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Mark Burke is CEO and founder of mynddset

Embracing the Inspiration of Concerts

By Mark T. Burke

Musical InspirationWhen was the last time you came away from a concert feeling a bit…,tingly? You know the feeling.  Your senses are all peaked, your creative juices flowing at full spigot, your vision clear, solutions to age-old problems seem to be flying into your mind at break neck speeds and…Well, you get the picture.  While I’ve tried to free myself to be impacted by all the performance I attend this way, I confess, I’m not always successful.  Call it heritage, training, peer pressure, whatever you like, I’ve been, like many I estimate, influenced to a greater degree to “suppress” feelings of enlightenment.  Unless a concert is deemed “superior”, it’s taboo in some circles to admit being inspired.  Yes, anything less than hearing the greats, the great performers or the great works of the masters is not meant to inspire. Our attendance at local, community, school, or other “less than masterful” events is really more a show of support on our part, more so the performers can appreciate our attendance rather than for us to enjoy and engage with the performers and the music they create.    Over time, this attitude leads great musicians to stop going to concerts, having acquired the feeling that they’ve heard it all and believing that most performances are simply not worthy of them being in the audience.

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending a great concert, held locally, organized by local people, with local performers, from high school age up through seasoned musicians.  The event was Musical Medicine, now in its third year as a benefit to the American Cancer Society.  An ex-student of mine, Kate Anderson (Sax student at Penn State), founded Musical Medicine and has grown the charity concert event over each of the three years.  This year’s event is a two concert event.  The concert was really inspiring for me.  There were many moments when I felt the music within me screaming to get out.  The high school jazz band group was inspiring. Hearing and seeing the students take risks by improving…something I’ve never mastered, was awesome.  Listening to the amazing collaborative efforts of Dr. David Stambler and the Williamsport All-stars (Steve Mitchell, Greg Burgess and Andy Seal) that he never even met, incredible.  Experiencing the powerful and lyrical abilities of the Trombone through the music of Quatastrophy (a Trombone Quartet from Penn State), beautiful.  And, lastly, hearing the Penn State Centre Dimensions Jazz Band, play NEW jazz charts, inspiring!

We’re all inspired in different ways, to do different things, each experiencing inspiration uniquely. When I hear performances that make me want to rush home and pick up my sax, I know something was right, something was VERY right, for me.  Now, when I attend concerts, if I don’t experience that same connection, I know I’ve fallen back on the years of conditioning, training and pressure to simply sit, and listen, to over think, to over analyze what’s going on on stage.  Do you embrace the inspiration of concerts?  No matter who’s playing, what the music is or at what level the music is performed?  Can you?  If not, can you change? How? My hope is that we can.  As educators and musicians, as parents and community members, music and musicians need us to embrace the inspiration of music.


Mark Burke is the Founder and CEO of Music Within Me, a service dedicated to providing music curriculum to schools and students through the power of online delivery. Music Within Me focuses on beginning instrumental and music production classes. Mark’s mission at Music Within Me is to shape learning in innovative and creative ways.  Mark frequently writes and speaks on topics around online and hybrid learning models.  Mark combines his 10 years of music instruction and his 10 years of online learning leadership to lead this unique effort.  In addition to his work with Music Within Me, Mark is the author and Project Manager for the development of EYE, the Entrepreneurial Youth Experience, an online program designed for high school students.  EYE provides the classroom and hands-on experience for students wanting to explore entrepreneurism and the entrepreneurial spirit. 

“Musicians, creative people who’ve spent their lives exploring their expressive abilities, make extraordinary entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial employees.  In fact, our nation’s need for entrepreneurs is the number one reason why music programs can NOT be eliminated from our schools.”

Follow Mark on Twitter @MusicWithinMe. 


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