On August 23rd, I was awarded the Grand Prize of the Win Your Space YK 2018 Competition – 1-year of FREE commercial space in downtown Yellowknife! As a result, Music Space has been given life - a hub for community musicians and music educators to run programs, workshops and rehearsals in a space that inspires and supports music-making.
The significance of this win for me and for our community is huge!
A win for music leaders: Music Space provides a location with easy set-up, facilitating the music-making experience and offering connections and support.
A win for the arts community: The business community chose an arts business to help revitalize the downtown – not a tourism, retail, or hospitality business. An arts business. This is a win for the arts community to be recognized as having value in our economy and feasibility among business professionals.
A win for me personally: the recognition through this win, and the launch into creating this social enterprise is allowing me to dream of possibilities I did not know were even possible. Having the space to run programs allows me to keep dreaming and expanding, through inspired programming, partnerships, and hospitality towards others who are working with similar goals of music engagement throughout life’s stages. Music is for everyone – all ages, all abilities.
I stepped into this process feeling underprepared, unbelieving that there was anything for me in this competition – none of the listed spaces were appropriate (size, noise-requirements, set-up, price). I didn’t want to win because none of the spaces would work for my business….Until I found the perfect space. One week before The Win my motivation sky-rocketed as I began to see my dream as a real possibility.
Grand Opening will be in January 2019.....stay tuned!
In July 2018, I attended the 33rd World Conference of the International Society of Music Education’s (ISME) in Baku, Azerbaijan. Two years ago, I was introduced to the world of ISME when I attended the Community Music Activity (CMA) Pre-conference in Scotland in 2016 (read that blog here!). I returned to this pre-conference in Tblisi, Georgia before the main ISME conference in Azerbaijan.
ISME is present in over 80 countries, is the premiere international organisation for music education and believes every individual has a right to music education. The Society has 7 commissions and 1 forum which have specialized areas of research and information gathering and dissemination. The Commissions are:
As a community musician developing expertise various areas, peeking into the world of so many specializations in one location was a rare opportunity! I met and interacted with a very wide network of uniquely specialized global music educators. Here are just a few of the rich topics covered in presentations and workshops:
Most of the time, as a community music practitioner, I feel isolated in my work. Not only because of the geographical remoteness of the city I live in (Yellowknife), but also because I have no provincial or national association or institution whose membership might connect me to a team of peers. I am a music educator, music-facilitator and community builder, working in the community setting. My work is with local organizations and the public.
Ironically, at this conference half-way around the world, I learned about the two national music education associations in my own country; The Canadian Music Educators Association (CMEA) is focused on serving music educators working in the school setting (my work is not in schools) and The Canadian Federation of Music Teachers Association (CMFTA) which restricts membership to those having formal classical music performance abilities (I am not eligible for that association, either). Neither of these organizations were present at the conference – I learned about them through colleagues and on their website. Furthermore, not being a researcher or professor in a higher education institution, and without a university my city, I am essentially disconnected from the research world.
As for the CMA Pre-Conference in Georgia, what I really appreciated was the rich Georgian group singing experiences I heard and was invited to take part in, as well as the relationship building with my peers and colleagues. What stood out for me in the community music discourse, however, was seeing the boxes being built around practices, the rough spots at the edges of our programs, and the incongruences between word and practice. Here are a few key messages that I am left with:
Thankfully, attending this world conference provided me with a rich opportunity to network, build relationships, be inspired and learn about ideas, organizations, projects and fresh ways of thinking and approaching my work. I am reminded me that, although I do business in a small, remote city in Northern Canada, I do have a place in a global context of community musicians, music educators and change makers.
Thank you to the Government of the Northwest Territories Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment for funding a significant portion of my travel expenses and conference fees!
Yes, I believe you can sing! Like every other ability that the body and mind develop - the more you use, train and support your singing muscles, the stronger they will be.
Singing abilities through the lens of children:
I invited the dad of a 4 yr. old student to sit and sing with us during circle-singing time – the child laughed at this idea, exclaiming “My dad can’t SING!” He can indeed sing, I’ve heard him carry a tune. However, this young child had begun classifying people in two groups– those who CAN, and those who CANNOT sing.
Another circumstance found me enthusiastically singing the theme song to a Disney movie, when a child tried to shut me up by saying “You’re singing off key!” She was annoyed with the song that her younger sister sang ALL THE TIME. What does that expression “off key” mean to a 9 yr, old? Where had she learned this language? Regardless, she knew the power of the insult to get the result she wanted: to make a person stop singing.
What is the desired sound?
The vast majority of the population are born with the predisposition to be musical. Singing ability is developed as muscles and ligaments are trained and coordinated to produce a sung voice vs speaking voice. Then comes the ability to produce a melody line that goes higher and/or lower. With that ability, there is the auditory ability to hear differences in pitch, and whether a melody is going higher or lower. Rhythmical awareness, discrimination, and replication. Only a small percentage of the population 2-5% do not have the brain-wiring for these vocal skills.
When singing muscles and brain pathways are underused, their abilities need warming up or training to produce the desired sound. Practice does not make perfect (what is perfect?) – but it certainly improves underused abilities. It is normal to have narrow singing abilities when voice muscles are unfamiliar with producing other sounds.
This world needs more singing!
Performance-quality singing is not the baseline expectation for sharing your voice or your song. There is no formal stage or audience when we are singing with a group of friends, at a family gathering, in a church service, with kids or remembering an old song with an elder. The more YOU get comfortable with this idea, the more you give permission to people around you to be ok with their singing voice, and the ripple effect will see more singing in the everyday lives of everyday people. Music is for everyone – all ages, all abilities.
Singing has the potential to connect us and makes us feel good! I think our communities and this world could benefit from a little more of that. Do you?
|Music is for everyone!||