In July, I conducted a crowdfunding campaign to cover travel expenses in order to attend and perform at the National Flute Association convention in New Orleans. I crowd funded for a variety of reasons:

  • a very short time frame of only 3 weeks
  • the importance of performing new music at such a large gathering
  • not knowing when this type of opportunity would come around again
  • and more which you can read about here

As a freelance musician, earning a living in this business is very challenging. Sometimes, no matter how much you learn about the business side of things and implement it into your day to day routine, the new students, the paid gigs, or the cushy traditional jobs just never materialize. This is why crowdfunding can be so attractive.

Crowdfunding is a way for creatives to invite their audience to participate in the creation process, and cultivate a patron-artist relationship that was mostly out of reach of all but those with enough disposable income to commission a piece or painting. Crowdfunding now enables us all to become patrons and shareholders in art that we believe in.

Personal reasons aside, let me walk you through the steps I considered to set up my crowdfunding campaign.


There are a lot of platforms available for your campaign – Kickstarter, Indiegogo and Rockethub are just a few. Research each site’s fees and decide where your project would best fit. For my recent campaign, I decided to go with GoFundMe, a donation website that can be utilized for a wide variety of causes and projects. Since my campaign wasn’t funding a specific creative project but funding travel costs for myself and my pianist, I felt that GoFundMe was the most appropriate option with affordable fees.


If you’re setting up a campaign that enables you to keep all the funds you raise, don’t be afraid to set a realistic budget and add 10% to cover the website fees. Although I came very close to raising the entire amount I needed to cover travel expenses, I set a lower budget because I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. Be bold and ask for you what you need. If what you’re asking has any value, your supporters are going to help you out.

If they see the value in your project, you should too!


Another thing I factored into my overall projections was the amount of time I would need to spend to raise a daily minimum amount. Anyone who has crowd funded will tell you that running a crowdfunding project can become a full time job. I was fortunate in this instance that my budget and daily minimum were low enough that I didn’t have to stay up all hours of the night to raise funds.

With that said, if you’re thinking about crowd funding a project now or in the future, think about your social media presence and your online brand. Do you have a core audience beyond your family and friends? Cultivating a strong network – local and online – will come in handy when you need to raise money. If you have these building blocks in place, promotion will be a lot easier. Don’t try to build a brand and promote all at the same time!


I don’t think crowdfunding is going away anytime soon, but I do think that it isn’t appropriate for every project. If I’d had more time to find travel grants or ways to generate additional income on my own, I would have not undertaken this campaign.

Fiscal sponsorship is another viable option for musicians and Fractured Atlas is one resource for artists. Research all viable options and decide what fits your goal. When you have the details of your project and a projected budget figured out, you’ll be able to decide which option works best for you. You’ll have more success when you use the right platform, whether it be crowdfunding, grants or fiscal sponsorship.

The Quest for Identity

September 8, 2012


Who Am I?  Who do I want to be? What do I want to be “when I grow up”?

Do I have to know?

It’s a tough thought and one I thought I had figured out.  Well, “pride comes before a fall” so says the Good Book, and while I wouldn’t say I’ve fallen, I could definitely say identity is something I”ve been struggling with as of late and could be in the considerable throes of “who am I” syndrome currently.

I don’t mean “who am I” in the hippie, new-agey,  be-one-with-the-universe type way  (though if you are, by all means, rock the identity quest!), but  more in the sense of defining my career, my life, giving myself a solid path, instead of feeling like I’m sliding on marbles going in a thousand directions.

This last year has been a year of upheaval, in a good way.  About February, we made the decision for me to move from Panama City, FL to Nashville, TN.  I have wanted to do this for so long and to keep from going into messy details, I’m thrilled it happened.  I have spent the past five years in PC with my hubby, trying to forge a music career and then a fitness career in a tourist city.

It failed.

Or did it?

Honestly, that’s a bit harsh, I DIDN’T fail.  In fact, I succeeded in the sense that I found out that even in areas where there isn’t a lot of culture, education or desire for healthy living, that I can succeed.  I succeeded in that I really learned the meaning of hard work, of entrepreneurship and in the struggles of trying to make ends meet, in a new city, with a new husband, with no family or friends nearby, in a tourist city where the most popular careers are bartender, restaurant owner, charterboat captain  or selling beach umbrellas to half-naked, completely drunk Spring Breakers, that I did what I could and I find an identity for myself.  Living there forced me to figure out what I wanted to do because performing in an area like that was not a viable option, the demand wasn’t there.  I succeeded by finding a way to merge a second passion into my first passion and create a career.

The road less traveled

When I graduated from grad school with my second degree in flute performance I really had no idea what I was going to do. In fact, I didn’t care.  I got married 6 days after graduation and I said “I’m going to take a break. I’m going to rest and be a housewife for awhile”.  I did.  I was also bored to death within 6 weeks.  Living in a tiny city with nothing to do and no friends, I had nothing to do and you can only clean an apartment so many times. Don’t get  me wrong, I LOVED being married and being domestic, but this girl was born to move, to work, to keep busy and I HAD to find some work.

Hubby was cool with it, but I guess he didn’t realize HOW bored I was, because within 6 months I was working two retail jobs.  The extra money allowed us to go on an anniversary cruise with my parents (1-year for us, 25 years or so for them) which was great, but it also meant I wasn’t getting enough sleep, the hubs and I barely saw each other and practicing? Why? Forget it, no time, and honestly, no reason.  I had joined the local community orchestra which, to give credit, is better than a normal community orchestra, but coming from one of the top 5 public music schools in the nation, it wouldn’t have mattered what I had done, I would have been bored, everything was too easy.  I was able to get a job teaching adjunct at the local college, and I thought “great, I can give a recital!” which I did, and it was nice to have a goal again.  However, when I went back to the dean to talk about doing another recital she told me “I don’t think you realize the level of work that’s involved.  Recitals have to be staffed.” I’m sorry, isn’t that your JOB?  Needless to say, another recital didn’t happen.

During all of this, I let my passion for fitness take over.  I started training much more frequently and doing a lot of research. I decided to get my first personal training certification. Things really came together at the Florida Flute Association convention. I gave my first presentation titled: “From the practice room to the weight room: weightlifting for flutists”.  I found that quite a few people were interested in what I had to say and one woman asked me “do you travel to teach your workshops?”  She was the one who inspired me to create a brochure, design more workshops and really get the ball rolling on fusing my loves of fitness and music together.

Music Strong was born.

Long story short, I’ve presented several more times at both the FFA conventions and at the National Flute Association Convention, each time people coming up to me amazed at what I’m doing, with questions, concerns and wanting information. I decided this WAS something I wanted to do and put more into so I got a better certification, this time through the National Academy of Sports Medicine.  At the same time, I just couldn’t get clients or students in Panama City.  I told the hubby enough was enough, we had to go where the money is, and where I had connections already, so we agreed that I would come up to Nashville after the NFA convention in Las Vegas.


I did, and now I am here, LOVING every minute of it, swathed in myriads of opportunities, and I find that I’m back in the same boat of identity confusion: what do I want to do? What direction to I want to go? What’s my ultimate goal?  Only now it’s different, because I’m attacking the subject of identity from a place of too many opportunities than of too few.

I’m so blessed now to have a growing flute studio, I’ve been asked to give my workshops at some universities across the state and in addition to that, I’ve been asked to be a part of a company called the “University of Change” – a program seeking to reach out to Nashville (and eventually nation-wide) office workers and the obese.  Those with poor posture, with weight problems, people who for one reason or another have not been able to change though they desperately want to, and Music Strong has been asked to be a part of this: speaking at seminars, training clients, leading foam rolling and beginner boot camps.  It’s wonderful, it really is!

Now, I’ve been here a grand total of three weeks and I’m covered in opportunities – here the chance to play a well-attended recital is numerous, I can record that piccolo CD I’ve always wanted to do! I could this, that, over there, that too….

Too much.

So the question for me comes up: what do I want to do? What’s my ultimate goal?

I started life as a musician knowing I had to play in order to be happy, and that’s still true.  But the time it takes to be incredibly good is so encompassing, so time consuming, to be on the level to be able to take auditions with confidence that I could get the job, while not out of reach, recent auditions have re-shown me just how much dedication to the music it takes to get to that level.  It’s a level that is good to maintain, great to be at and easy to let slide if you don’t have a superior outlet for which to continue honing it.

Am I ok with not playing at that level?  Am I ok with not being in an orchestra?

What about teaching, do I want to teach forever?

And what about my beloved company Music Strong? Now that I have all these students it would be so easy to stop investing time in it, but I find myself lighting up anytime a musician (or anyone for that matter) asks me a fitness related question.  No, I want it to grow, it’s too important, I can’t let it die.

So the question remains: what is my ultimate goal? I think when I figure this out, I will have my mission statement.

Yes, I want to perform, I want to teach and I want to train. Can I do it all, I think I can.  Can I do it at a very high level? Yes, I can.  Am I willing to pay the price it takes to get there?  The person in me who strives for excellence says “YES!” but thinking about it, how much time would I have to sacrifice away from my husband, my marriage, my friends and family because I have to practice, study, research, blog, train, etc. etc. etc?

The good news is there is no absolute right or wrong answer to this and each journey is unique. What is the right decision today might not be the right decision at a point in time later down the road.  You can change, your goals can change, and that’s ok.

My identity:

I think for now I’m content to say this: I am a musician, a flutist, a teacher, an encourager, a motivator, a trainer, a person of high integrity and moral values and a passionate person.  Job wise: I’m a musician, a trainer and a soldier.

That’s just fine for now.



Your identity:

The question comes to you: who are you? What do you want to be when you grow up? What is your ultimate goal? It’s ok to change it, but I can tell you this, when you have an ultimate goal and you can make your path clear, taking away distractions is that much easier. Knowing how to answer challenges in life is that much easier  Take some time to think about it.  Who are you now? Who will you always be?

Going through my Google reader this morning I came across this gem from Arts Enterprise:

I was thoroughly inspired by class and decided to research different fundraising and development styles. I came across this website from the Texas Commission on the Arts – Fundraising. It lists links to articles on the fundamentals of fundraising and development, the ten principles of fundraising, as well as links to sample donor letters, thank you letters, sample budgets and many other fantastic tools.

If you are looking for a good resource on fundraising and it aspects, this is a good place to start and bookmark!  Being someone who enjoys lists (and the satisfaction of checking things off that list) what I thoroughly enjoyed about this website are the Mistakes to Avoid, Basics, 10 Principles and ESPECIALLY the templates.  You can tell me something all day, but until I see it, it’s difficult for me to visualize.

The Fundraising Website is here.

Read the rest of this entry »

Set Your Goals, Set Your Life

February 21, 2012

“In the absence of clearly defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily trivia until ultimately we become enslaved by it.”

— Robert Heinlein

I think this is a brilliant quote – so obvious and yet, how many of us get caught up in the minutiae of day-to-day living saying we wish we could do this or that or go here or there or get this or that done, but it never happens?  Then we look around and suddenly 5 years have gone by?

Read the rest of this entry »

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!

A reflective post from David Cutler (the Savvy Musician) titled “What Artists Can Learn from Steve Jobs”, can be found at the link below.  Thanks to Celine Thackston for bringing this post to my attention.

Never stop practicing says 81 year old jazz saxophonist Sonny Rollins

A new music school curriculum

Iraqi youth orchestra combats terror with Beethoven

What’s the difference between leadership and entrepreneurship?

Success tips for the freelance musician

5 ways to jumpstart your Yoga Practice

Drop your emotional baggage here and a stranger will recommend a song to help you cope

Speaking of baggage, check out Have Flute, Will Travel for travel tips

Like puzzles? How about some flute puzzles!

Two videos worth sharing:

Dan Pink’s talk on what really motivates us

Real Flutists’ interview with Greg Pattillo

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