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“When Fun is Bigger Than Fear Everything is Possible”

Updated: Jun 1

a group photo of the May 2024 retreat group
Improv Retreat May 2024

“When Fun is Bigger Than Fear Everything is Possible”—This was a stunning testimonial from a participant who attended the Music for People inspired  Improvisation Retreat at CAMMAC this last weekend. 

Much has been said about the importance of play in childhood development. 

Play allows children to cultivate empathy, creativity, communication skills, and independence. It enhances physical development, learning, brain function, and literacy. It relieves stress, builds resilience, and prepares us for dealing with challenges. Interactive play with others is healthy for the mind, body and spirit. 

So why do adults stop playing? 

Adulthood brings responsibilities, challenges, fears, wounds, and disappointments. Innocence gives way to experience. Play, wonderment and awe may seem trivial, and perhaps naive. 

I believe that difficult and painful experiences such as heartbreak, burnout, financial challenges and cancer, to list some of my past experiences, make moments of play, wonderment and awe even more important as nourishment for the soul. As adults, we are exposed to great works of music, literature, theater, dance and art. Discernment and taste bring forth the practical decision to relegate ourselves to the realm of humble spectator always on the sidelines, never daring to make a peep, pick up the pen, present on stage, move or draw. Why bother? What purpose will it serve? 

Answer: creativity and exploration encourage play, wonder and awe. 


The importance of laughter - children laugh between 300 and 500 times a day, while adults average between 15 and 17 times a day - if they are lucky. 

a man and a woman sitting together with instruments and laughing
Laughter at the MfP Retreat

For many people, sports and outdoor adventure provide that access to interactive play. Why is it that for those who are more artistically inclined, their creative pursuits are discouraged and even mocked? I have had voice students and improvising instrumentalists tell me their painful accounts. It frustrates me to no end. Music and artistic expression are a most beautiful part of who we are, and the more we nurture it, the better we feel. 

It is important to find people who will cheer you on, who will understand you, and help you move past skeptical remarks. Creativity opens pathways to communication, connection, collaboration and inspiration. Learning skills later in life has taught me patience, patience towards others and patience towards myself. 

Learning can be fun, it can also be hard - we let the fun give us balance. I remember when I was a student at Concordia I started to develop performance anxiety. As the semester progressed so did my perfectionism and my will to achieve. It was during those times that my  teacher Beverly McGuire would tell me to pick up my guitar and sing songs I know and love. I wish I would have taken her advice then and during my graduate studies. 

I invite you to take that leap of faith and make up a song.

I invite you to sit at the piano, hold down the sustain pedal and play one note at a time leaving lots of space between each note. Enjoy the world that each sound offers, enjoy the surprising world that the next sound offers without any worry about wrong notes. Let a “wrong note” be a point of intrigue. 

I invite you to use your hands or two pencils and drum on everything around you. 

I invite you to turn a dinner party into a drumming session by tapping the table with your fork and knife as you invite your friends to tap along. 

I invite you to laugh out loud and dance across the kitchen floor. 


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