In the beginning of January I served as the Director of Marketing for the Virtual Trombone Workshop @Eastman with two wonderful colleagues, Lauren Rudzinskas, Executive Director and Jeff Dunn, Director of Operations.
In May of 2020 Lauren called Jeff and I and asked if we wanted to help her put together a free virtual workshop for trombonists that would serve as much needed glue for a community that had just lost all gigs, teaching opportunities, commissions, band concerts and private lessons in the wake of the pandemic. We were in the middle of a shutdown in NY State, and the Black Lives Matter movement was picking up more and more steam. There was a real opportunity to respond to the moment from our trombone-centered corner of the world. I jumped at the opportunity!
In July of 2020 we put on The Virtual Trombone Workshop that prioritized diversity of: gender identity, musical backgrounds, race, age, and experience in the field. We truly believed that everyone deserved a seat at the table and in reality the table should just be BIGGER! Guest Artists, Presenters and Teaching Artists donated their time to over 200 registrants and brought a lightness and creativity to their work that truly met our needs in an overly dark and burdensome moment. We discussed everything from trombone pedagogy to mindfulness to diversity, equity and inclusion in music to physical wellness practices and so much more. People performed from different corners of the world, brought questions to seasoned professionals and presented on passion-project topics. For me, it served as a meaningful reminder for why we do what we do, even when there are no performances on the calendar.
A couple of months later, we partnered with the Eastman School of Music to put on our next workshop. It would be a tall order, planning, recruiting and executing a 3-day workshop in 5 weeks - but we rose to the challenge! As Director of Marketing, I had a fun time putting together a marketing campaign that expressed our values, lifted up the voices of artists we truly admire and allowed me to connect with eager and interested trombonists all around the world!
In January 2021 we hosted the Virtual Trombone Workshop @Eastman where we got to feature artists we really admire such as, Weston Sprott, Natalie Mannix, Karen Cubides, Nikki Abissi, Hakeem Bilal and so many more. In effort to make the table bigger, we kept tuition costs low and offered two rates to attend: Performer and Auditor. It was energetic and full of helpful teaching and coaching! There were masterclasses, Q&A sessions, guided warmups, panel discussions and wellness workshops each day.
I was particularly struck when I saw registrants interact with a guest artist in such a way that made them naturally light up, sit up straighter and play more musically. There were moments where it was as if each registrant was told that their voice truly matters - that they are on the right path even in the midst of such a chaotic world - that what they are doing and who they are is enough. Who knew we could foster such meaningful connections over Zoom?
What's next, you might ask? Well, the team is working to put together a plan for next January! In the meantime, we are excited to recommend the Eastman Summer Trombone Institute for those who cannot get enough of these workshops and wants to work with some incredible trombonists over the summer!