First Grant – Step 1

I had always heard that money was out there… and I have a few friends who have done some grant writing, but I had never gone through the experience myself until this year. About a month ago I applied for a professional growth grant from Surdna. It was one of those things where the arts coordinator at ASA told me to apply at the end of last year and it sat on my bulletin board all summer untouched. Then the school year started and the application deadline drew near and I finally just had to do it. I ran ideas past friends and family, trying to figure out some sort of plan that made sense for the money. It was a bit of a challenge. I honestly had trouble coming up with a plan, until I started thinking about my passion.

One thing that has always fascinated me about jazz improvisation, and improvisation in general is how people who don’t know how to improvise label it at this phenomenon that is so far out of their reach. People who can do amazing things on their instruments are reduced to frozen deer in headlights when you mention improvisation. As children, we improvised all the time. Even when we first learn to play an instrument, we experimented and made stuff up, because we could. It’s so much fun! Somewhere along the line, someone told us that what we played was “wrong” and we decided to never compose something new on the spot again. It’s really sad actually. One of my “secret” goals in life is to try and reach professional classical musicians and teach them how to improvise – preferably through workshops and/or writing a book.

I was telling my arts coordinator this one day when she told me that I had my plan for the grant. I was kinda surprised – but ASA is a conservatory based model and jazz band is one of the things that is different and unique. What I’m essentially doing is teaching classical students how to play jazz and how to improvise. I had never thought about it that way. Now, imagine that I had more tools, more experiences, and more guidance to help me? That’s what my grant application is all about.

I spent hours working on the ideas, researching dates, and thinking about what I would like to do. I came up with a plan. I wrote my first curriculum vitae (with the help of a friend and google) in 24 hours and turned in the application 90 minutes before the deadline. Then things got so busy, I forgot all about it. Your browser may not support display of this image.

I found out this weekend that I was selected as a finalist. My heart literally skipped a beat when I read the e-mail. I may get money to travel around the country playing, listening and talking about jazz and then bring it back to my students. So cool! Now it’s time to solidify my plan – talk to the people involved (even though they don’t know it yet), figure out everything I need, and fill out the next part of the application. The whole process is exhilarating. Wish me luck!

For more information on Surdna, check out this link and look around.

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