Begin It

October 27, 2011

By Ariel Friedman, guest blogger

This post was originally published at NEC’s entrepreneurial musicianship alumni blog on 10/27/2011, and is reposted here with permission from the author. IPAP thanks Ariel Friedman for sharing this post.

My grandfather’s favorite acronym was D.I.N.  Do It Now.  While this has always been second nature to me, it has come with a cost.  I answer emails and make phone calls promptly, not because I want to be responsible, but because the thought of having to do them later is more than I can bear.  The problem is that this cycle does not end.  There will always be emails to write, bills to pay, phone calls to make.  D.I.N. turns into D.I.A.T.T. (Do It All The Time). And thanks to my iPhone, these days I check email more frequently than I am willing to admit.

I think there is a balance that can be found here, but the point is that my grandfather actually did know what he was talking about and it wasn’t necessarily about life’s endless errands.

Recently I was teaching a cello lesson in which my student was expressing frustration. She wanted to be improving faster, but due to her frustration she was not slowing down to practice details, to delight in her instrument, or to find peace in the journey of learning. She told me that, within the last year or so, she and her partner had taken up beekeeping and that she felt a similarity between learning cello and learning how to keep bees; both are enshrouded in mystery, she said, until you begin to experience them. The more you approach the hives, the more you sit down with your instrument, the easier they get, the more sense they make, the more nuance you are capable of achieving. Then she made a beautiful analogy: Let’s say you wanted to be a botanist but you had not yet learned anything about plants.  If you noticed a tree of interest, you might go up to it, study its bark and its leaves, then look it up in an encyclopedia.  But once you delve into the learning process and botany becomes a part of your life, you will eventually walk down the street and be able to point out the flora. Ah, there’s a maple. Here is a spruce.

In other words, if there is anything in this world that is pulled toward your heart, why not do it now? As musicians and artists, we have the ability to choose to construct our lives the way we want.  I still believe there are a lot of “shoulds” around the careers of musicians. Many people from a classical background are expected to go to school until they get a job in an orchestra.  This is what I thought I would do from an early age, but at a certain point this stopped feeling right to me. I realized I had other choices and I wanted to experience them.  When I first started playing fiddle tunes on the cello at age eighteen, I felt like I was flailing around. Learning by ear was hard. My musical rug had been ripped out from under me.  As I’ve continued on my search, I notice this to be true over and over. My two years at NEC took everything I thought I knew about music, shook them up and dumped them on the floor.  Instinctively, I dropped to my hands and knees to clean up the mess, and here I am, still on the floor, slowly and steadily lining up the broken pieces. Without a doubt they will get scrambled again and again, only each time, I will have a new scrap of knowledge to add to the mosaic of my life.

We must take risks to be in this profession and this, as I am finally realizing, is the real meaning of D.I.N.  My grandfather’s favorite quotation was by Goethe:  “Lose this day loitering and it will be the same tomorrow. If you can do it or think you can do it, begin it.  Boldness has magic, power and genius in it.” To do it now is to throw oneself in, one hundred and fifty percent. Eventually the flailing becomes graceful.  The bees become approachable.  The piano keys start to look like chord shapes.  Making a life as a musician becomes a reality, one day at a time, easier and easier, broken piece by broken piece.

You can read more from Ariel and other authors writing about Entrepreneurial Musicianship at

CMW is now accepting viola and cello applications for the 2012-2014 Fellowship Program. The Fellowship Program is an opportunity to learn about CMW’s model of community-based teaching and performance. Join a growing movement of musicians who are reimagining their careers to combine performing, teaching, and social action in order to make an impact on their communities.

Application deadline: December 5, 2011

Click here for more information.

Currently in its sixth year, CMW’s Fellowship Program is an opportunity for young professional violinists, violists, and cellists to spend two years performing, teaching, and mentoring alongside the Providence String Quartet in urban neighborhoods of Providence, Rhode Island. The Fellowship Program is an opportunity to learn about their model of community-based teaching and performing, and to join a growing movement of musicians who are reimagining their careers to combine performing, teaching, and social action in order to make an impact on their communities.

Winner of the 2010 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award, Community MusicWorks is an innovative neighborhood-based residency for a professional string quartet that has been transforming the lives of children, families, and musicians since 1997.

Learn more and download an application at:

Contact Minna Choi, Fellowship Program Director, for more information: or (401) 861-5650

What are classical music’s new entrepreneurs up to?

Bring out your inner entrepreneur and attend the Arts Enterprise Summit: The Creative Economy and You, held March 23-25, 2012

Harmony Project founder, Margaret Martin, who founded the LA organization that provides music education and instruments to disadvantaged youth, receives the 2011 Presidential Citizens Medal

Read how music lifted one teen from a life of silence and how listening to music rewards you and heals you

Are you musical and passionate?  Listen to Benjamin Zander and read Astrid Baumgardner’s latest

Looking for advice on how to collaborate with non-arts organizations?

And check out what the US philanthropic community is thinking about funding for social change and the arts here and here

See the art of Occupy Wall Street and read the connection between Citibank and EMI

What is the language of music advocacy?

Has the iPod made music more disposable?

Read about the carbon cello

Flutists, visit Helen Bledsoe’s blog to play polyrhythms on Taffanel and Gaubert

Creative vs. Artistic

October 26, 2011

Earlier this month the Art Educators of New Jersey held their annual conference in New Brunswick, NJ.  This year, like last, I delivered a 50 minute presentation on Studio Thinking and discussed how the Habits of Mind identified in the framework help to cultivate creative thinking skills.

Later that day, as I discussed the same topic over dinner, the conversation veered into the direction of ‘Creative vs. Artistic’.  Since the distinction between Creative and Artistic is often conflated, I offered an experience from my own life to illustrate the difference between those two concepts.  It went something like this:

I was recently asked to judge a group show for an arts organization in my community.  The theme selected for this show was fairly traditional and there were many works in the show that possessed notable artistic merit.  However, there was a single piece, entitled ‘The Tree of My Life’ which demonstrated a degree of creative merit which set it apart from other works in the show.  The work was painstakingly rendered, which lent further power to what was already a rich conceptual accomplishment.  The power in this work was meticulous execution, coupled with a *novel* idea. Relative to the other works in the show, ‘The Tree of Life’ exemplified creativity.

Is that which is artistic also creative?  Ipso facto, just like that? Perhaps!  It is my opinion that any original art object is, by default, creative.  But I also believe that not all art objects are E-Q-U-A-L-L-Y creative.

When we seek to evaluate the creativity of an object it is necessary to consider it in comparison to other works; knowing the available alternatives provides necessary insight about the yardstick being used to measure the creativity quotient.

Likewise, when considering an idea or solution that is not artistic in nature, we are also wise to consider the many alternatives that might exist. Because, very often, with the sufficient investment of time and attention–that is, with deep engagement–solutions abound.  The finest examples of creativity I am able to name *not only* deliver a novel and effective solution, very often they also appear to be the solutions that are out-on-a-limb on the proverbial tree of life.

And, on the rare and marvelous occasion when a solution truly exemplifies creativity, that solution, regardless of  the domain, certainly qualifies as art.

© 2011 Kira Campo

Arts Enterprise is excited to announce their next Arts Enterprise Summit: The Creative Economy and You will be held March 23-25, 2012 at the Drucker School of Business at Claremont Graduate University.

The 2012 AE Summit will give arts and business students the opportunity to explore their creativity in new ways, develop career strategies, and strengthen their entrepreneurial skills. Designed by students for students interested in both the arts and business, The Creative Economy and You will be a powerful way for students to build their network with some of the key players in the arts and business sectors.

This time around, Arts Enterprise Central is raising funds to subsidize student conference fees, via their new IndieGogo fundraising campaign. Contributing $50 today will cover the full cost of one student registration. If you ARE A STUDENT contribute $25 before December 1 and your contribution will become your registration fee – this is a 50% discount! By helping reach Arts Enterprise’s goal of $5,000, you will be creating a one-of-a-kind Summit that will build the next generation of arts leaders. To learn how to contribute, please click here.

Check the Summit website soon for updates on the schedule, presenters, registration information and other goodies. For now, please visit the Summit Facebook page.

Arts Enterprise creates communities of arts and business students that develop new ideas for a triple-bottom line of social, cultural, and economic growth.

For any questions, concerns, or other feedback, please email Arts Enterprise or check out the Arts Enterprise Central homepage.


I recently came upon a review at the Village Voice on site-specific choreographer Noémie Lafrance’s latest performance project, The White Box Project. You can read the entire review here, but in short, this is more than a negative review. It is an excellent example of the friction often caused by creative approaches to participatory performance.

Read the rest of this entry »

Bassist/singer, Esperanza Spalding on arts education

Read up on the collaboration between saxophonist Joshua Redman and pianist Brad Mehldau

And violinist Hilary Hahn and her new commissioning projects

El Sistema arrives in Austin, Texas

Discover how to do more with less

In a rut?  Read Managing Change:  Understanding the Cycle of Transitions from Astrid Baumbardner

Check out this thought-provoking post that considers teaching resourcefulness as part of music training

Follow Italian pop-opera trio Il Volo, who have taken the US by storm

Read why traditional audiences are no longer enough

And how one dance troupe is attracting younger audiences here

Learn how to toot your own horn

And check out two new ensembles to watch

Flutists interested in body awareness, consider Summerflute 2012

And make sure to watch “What Teachers Make”

Question:  What do you make?

Answer: I make them wonder

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