August was an unexpectedly quiet time for me at work – a time to catch up on the to do list, and prepare for a busy fall season. After a whirlwind year when I cycled close to burn-out several times this was a welcomed pace. During this downtime, I flirted with the possibility of going on a little trip somewhere - to get away, and maybe get inspired with some relevant training before the programming year started.
This is how I ended up on the Hollyhock website, searching through their “Creativity” Programs. I had heard about Hollyhock over the years - always positive experiences of residing in the wilderness for a few days, eating good, garden fresh food (that someone else cooks and cleans up!), and enjoying soul-full programs. I landed on the description of the “Create to Liberate” program and was drawn in like a magnet. I’d rationalize why I shouln’t go (time, money, probably not what I hope it will be), but couldn’t get if off my mind. I kept reading the words Creativity, Power, and Individual and Collective Liberation. I wanted to dwell with these concepts, learn more, practice more. My work often involves creative facilitation, but this program offered an opportunity to bring that work to a more meaningful level - the level of the heart and soul.
The program was designed and facilitated by a dynamic pairing of Khari McLelland and Rebekka Goldsmith. Their complimentary personalities and skill sets as well as a their deep friendship and high regard for one another was a key component to the depth of the program. Much of my personal learning was through witnessing what caring, relationship-based creative facilitation looks and feels like.
Flowing between activities which included embodied movement, writing, visual arts, dance and singing, we explored thoughts and feelings related to our personal and collective power, and perceptions. We were challenged with questions such as “If you knew the infinite limitlessness of your creativity, how would that change the way you live?” and “How is my body powerful?” and “What element in nature is a metaphor for the intuitive voice you wish to discover?” And we experienced liberation. As we let ourselves go through these different creative modalities, we experienced the flow of ideas, perspectives and truths that can be released by through creative engagement.
Supporting all of this personal and collective process was the beautiful ocean-side forest setting that is Hollyhock. The views, the gorgeous garden, the abundance of delicious fresh vegetarian food, the yoga, the simple and comfortable wood buildings and the coming together of intentional people. Topping off the experience was a late-night swim in bioluminescent waters that sparkled and shined all around us. Reconnecting with that childlike wonder, in community, feeling safe and supported and free.
I am deeply grateful to these facilitators, and the group members that made this such a special experience. I’m grateful to the scholarship supporters at Hollyhock who helped cover some of the program and accommodation costs, so that I could worry less about the financials, and focus more on becoming a better change-maker in this world. And I’m grateful to myself, who listened to and trusted my own intuition that I should spend the time and the money on this program. Rest, Renewal, Jubilation, Liberation. Go to Hollyhock if you have the chance. Check the schedule for this program, or find these facilitators doing meaningful work in this world and spend time with them.
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!
|Music is for everyone!||