Last week I participated in an artist residency on a farm in rural Wisconsin. The residency is organized by a friend of mine who is working to make it an annual retreat for writers, artists, musicians, poets, etc, to get together for a week and not only focus on their respective projects, but also talk, learn, and hopefully be inspired by one another.
It was such a great week! I went in just hoping to get a lot of practicing done without my regular everyday distractions, but I was surprised by how much more I got out of it. I was the only musician there, but talking with the others about our projects, goals, and challenges brought a lot of good discussion and questions to consider. My tendency is too get hyper-focused on technical aspects of playing viola. Playing in tune is, of course, important, but this was a nice reminder to keep a clear picture of the bigger form of the piece, and what I want to get across. I'm sure I've heard this before, but I think the writers I was with had a different way to talk and think about it.
It was also refreshing to have a week away from phones/computers/screens. The farm is outside of Argyle, WI, and there was no phone or internet service. I could check my messages if I was willing to ride my bicycle up a giant hill about a mile from the farm. It felt good to have to work for it, instead of just pulling my phone out of my pocket 20 times a day.
That part of Wisconsin is quiet and peaceful. My work space was a corner of the barn, and when I wasn't paying all I could hear were birds and insects (which are surprisingly loud!). Our meals were prepared by a local CSA farmer and were incredible! Highlights were goat curry, lamb moussaka, lots of delicious salads from her garden, and tasty local cheeses. It was a great way to finish up the summer!
My main project for the week was to work on a viola recital program I have planned for the fall, check back here for more details. Also, let me know if you're interested in participating in this residency next summer and I'll put you in touch with the organizers.