Savvier, and more exhausted, than ever before

Last night at about midnight, I crawled into my bed here in Chicago, utterly exhausted and delighted to be home again. I'd just finished a 14-hour road trip back from the Savvy Musician in Action workshop in South Carolina. Not only did Chicago Q Ensemble participate in the chamber music competition as a finalist, but we also spent five intense, VERY long days in a kind of mini-MBA program/Shark Tank for musicians. The initiative's director, David Cutler, describes the event as "extreme experiential learning," and the extreme part is definitely correct. I can't remember ever being this exhausted! 

Golden light in Indiana. We didn't win, but we DO look pretty good after 10 hours on the road. 

Golden light in Indiana. We didn't win, but we DO look pretty good after 10 hours on the road. 

In the six waking hours I've had since returning from the conference, I've been amazed at how much I'm already using what I learned at Savvy. For example: 

  • I've learned there's no shortcut for actually DOING THE WORK. Being at Savvy Musician reawakened my dream of writing, recording, and touring my own music. I've talked for months about wanting to record my next album, but I've been stuck in "pre-planning" (aka "do nothing") mode. But first thing this morning, I spent an hour organizing my song material. I gathered voice memos, finished songs, and even song fragments in order to see how much I've already written and which songs are the strongest. No one will make this album for me, and I feel much more ready to make it myself now!
  • I've learned that artistic possibilities are everywhere. This morning, I just happened to schedule a phone call with a possible community partner for Chicago Q Ensemble. During the conversation, I was able to "hear between the lines" and see the tremendously exciting potential (rather than the obstacles) of the partnership.  
  • I've learned about the power of brainstorming. In the same phone conversation, I suggested that our next step was to get together, brainstorm, and dream big about what the beginnings of our partnership could look like. I cannot wait to learn about what this community partner envisions, and generate outside-the-box ideas for how Q can help. 
  •  I've learned that my uniqueness as an artist is my greatest asset. Today, I've got a second-round interview for a church musician position in forward-thinking congregation. They've asked me to play a hymn on the piano, to "reimagine" another hymn any way I like, and to perform a piece of music that demonstrates "who I am as a musician." After Savvy, I feel more comfortable presenting myself naturally, without "faking it" or apologizing. I'm arriving at the interview knowing that my singing, violin, and uke playing may be able to win them over in spite of my very average piano playing. And if they feel that someone else is a better fit, I am completely okay with that. 
One of the best friends I made this week, the amazing Greg Sandow. 

One of the best friends I made this week, the amazing Greg Sandow. 

I met so many tremendous people at this conference, and I know their brains are probably percolating as much as mine is! May we continue to reap these benefits, and may we pass them on to everyone in our communities!