At the Conductors' Retreat at Medomak, Ken Kiesler often talks about oxygen masks on planes. You know, "place your mask on first before helping others put theirs on". If you pass out from a lack of oxygen, you're not helping anyone. He's telling him/ her to get themselves ready first and then worry about the orchestra.
Increasingly, I think this is true in all of life. If you're tired, take a nap. If you're burned out, go do something else for a while. If we want to do our best work, we need to take care of ourselves first. This might mean taking time to listen to that recording or going for a walk or working on that relationship we never have time for. What is that you need to do in order to put your mask on first?
A musician's market value is virtually nothing right now. As we carefully and tentatively reopen the economy and consider the possibility of live performances, we all the more need ideas. If you have one, share it and nurture it. A musician's life learning to perform for and draw in an audience is priceless. We need to recreate the market so that we can all put our skills to good use.
I've discovered that I have a terrible time finding the motivation to practice or do anything unless I have a deadline and a real project to work on. The lesson: you can create your own deadlines and 'real' projects. Send an email and get other people involved. It immediately leaves your head and becomes a breathing project!
I haven't written anything in a while. Undoubtedly like so many of you, the pandemic intensified and flash-boiled an already difficult field. It has been a time to review and rethink what I want out of life--and how to get it. I've taken up software engineering as a 'day job' in order to provide the capital necessary to continue working on projects.
I remain committed to:
1) creating opportunities for truly innovative performances in classical music that enchants and inspires wonder
2) nourishing musical progress through commissioning projects by young composers from underrepresented backgrounds
3) providing a platform for musicians, composers, and audiences to interact through meaningful performances.
To achieve this, I will do the following over the next year:
1) reboot Project: Sound into a worthy voice for underrepresented audiences and musicians that is financially viable and independent
2) start an incubator for music performance organizations that provides musicians with tools to create sustainable organizations, demystifying the business side--much like tech incubators
3) continue to push myself musically while I work in a non-musical field.
To hold myself accountable, I will publish updates here. As always, if you want to collaborate, shoot me an email or get in touch through the site.
I feel like I’ve been in a daze, a ‘wait and see what happens’ posture for a while now. The problem with this is that the world is still turning and changing all the faster now during the pandemic. As arts leaders, we need to move as quickly as we can. Guidelines are changing/ relaxing daily with spikes in the coronavirus expected. Most of our organizations have been decimated by the inability to perform for our audience.
What’s something you can do for your audience even if you can’t host them in your normal venue? How can you keep them engaged even now?
The initial dust is settling. If there was any doubt before, we know that things will never be the same for many parts of life post-pandemic, especially for the performing arts. We must deal with new legalities of large gatherings, new customs, and the changing public perception of safety. We must understand each of these and then respond to them directly.
One thing hasn’t changed: we must communicate with our audience and with our musicians. We must listen to their concerns and hopes, and we must respond to them in addition to the communication about the music. Above all, we must be open to what we hear.
Have you picked up the phone and called someone? Have you sent an email? Have you put together that meeting? All of these things can be done during a pandemic in 2020.
What do you believe in? There’s nothing like a good crisis to help you remember.
What is the most drastic change you can make? What is that complete left turn that you’ve always had in the back of your mind? Now is the time to try those things. We have a lot of great technology. We have to be as creative with it as we are with our music.
What’s next? This is the million dollar question. If you can posit an answer, you have a seat at the table. We need to have the courage and the generosity to share our answers. Not everything will work, but we must move forward. Staying still is not an option.