The Power of Community: Enriching Growth, Inspiration, and Connection
Finding community in life enriches the human experience.
“I’m not feeling it right now. I feel lost, distracted, unfocused, and unsure of which direction to move next.”
I shared these thoughts and feelings with my writing group this past week. Vacation and the recent holiday prevented me from attending the previous two weekly sessions. During that time, I had begun to doubt my abilities, lay aside my dreams, settle for less in my mind, and deprioritize my practice.
As if my writing coach knew what I needed, she led the group through the following writing prompts, “What takes you away from your writing?”, “What attracts you to your writing?”, and finally, “What initially drew you to writing?”
Those three prompts provided insight into my struggle to place pen to paper and inspired me to return to myself and my home in the words on the page. More than that, the experience reminded me of the power of community to enrich the human experience, especially while learning new artistic skills.
As I contemplated these ideas, I reflected on my experiences as a musician within the musical community. They weren’t too far off from what I’m experiencing now as a writer.
Creating art can be a lonely endeavor. The act of mastering a craft takes years of dedication, practice, and often time alone in exploration and experimentation. Yet, too much solitude and isolation can sometimes lead to decreased motivation and immovable mental barriers preventing us from reaching our goals.
Let's take a look at the power of community to enrich growth, inspiration, and connection, especially in the artistic fields.
The Power of Community With Oneself
I recognize that honing any artistic craft is first and foremost the forging of a relationship with myself. Through the study of each art form, one encounters their own mindset blocks and challenges, resiliency, passions, energy, determination, and, once they have the skills, the expression of their own soul through the chosen medium.
The impact of art on an individual is as varied as we are as people and the medium we choose. Writing helps me dive deeper into introspection about my life and the world. Playing the piano provides me with time away from the rest of life’s demands and allows me to express that which words fail to describe.
The Power of Community With Expert Teachers
Yet, it hasn’t always been me alone with the page. In fact, I would never be able to express my soul through music if it hadn’t been for my teachers. My lesson times as a youth, and especially as a college music student, were the highlights of any given week. They were times to focus solely on my craft and to receive personalized instruction from a master on how I could elevate and fine-tune my skills. My teachers contained storehouses of information they graciously shared with me, along with the inspiration and encouragement I needed.
During lessons, I not only found professional instruction but also someone to share in the excitement of the art. Together, we geeked out on the intricacy of music theory, the beauty of a perfectly placed note, and how we would navigate a challenging passage while sharing our exasperation over the passage.
Now as a teacher, I still benefit from the teacher-student relationship. Sitting in the expert’s seat, I get to rediscover my love for music each day as I provide information, encouragement, and inspiration to my students. Hearing a student say, “That’s so cool!” lights me up as I teach about the Circle of Fifths, V7/V chords, and the reason behind harmonic minor scales. That is community! Teacher inspiring student; student inspiring teacher.
The Power of Community With Peers
The piano teacher of my youth cultivated a community within her piano studio through a variety of methods. She paired each of her students with a duet partner whom we practiced and performed with. I was lucky enough to meet my duet partner in 4th grade, which developed into a seven-year musical adventure and friendship together before we studied music at separate colleges.
We also participated in monthly music theory and performance classes in groups of four to six students. We gathered in her tiny studio, tucked around (and under) the piano studying music theory and performing our repertoire for each other. She also required participation in a community youth music club where we met piano students from other piano studios. These settings were my first introductions to the musical community and ultimately drew me to study music in college
I absolutely loved being a music major in college. As demanding as those years were for me mentally, emotionally, and physically, I found other people who loved music as much as or more than I did. We sat in hallways debating the proper analysis of Bach’s Inventions and ingested as many recordings as possible in the music library (before online music streaming services became available). We performed for each other informally in cramped practice rooms and formally at area recitals and senior recitals, lending a listening, critical, and encouraging ear to each other as we worked to improve our skills.
In some ways, music school helped me feel not as alone in this world and in my niche interests. Having a community of musical peers solidified my love for music, my ability to create within this art form, and the confidence to keep pursuing it.
When I graduated from college, I immediately joined a music teacher’s organization, the Music Teachers National Association. This group of professional teachers helped me begin my career as a piano teacher. From my fellow teachers, I learned more about how to run a studio and elevate my teaching abilities. Again, being in a community of peers, inspired and encourage me to pursue my own path.
Now, as a business owner, I am an active member of a networking group that supports me as an entrepreneur. They've taught me to think like a businesswoman and market my services from a heart-centered place. It turns out, running a business can be an art form unto itself!
The Power of Community with the Human Collective
At the end of the day, I believe we creatives create not only because we have something to say, but because we want others to connect with our unique voice expressed through our chosen medium. We desire for others to be inspired, moved, and to feel free and safe to express themselves in their unique way.
For me, it’s not about the accolades - performing on a stage, being a thought leader in the music teacher spaces, or creating a best-selling book. It’s about sharing bits of my authentic self with the world, so my audience feels seen and connected to their own humanity and the human collective. In doing so, I feel less alone and part of humanity's richness as I navigate through my life experiences.
Enrich The Experience of Life With Community
In my current state of hyper-independence, as much as I would love to deny the need for community, I’m realizing that life holds little meaning without the elements of connection and community (even for Enneagram 4s and creatives like me).
Isn’t that the reason we participate in the creative arts in the first place? Art, poetry, writing, cooking, dancing, playing an instrument, and other art forms all share the idea of creating a connection - a connection to oneself, others, and the human experience.
It all starts with developing a strong sense of self-community (aka intuition, self-love, self-confidence, self-validation, etc.) It expands from there to receiving guidance from an expert who can guide us along the way. When secure enough, then we can grow our community to include peers and the fostering of personal relationships. Finally, we can begin to share our creativity with a wider audience that benefits from our art. (Note: Work on all of these levels of community can happen in any order and/or simultaneously.)
Community can be messy and scary. It requires a certain level of vulnerability that can feel intimidating, especially when looking for a new community. Yet, I believe the effort is worthwhile. At least it has been for me, as a musician, writer, and business owner.
I encourage you to take the leap. Enrich your life through the power of community. No matter your interests, skills, and creative endeavors, there are benefits in seeking out community and connection with others who share your interests, challenge you to grow, and benefit from your art.
Food for Thought:
In what area of your life could you use a bit of extra community in your life? Do you need to start with yourself? A trusted expert in the field? A community of peers? An audience?
Envision what it would feel like to be in a meaningful community, especially if you are gaining new artistic skills. Then try it out.
Answer the questions above and begin the journey. Do a little research. Find online groups and forums, coaching programs, expert teachers, local clubs, or town recreational events. Get involved. See how building community in those spaces helps you feel encouraged, inspired, motivated, and equipped to keep reaching for your goals.
Engaging in community at all these levels has been pivotal for my growth. Perhaps it will be for you as well.
It is my true delight to foster a musical community through private remote piano instruction that provides connection with yourself, other musicians, and your community at large. (Stay tuned for new adult group classes starting soon!)
If you are looking for this kind of connection made possible through the study of the piano, contact me today.
The process is simple:
1. Schedule a call to talk about your goals.
2. Select a lesson time.
3. Take your first lesson!
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