Two For Two: Chapter I

Two For Two: Chapter I

When I received the news that I would be a 2022 Virginia G Piper Fellow, I knew that it was a blessing. I also knew that it would be an opportunity for me to learn, grow, and share my new knowledge with the community and help me to develop and find ways to expand music education opportunities in Arizona. I didn’t anticipate that it would help with my “Creative Juices”. Throughout my travels, I have been thinking about how my learning experiences will help SOUNDS Academy, the community, and Arizona. At the 2023 NAMM Conference, a presenter discussed the importance of blogging and how it can lead to community engagement and teamwork. I then created a new goal for myself: Write something once a month to let the community know where we are, what we’re thinking, and/or how they can get involved. I hope that in turn your comments and feedback will let us know where you are, what you’re thinking, and/or how we can help you – the community. Since I am “me”, of course I need to come up with some sort of “course” to guide me. So I’ll always aim to give 2 points of things that I’m thinking about and give you two points for you to think about; hence “Two For Two”.
I hope that you enjoy.

In January my first Fellowship trip brought me to Detroit for the Sphinx Connect Conference (and yes it was snowing and cold). The Opening Plenary featured the great American Mezzo-Soprano – Denyce Graves-Montgomery. She had a few “BARS” (Bars = key quotes or phrases that speak to your soul or stick with you) and I would like to share two of them with you:

1. “Trust that where you are in your journey is where you are supposed to be.”
This line is so important in where I am in my personal journey. I am my hardest critic. I often question myself and wonder if I am doing the right thing. I question if I’m doing enough and doing what I’m supposed to be doing. Her words reminded me to “trust the process” and know that what I’m doing is probably mostly correct. If it wasn’t, I am sure that my “tribe” would let me know (I have a VERY honest tribe). I think that it is so easy to question, doubt, and second guess yourself. But sometimes we need that reminder to have confidence and trust in ourselves.

2. “Take care of yourself first and give what you’re able to give.”
This line is important to me because I do not always practice what I preach on this one. I have often used the analogy of “putting your mask on first” (BTW – There has to be a better analogy for this. The plane isn’t always “going down”. Let me know if you have a more positive analogy for this phrase 🙃) but do not always do that for myself. I give gifts for people to take care of themselves but don’t always get those same gifts for myself. I know that if I’m taking care of myself, it makes it way easier to take care of others. I hope to get better in this department.

BONUS. “Don’t become the facade of what you think people want. People want the new stuff. You are new and different. They want you.”
This is so true! I don’t think that this has always been true, but I’m glad that our society has been moving in a direction of embracing our differences – culturally, aesthetically, etc. We all have unique differences that make us standout. We should embrace and promote those difference. It reminds me of a Sean Carter BAR where he states “Would you rather be old rich me, or new you?”. I rather be the new me.

Two Questions:
Do you have a tribe that “keeps it real” with you (If so, you should thank them because we all are not that lucky)?
What do YOU do to take care of yourself – physically, mentally, and/or spiritually (perhaps I’ll learn something)?

Full Circle: In March I went to DC and I went to The National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution. I went because I wanted to see the Kehinde Wiley painting of Michelle Obama. Yes, it was awesome. As I turned the corner I saw this painting that stuck with me so I sat in front of it. I read the bio and it was a painting of Denyce Graves. Life is funny like that.