A few years after the turn the millennium, Chicago native Herbie Hancock donated some of his instruments to the Smithsonian. When asked what motivated the donation, the iconic jazz musician – the rarest of peers to the practically peerless Miles Davis – didn’t mention his place among the hallowed ranks of American musical legends.
Instead, in an egoless response, he said that he hoped the instruments might inspire some little kid to think that, with the right tools for creating, maybe he could be somebody someday.
Then Hancock reconsidered his statement and added, “But the truth is that everyone is somebody already. You don’t need the fame to be vital. You would not exist if you did not have something to bring to the table of life.”
As wise as he is talented, Hancock’s final point is one of the very reasons that Upswell exists at all. We know that every changemaker – regardless of age, mission, geography, job title, or any other kind of status – has something of immeasurable value to offer as we work together to improve our communities. Ideas. Energy. Skills. Expertise. Creativity. Encouragement. Inspiration. Empathy.
And one you might not think about right away: music.
When you get to Chicago this November, you’re going to have the chance to literally pick up an instrument and help design Upswell’s soundscape. We thrilled to partner again with the NAMM Foundation to bring two interactive musical experiences to Upswell Chicago.
Informance: A Hands-on Experience from Inside the Music Ensemble lets you drop into a live music rehearsal with a full youth music ensemble. As you know – whether its aligning members of the community or getting the family to the dinner table – finding harmony isn’t easy. But when you sit side-by-side with the young musicians to see (and hear) how their dynamic process of discipline, practice, and risk-taking creates art, you’ll find a fresh perspective on how to fit the all the pieces together.
Then on Friday, YouTube sensation Ukulenny returns to Upswell for Ukulele Can Save the World! If that title sounds too good to be true, then you probably missed the ukulele circle last year in Los Angeles. Grab a ukulele – no experience required – and in a few short minutes, the troubles of the world will fade, at least briefly, into a joyous symphony of strings.
One of the first things you’ll notice about Upswell is that it has its own special rhythm. There’s a constant buzz in the air, sometimes a crescendo of creativity that erupts with applause, sometimes a diminuendo of deference as ideas are quietly considered.
So, whether you’re sitting next to a kid and rekindling a youthful sense of wonder, singing and strumming to Ben E. King’s “Stand by Me,” or just standing by and taking it all in, remember what Herbie Hancock said: everyone has something to bring to the table.