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

How I Founded A Flute Choir

October 17, 2011

Flute Choirs are kind of new territory for me.  Sure, I played in them all through college, and in grad school even conducted them…but founding one once you’re out in the “real world”?  New ballgame.

After moving to Panama City, FL, I wanted to grow the flute scene here.  What I found is that there really wasn’t much going on.  And, to my annoyance and frustration, I found that I haven’t seen much effort or encouragement on the part of the band directors in this area either, so my job was doubly hard.  I started a Flute Day at a high school and that had a grand run of 3 times.  I think I had somewhere between 1-3 people show up each time?  Out of a county of hundreds of flutists?  They gave me the excuse of “well, the kids are busy.” or “they’re at the beach or they have jobs or or or or”.  I don’t care what the excuses are, the excuses are still excuses.  The kids chose not to come and the band directors chose not to make it mandatory.  In TN, where I come from, I would have had probably 20-50 students come because it’s just that important there.  You are EXPECTED to take lessons and go to extracurricular music activities, etc.  Here, I have trouble even getting the band directors too call me back.  They don’t make it a priority for their students, and the parents don’t see it as necessary, henceforth the kids don’t care much either.

So, seeing that there was a large  pool of people not involved gave me the opportunity to mope and say “woe is me, there are no opportunities, I can’t do anything here” or go in a different direction.
I went in a different direction!

I play in the Panama City Pops Orchestra, a community orchestra that is better than the average bear.  I feel very blessed to be able to play with them and have a good flute section.  So I started asking them if they would be interested in doing a flute choir.  They all said yes, they would commit and I asked around everywhere to see if I could find other adult members.  We have gone through some changes in personnel, but overall, these founding few have stayed with us and we’ve developed a choir!

What were my steps?

I am by no means an expert in this area and I’m learning more each day I go about this. But this is what I did and what I’m doing so far so that maybe you can learn from this as well.

  1. Recruit members I asked around to find members, got their contact information and sent them all preliminary emails asking if they had preferences for times/days.
  2. Find a Rehearsal Venue Found a band director that would let me hold rehearsals in their band rooms.  The school board has since decided they will charge groups wanting to use their facilities so we’ve moved to a choir member’s house for rehearsal.  You HAVE to find a place to rehearse!
  3. Pick a Consistent Time This can be easier said than done.  We went around and around in trying to pick a time and a place and ultimately, since I was the leader, I had to make an executive decision and say when it would be.  If you cannot commit, I’m sorry.  We did our best to work with everyone’s schedules, but of course not everyone can be accommodated: be prepared for that.  We started out with an hour and realized that we just didn’t have enough time, so now we’ve migrated to two hours once a week.
  4. Repertoire I was very fortunate in that all the flute choir music we have has been donated by various members.  Ask around, see who has trios, quartets or whatnot and use what you have.  Double parts.  Buy music only when you really need it.  If one person is generous enough to buy music for the group, great, but if not, don’t be shy about mentioning that we need funds to buy music, what can we donate to that fund and is there anything specific we’d like to get?  With rep, also be really aware of scoring.  We have a unique situation in that we have more instruments than members!  We have 2 altos, 2 piccolos, 1 bass and everyone has a C flute, but we only have 8 members, one of which is only in town for a few months out of the year.  So, 8 members and 13 instruments?  Kind of a neat problem to have…but then you look at how some pieces are scored and it’s for 6 C flutes, alto bass, piccolo, etc. and you don’t have enough people even though you have the instruments.  Don’t be afraid to double on trios and be the conductor, or transcribe parts from madrigals and choral music.  Put that music education/theory/instrumental class to good use!
  5. Get Goals for the Group Do you just want to get together to play or do you want to perform?  Why are you getting together, what do the members want out of the group?  We’ve decided we want to perform, so after many rehearsals, go out and either find or create gigs.  My members mentioned a LOT of great places to play that I didn’t know about because I’m not from the area: the library has a grand piano and hosts groups, an historical house that hosts concerts, FBA meetings (band directors meetings), partnering with schools to play on their school concerts or at an orchestra concert, nursing homes, hospitals, local events and fairs, etc.  We are going to be performing 15 minutes at an FBA meeting, at a middle school concert (with the middle school kids joining us on a piece), a full concert at the historical house and as prelude music in the reception hall before the Pops Orchestra Concert. We have plans to submit to perform for the Flute Flute Association Annual Convention in coming years, but we need some local performances under our collective belt first.  Be creative.  You don’t have to have a full hour long concert where people just come to see you.  Your goal is to get in front of people and get known!
  6. Set Deadlines and Be In Constant Communication After every rehearsal I send out an email to the group reminding them of what we did, what we need to work on and what we will do next week, this way they can be practicing and preparing for it.  I also let them know when our concerts are, remind them what we are going to be playing and since we’ve now committed to them, we have to be prepared to play at our highest level!  Don’t be afraid to set the bar high – set the bar too low and you’ll get what you asked for.  Set it high and be amazed.
  7. Advertise I have included our name as a flute choir everywhere I can think of: on my blog, webpage, facebook notices, listed on the FFA website, NFA website – and I’ve had people find us to join us because of that.  Hobnob and network with various band directors and tell them to send you their star players.  Can’t get them commit?  Our next plan is to go play in the schools.  Get a middle school or elementary school assembly and play as a group or get your choir together and go on a school tour during the day, hitting a bunch of high schools.  Play for the kids, get them to ask questions, mention you teach lessons and you are an open group – they can join, and LEAVE SOMETHING IN THEIR HANDS or they won’t remember you were there when they get home.
  8. Don’t be a Taskmaster, but Don’t Be Afraid to Say What Needs to Be Said or Do What Needs to Be Done Remember, people are doing this because they enjoy it, so don’t take a holier-than-thou approach or constantly criticize.  However, there is that fine line that needs to be walked because you don’t want to not criticize at all. Be tactful in pointing out mistakes or “opportunities for improvement”.  Ask for group feedback.  Step back every once in awhile and let them solve things.  Remember, this is your group if you want it that way, so you are the leader.  Lead, but still serve the group in leading.  Say what needs to be said in a tactful way.  Pick your battles, sometimes it’s the right time, sometimes it’s not, so walk the fine line of not being a taskmaster or a pushover.

These  are the things that I NEED to do now.

  1. Advertise This one really never ends.  It doesn’t have to be expensive but it needs to be out there.  Try setting up a Facebook page, a Weebly free website for the group, maybe a blog with what you are doing, business cards or flyers.  Constantly be in contact with people and have your group at the forefront of their minds.
  2. Get a Name and Get it Known we already have a name: The Emerald Coast Flute Choir, but is it known? That’s another story.  Let your members know you have a name and get them to hand out things and talk about the group with the name, not just “hey we have a flute choir and we could come play”.  It sounds much better to have a name.
  3. Realize that you don’t have to be formal  If you want to look like the group in the first picture that’s fine, it depends on what your venues are and the image you want to project.  Us?  We live in a beach town, so while we want to be known as professionals, we don’t want to be too “professional” that we alienate our audiences, do you know what I mean?  Example: how we set up.  Due to how we rehearse and our limited space, we don’t play in a straight line.  We are more in a circle spread out around the room.  This has led to the thoughts of “how will we set up on stage”?  Considering we all have different parts at different times, it would get annoying to constantly be moving between pieces and honestly, I think we play better and are forced to listen more by staying in the same spot and standing next to someone who doesn’t have your same part.  So, we just might set up around the room instead of in a line.  We’ll see 🙂  Point is, be flexible and find what works for YOUR group.
  4. Include the local musicians whenever possible We have pieces that call for instruments we don’t have like string bass, claves, various percussion instruments and narrators.  If you are going to a school, include their band director, the kids will LOVE seeing their teacher actually perform.  We have people coming from a town 2 hours away to play with us occassionally, include them whenever possible.  Again, be flexible and include your audience if you can.

Um, I’m sure there are more, but that’s what comes to mind.

Biggest thing that was a hurdle for me: picking a date to start and then just launching the thing and seeing what happens.  It won’t start if you don’t, so pick a date, be in contact and go for it!

Community Engagement through Music Education

Fall 2011

The efforts of Maestra Marin Alsop and the BSO in the areas of community engagement and outreach have impressed and inspired countless other orchestras and major music organizations throughout the country. In just four short years, the BSO program, OrchKids, has become a model specifically for orchestras in youth programming. After a very successful first outing, Community Engagement through Music Education will be presented for a second time as a two day workshop scheduled for Thursday and Friday, November 10 and 11, 2011 in Baltimore, MD.



The fall workshop is planned to showcase OrchKids to arts professionals currently considering or researching an effective youth music program. The two day program has many facets: Maestra Alsop is set to welcome the group to share her commitment to community engagement, her vision in offering the gift of music to young people and her active and personal involvement in the OrchKids program. Workshop attendees will also hear from OrchKids and BSO management and administrative staff on best practices, discuss specific issues of concern and interest, share their own planning status and network with one another. Both days, attendees will also visit Lockerman Bundy Elementary School (LBES), OrchKids “hub” site, to observe and actively participate with the OrchKids students and program. Attendees will observe the children, grades Pre K – 4, as they participate in homework and tutoring sessions, private and group instrument lessons, musicianship class, performance preparations, leadership and mentoring exercises, and individual instrument and Bucket Band rehearsals. OrchKids artistic faculty and LBES staff will close the first day sharing curriculum information and discussing experiences with the visiting group.

The second day’s activities will provide details on building financial and community support and recruiting professional expertise for an El Sistema based program. The day will conclude with a public performance by OrchKids for families, friends and community audiences.


Community Engagement through Music Education, will inform, inspire, instruct, but most importantly, encourage orchestras, local government agencies, public and private school systems and community organizations to consider and implement an El Sistema based music program such as OrchKids in locations throughout the country. CEME is designed to not simply showcase the successful effort here in Baltimore but to insure the success of other efforts by using the BSO OrchKids as a teaching tool. CEME is designed to affordably and simply bring those interested in building and fostering effective community engagement music programs together for a comprehensive, hands on learning experience.

For more information about OrchKids, visit For CEME registration,,1,34. (Note that registration payment is listed as “Tickets.”)

Tuition: Fall Session: $175.00; Groups of three or more, $150.00 per person

For registration information, contact Cheryl Goodman, Director of Administration,, 410.783.8025

Technique and Discovery

October 14, 2011

by Dave Cordes, guest blogger

This post was originally published at NEC’s entrepreneurial musicianship alumni blog on 10/13/2011, and is reposted here with permission from the author. IPAP thanks Dave Cordes for sharing this post.

On the first weekend of October, I witnessed the HONK! Festival of Activist Street Bands.  Bands came from far and wide to perform at this free, outdoor festival in Davis and Harvard Squares. The groups were acoustic and mobile, made up largely of brass and percussion.  It was a delectable spectacle. It was a beautiful celebration.

The music I heard that weekend was emotively and kinetically moving. The bands shared with me their visceral joy in manifesting sound — the tangibility, the physicality, and texture of each sound.

This event made me think a lot about technique, and how we use technique as trained musicians.  Being in the presence of these powerful bands and their music made it clear to me that they had a much different relationship to technique than many of us at NEC.  These bands were unruly!  Notes were sometimes out of tune (this did not detract from the experience).  These musicians were expressing something very important through their presence and their sounds, and this thing did not depend on their playing each note with technical precision.

Playing in a HONK band demands its own type of virtuosity.  It demands a high level of collaborative skill and democratic decision making.  It demands the ability to bring audience members into the performance.  It demands vulnerability and risk-taking.  In these bands, virtuosity lies in the act of making yourself heard, and through that courageous act, cultivating courage in the people who hear and experience the joy of your sound and the fearlessness it represents.

This event made me reconsider my own relationship to technique on my main instrument, the double bass.  I know that technique allows me to express myself through my instrument in new ways.  Practicing approaches to bow technique and string crossings, for example, means that I can make sounds that I would not be able to make otherwise.  Developing technique on an instrument is as powerful as building vocabulary in a new language.  New technique gives me a wider palette of sonic possibility.

At the same time, fixation on technique can lead to creative paralysis.  It can feel like we don’t deserve to say anything until we know exactly what to say and how to say it — or, in music, that the sounds we create don’t deserve to be heard by others until they are perfect.

As an improviser, I perform to create authentic expression in each moment that I play, with the resources that I have on hand in that moment (and despite the limitations of the moment).  I can express the truth of who I am at a given time.  This ability is a great blessing for the improviser, and the blessing of improvised music for listeners.  What I hear in improvised music is human beings solving problems in real time.  In a group of improvisers, the group is negotiating solutions together.  Problems arise.  Conflicts threaten the unity of the collective.  The space is held and the musicians move through.  Quickly, slowly?  Densely or with space?  Registers juxtapose or correspond. It’s an active democracy.  It’s a model for living and playing together.

Performing improvised music is demanding.  There are no obvious parameters for success, and in this respect, it’s a fundamentally entrepreneurial musicianship.  I create my own opportunities and my own context for success or failure in each piece that I play, in each performance.  Improvised music asserts the necessity of life — of continually, perpetually, remaining alive to the world around us.

I felt the joy of recognition at HONK! in seeing other musicians defining success in their own way, in a way that felt familiar to me. To see this approach in these bands was inspiring and energizing.


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

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