internet, but I've had a hard time finding them (except for teacher communities). If you’re an independent teacher, do you feel like you're consistently a part of a community, or do you feel removed from it? I'm willing to bet that more of us feel isolated than we often admit. An added challenge is balancing the musician/teacher afternoon/evening/weekend schedule with friends and family in the 9-5 world without giving up much needed sleep or rest time (essential for me as an introvert).

I've always been a bit of a musical nomad, and as a result, I haven't always felt like I was fully a part of any one music scene (classical, jazz, composers, etc.). I actually belong to many different communities: the schools where I work (MacPhail and Chanson); professional organizations (APPI, SPPTA, and MMTA); piano teacher online communities, a number of other Facebook groups, and the Brazilian music community, which I feel most at home in (both here in Minneapolis, and the larger community that I've met as a part of California Brazil Camp). I’ve felt myself longing to be an active part of a community.

But, unless I'm meaningfully participating in these communities (which I don't have much time or energy for), it doesn't feel like I'm truly a part of them. Building and belonging to communities takes effort and contribution, and it’s hard to make effort unless you know what you’re working toward, so I started thinking about what I want from a community. Aided by ideas from a transcript of the Musochat Twitter chat (which I really enjoy) from January 2016 which covered this topic, here are some qualities of a great community:

  • Gathering around a common interest

  • Genuine connection / communication (the glue: communication and community have the same word root!)

  • Mutual respect

  • Support

  • Combining strengths, resources, and perspectives

  • Accountability

  • Diversity

  • Open and undiscriminatory (critical in providing support)

  • Effort + involvement (continuing to show up, otherwise it falls apart)

  • Access

  • Often an education or professional development component

So, no wonder it’s hard to create a strong community - we have to commit to truly showing up for others, while we’re also busier and feeling more fragmented than ever, and when virtual connection online often replaces in-person connection. (Although, online communities can be very supportive if they have many of the elements above.) Not to mention, there needs to be enough commitment to leadership for a community to have any longevity. And, I have to admit, in the past I had been known to avoid some professional organizations and communities because I had an aversion to networking that didn’t feel genuine. 

But, if I’m complaining about lack of community in my life, I need to do something about it. If I’ve learned anything about habits, it’s that multiple/huge changes don’t work in the long-term, so here are some small ways that I want to work harder at creating community and connection:

  • Supporting peers through attending their gigs and events (although simultaneous gigs are often a problem)

  • Helping peers by promoting their events on social media

  • Expressing excitement about what other musicians are doing, online and in person - if you think someone is awesome, tell them!

  • Having more coffee dates with fellow musician/teachers who tend to have the same availability

  • Brainstorm new ways to share music with my larger community

Now that spring is coming (and seasonal affective disorder is waning), I feel much more motivated and energetic in all areas of life, so this should be more attainable now than it was in January.

Can you relate to feeling disconnected from your peers? If so, let me know what’s missing from your community landscape. In what ways (even if small) do you create community?

What I'm Working On - February/March 2017

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After the whirlwind that was January, I thought that February would be more relaxing (I guess it was, by comparison), but it whooshed right by, too! Here’s what I’ve been up to since finishing and performing my last arrangingproject in early February:

  • Rehearsing for MacPhail Hour concerts at senior/assisted living facilities around the Minneapolis/St. Paul area with Modern Spark Trio, featuring the history of the piano trio from classical to jazz to Brazilian music. We did one yesterday and have 6 more in the month of March.

  • Rehearsing with Batucada do Norte for Carnaval Brasileiro - this Saturday night (Mar. 4) at the Cedar! This is a new venue for Carnaval, but one of my favorites. I'm excited to see what it's like this year.

  • Started to teach one night of private lessons at MacPhail (with 2 Steinway grands in my studio...what?!)

  • Challenging myself to do 40 days of daily improv, with these parameters:

  1. 10 minutes free improv - record every day

  2. Any style - no expectations

  3. Turn off my inner critic/judge

  4. No immediate analysis - I’ll listen and assess later

  • Working on setting up a new email list for this blog - right now my email list is just gig updates.

  • Cooking up another new project which is still in the research phases - I’ll share more when it gets off the ground.

  • And, of course, my normal teaching load (30 private students + 3 group classes), and updating this blog. No wonder I’m still tired!

  • Relaxing as much as possible.

What’s next:

  • Finishing my choro - I’m part of the way done with the last section. (Edit: Now called Anelante, it’s on my album Florescer!)

  • Booking some recording time for the above choro and some of the arrangements I’ve written.

  • Looking forward to spring break in early April - I’m going to San Francisco for a few days to see Hermeto Pascoal perform at SF Jazz, and to visit family.

Stay tuned for more updates on the improv project soon!