• JoAnn Lamolino, Walking Around Sfumato

I ran a course...or maybe WE ran a course!

Last week I had the unique pleasure of running my first virtual course. It was titled Navigating YOUR 21st Century Career in Music. It ended up being a very special time for everyone involved, at least I think so, lol! What I was looking to create was a community of trumpet players who I could share my thoughts about what it means to live a creative lifestyle in the here and now with the ability to let it go once you put it out there. I wanted to share what works for me with balancing my lifestyle; including my approach to playing trumpet, meditation, communication, and performing. In return I was looking for motivated participants who have goals and a strong desire to reach them in their creative worlds. The course basically ran exactly as I envisioned I wanted it to. There were four participants who were all women. Everyone came to the course from a different point in their creative lives and we had many perspectives to share and discuss. We had daily sessions on different warm-ups and fundamentals, discussions on making a career and what that can look like in the 21st Century, book discussions, daily mediations, yoga and the steps on how to perform without getting in your own way.

I came up with the topics for a course or workshop over the winter. Last summer I had the privilege of teaching at a festival in a Tuscan village in Italy. One of the students I worked with contacted me in the fall about running a workshop at her home in California. On a plane ride, I outlined what I would cover in a workshop and figured out why someone would want to study with me for multiple days! But then....there was a pandemic and that was put on the back burner.

Speaking of the pandemic, obviously all of us feel a sense of loss. We can't hug our friends, meet for coffee, maybe lost a loved one, walk closely etc....I can go on and on and so can you! We musicians are not working in our ensembles and most of us feel a sense of loss in that way as well. We have been doing the online virtual project pieces but it's not the same, not even close to what our lives have been like making music with others. For me there is a loss of community and connection I feel without going to work to make music everyday. I know I'm not alone when I say I miss chatting with my colleagues at the coffee machine, creating harmonies with them, giving music to our audiences, talking with patrons before or after concerts and complaining about the AC being too cold.

After receiving texts and emails from students and colleagues asking about how I do this or do that, I thought maybe a course would be a good idea. I was missing community and people were contacting me to talk about career and/or trumpet lessons. I decided in April that it was a good time to run a course since most musicians I know were looking for a sense of community while sitting home practicing or not. So I dug out my notebook from the winter and added onto my design for what I would want to take in a course and feel like I was part of a community. And that is what ran last week!

I really enjoy learning and trying new things almost daily. I was so happy that I was able to introduce a bunch of firsts to everyone in the course. I found out everyone had limited experience with meditation and yoga. Everyone liked how I connect those techniques with my performance skills approach. We did a different group warmup everyday based on ones I found most beneficial to my playing over the years. I was happy to see that really only 2 out of the 5 were very popular and the other 3 I chose were new routines everyone can tinker with to see what benefits they can get over the long term. I read a lot of non-fiction and I wanted us to read a couple of books and have discussions. The two I happened to pick, no one had read before. We had great discussions develop.

The biggest thing I learned is you can choose your curriculum, make your plans and run the course. But if you don't have motivated and thoughtful people signed up to receive your information, the magic doesn't happen. Everyone who signed up for last week really wanted to be there. Everyone's perspective was unique and everyone wanted to share. Even though we all came together from different stages on our creative paths, we all had a lot in common and there was a sense we all wanted to serve for the others. I feel like the magical community we created last week was the perfect antidote to the social unrest our country is going through. We weren't arguing, we weren't scared. We created openly and brought our best to each other. I'm honored you took my course and I'm excited to see where you go. Mahalo nui loa ladies!

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