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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Poet Laureate

I am almost without words (I’m sure that’s temporary). I am very fortunate and deeply appreciative of the opportunity to be Owen Sound’s next Poet Laureate.

I am honoured, I am humbled, and I am so happy to have this opportunity.

I’m excited. I’m excited for every little bit that adds up to more poetry in the lives of children, that provides another layer of understanding or unlearning, that creates inter-modal experiences of poetry for people of all ages. I hope and dream of catalyzing active creative exploration, participation, and learning by people of all ages- and for the littlest hearts and minds especially.

I’m grateful for the existence of this program, and for the strong and inspiring team of advisors, and for the poets that came before me.

It’s been quite the month for me- I also relaunched my professional practice. I feel very blessed to have the opportunity to serve my community through song, through arts, through poetry, through learning, through music, through creativity, through words- while growing.

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Return To Online Orbit

Ohh, it’s good to be back. If my digital life was a film, this would cue a long and ceremonious return back to town, with a solemn yet feisty backing track and sunrise glinting on the dust I stirred with my journey as a changed individual returning to beloved lands. At least, that’s how I prefer to imagine it. I could slink back into a former position with a haze of ethereal noisy ambience, but I want to envision a moment in which I hold my head high and declare the value of a time away from being a real-live-online-person, you know, the posting regularly and being present in a significant way in online media.

I’ve had a sabbatical from digital life as a performing arts person, it’s true. My return has been staggered. It was intensely personal at first, friends-only posts of family moments I couldn’t help but share. There were a variety of reasons for why I needed to take a break from the intensity of “existence” online. I consumed media without interaction required. I felt the pressure and chatter fade from my immediate aura, from my required-daily-output-of-adulting. I felt a blissful bubble of privacy and muted echos. I had the ability to focus on determining priorities, and the making-things-happen of working and living and the again-and-again of engaging as a professional and as a person in the real-life of everyday.

Meanwhile, I moved to the end-of-the-train-line in the city. I worked more until I worked less and reclaimed myself. I moved out of the city, back to where they tore out the train tracks even though the boats and silos persevere. I got a dog. I birthed a son. I finally grew a garden. The digital realm literally transformed, radically transformed, while I was more or less absent or observing.

And so, I am ready to step back into the slipstream. I want to beam and brim with ways to make both tiny and larger positive differences in the world. I want to be able to engage in the process and change that arts can be an instrumental part of, for individuals and for our culture to shift in ways of betterment and positive action towards the planet and those on it. Digital and not, communication can create and here I am.

I have been excited to contribute to my community with organizations such as Sheatre and Sandcastle Theatre. I will be continuing to live and work in the area and continue my professional practice as a music and interdisciplinary arts facilitator, educator, coach, consultant, and administrator… yeah yeah, and performer/creator too. I’ll be posting links to more information about this but mostly, using this space for information about performances, words, and music. There have been some new lyrics added to the Lyrics section of the website, and more will be appearing in the coming weeks. For now, the recent additions are: See Shell, Dead of Winter for the Spring and Smotion Waltz. Which would you most like to hear posted as an audio recording?

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Teaching Studio

I’ve been on a break from the blogosphere and to a certain extent, the internet and promotional landscape in general. I’ve had a bunch of wonderful performances including with the Element Choir. I’ve been teaching extensively over the past year with Rainbow Songs, as well as The Royal Conservatory of Music’s Learning Through The Arts program (in partnership with The Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest). As well I have continued with a variety of private music instruction to people of all ages. I’m beginning an exciting evolution in my teaching career as I begin to share a studio space with Sue Crowe Connolly as a fellow “Voice Builder”. Over the past year, Sue has been an important mentor to me while apprenticing under her expertise in teaching healthy and effective vocal technique. I will be teaching voice and piano in the heart of downtown Toronto at the beautiful studio in Church of the Holy Trinity (Yonge/Dundas). To inquire about lessons please contact me at lauren AT laurenbest DOT com

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Cheatin’, Piano Show, and Tranzac Late-Night

I’ve been cheating on music. It’s happened before, it will happen again. I’ve been enjoying teaching piano and voice to a variety of inspiring children and adults. I’ve been doing exciting work with Sheatre.

But, cheatin’ or none, there’s still music makin’ going on.
I am playing on Wednesday, March 7th at The Tranzac with the lovely Kira Shepard, from 10 pm till midnight.

I’m also playing an all-piano songs show on Friday, March 16 at Habits Gastropub (928 College St. @ Dovercourt) with fellow songwriters and pianists Melba Mercer and Bethany Geddes. Music starts at 8 pm, $5 admission. Check out the Facebook event and share with your friends!

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Free Show July 31st for Artisans at The Distillery

It’s summer in the city, oh is it ever. Toronto is hot and everyone has fully given themselves over to the throes of summer.

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Sylas, 20 Months, New Fan

I am very lucky to have 20 month-old Sylas as a new fan, sporting a sweet sticker at “Community to Stop the Quarry” in Orangeville this afternoon!

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