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ArtistWorks Harmonizes with the World: CEO Interview

As social distancing continues, it can be easy to feel isolated from the outside world. 

 

However, if there’s one thing that has unified musicians during this crisis, it’s their shared love for playing. So much so, in fact, that ArtistWorks has welcomed new students from 41 different countries since mid-March. Our worldwide community of musicians has always served to unite students across all borders, however we feel it is important now more than ever to acknowledge the collective benefits it provides.

 

We sat down with ArtistWorks CEO and Co-Founder Patricia Butler to get her thoughts on the global appeal of music, and how playing an instrument can be a universal stress reliever in these trying times.

 

Since March 17th, students from 41 different countries have registered for online music lessons at ArtistWorks. What is it about ArtistWorks that brings all of these musicians together during these tough times?

It’s often said that music is a universal language. It’s also universally comforting and therapeutic. Our online faculty travel the world performing and many of them are Grammy® nominees or winners, so their  appeal is global because their music is heard everywhere. Teaching has become an important hallmark of their careers, so fans and students alike know that these musicians teach as masterfully as they play.

 

One of the things ArtistWorks prides itself in the most is its worldwide community of musicians. What are some of the hidden bonuses of belonging to such a massive circle of fellow music lovers?

The foundation of our learning experience was born out of the AOL platform where socializing was key to creating a global community. National borders just sort of slip away. People prefer to interact in a variety of ways; some won’t ever record themselves on a video, while others are quite comfortable in front of a camera. Lots of people like to make contact individually through chatting or messaging, and many are drawn to longer, thoughtful conversations with the group where everyone can share or simply observe the dialogue. We made sure to have all of these social features both inside a single course, but also across the entire universe of players learning to play music with us. These features allow our members to communicate with fellow players around the world who find themselves learning the same music while living  through the same struggle. The world becomes a little smaller, so a little more supportive. 

 

We all know that playing music is incredibly fun, but how has learning music specifically been helpful to the adult learners at ArtistWorks? 

It seems when we experience stress, we revert back to our foundation to benefit from and feel its strength. For most of us, that means being in touch with the people, places (like home), food and music that we love.  Music is deeply personal. Our tastes as well as our playing capabilities are different than anyone else’s. In some ways, playing or listening to your “own” music strengthens your self-identity, especially if you’ve gone back to the music of your youth. Many of our new customers have done just that! I think they find themselves stronger because of the music and the people you’ve put into your life.

 

Over the past few weeks, ArtistWorks has seen new students join from Egypt, Mauritius, Russia, and Japan, just to name a few countries. How does it feel to be uniting musicians from such different parts of the globe?

It’s incredible! Our mission has always been to “Teach the World Music,” so we’re reassured to see players from everywhere unite at ArtistWorks. I see people messaging each other and sending “Shout-outs” to players of completely different genres and instruments. It’s life-affirming to see musicians caring about their fellow man’s struggle - something new and unexpected that they share. 

 

Can you tell us about any upcoming projects or initiatives?

We’ve been hosting a “Live Dispatch from Home” series with our artists on Facebook and YouTube. All of the teachers are home now and they are naturally performers, so they’re quite happy to share their music and talk about their own situation. I’ve been surprised at the coping mechanisms people have shared and how so many people are comforted by the artists sharing their music from the privacy of their home. It’s odd that we’re distanced from each other yet we’re more connected. Through technology we don’t have to disconnect to commune at a healthy distance. 

 

We have a new banjo course coming out with Noam Pikelny at the end of this month as well as a new acoustic guitar course for adult beginners called the Beginner’s Guide to Acoustic Guitar, taught by my co-founder and Chairman of ArtistWorks, David Butler. It’s a busy time at ArtistWorks!

 

 

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