Earlier this month, for the 5th time, I coordinated the gathering of my union brothers and sisters (Local 1000 AFM–American Federation of Musicians) as we gathered at this amazing and historic Ashokan Center in Olive Bridge, New York.
Members Jay Ungar and Molly Mason (pictured here) sang us a lovely song about living in the Catskill Mountains.
This camp is the home of the music and dance camps that they have facilitated for decades, and which gave birth to the famous “Ashokan Farewell” song that Ken Burns featured in his Civil War documentary series.
The topic of this year’s gathering was mentoring.
Remembering who has helped us get to where we are, and also paying attention to who we are currently helping along the way.
With my good sister, Tret Fure, I led a Crowdfunding workshop which then our other faithful sister, Erin Mae Lewis led in our Virtual Union hall meeting later in the month.
Two insights from this gathering:
My friend and brother, Scott Berwick, shared this story from a classical guitar instructor who demonstrates to student visitors a piece of music, then comments:
“That was correct.
All the notes were played in the right order and with the correct timing.
But that wasn’t musical.”
Then he plays it again with expression and dynamics and the two performances are nearly unrecognizable to each other.
He then says to the students,
“Students come here playing guitar.
What I teach them is how to play music on the guitar.”
Second is a question upon which I will chew and chew
How do we measure success?
If it is by comparison to someone or something…we’ll probably never measure up. So I need (and am finding) a different definition.
This commencement address by Maria Popovich of Brainpickings Weekly, underscores that point.
Here is an excerpt: