World Creativity and Innovation Day celebration

I’m planning something special for World Creativity and Innovation Day…
and also to celebrate Poetry Month 2023.
I’m doing a pop-up celebration series on IG Live!

9am EST
Poetry Reading and Creative Voice Practices (I’ll be sharing poetry, and then leading creative practices focused on singing and embodiment inspired by ACE Voice including some of personal favourite ways to have fun)

10am EST
Q&A with my poetry book designer
(we talk self-publishing, collaborating with other creatives, and working across different art forms- she’s also an experienced video editor!)

PLUS surprise evening improvisation: movement, poetry, music in collaboration with Adela of Wildflower Dance Arts
(yes, live collaborative improv.. watch for us after 8pm EST)

Catch all of these with me on IG Live @bylaurenbest
Have a question for the Q&A? Something you hope to see during the voice creative practices? Connect with me and let me know!

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Kaleidoscope Music awarded Participatory Creative Music Hub grant

I’m honoured to be selected to contribute to the Participatory Creative Music Hub as a PCM Hub Open Call 2022-2023 grant award recipient. I will be documenting the framework I have developed for group music lessons (Kaleidoscope Music). Thank you to the Canadian New Music Network for this opportunity! PCM Hub’s Open Call 2022-2023 exists “to support documentation of an existing PCM project to provide inspiration and tools for user groups of the Hub to make their own music.”

I suggest checking out the other interesting and inspiring projects on PCM Hub. It’s awesome to see this kind of creative infrastructure being built so that we can connect and share experiences and ideas, and work together to increase the impact+acceleration of Participatory Creative Music projects.

Kaleidoscope Music is an online group music lesson framework that I have been developing since 2021. Over the past two years, I’ve used this framework to facilitate groups of children ages 6-14 learning voice, piano, and ukulele. I was inspired to create these groups after seeing for myself the long term effectiveness of learning through creative group music making. I’m especially excited by the socio-emotional and cognitive benefits that young musicians experience when participating in collaborative creative learning.

I’m very excited for this opportunity to share what I’ve learned, and to add to the wealth of resources already available within PCM Hub.

I have been continuing to develop this method with community music and social enterprise lenses in mind (or is that regeneration? transformative learning? lots of different ways to consider the power of making music together). I’m especially proud of this opportunity to provide a resource to be repurposed, learned from, and experimented with. I hope this documentation will create a ripple effect and inform efforts to create, expand, and innovate community music programs.

I’m particularly interested in ways that the framework could be adapted/adopted to serve rural and remote families and others with barriers to accessing music lessons, increase participation in extracurricular music through meaning-making in a convenient fun context, and create more opportunities for family involvement in music making.

You can help! Whether you’re familiar with what I’ve been doing are totally new to it, I’d love to hear from you.

When you think about group music making online or the idea of creative music lessons… what are you wondering, what are you puzzled by, what excites you? What questions and comments do you have? This will help inform and shape the documentation that I create, so that I can share what is most useful to others who would like to explore new ways to work and play musically.
Get in touch with your thoughts!

What is Participatory Creative Music?
“According to the Canadian New Music Network’s Public Engagement Committee, Participatory Creative Music is a multitude of approaches to creating music in which everyone involved, regardless of their prior experience in making music, has active input in the creative process. Authorship and decision-making is shared to greater or lesser degrees, depending on context.”

More about PCM Hub from their website:
“The Hub showcases people from all walks of life creating music together.  Whatever you call it — participatory creative music, community music, jamming, co-composition, improvisation, music exploration, listening games or having fun with sound — The Hub celebrates music creativity for everyone. Whether they are 4, 40 or 94 years of age, an experienced musician or making music for the first time — everyone has active input in the creative process.

The Hub sparks new inspiration through shared processes. Next time your group makes amazing music, share the process to the project catalogue, and check out other projects for new ideas while you’re at it. Walking into a new situation? Want to brush up on your skills? Check out Tips and Tools.

Creative music projects include those in schools, hospitals, long-term care facilities, social services and prisons, using materials as varied as playdough, stethoscopes, found objects, acoustic instruments, rock band instruments, field recorders and digital software.”

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Just Leaves Cover Reveal

Just Leaves by Lauren Best

Just Leaves is coming out in June 2023! The cover reveal is here now…

Yes, you can get on the early list now to be among the first to read it (and the chance to get extra bonuses).

I am feeling amazing in this moment, finally revealing this cover. I took this photo on my birthday, during a pause in a solo bike ride. When I see it I’m back there instantly, feeling quick deep breaths fill lively lungs and the warm air of August on my cheeks. It’s from one of my favourite places to travel through.

I hope I transport my readers with some of the energy that following that path gives to me. Hopefully someone picks up the book and travels there for a brief moment, imagining feeling the dappled sunlight through the leaves and the crunch under their feet. Maybe they wonder where they’re going. Then, they open it up and start to read.

Just Leaves by Lauren Best

Thank you to Sam Blake for working with me on the book design for this project.

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Leading workshops and vocal coaching at Choir Camp 2023

I’m looking forward to leading music making workshops and offering individual vocal coaching this summer at Choir Camp. I’m proud to be singing alongside a breathtaking list of fellow faculty, and it promises to be an extraordinary inaugural experience.

People have already registered from far and wide to sing with us in Owen Sound this summer, and the list of guest conductors and singers keeps growing!

Choir Camp 2023 in Owen Sound, Ontario.

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New Member of the League of Canadian Poets

League of Canadian Poets Supporting poets & poetry in Canada New Member

I am delighted to announce that I was accepted for Full Membership with the League of Canadian Poets!

I’m grateful for this opportunity to connect with other Canadian Poets, learn and grow, and access support for performances, workshops, school visits, and more.

2023 is the year my first full length poetry book Just Leaves will be published, and I’m excited to be standing alongside other Canadian poets while on this poetry self-publishing adventure.

If you’re interested in a Poets in the Schools classroom visit, booking a reading or performance, or talking poetry/music on a podcast, I’d love to hear from you!

I can’t wait to see what this book launch year holds… and that’s just the beginning of the exciting news! Don’t forget to sign up for the Early List to be among the first to get the book.

I have some summer performances already booked and I can’t wait to share the details.

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Did you know I’m a voice coach?

Did you know I am a voice coach?

It means a lot for me to show up for other people’s voices, to help them become creators of new musical journeys, to support people through listening, questioning, and guidance along the way. We all need a little help staying in good humour on a lifelong path, and we can all use some feedback and guidance to help us save time and believe in our own breakthroughs.

There was a time it was hard for me to believe or understand what was vocally possible for myself, and I definitely have felt discouraged on my musical journey at times. I have had help along the way that truly has felt like an illumination of a path forward, to empower me to create results and to awaken desire for more, through renewed connection to making music and helping others.

It’s an honour to create space that helps people who seek alignment, connection to their creativity, and learning through not only our minds but through the innate wisdom of our bodies. Our ability to sing evolved before language, and when we coach we purposefully use language to engage our conscious and unconscious minds. In seeking an improvement in our singing, we also intentionally access embodied cognition. We expand our awareness and learn through experience, guided by experience.

Sing well, feel well, live well.

Come journey. Get in touch to discuss.

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Announcing the Infinite Improvisation Podcast!

As part of World Creativity & Innovation Day, I am excited to announce the launch of my newest collaboration, the Infinite Improvisation Podcast!

Why improvising is more than something from nothing, and how creativity and collaboration can improve lives and save the world.

Part discussion and part experiment, the show’s hosts American saxophonist Steve Treseler and Canadian poet/musician Lauren Best find the fun in risk-taking, unscripted conversations, and multi-disciplinary perspectives to creative practice. 

Brought together by a shared belief in transformation through improvisation, Steve and Lauren bring their audience along for the journey, making it up as they go. . .

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Becoming with music

Picture of Lauren covering ears while friend sings.

I create atmosphere with music, pressing play with anticipation and then as the music crescendos, I run and run and twirl! Twirl! The room streaks around me and the music spins me and carries me. Once the music starts, we are able to become so much more than we were before and my sister and friends have found this magic too, we can all create this moment together. It feels even more powerful than climbing trees or throwing heavy rocks into the water, and the excitement is close to how wind feels in my face on a bicycle. I know I am more magnificent with music than without. I know that this is so much fun. I know that the adults around me are delighted by this spectacle and will laugh and applaud even if we slip or make a mistake.

I thought that I became a less desirable collaborator as I got older. Moody. Busy. Tired, with difficulty focusing. Too loud. All over the place. Not receptive to others. Bossy. Sensitive, but not aware enough.
It turns out that as a child, things were too loud sometimes. I was loud sometimes. Things were just right sometimes. I couldn’t focus sometimes. I couldn’t remember what I needed to sometimes.

A child and father play music. A white child sits on an organ bench, looking at the camera with a wind instrument in her mouth. A brown haired white man wearing a paisley shirt sits behind her, playing a wooden recorder.

My story starts with adults singing to me and reading me poetry. It starts with making up songs, directing dramas in the yard, drumming on rocks. It starts with adults willing to listen, willing to try, willing to help me. It was people holding space for possibilities for me, then me holding space for possibilities for me.

I became an adult. I held on to possibilities. I dove into possibilities. I gave up trying. I remembered. I created. I let myself rest, finally. In a long, winding, often confusing process. Often joyful, sometimes desperate, often exhausted, sometimes heartbroken. I emerged again and again, many winters of laying fallow and many winters of slow growth.
I have realized that I am most able to connect to others with love, connect to myself with love, connect to my family with love, connect to my community and planet with love… when I prioritize collaboration and creativity in my life. Also sleep, sun, food, and fun (not in that order).

A white child with blue eyes sitting outside in the sun.

Sometimes that collaboration is with the spirit of my creativity or the spirit of my business, a collaboration with my past intentions for my future self, a collaboration with my whispered prayers and secret wishes. Sometimes that collaboration is with nature, nourishing myself and feeling myself expand and explore within and yet with my awareness reaching out into the wonder of it all, out there.
Often that collaboration is with others. I have done many projects and been a many hyphenated, much “doing” person. It started with sparks, with ideas, with feeling a sense of yearning, with friction and with flow.
I’ve done lots of things that I will talk about more, too, because it helps explain what I’ve learned and how I can help.
It’s mostly come down to create things. Sometimes. But not all the time, just be, too. Help people. Have fun. Trust that the uncertainty is part of it. Keep trying. Don’t give up, but change. Listen. This is what I keep doing.

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Is she hiding?

I’ve known for a while that I’ve needed some updated photos for various “professional reasons”, and I asked someone for some help because I felt I needed to make it happen Now and I couldn’t do it Alone.
We got some of those sort of photos too.

This one though.
I was drawn to this one right away.
“That’s me!”
But not hiding, just not showing either.
Touching my face, because my face needs to be touched. My eyes shielded. My fingertips carefully measuring pressure. Showing myself care.
I wanted photos to connect with others, but my favourite photo of all was me connecting with myself.
Intimate for one moment, with me showing up for me.

Reminding myself, first. To show up for me, first.

How often do I look this way? Do I appear to others to be the frazzled mother? The burnt out creative? The tense achiever? Do I look like I have had enough? Do I look like it’s all too much?
Do I look like I can handle it? Am I making someone uncomfortable by appearing uncomfortable? Do I seem ungrateful? Will people think I’m struggling more than I’m actually struggling? Will people think I’m hurting less than I’m actually hurting? Will people think that I thought too much about this?

I didn’t think those thoughts though, at first. I was more like, aye, there she is. Taking care of her head again.

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introductions in 2022: you see me and I see you

The following was originally posted to instagram, as part of the #artscapestoryteller #ruralcreatives challenge for the Rural Creatives Springboard.

An image of the author, Lauren Best. She is smiling and looking up.

My name is Lauren Best. My pronouns are she/her. I live close enough to Georgian Bay to hear the boats, on the traditional territory of the Saugeen Ojibwe Nation. I’m a parent. I am a member of family and community.

I am a musician, poet, composer, and improvisor. I’m a community arts advocate and interdisciplinary facilitator, astist-educator, and coach. I’m an entrepreneur and creative. I’m a gardener and swimmer.

I love being outside. I love seeing the sun falling through the trees. I love snowflakes. I love clouds and the sky. I love conversations and cooking. I love movement, cozy blankets and imagination. I love words and plants and hiking. I believe in saving our planet. I believe in holding hands and singing songs. I want to smile at loving people every day. I want to breathe deeply. I want to love endlessly and laugh daily.

I move in the world with caring, creativity, and curiosity guiding me. My practice uses collaboration, self-reflection, and community building to spiral internal and external ripples of change. I create opportunities for people to enrich their lives, their relationships, and their communities and to explore as they learn. I help people gain and practice skills that are not only musical and creative but also strengthen their coordination, communication, cognitive skills and problem solving. I share tools for bringing playfulness to our lives and nurturing our wellbeing. I help people connect to themselves, connect to others, and connect to music. I help guide the learning journey and support the sovereignty of the soul on a quest for knowledge, enjoyment, presence, delight, challenge, satisfaction, purpose, pleasure and adventure.

I teach children piano in innovative online groups. I coach adults in voice, piano, and creativity. I facilitate workshops and professional development programs, and groups for parents with babies and young children. I direct the Meaford Children’s Choir.

I write and perform poetry. I was Owen Sound’s poet laureate 2017-2019 with a tenure focused on children. I write interactive poetry over at @holyhaiku

I write songs. I sing. I have a baby who wakes up every night. I have a body that needs care and it feels sometimes like my attention is needed in so many places. I am tired.

I keep making things. I keep helping other people make things. The more I learn the more I help others learn and the more fun I have, the more fun I see the people around me having. The more patient kindness I show myself, the more I blossom over time… and that is the gift I want to give those I coach and collaborate with. Noticing music and noticing themselves. Noticing themselves creating, growing, and blooming. Noticing how they sound and change and feel. Then, seeing their fellow musicians noticing too. Showing up for themselves and showing up for each other and showing up for the beauty of it.

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Sticker Collection - 12 Song Album by Lauren BestBuy Sticker Collection - 12 Song Album by Lauren Best