The Summerglen Files

Music, Creativity, and Everyday Life at Summerglen Music in Raleigh, NC

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Sick Day at Summerglen

November 11th, 2009 · No Comments

There’s been some kind of nasty tropical weather system passing over Summerglen for the past couple of days, and it’s made my sinuses and head quite, er, hostile toward trombone playing. During cold and flu season each year, many trombonists are in this same boat, facing the not-so-fun possibility of having to play sick. So, what can we do to keep up our musical skills when we’re under the weather?

1. First of all, never underestimate the power of REST. Playing a brass instrument can be physically taxing; after all, playing involves both aerobic exercise and strength training! If your body is exhausted from fighting off some nasty bug, rest can be the best kind of practice there is.

2. Listen. If you’re well enough to sit up, but playing still makes your head feel like it’s going to explode, listening can be a great way to grow musically on a sick day. Try checking out some new artists, working on some transcribing, or even listening more deeply to old favorites.

3. Small doses of practice, large doses of water and down time. If you’re at the point where you can practice, make sure to work smarter, not harder. Try structuring your practice in 10-minute sessions, each with a specific goal in mind–and give yourself breaks for water and rest in between. Never underestimate the impact of 10 minutes of focused practice!

4. Clean your horn. I unfortunately learned this lesson the hard way. Make sure to clean your trombone with soap, hot water, and a snake frequently when you’re sick…because it’s no fun to breathe in the germs that are living in your mouthpiece and slide! If you need some help with cleaning your slide, check out my slide cleaning video on the Summerglen Music resources page.

If you have any great tips for making the most of a sick day as a brass player, please feel free to share them in the comments. Until next time, I wish you good health! :)

→ No CommentsTags: Practice Tips · staying healthy

Creative Intentions

November 6th, 2009 · No Comments

Women Embracing Creativity Finale at Summerglen Music in Raleigh
Yesterday, we wrapped up our fall 2009 Women Embracing Creativity course…and as always, we had a great time. After doing several runs of the course, I’ve realized that my favorite part is almost always the final class meeting. Our last day tends to be bittersweet; after all, it’s time to leave the circle where we’ve shared two months of memorable experiences, discovered new parts of ourselves, and built great friendships. But it’s also a time when we can reflect on the creative selves we’ve built, and get excited about what the future holds on our creative journey.

Last night, we spent some time writing about our new creative selves, definitively introducing our creative consciousness into our lives. Here’s what I wrote:

Today I am fully present in my creative self. I do not fear the future. I’m grateful the past has been my teacher. My creativity is a beacon to those around me, and I am happy and at peace.

This is a super duper intention–not just for this week or this month, but for how I live my life for years to come. I’m amazed at this neat little creativity course. We spend 8 weeks eating, painting, cutting up magazines, drumming, and talking about random subjects, and we leave with some of life’s best gifts: fresh insight into who we are, close connections with other people, open-mindedness, and the strength to get out there and do our thing.

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Musicians’ Transitions

November 2nd, 2009 · No Comments

Warming up the brass line
Marching season is officially over: we’ve worked 5 competitions, pushed through 3-1/2 months of rehearsals, and given silly awards and hot pizza to everyone in the percussion and brass lines. After growing accustomed to the hustle and bustle of marching season, it can be straight up weird to see a relatively empty November calendar! What are we gonna do will all this extra time?

Unfortunately, it can be easy to answer that question with “Sit and drink coffee!” or “Daily movie marathons in our pajamas!” After all, freelance musicians don’t have bosses, and we have nearly complete control over our schedules. But we also have chops to maintain, and a studio to keep healthy, and music that needs making. So the real question is, “How can we enjoy our extra time, while still doing what we need to do for our music?”

So, I’m treating these next couple of weeks as my musician’s transition. I’m going to treat myself well and allow some extra chillout time, but also make sure that I devote plenty of time to practicing and working toward my musical goals.

It’s in the transitional times when structure becomes so vital for creative people, especially musicians with chops to keep up. Structure doesn’t have to mean ironclad, nose-to-the-grindstone discipline–it can be anything the creative person wants it to be! For me, structure in the form of a flexible schedule, or a list of the top 5 things I’d like to do, helps me have fun and relax while still getting things accomplished. Goals and intentions also help a great deal, because they give me something to work toward.

If you’re a marching band clinician, or a marcher yourself, how are you going to make the transition from marching season back into the “real world”? What kinds of structure work best for you?

→ No CommentsTags: Live Music

Glen Pix – The Women Embracing Creativity Virginia Tour

October 19th, 2009 · 1 Comment

Happy Sunday, friends! Here are some pictures from the Women Embracing Creativity book tour we did back in August. We visited several independent bookstores and holistic centers around Virginia, but these were our favorites!

Christina Thompson signs Women Embracing Creativity books in Virginia Beach
Signing books at the Heritage Bookstore in Virginia Beach, VA

Christina Thompson leads Giving Yourself Permission to Create workshop in Virginia Beach
Leading the Giving Yourself Permission to Create workshop at the Heritage Holistic Center in Virginia Beach

Christina at a Women Embracing Creativity signing in Ashland, VA
Women Embracing Creativity book signing at Simple Pleasures Books and Gifts in Ashland, VA

Christina and Andrew restore their creative energy with a trip to the beach!
A perfect ending to our book tour…Andrew and I refresh our creative energies with a trip to the beach!

→ 1 CommentTags: a day in the life · creativity

Music School, Seven Years Later

October 17th, 2009 · No Comments

Last night, Andrew and I took a random trip out to Greenville to visit my alma mater, the East Carolina University School of Music. The school has begun hosting an alumni recital each year, and we took advantage of our free Friday night and came to check it out.

The alumni performances were excellent–we heard a couple of really powerful singers, some neat piano four hands stuff, and a soprano saxophonist who knew how to bring out the delicate side of a difficult horn. But even more than hearing the performances, I enjoyed being back home at my favorite music school. Even though I’ve studied at other places since then, there’s nothing that compares to my years at ECU. After all, that’s where I built the foundation for the wonderful career I enjoy today.

There was a level of openness and encouragement at ECU that I haven’t found anywhere else…and I try to bring this atmosphere into my own teaching today. As a freshman, I sounded bad. I sat dead-last in every ensemble, and had some major physical hurdles to conquer before I could even think about musical artistry. Anywhere else, I would’ve been passed off to some grad student and drilled on technique until I was bored into another major. But at ECU, I got to work with the trombone professor, George Broussard, from day one. And he found ways to draw out my musicality and style, even before I had solid technique. He and the other professors guided me toward finding the joy in hard work, the beauty in etudes, and my unique place in the world of music.

Walking down the halls with the pea-green tile floors and half-burning fluorescent lights last night, I felt such gratitude for everything my teachers so freely gave to me years ago. I was so appreciative of every moment spent in those tiny practice rooms, going over this or that passage again, again, again. So happy to have experienced all those on-stage memory lapses and rotten judges’ sheets and eternities lost in chord changes. Because it. all. paid. off.

→ No CommentsTags: a day in the life

Glen Pix – It Happened at Band Camp…

October 11th, 2009 · No Comments

For today’s Glen Pix, we bring you a treat from the band camp we did with the Millbrook Band back in July. The Millbrook students put up with a lot from us during band camp. We marched them rain or shine for 8-9 hours a day, made them memorize tons of music, and subjected them to a ridiculous amount of funny judges’ tapes and YouTube videos of cool drumlines. But at the end of the day, it was the students who got us
Summerglen Saran Wrap 1Summerglen Saran Wrap 2Summerglen Saran Wrap 3

→ No CommentsTags: a day in the life

Glen Pix – Pics from Summer Creativity Events

October 4th, 2009 · No Comments

Greetings! For most of this year, I’ve been terribly lazy about writing on this blog. The problem is, there have been lots of cool things going on that I should’ve told you guys about! So, I’m starting the Glen Pix series here on the Summerglen blog. The next few posts will include pictures from past events that didn’t make it onto the blog. After that, I’ll do a Glen Pix post whenever we have some interesting new images to share with you.

Today, we sneak a peek at the Everyday Creativity workshop I led at Storyteller’s Books in Wake Forest this past July.

Getting the party started at the Everyday Creativity Workshop!

Getting the party started at the Everyday Creativity Workshop!

Several participants enjoy a round of daydreaming

Several participants enjoy a round of daydreaming

Leading a sound and movement circle

Making some noise in a sound and movement circle

Our final project -- let's make stuff!

To close out our workshop, we made stuff!

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September 25th, 2009 · No Comments

Earlier this week, I stopped by Andrew‘s blog and was intrigued by one of his posts about balancing creative input and output. Andrew compares his creative expression to a conversation–just as a totally one-sided conversation gets boring, creating turns into drudgery if it’s always going one way. Reading his post made me think about which activities fill my creative reserves, and which send my energy outward. In the spirit of Andrew’s post, here’s my list:

practicing – IN!!
rehearsing – out
performing – out
stretching my legs and listening to guns n’ roses – in
planning and brainstorming – in
creating a routine and following it – in
occaisionally breaking my routine- very in
business networking – out
teaching – in with ideas, out with energy
book signings – out, out, and more out
playing around with the website – in
hearing live music – in
giving presentations – out
making random lists…IN :)

So, what are some activities that fill up your creative bank account? What are some things that make you expend your creative energy? And even more important…how can you go about achieving balance each day?

→ No CommentsTags: creativity · staying healthy

Three Things I Learned from an Insanely Busy Summer…

September 8th, 2009 · No Comments

1. Practicing good habits, even in the face of chaotic schedules, is a good thing…

2. but there’s no reason to beat yourself up if you get a little off-balance. Just keep on keeping on.

And above all:
3. Where there’s an active schedule, success is somewhere nearby. Either the success made you busy, or all your hard work is soon gonna pay off. ;)

→ No CommentsTags: a day in the life · staying healthy

Creativity Stuff!

August 3rd, 2009 · No Comments

Greetings, Summerglen friends! We’re back from Millbrook Band Camp (aka, a week of marching around in the pouring rain), and getting geared up for the fall. There’s nothing like a solid week of drum cadences, drill, and 8-to-5 steps–for me, it means that the hot days of summer are almost over (thank goodness!) and even better, it brings a boost in creative inspiration!

I’ve found that whenever I get out of my normal routine or envrionment, I’m rewarded with new insights, and this week at Band Camp was no exception. I didn’t do anything I normally do, didn’t see anyone I normally see (except Andrew, of course), and the mountain town we stayed in was very different from our sweltering, fairly flat home in Raleigh. Although running a marching band camp zaps your physical energy, it can still be a vacation for your mind–I came home with a brain that was motivated, inspired, and ready to go–and have been writing down ideas all weekend.

SO, to celebrate the joys of idea generation, here are two fun creativity-related things for your reading pleasure:

1. Liz Massey, over at the Creative Liberty blog, was kind enough to interview me about the Women Embracing Creativity book. She did such an excellent job getting behind the scenes of the book, that even I learned something from reading this interview! :)

2. If you will be in the Raleigh area this fall, I’ve just rolled out plans for our final Women Embracing Creativity course of 2009. The wheels have been turning all summer, and I’m sure this will be our best course run EVER. How could it not be? This run of the course overlaps Halloween! Check it out here.

Next time, I’ll show you what the students did to our car at Band Camp. Until then!

→ No CommentsTags: a day in the life · creativity