Get ready to plug in
New column to highlight how to get involved in the scene

Get ready to plug in
Ted Moore / iAM Music - 03/10/2022

Greetings, Durango! We’re excited to announce a new column here at The Durango Telegraph: The Plug-iN by iAM MUSIC. The goal of this column is to inform our readers of the myriad ways to creatively plug into our music community. 

In what ways are you creatively engaged? When was the last time you played an instrument, wrote a song or formed a band out of nothing more than a desire to spend time with others and find expression? 

When was the last time you attended a show?

Of course, creative engagement doesn’t necessarily involve music. It could be stand-up comedy, poetry slams, sword swallowing, fish tossing – it doesn’t matter. But music is the area in which we here at iAM MUSIC combine our efforts, focusing on music while occasionally mentioning music-adjacent opportunities.

iAM MUSIC (www.iammusic.us) is a local 501(c)3 nonprofit ecosystem founded by artists, for artists. We call it an “ecosystem” because music, just like a language, is not learned in isolation. Six years of Duolingo can’t compare to six months of living in Mexico.

Nor is music practiced in isolation, at least not if one wants to experience its full benefits and power. Many of us got started in music by going into a small room with a teacher who taught us exercises, which we would then go practice in our own small room, alone. All the while, we were wondering, “How does this get me there?” This system doesn’t work for learning a language; it certainly doesn’t work for music. 

In recognition of that fact, Ashley Edwards and Jesse Ogle founded iAM in 2012, not just to provide teachers of scales and paradiddles, but to establish a creative hub for collaboration. Collaboration – the proverbial “village” – is necessary to experience the true power of music, to build community, transform lives and tell one’s story. 

Ten years later, iAM MUSIC supports multiple ways for creative engagement. As Edwards says, “iAM MUSIC is an artist incubator for youth and adults.” You can take lessons, record, form a band, find paid performance opportunities and network. In addition, iAM MUSIC Fest! concerts, held monthly throughout the summer, feature regional bands as well as folks who have decided to live more creatively. Above all, iAM Music is an outlet for self-expression and support. It is our vision to provide resources for connection through music, remove the obstacles to self-expression and help you start living a more creative life. 

So how do you get started? If you ask a performing musician, they’ll often say some version of, “Book a gig!” Of course, you also need to know your instrument, write (or steal) a song or two, invest in leather pants. But the key element to performing is taking the plunge. Music may play a significant private role in your life, but stepping out of the practice room will engage you in a way that brings greater personal fulfillment and builds community.

That’s where this column comes in. Each month, we will highlight opportunities taking place about town and explore ways to support them collectively. We’ll interview local professionals, amateurs and in-betweeners about how they find creative engagement and address issues important to the local music scene: is there a venue crisis in Durango? How can, and why should, a non-musician support the scene? What is a songwriter, really? Most of all, we will challenge you to plug in and express yourself.

There is no shortage of opportunities to get creative in March (check out the Telegraph’s calendar each week). This month there are at least three songwriting sessions, three open jams (in multiple flavors: jazz, bluegrass and a Celtic “slow session”), and workshops on bluegrass and poetry-writing, among many other events.

Our challenge for you this month is simple: SHOW UP. As any time-management guru will tell you, nothing happens if you don’t schedule it. So find at least one event this month (gold stars for attending more than one) and commit to showing up. This time around, you don’t have to worry about the butterflies that accompany a first-time performance, you just need to be present, confident that you are taking that first, most crucial step to creatively plugging in.

Showing up is the essential ingredient in a vibrant music and arts scene. You can take pride in your participation. Remember: music is a conversational language, an exchange between performers and also with audience members. If people don’t show up, the performers end up talking to themselves. Haven’t we all had enough of that over the past two years?

A vibrant music and arts scene, one that challenges us each to live more creative, fulfilled lives, is something we should all be eager to get behind.

Until next time, we’ll see you on the scene.

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