Tag Archives: barrels to beethoven

My Weekend…Planned

I can’t even believe it’s Friday?! The last three weeks have been nonstop! Work, travel, family obligations. Truly nonstop. I can’t really complain though, there’s always so much to celebrate. My girls are doing well. David and I are healthy and happy and new opportunities are coming along. I’ll be blogging for Visit Pittsburgh announced this week and Barrels to Beethoven received its first grant from the PA Council on the Arts.  There’s no break in site! Both in a good way and a way that makes me a little nervous. Luckily we have an exciting weekend ahead.


Friday

I’ll spend the morning and early afternoon finishing up my first popup with UpTo. We’ve spent the last week assisting business owners in Sharpsburg. A cute town outside of the city that has quickly become my favorite place. Next week we’ll head to Homewood. But I’ll definitely be back, Sharpsburg!

Friday afternoon I head to my space to practice and pack up the instruments for the evening. 

Friday night I’m heading to Mr. Smalls Funhouse for a CD release party for Brett Staggs. Rhythm ‘n’ Steel drummer/bandmate just happens to be an incredibly talented singer, songwriter and musician. Barrels to Beethoven will open the night by teaching guests to play the steelpan. We’ve got some cool songs in store to teach. I’m so excited for this event and so very happy for Brett. I’m grateful to know a musician like him. Talented, dedicated, light hearted. Funny guy. And not to mention my daughters’ new favorite singer. They know every word of every song. 


Saturday

Saturday morning I’ll wake up early to do some laundry, clean up and finish some work. After a meeting for the upcoming Maker Faire, David and I will head to Sewickley for an event with Congressman John Lewis. A living legend and known activist and leader of the civil rights movement. I’m so excited to hear him speak. There’s so much ignorance being spread, this is the sort of rhetoric my mind and heart needs right now. 


Sunday 

Sunday will be the best day of the weekend. I’m really looking forward to my niece, Gianna’s confirmation mass. I’m so honored she asked me to be her sponsor and I hope I can be a guiding light in her life. She is just the sweetest girl. The kind of girl that makes you smile. This summer we got to spend more time together. She helped my mother in law babysit the girls, which was so comforting to me to know she was there with Sofia to help. She also attended my Pan Camp. She not only assisted with the younger students but learned to play the steelpan and was so good! She’s a blessing to this world I can’t wait to see what kind of young woman she grows up to be. I pray I can play a positive role in that. After mass we’ll all gather at my mother in laws for brunch. With hopefully some relaxation to follow.


All in All

It’s been an incredible last few weeks, few months, year. Ups and downs for sure but clear signs that hard work, prayer and positivity will allow me to achieve my goals and bring my family lots of joy. The temperatures are changing but my season is changing as well. I am working toward change and feeling the shift. I have goals in mind but also praying for guidance. I’ve learned that when you feel it’s time for a change you have to move with it. Don’t fight to keep things the same. It’s a strange feeling to be moving through your days like a raft in the river working hard, getting things done but feeling like you don’t fully have control. That’s when you literally just go with the flow and wait to see what comes next. I’m waiting. I’m praying. I’m excited. 

Back to School

What happened to summer?! My oldest daughter started school last week. My younger two started school today. Back to school this year was quite bitter sweet for so many reasons. Although summers for me as a mother and entrepreneur are rough to say the least. A constant juggle between taking good care of my girls, having fun and getting my work done. The constant scheduling and focus on time management is truly worth it because our family time is precious. Not just to me and my husband, but to our my girls too. We truly love to be together. I thank God everyday and will do everything I can do make it happen and ensure that lasts. 

However school time is great too! Stella, entering third grade was the most excited of all of my girls to go back. Sofia, who is a gift of a child, also happens to be teenager, so there’s that. And my little Cece who seemed excited to go back and see her friends, held my leg for a few seconds too long this morning. Long enough to indicate she was scared and long enough for tears to produce…in my eyes, not hers. She was okay a few minutes later, giving me a big hug and a tap on the nose and cheeks (that’s what I do to her) before I left. 

For the most part I’m happy to start the school year. I know, well I hope, I’m sending my girls with the tools they need to succeed and I’m excited for all of the new experiences they’re going to have. 

This summer we talked a lot about being kind and working hard. Empathy and Motivation. I think you’ll go very far in life if you have those characteristics. 

I try to set a good example for my children not just tell them, but show them. I think that’s the best way to teach. They see me setting goals and accomplishing them. This summer even my youngest mentioned that I had set goals like new clients for Straightforward Consulting and pan camp for Barrels to Beethoven and accomplished both. There’s nothing like hearing “I’m proud of you mommy” from your kids. That alone is a great motivator. #FanClub

They also see me constantly helping others. I tell them even if you have nothing at all, you can still give someone your time. When I see them excited to do something kind for a family member, friend, or stranger, it really warms my heart. It’s such a blessing to see your child being kind and helping others. I hope that quality stays with them, always.

So I’m sending my girls back to school with with confidence, empathy, determination to do well and pride. I’m praying they do their best, are treated well, treat others well and truly enjoy themselves. And, I’m taking a moment (literally just a moment) to change course, adjust to my new daily routine and make a plan to achieve my new goals. 

Here’s to a great school year! 

With Steelpan, Quality and History Matter

There is so much happening in the world of pan. With social media and the Internet we can see it all. Which in the areas of awareness and support, can and should be great for the instrument. The problem is, it seems that quantity has overcome quality and I’m seeing a lot more bad than good. Even though there is a lot of good.

When speaking to audiences about the Steelpan I always remind them of a few things:

1. The Steelpan is a very new instrument, and with anything new, extinction is a possibility.


2. There has to be a standard of quality.


3. The correct history must be told repeatedly to avoid the twisting and misconceptions of the story. 

4. There is exceptional craftsmanship involved with building a Steelpan. This is still a man made instrument.

I’m concerned about the state of pan, primarily in the U.S but even back home in the Caribbean according to some. I know that across the world there are thousands and thousands of Steelpan players, bands, school programs etc. which should make me very happy and to a degree, it does. However the quality of many those programs and and instruments is greatly concerning. I’ve heard steelpans that sound like wood on untuned metal. That’s not good.

The Steelpan is an instrument of the Caribbean, invented by people of African decent and European influence in Caribbean nations like Trinidad and my country, Guyana. Many of the Steelpan builders today especially in the US, are not people of African decent. Which is okay except what does that mean for the past, present and future of this Caribbean instrument? And, as the history develops through generations, how and to who, is it being taught to?

To understand how this may impact someone like me let’s go back a few decades. I have been hearing Steelpan since birth, before birth, and grew up with it my entire life. I didn’t learn it in high school or take a course in college. I know the Steelpan just like I know anything I learned literally like walking, talking and ABC’s. There’s no course you can take to feel the way I do about the instrument. It’s another family member. It’s a daily topic. There is no label, no title that suits that. We don’t exist without it.

My father makes the Steelpan. He makes exceptional instruments. I grew up seeing his expert craftsmanship and hearing the beautiful intruments his time and effort yielded. There’s no doubt to me (and I am certainly not the only one) that Phil Solomon is one of the best Steelpan builders and tuners the instrument has known. And no, he is not the only one. He is not the only great Steelpan builder, and hopefully will be one of many greats in the years to come.

When I see a Steelpan program at a school or steel band performing, I get excited. When I hear the poor quality of the instruments or technique. I get sad. I feel disappointed. Just like anything else, but especially with the Steelpan, quality matters. The instrument cannot survive without quality craftsmanship being passed from one to the next. Why support makers and players that don’t truly understand and respect the instrument?

Barrels to Beethoven began as a way to recognize the impact Phil Solomon has had on the Steelpan and the city of Pittsburgh through Steelpan and Steelpan education. Through a year of research the organization pivoted to also include education and innovation. A necessary component for sustaining and growing the instrument. Our hope, our goal is that quality craftsmanship, exceptional education standards and history of the instrument will strive over all else.

Why try to compare the variation in quality to anything? Because quality should and does matter. Especially when it’s new. Mortons vs. McDonalds. Whole Foods vs. Bottom Dollar. Ralph Lauren vs. H&M. There’s a difference. Of course, all of the companies listed, whether good quality or just quantity can survive because there are enough consumers on both sides to sustain both. The Steelpan does not yet have that luxury. Quality. Quality. Quality. In both the instrument, instruction and presentation. That’s how the Steelpan will grow, develop and sustain over time.

When you are involved in something new, something that needs to be nurtured, it is important to make sure the quality is exceptional. That’s what we are dedicated to.

My Weekend Planned….

Friday

Friday morning will be spent with girls working from home anticipating the end to a very hectic work week. The afternoon has been deemed “girl time” and we’ll be doing nails, enjoying lunch and spending some time together. Friday evening will begin with a stroll through downtown Pittsburgh for the Gallery Crawl. I love attending this event. From music to art and performance, there is so much to experience and always something new offered. I’ve been surrounded by the arts and creative people for the past few months and I couldn’t me more happy about it. Those who create are such an inspiration. it leaves me always wanting more.The evening will end with a drink at my new favorite spot, Tako. Where my favorite dj, aka dj illeso, aka David Pugliano aka my husband will have you moving in your seat to the very best music. A creative in his own right, he claims to not be a musician as I am, but somehow knows and feels the music as if he was playing it off of the sheet.

daviddj1

Saturday

Saturday morning will start with yoga, although this will be my second class ever, I’m excited to join my new friend and yoga instructor, Cara for a pop up yoga class at James Simon Sculptor Studio. What an incredible space to host a yoga class. My first yoga experience occurred a few months ago with Cara when we hosted pop up yoga class at fieldwork contemporary. That class kept me feeling calm and strong for the remainder of the day. I know the many benefits of yoga and I know my body, mind and spirit need it. I’m eager to try it again before diving in for regular sessions.

The afternoon will be a delight. I’m teaching a Saturday afternoon steelpan class through my organization, Barrels to Beethoven. These students are doing so well and teaching steelpan brings me deep joy and satisfaction. I’m hoping to offer free Saturday classes in the fall. Let’s just hope the funding organizations get hip to how amazing the steelpan is and how beneficial these programs are for youth.

Saturday evening is all about my family. I’m planning a picnic dinner in the park. A delicious menu, fun desserts and spending time outside as a family, our favorite things to do in the summertime.

Sunday

this Sunday bringing it back to normal. We haven’t had a typical Sunday in a long time. Church, for us, is the best way to start our day and our week. Followed by brunch and a trip to the pool, if the girls get their way!

All in All…

This weekend will hopefully leave me feeling, relaxed and inspired. In spending time with a friend a great artist and yoga instructor, I’m learning about the importance of rest, both for your body and mind. Taking time to rest leads to more productivity and improved creative process. I am so used to working hard all of the day, rarely stopping to eat, rest and reenergize. I am learning to set aside regular time to do so. Whether its yoga or mediation, or making time to simply rest. I want to do this because I know it will have a direct positive impact on my family, my work and my creative endeavors. Taking care will increase my ability to do more. So many speak of how busy they are like it’s some sort of achievement. I’m not busy, I don’t talk about being busy. For me, I am successfully managing all aspects of my life. Starting with my children and my family and all that comes with that. My life’s work.