Hailing from Canada’s Capital region, Loop pedal violist, composer, and educator Kathryn Patricia Cobbler has crafted a singular niche in improvisation and classical performance. Bringing creativity to concert halls, schools, and community venues, her work as a performing artist, composer, educator, and speaker centers around multidisciplinary collaborations that both hold space for and tell the life stories of audiences and communities
Approach your work with co-creation and innovation using this unique framework with your entire learning community.
The powerful question you need to ask and the workshop you need to support the answers.
Put your own oxygen mask on 1st because you’re the catalyst of your school.
Lean into and invite students to be a part of the narrative and own the direction of where the project or the task at hand goes.
Connect your vision with a loop pedal to engage your community spaces where people are actually active and doing life together.
Unleashed Igniting Creativity Through Art and Sound,helps students have a stake in creating something that’s unique to themselves.
Promote student voices and diversity into crafting the lessons they can connect with.
Kathryn’s Resources & Contact Info:
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Read the Transcript here.
Sound in Living Color
Something that’s increasingly interesting to me in education is just how to take multidisciplinary approaches like using dance and music and art to teach “core concepts.” And not only that, how to really lean into and invite students to really be a part of the narrative and own the direction of where the project or the task at hand goes. Today’s guess Kathryn Patricia Cobbler is really I think an expert in that. We’ll hear a bit about her work in a really interesting workshop that you might want to bring to your campus for your students to experience. Hope you really enjoy today’s conversation. Hey, this is Danny, and welcome to the Better Leaders Better Schools Podcast, a show for Ruckus Makers, which means you invest in your continuous growth, you challenge the sales quo just like Kathryn Patricia does with her workshops. Design the future of school now, and we’ll be right back after a few messages from our show sponsors.
Learn how to recruit, develop, retain, and inspire outstanding individuals and teams to deliver on the vision of your school in leading people. A certificate in school management and leadership course from Harvard. Get started at Better Leaders Better schools.com/harvard. All students have an opportunity to succeed with Organized Binder who equips educators with a resource to provide stable and consistent learning, whether that’s in a distance, hybrid, or traditional educational setting. Learn [email protected]. Hailing from Canada’s capital region loop pedal, Violin composer, and educator, Kathryn Patricia Cobbler has crafted a singular niche in improvisation and classical performance, bringing creativity to concert halls, schools, and community venues, her work as a performing artist, composer, educator, and speaker centers around multidisciplinary collaborations that both hold space for and tell the life stories of audiences and communities. Kathryn Patricia, welcome to this show.
Thank you so much for having me.
I’m definitely excited to tell your story. We’re gonna get in today in a bit. Just gonna give a shout out to my assistant Prim, who also hails from Canada. We had a meeting today and she was so excited that you’re gonna be on the show. If you’re listening, shout out to you. But I’m very happy that you’re here as well. Kathryn Patricia, you have a fun story about turning the concert model on its head. Let’s start there.
I started as many musicians do. I am a violinist and have been trained in the Western classical tradition. When I was going through school, some of the things I had thought about were careers in orchestra or chamber of music, things that I still enjoy. But something that was hard for me was when I was playing in an orchestra. Sometimes I like to say that I’m a chatty Kathy, in the sense that it’s my name, but also in that sense that I like to talk in terms of the concert hall experience. When you go to a concert, it’s this larger than life experience, but then at the end of the day, the orchestra leaves, the audience members leave and there’s no connection. For me, I always felt a disconnect there. It wasn’t until I started playing with a loop pedal. It is this device that I hooked my Viola to that helps me to sound like I’m a string quartet or a string orchestra. I was able to engage and play in more community spaces to go where people are actually active and living and doing life together. To be able to be invited into those spaces and to tell those stories, their stories through music.
That makes sense. And like being able to create that connection and that kind of thing. Really interesting. I appreciate you sharing that. I know your approach to your work with co-creation and innovation, and we’re hearing that already with making that connection with the audience. Tell us a little bit more about that co-creation and innovation in your work.
Thanks Danny. I think that when we go to a concert, we go to experience something, to enjoy the music and the atmosphere. And something that I like to remind myself when I’m performing is that this group of people, this audience, this experience will never be re repeated again. There’s something really special and unique about that. Something that I love to do, whether I’m doing a concert, a school setting with 10 classes sitting in front of me, with students and their teachers, or I’m in a concert hall, is to be able to say, “Well, what does it look like for us to craft the experience together? Nice. Here in Canada of the pleasure of being on this artist roster with this organization called Multicultural Arts in Schools and Communities, also known as Mask here in Ottawa. And something that I like to do, and one of my concerts, in particular, it’s called Unleashed Igniting Creativity Through Art and Sound, is that it’s a build your own story adventure. So I provide the soundscape, if you will, and then the students themselves get to respond by either writing or drawing their own story, building their own characters, what adventure the characters will go on through by listening to the music.
That sounds like a very unique, unique approach. I can only imagine how engaging that is, right. For the students and the fact that they’re all creating, what I’m hearing is they’re all creating almost a separate story. It’s their story. Is that correct? Am I getting it right or am I off?
You’re exactly right, Danny. And the thing that I love about that is how unique and diverse they are. One student might think of themselves going through a desert landscape where the other student who heard the same music might think, no, it’s a jungle safari and thinking about the adventures and the different characters. I really love that. Also, it helps the students have a stake in the experience. They get a seat at the table, if you will, and get to create something that’s unique to themselves.
Thinking about that framework and that really unique approach that you use. Can you think of any ways that you might nudge a classroom teacher in terms of using it in his or her class, or maybe even a principal with his or her staff?
Something that I love about music is that it is a beautiful storytelling tool. Whether it’s a principal fostering community among their fellow teachers or with the students in all the classes, or an individual classroom teacher. The thing that we wanna do is, we wanna celebrate the individual stories of students, but also the classroom culture, the classroom community. I think that music is a beautiful way of doing that. Something that I love to do when going into a school setting is inviting students to share what are their passions. I think that holding space for that, and oftentimes when we do that, when we talk about whether the different art or music that kids like to listen to you find some, some crossover, some cohesiveness. And that can be a great starting point by saying, okay, what does it look like for us to do a project that encompasses all of these artistic passions or musical choices of the students? And I think that that can be really beautiful.
You asked a powerful question in your workshop, Sound and Living Color. What’s the question you ask and why do you start there?
Thanks for that question. When I start that workshop, which is a music inspired painting workshop, I ask the kids, if you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go? The reason why I love asking that question is, again, it’s a way to center the experience around the students. I had a mentor that had told me once that people like to create art that they care about and when we’re inviting them into the artistic experience, it’s really important to be able to say, Hey, you’re here. You’re bringing your voice to the table. And not only that, but you matter. And by asking that question, it gets them to think about what are the possibilities? Where do they wanna go? And depending on the age of the student, sometimes students will say I wanna go to outer space, and then they craft their painting around that. But I think it can be so powerful to invite students to think about their dreams and aspirations. Oftentimes it’s places that they’ve been before or been with people that they care about, whether that’s family or friends.
Yeah. Outer space, that’s one place. Any other remarkable locations that you can remember off the top of your head? I’m just wondering.
I was doing this program and it was just in the midst of, I think there had been sheltering in place during Covid in the States, and here we had these series of lockdowns. There was one where the students thought they were going to be going back to school and they weren’t. And so they were in that virtual learning space, and also for many students that had planned these vacations with their families. A lot of them, when I had come into the workshop, were kind of lamenting and saying we were supposed to go to Disney World and now we can’t go to Disney World. So that was one of the places that I had a student choose, they were kind of thinking about the places that they were supposed to go. But in some way it was really powerful because then they could paint their families being there at the amusement park and then be able to say we can’t go there right now, but that’s something that we’re looking forward to.
My nephews and sister they had a cruise booked and it got postponed for two years, but having these really creative entry points and that kind of thing, and like you said, centering it on student voice and inviting that diversity into crafting the lesson they can make it what they want, and for some of them, they chose to create the thing that they were anticipating. Hopefully some of those students got to go do the thing that they missed out on. Can you tell us a bit more about what this Sound and Living Color Workshop is all about? Opening Right. And a great question, but I hear some about painting, like what do they do? What’s the point in the workshop?
Maybe if it’s all right, I’ll start with kind of my inspiration. I had actually started as a musician, I actually started as a visual artist first. And had continued to paint and always loved painting as a kid. And even when I was in university or we call it university college in the states, I was doing studio work and, and painting in the studio, but then I was also practicing for my performance degree. So visual arts has always been really a part of my life and my practice. And I had gone to a police professionally where I was playing professionally and I was done school. I really had this longing to connect those two crafts together, to connect those two loves and to say what does it look like for me to pursue a career where I can bring all parts of myself.
Of my artistic practice. And so out of that Sound and Living Color Was born. So part of what I’m doing in that workshop is I’m comparing how I use my viola bow, which when I draw it across the strings make sound, how I use my viola bow to how one would use a paintbrush. One of the correlation between those brushstrokes, so I’m actually teaching painting techniques, but I’m also mirroring how I can do those same kind of textures on my viola and getting the kids to look at how there’s a correlation between sound and how, and the paint itself. And so it’s a really in interesting and unique experience of them hearing live music and then being able to respond to the painting. It’s centered around a place that they care about somewhere that they wanna go.
That makes a lot more sense. I love the connections and stuff you’re talking about. I know one thing that you and I have synergy on and agree with is that it’s really important to put on your own oxygen mask right. Before helping others. Tell me more, like add to that. Like why is that so important to you?
Every time I get invited into a school, I always, and be, I feel both honored, but also I admire the work of teachers and principals. I truly feel like that’s one of the hardest jobs in the world. And even when I get to interact with the kids afterwards, you can tell the culture of the school, even just from the hour or two, that I’m there when kids feel safe and connected. It’s because of the work that teachers and principals are doing. And so I know that that work is, it’s so important, but it’s also a really hard job. It invests so much of yourself. And so you know that putting on your oxygen mask first, it’s a thing that they always tell you on, on planes, but in something that’s so important. But we forget. That in order to give out, we need to make sure that we’re investing in ourselves, you know? When I talk to different music teachers, I talk to them about how you give so much to your students, but always remember that you are a musician as well. And to be able to feed that passion. If you’re a principal or a leader in your school, what does it look like for you to invest in training or things that really feed you? And then out of that inspiration, you’re able to give so much more to your colleagues, to your fellow teachers, and to the students and your community.
Often I say you can’t pour from an empty cup. And educators are really great. They have big hearts, which is a huge strength, but I think also a big weakness. And then when it comes to that principal position, they’re always looking, looking, looking, and they should look for resources and opportunities for staff and students, but they do that and basically starve themselves, which is also not the answer. And so I’m just asking a Ruckus Maker to imagine a world where actually your needs are being met, you are being nurtured, mentored, coached and pushed to the next level. And one of my values is, when you get better, everybody wins. So that’s the thing, you’re the catalyst of your school. So if you take care of yourself doing all the fundamentals, and then also enroll yourself in programs that stretch and grow you, you actually grow your community cuz your capacities growing as well.
I appreciate you riffing on that really quick. Well you know, Kathryn Patricia, I’d love to pause here just for a second and then when we get back I’d love you to tell the Ruckus Maker where they can find out more about your workshops, like sound and living color, or how to connect with you. And I’ll ask you the last three questions I ask all my guests. The Better Leaders Better Schools podcast is proudly sponsored by Harvard’s Certificate in School Management and Leadership. I know many mastermind members and many Ruckus Makers who listen to this show that have gone through the program and have loved the experience. But don’t just take it from me. Let’s hear how some of the Harvard faculty describe the impact and their heart for this program.
Leadership is joyful work, empowering others to do their best work. Principals do that with teachers and teachers do that with students. And empowering others to educate themselves or to be educated is just one of the most important things we can do in this world building. We’re building people, we’re building the next generation of leaders and educators.
Learn more about the program and apply at BetterLeadersBetterschools.com/harvard. Today’s show is brought to you by Organized Binder. Organized Binder develops the skills and habits all students need for success during these uncertain times of distance learning and hybrid education settings. Organized binder equips educators with a resource to provide stable and consistent learning routines so that all students have an opportunity to succeed, whether at home or in the classroom. Learn [email protected]. We’re back with Kathryn Patricia Cobbler, and she was just describing this really powerful workshop that’s available for students and classrooms all over this Sound and Living Color workshop. And so where can the Ruckus Maker who’s interested go next to learn more about this workshop or to connect with you?
Thanks so much, Danny. As I mentioned earlier, I have the pleasure of being on an artist roster here in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada called Multicultural Arts and Schools and Communities. If you wanna check out or to book that workshop, you can head on over to ww dot mask online.ca and my name is Kathryn Patricia Cobbler under the Music Rosters, and you’ll see all the offerings there. If you wanna just look at what I’m up to my website is www.Kathryn Patricia.com.
We’ll have those linked up for everybody listening in the show notes. Kathryn Patricia, what would you put on a school marquee if you could have one message around the world for a single day?
I love this question, actually. I was listening to some of your other podcast guests and it was really cool to hear their answers and to be inspired by that. Something that I would put on, I would say, is that in problem solving, choose curiosity over frustration. Whether what we’re doing every day, we’re always trying to solve problems. . And I find that sometimes we’re not able to break through or get that breakthrough that we want. It can be frustrating But instead of choosing frustration, if we choose curiosity and allow ourselves to go through that creative process and to say, well, what if this? Oftentimes by asking questions we can be led to new, innovative solutions to problems.
I love that. What if the question is brilliant. Another one just to add another tool for the Ruckus Maker listening is like, how might we because people are going to resist change, I think that’s just kind of natural often, and they’ll just be like, Nope. Can’t, can’t happen. Doesn’t work here. Like, it’s too hard. We don’t have the resources and a million different reasons. How might we, I think would really, really help out. The other thing I would point people towards a book called A Beautiful Constraint, and there’s I think there’s seven or nine what they call propelling questions. They just build on what I was talking about and what Kathryn Patricia offered as well. All right. Let’s talk about your dream school. So if you were building this dream school, there were really no constraints in terms of resources. Your only limitation was your imagination. What would Kathryn Patricia’s Dream school look like? What would be your three guiding principles?
I think the first guiding principle would be honoring the process over the product. I know here in Canada, and I think in the States as well we have a lot of standardized testing. There’s a lot of like, looking at that end result and that performance you know, that product that the students are producing. And for some students that works really well, and for others it doesn’t work as well. What does it look like for us to, to honor that process, to really feed into that process when we talk about raising up future leaders, it’s really that process that they go through, the lessons that they learn that helps them to become the leaders and the innovative thinkers that we need in our world.
That’s really that’s pretty cool. So, awesome. Well, let’s open the Dream school. And I really appreciate our conversation today and we’re talking about your workshops and, and the importance of like putting on the oxygen mask and the importance of just inviting people into the conversation, right. Honoring their voice. And you talked about safety and connections, so a lot of high level ideas. So of everything we talked about today, what do you think is like the one thing you really want a Ruckus Maker to remember?
I think at the, the kind of end thing I’d love for myself and for us all to kind of think about is for us to mirror what we admire. It was Maya Angela who said, “when we know better, we do better.” And to think about if we wanna see change, we need to actually have that change being in ourselves and to be able to take actions. And sometimes it’s imperfect action forward. We learn as we go and for us to be able to mirror what we admire, then we’ll start to see the culture and the change that we want in our communities.
Thanks for listening to The Better Leaders, Better Schools podcast Ruckus Maker. If you have a question or would like to connect my email, Daniel better leaders better schools.com or hit me up on Twitter at Alien earbud. If the Better Leaders, better Schools Podcast is helping you grow as a school leader, then please help us serve more Ruckus Makers like you. You can subscribe, leave an honest rating and review or share on social media with your biggest takeaway from the episode, extra credit for tagging me on Twitter at alien earbud. And using the hashtag B L B S level up your leadership at Better Leaders Better schools.com and talk to you next time. Until then, “class dismissed.”
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