I'm sharing excerpts of responses to my mid-year written reflection prompts:
1. What's working well for you?
2. Can you cite one or more specific instances in which things that we talked about in class or individually were meaningful in your "real" life?
3. Can you provide an anecdote about how this experience has been meaningful, shaped your thinking or actions, or led to a new opportunity?
“I feel I've gotten a lot out of this class, and especially from the presentations. It was great to talk through my ideas aloud, and have other people take them seriously!”
“I came into this course attracted to the idea of building my own organization because I thought it would allow me artistic freedom and autonomy—I’d be able to imagine, design, create, and lead something. It’s clear to me now that 'freedom' is not the most helpful or important goal; I’d prefer meaning, connection, and positive impact.”
“I already knew that my [community-based] work was extremely rewarding, but being able to pinpoint why that was and to verbalize my mission as an artist has deepened my desire to make this or similar projects a cornerstone element of my life and career.”
“What's most valuable for me is the subtle shifts in outlook that I'm picking up along the way: the small ideological shifts that have helped me to claim greater ownership over my work through improved awareness and doing more of what's important to me in connecting with audiences.”
“The importance of music’s connection with a community (a fundamental topic throughout our semester) is the only way to avoid creating music for nobody: music must have a meaningful role in our communities and it must be meaningfully shaped by our communities. How can we make these two things happen? Reflecting on the student presentations, it struck me that they could almost all be understood as answers to this question.”
“I feel a sense of excitement walking around the city, knowing that at any moment I might have a chance to meet and connect with someone.”
“Before this course, I’d never tried to clearly and broadly articulate an artistic mission or vision. I’m not satisfied with the missions or visions I’ve articulated, but I definitely have a clearer and stronger sense of what these should be, and I think I can now work more independently to refine these ideas. It’s been especially helpful to do this while also hearing lots of other musicians discuss and articulate their visions. This was the most important exercise of this semester, and while I still have a lot of work and thinking to do, I’m grateful to have been pushed to undertake it.”
“My favorite part of this whole experience has been my one-on-one or small group meetings with you; the kinds of questions you asked encouraged me to think about my life in ways that I had been too hesitant to explore and have helped me to re-shape my goals for the next several years.”
“I have always felt overwhelmed by the idea of long-term planning and previously had no idea where to start, but the concept of breaking down giant ideas into tiny, manageable steps and that [Andrew Simonet’s] ‘if a step makes you want to procrastinate, it’s too big’ was a revelation to me and has helped me to work towards large goals in a more tangible, productive way.”
“This experience, and ones similar, has changed my thinking about being a leader. Leadership is not about knowing the answers or being more informed than your peers; it’s about listening, being humble and generous, and being a positive person.”
And some constructive criticism for the future:
“As you continue to develop this class over time, I think you might want to consider having two different sections: one for people who are already in the middle of a project, and one for those who just have the seed of an idea. I totally understand that one of your goals for the class was to gather together like-minded people and to help us connect with one another—but for me, the class time was disproportionately spent listening to each other fleshing out ideas and I felt like you had so many helpful and fascinating things to share which often ended up getting crammed in. By splitting the class in two, it might help the discussions to feel more relevant, and you could still combine the groups on occasion for guest speakers, presentations, etc.”
Sharing student project documentation and, more recently, my own.