I’ve been working hard for a few weeks to bring our new program to life—the online summer program for the Art of Practicing Institute.

We knew we had to make it happen. But how could we turn this phenomenal in-person program, normally held on the beautiful green campus of Edinboro University, into something just as powerful that people can experience on their computers, while they’re stuck at home?

So much incredible connection happens at the in-person program. People open up through the warm group support in our daily discussions, and it comes through in the music they make. The whole thing is such a celebration of who we are as musicians and human beings.

And yet, because we’re so isolated now, we’re more aware than ever of who we are—people whose hearts long for connection. That’s why we make music and seek each other out for support.

And so our faculty has been meeting on Zoom to talk about this daunting project. How can we get up to speed with the technology so that program participants can hear how someone’s playing is growing and opening up? And since four of us will be teaching master classes this year, how can we let people know who we are as teachers, artists, and people?

We’re spending so much time talking to each other about how to create little videos—as quickly as possible!—in order to convey what this amazing work means to us and how it affects the musicians we share it with.

We’re sharing information about external microphones and cameras, ethernet cables, gigabit adapters, lighting, and audio and recording settings on Zoom.

And for me, because this is my life’s work—born of all my love for music, my musical training, and my musical and personal transformation through meditation practice—it’s been a particularly vulnerable time. I’ve lain awake for so many hours in the middle of the night, my head filled with questions and plans about how to accomplish this program. And in my fear that it couldn’t be done, I became hard on myself and started pushing myself to get things done. I even started feeling impatient with my wonderful colleagues on the faculty.

That was when I realized that I needed to loosen up.

The whole thing reminded me of what it feels like when a performance is coming up and we start freaking out because we don’t think we’ll be ready.

In other words, I needed to follow the advice in my own book—to let go of struggle and settle in to the deep vulnerability underneath it. To tune in to my heart, and to use my soft human nature to keep connecting with my fellow teachers, trusting that from this genuine place in ourselves we can create something beautiful that will benefit whoever participates.

Music—like the word muse—is all about inspiration. Our inspiration to connect with other people, through our performing and teaching, is what we need to keep coming back to.

I’m looking forward to this thing that has never happened before—six straight days of the Art of Practicing Institute online. I don’t know what will happen. But I know it will be so human—because we want with all our hearts to share this magical work with you at this powerful time.

You’ll be hearing more about it soon. Meanwhile, if you think you’d like to join us, please save the dates July 20-25. We are planning something so special.

Madeline Bruser signature