The above quote is from the brilliant opera singer, Dr. Joyce Didonato’s Commencement Speech to the Julliard School class of 2014. We would like to thank Julie Carlson for sharing this inspiring link, and for recognizing the connection to TRIBE’s purpose and work.
To listen to and read the whole amazing speech (seriously, you want to do this) Click here.
One of the many qualities and gifts of the artist is to be the perpetual student, absorber of nature, energy, wisdom, the environment and catalyst and alchemist of said elements into something meaningful, beautiful, sacred. In order to do this, we need what some call “beginner’s mind”, or the mind of a child.
In her speech, Dr. DiDonato invites the listeners to
“… Show up, fully present as you did when you first discovered the magic of your own artistic world when you were young. Bring that innocent, childlike sense of wonder to your craft, and do whatever you need to find that truth again. It will continually teach you how to be present, how to be alive, and how to let go. Therein lies not only your artistic freedom, but your personal freedom as well...”
Today we’d like to introduce to you to what we are affectionately calling the first ‘mini –Tribe”. These are 60 “at risk” middle school students from three public schools in Springfield, Massachusetts. For the past four months, these kids have been part of a pilot program called “Sonido Musica” offered through Community Music School of Springfield, to reintroduce the arts, specifically string orchestra programs back into the schools.
They have received twice-weekly instruction for an hour on recorder, violin, cello, or viola, and the results have been fantastic. Since the inception of the program mid-January, in those who participate in the program, attendance rates are up, truancy rates are down. There have been zero suspensions. Far fewer serious behavioral incidents. Kids who barely spoke are excitedly chatting on the playground before school to their musical classmates and their teacher about last night’s practicing assignment.
Students who started the program resistant because they were selected for the program (instead of volunteering) because they needed some kind of structured outlet for various reasons are now section leaders, willingly helping their peers.
Attitude is down and confidence is up. Parents have shared with tears that they see changes in their kids. Teachers say that students are completing more work on time, so that they can remain in the music program.
In a world where data-driven instruction sings louder than Art for Art’s sake, we are able to use the data to prove what we artists already know. The power of the arts is in the power of change.
Aren’t we all “at risk” in some way? Artists, and arguably, all people are at risk when we don’t create. Our spirit is at risk of atrophy. Our creative juices wither and our mood plummets. We find ourselves short tempered, and long faced. The song in our heart is quieted.
This week you are invited to remember WHAT MAKES YOUR HEART SING?
Take stock of the mini-tribe in you. The part of you that longs to remember the freedom and joy that made you love your craft in the first place. Or the part of you that is discovering what that might be! The part of you that wants to explore a new artistic avenue, pick up that guitar from the yard sale, give the watercolor class a try, work on the new piece, rest more and work less, work more and distract less, visit that friend or relative and create more depth in your relationships. The part of you that wants to share your experience or gifts with others and use your journey to support someone else’s.
Here is a video of the Sonido Musica kids, joined by another group from Community Music School at their end of the year festival last weekend.
This week you are invited to have your own inner arts festival and delight in the joy of creation and art for art’s sake.
You too will be changed.
If you would like to support the mini-tribe’s program funding for next year, you may do that here. Please specify it is for the outreach programs.
If you would like to support TRIBE, we would be so grateful if you could do that, here.
Above all, use this week, the speech from the Julliard Commencement, and the joy of these beginning performers to support the artist in you.