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Performance and Pedagogy Blog

A blog about the performance and pedagogy of music.

Filtering by Tag: Jon Ostrow

Lessons Learned from The Savvy Musician in ACTION Retreat

Andrew Hitz

Last week at the University of South Carolina, David Cutler (author of The Savvy Musician) hosted a life changing retreat for everyone who attended.  It was titled "The Savvy Musician in ACTION Retreat" and featured 57 participants (or arts entrepreneurs as they were called) from 21 different states and Canada.  The participants ranged from undergrads to full-time professionals working in every aspect of the arts.  The faculty consisted of five Thought Leaders (of which I was one) from around the US as well as a number of amazing professors from USC. The retreat, as with so many great things in life, is hard to summarize.  In a nutshell, 57 people split up into 10 teams and had to come up with an arts based business model that would both provide impact and be sustainable.  They had basically two days to figure out everything including a name, a logo, where funding was coming from, their target customer base, a comprehensive marketing and social media strategy, and how to pitch this idea to three actual business leaders from Columbia, SC.

Some of the teams were working until 5:00 am the last night in order to finish their presentations which they began setting up at 8:00 in the hall! It was an intense atmosphere for both the teachers and the participants.  I left more energized about my future than I've been since I was a kindergartener dreaming of becoming an astronaut.

What an amazing experience! Thank you to all who were there.  I learned so much from all of you.  I had one student there from George Mason, Andrew Dougherty, who told me he will try to convince the entire studio to come down next year.  I sure hope they do.

I could do a dozen posts (and still might!) just on the things I learned from fellow thought leaders Justin Kantor (of Le Poisson Rouge), Jon Ostrow (of CyberPR), Lance LaDuke (of Boston Brass) and David Cutler.  But one of the coolest parts of the 4 days was when each of the arts entrepreneurs got up in front of everyone and said one thing they had learned over the course of the four days.  Here is a sampling of quotes from that decompression session.  There are so many nuggets of inspiration and motivation in here that I don't even know where to begin.


  • Make your goals bigger and the steps to get there smaller.
  • Find somebody that knows more than you and just ask them.
  • Be willing to pivot instead of hanging on with your claws until you die.
  • Doing things perfectly is not nearly as important as getting things done.
  • Don't be afraid to pivot and make a change.
  • Good leaders need to know what it's like to be a follower.
  • Trust your team. They can do great things.
  • Dream big and don't apologize for it.
  • Life begins outside your comfort zone.
  • Knowing and understanding are two different things.
  • Choose to go all in.
  • Don't let your idea for a project get in the way of letting something become what it needs to become.
  • I was reminded of the power of small.
  • It's OK to ask for help.
  • Having a sense of humor when things blow up in your face is a good thing.
  • There's no shame in passing something off to someone who can do it better.
  • There's an incredible amount of power in diversity.
  • Attempted humor is a great stress relief.
  • It is a value to be able to improvise well.
  • Focus.
  • The more energy you put into life, the more you get out of life.