Reflections and Updates
Well, it’s the first blog post of 2019 and I’m going to cheat a bit (insofar as it’s possible to cheat on your own blog…) on not even write a “real” post. Instead, I’m going to recap some 2018 highlights for Music, Mind, and Movement and tell you what’s ahead for 2019.
2018 was a big, awesome, challenging year full of growth and new adventures. Aside from the many hurdles associated with the launch of Music, Mind, and Movement, we made the decision for my partner to leave his job to homeschool (unschool, really) our son. We had grown increasingly unhappy with the extent to which our day-to-day lives did not reflect our values so, after a lot of thought and planning, we decided to make a radical shift. There have been ups and downs for sure, but it was unquestionably the right decision for us at this point and has given us a sense of greater agency and possibility. There are some interesting tensions, too. It is feels a bit weird to pull my kid out of a system in which I continue to make my living. But, on the other hand, exploring alternative educational paths has led me to deeply re-consider the way I think about learning — and, indeed, what I think learning even is — and this has enriched my teaching in countless ways. But that’s a whole other post…
When I launched Music, Mind and Movement back in August, I knowingly bit off waaaaay more than I was ultimately going to be able to chew. It was a bit of a “go big or go home” approach, but I wanted to see which things I enjoyed doing, what seemed to resonate most with people, and what was going to be sustainable given that I have both a family and a full-time job in academia. That, and the fact that one of the things I have learned about myself over the years is that if I try to manage things too carefully, I get bogged down in details: Would it make more sense to start a blog first in order to build an audience and THEN launch a podcast, or should I launch the podcast first and use the blog as a forum for amplifying themes that arise in the podcast??? This back and forth would still be going on had I not just taken a deep breath and hit “publish”.
For me, that was the big lesson of 2018: Just start. Make something, put it in the world. Repeat. Big inspiration in this department came from Seth Godin as well as my meditation teacher who often said, “Start before you are ready.” (I think he was quoting Deborah Hay.) But I should also mention that mustering the courage to put something into the world and the energy to keep it going is the result of a lot of self-regulation work — the kind of stuff I have written about here and here.
Anyway, my goal with Music, Mind, and Movement was to create an educational resource exploring my personal and professional passions of mindfulness, movement, and embodied resilience practices for musicians. The plan was for the site to host a blog and a podcast, as well as a video library of movement ideas tailored specifically to musicians. I also began using social media as a tool to promote the above and to connect with others with similar interests.
Here’s a status report as of January, 2019:
Blog: Man, do I ever enjoy writing a blog! I love the search for a topic, the words, a voice. I love trying to be rigourous in my thinking while at the same time finding ways to communicate clearly with folks for whom the stuff I write about might be entirely new. I love scrolling through Flickr looking for blog images and picking fonts for the blog teasers I create for social media. The fact that hardly anyone reads it doesn’t seem to bother me. The process extremely valuable to me, regardless of who does or does not read it, and I think that the blog will ultimately serve as a helpful resource for students in my classes, workshops, and one-on-one sessions. All that said, trying to post every week proved to be a bit too much. I almost did it last fall, but it was a schlep and it meant that I set aside a bunch of things that are just as important to me — more, in some cases — such as moving enough every day and spending relaxed, open-ended time with my family and close friends. So, unless I’m particularly inspired and just can’t wait to share, I’m going to see how it feels to post only on the weeks when I don’t release a podcast, aka every other week.
Which brings me to the podcast!
Podcast: The podcast has also been a labour of love and has given me even more than I expected. Unlike the blog, the podcast has developed a bit of an audience! It has been such a treat to hear from people all over the world who have listened and gotten something out of it. My guests have all been generous and wise and I have learned something significant from each one. And, as with the blog, I thoroughly enjoy the backend work: Preparing for the interviews, doing the interviews, editing the interviews. In fact, I think the editing might be my favourite part. It feels oddly crafty to me. I wish I could do an episode every week. But, every other week feels manageable and, I hope, is regular enough that listeners will keep tuning back in.
The podcast returns next Tuesday, January 15 and I have a bunch of great guests lined up for the rest of this season. I plan to keep making shows for Season 1 through June and then to take a hiatus over the summer when I’ll begin recording interviews for Season 2.
Video: Surprisingly, I have enjoyed making videos. Last spring, I created a small, private online course with the aims of familiarizing myself with basic video recording and editing technology and getting comfortable filming myself. My first few videos required many, many, many takes! But now, I find I can get something usable in only one or two. For Music, Mind, and Movement my plan was to, each week, film short, silent, sped up videos for Instagram, plus longer, real-time version with cues for YouTube and my website. It was fun but I found that, while the videos on social media got lots of views, almost nobody looked at the longer videos on my website and YouTube channel. So, this seems like an area where I can cut back a bit. I don’t enjoy making the longer videos enough to justify the time it requires, especially if no one is going to see them (except my mom. Sorry, Mom!) But, I do want to provide some more in-depth movement information and exploration via video, so I have come up with a solution that I think will be both sustainable and helpful. Read on!
Social Media: I love social media and I’m not afraid to say it. Yes, I see and experience its darker side and I’m glad I made it through childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood without it (on account of having been born in the 70s). But I have found that the positives far outweigh the negatives. When I made my first few Instagram posts, I thought I was going to throw up every time I hit “share”. Even though Instagram is a thing that lots of people do and shouldn’t really be that big a deal, it was not a thing that I did and it felt like a HUGE deal! But people were nice and supportive and I slowly started getting followers. A few followers. Still fewer than 300, many of whom seem to be fake followers/bots, BUT STILL! To an introvert who struggles to network in person, this seems kind of incredible. I have connected with people from all over the world and am thrilled to contribute to a small (but growing!) community of musicians on social media who share my mission to make the classical music world a more embodied place. The other unexpected benefit of regularly posting unedited, unfiltered videos on Instagram has been that I generally feel less inhibited about putting myself out there, saying what I think, etc. I am less worried about pleasing everybody. The positive impact this alone has had on my mental wellbeing cannot be overstated.
So, what’s ahead in 2019?
Podcast episodes every other Tuesday and blog posts on the off weeks.
Continuing to post regularly on Instagram because it’s so darn fun. Especially stories! And maybe being a bit more curatorial on Facebook…we’ll see.
More tuba playing!!! I didn’t mention it above, but I took an intentional hiatus from playing while I got everything else up and running. I didn’t schedule any performances during the summer or fall of 2018. It was a good call. I never could have kept on top of everything else if I had been trying to practice every day and prepare for concerts. But I missed it. I have been practicing a lot over the last couple of months, working out some issues that have plagued me for years, and enjoying it more than ever. It is really nice to see all the work I have done in the past few years translate into a tangible shift in the way I approach my instrument.
Finally, I am going to start sending a monthly newsletter to subscribers including a short (15-20 min.) movement practice video that incorporates some of the exercises I share on social media and concepts I explore in the blog. I will also put these videos on YouTuba and my website…probably. But the newsletter will include fun extras and will go directly to your inbox. Because I’m sure there’s not enough in there already. I’ll make the sign-up more prominent on my site when I get a chance, but in the meantime, you can sign up here (you have to scroll down…clearly, this was not a priority when we built the site!).
That’s it! Thanks to everyone who read a post, listened to a podcast episode, tried an exercise, commented, liked, or shared. Your support and encouragement means a lot and keeps me going on the days when it feels as though I’m shouting into the void.
All the best for a happy, productive, embodied 2019!