Summer Project: Values to Live By

One of the advantages of being a musician, like a public school teacher, is the opportunity to spend summers finding projects/work to inspire, learn, and grow.  Last summer, I took on the task of launching a successful fundraising campaign for the Chinook Winds.  Many musicians will find a home in various festival orchestras, returning year after year to make music in wonderful surroundings with a different set of colleagues.  Other musicians fill various music camps tucked away in woods and on lakes all over the world; teaching and mentoring young musicians at every level.  

This summer, in addition to moving to a new city and preparing to start a whole new adventure in academia, I have discovered myself in a most exciting project: The Ken Moses project.  (Title in progress.) This undertaking is a new tab on my blog and a whole new chapter in my life.  

Ken Moses was my very first bassoon teacher - and what a whopper of a teacher!  I think I knew, to a small degree, that I was fortunate to have been able to study with him in the Eastman School of Music community division.  But in the past 22 years, I have come to realize how unbelievably fortunate I was to have begun my training under a masterful performer and educator.  

Ken and I have been exploring his journey as an artist both, as an aid to me in preparing for my new position, but also in a deeply indulgent dream I have had, for more than two decades, to know more about him.  He has existed as a veritable man of mystery in my life and I'm truly overwhelmed that he has thrown open the lines of communication with me to allow me to ask him questions and hear his story.  

In the process of interviewing and transcribing our on-going conversation, I wanted to share some beautiful words he gifted me this past week.

These are the values he lives by and hold's himself accountable to and you can learn more about them at

    Vulnerability – the willingness to show up and be seen with no guarantee of outcome – is our greatest measure of courage. Vulnerability is at the core of difficult emotions like fear, grief and disappointment, but it's also the birthplace of love, belonging, innovation, and creativity - the experiences that bring purpose and meaning to our lives.                                        
    If we are brave enough, often enough, we will fall. Getting back up requires us to turn toward the truth of our struggle and look it in the eye. When we deny our stories, they define us. When we run from struggle, we are never free.                         
    We are all called to be brave with our lives and answering that call means choosing courage over comfort, choosing what's right over what's easy, practicing our values rather than professing them and leaning into our vulnerability.       

What I LOVE about these values is that they are obviously applicable to any person but especially to a performer.

If we applied these 3 values to each performance, how would that performance be transformed? If we applied these 3 values to our journey as musicians, how would our lives and careers be transformed?

Be vulnerable: to your audience! To yourself! Allow the moment to be a manifestation of your work without judgement of your human errors.

Be brave: take on the projects that seem impossible. Chose the repertoire you *think* you can't play. Ask for the help you need. Share your process/fears/triumphs with those who chose to listen. Be brave enough to take risks.

Choose Courage: to take an audition, to apply for a job, to go back to school, to ask for feedback. Choose courage rather than fear.

Ken's story, as an artist, educator, performer, and person is a gift. I'm enjoying the process of learning and following the path he is sending me down: discovering new music, finding old recordings, imagining exotic concerts and wild collaborations.

Being an artist is a life lived with vulnerability, bravery, and courage.


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