Stamos, cello; Eric, piano; Jenn, author; Adam, authors group coach

SONAD WORKSHOPS use participatory arts projects to build community across lines of difference. The Glen Brook workshop served as research to learn how the music-coaching model is reflected in other arts disciplines. Sonad aspires to make the experience of crossing human divides available to everyone, in a variety of disciplines, regardless of previous experience.

Sonad Glen Brook Sixteen-and-Under Club

At Glen Brook August 23 – 25, 2010, participants of all ages and backgounds convened to work on Mendelssohn’s Octet for Strings coached by Eric Stumacher, short story writing coached by Adam Stumacher, Steinmetz’ Woodwind Quintet coached by John Steinmetz, and full community folk dancing coached by David Sherman.

Glen Brook Gazebo overlooking Mount Monadnock

John Steinmetz coaches his Woodwind Quintet

Opening night folk dancing in Glen Brook Barn

Authors group in Glen Brook Library

Participants had a focused and relaxed experience in their core group, culminating in a sharing performance/reading for the workshop community and invited guests. Participants also had the opportunity to experience the other disciplines of the workshop. Community activities such as concerts, abundant outdoor and indoor recreation, combined with excellent organic food, rounded out the Sonad workshop experience.

Glen Brook, with scenic views of Mt. Monadnock, offered dorm facilities, lodging for companions and families, bathrooms in close proximity, a large organic garden, a pond with boats, hiking trails, and sports facilities. The Sonad Glen Brook experience included meal set up and clean up  by all members of the workshop community.

Grant welcomes everyone

Eric coaches Mendelssohn Octet in the dining room

Violinist Rich Parker, violist Mark Niemela, clarinetist Peter Arvantely

WORKSHOP SCHEDULE, August 23 – 25, 2010


Arrival/Settle In: 3:00 PM

Dinner: 6:00 PM

After dinner announcements, followed by introductory meeting with core workshop groups, followed by full participant community folk dancing


Breakfast: 7:45  – 8:30

9:15 – 10:45 – Core Workshop

Glen Brook Goat Trio

11 – 12:15: Optional for all: music composition exercise with John Steinmetz

12:30 – lunch

1:45 – 3:15: Core Workshop

3:30 – 4:45: Optional for all: poetry writing class with Jennifer De Leon

Guardians of the kitchen door

6:00 Dinner

8:00 Faculty Presentation: Dvorak Slavonic Dance in E Minor, Op. 72 #2 for piano four-hands; Satie: Premier Gymnopedie for piano;  Adam Stumacher: “Slipknot” – short story read by the the author; “Browning” from Steinmetz Sonata for bassoon and piano; Steinmetz: Etudes No. 1 and 2 for piano and audience

Bassoonist/composer John Steinmetz, pianist Eric Stumacher, author Adam Stumacher, and folk-dance coach/pianist David Sherman at end of faculty concert


Breakfast: 7:45 – 8:30

9:15 – 12:15  – Core Workshop

12: 30 Lunch

Adam playing with author Tien-Yi’s son

Glen Brook Road

2 PM – Final Presentation, ending with full group folk dancing, followed by full group evaluation of workshop

5 PM – Good Bye

BASSOONIST/COMPOSER/COACH JOHN STEINMETZ: “It looked to me like everything was successful!  Great food, great people, great music and writing, and nary a shack in sight. Folk dancing was a wonderful way to pull people together. I liked the schedule, the site, the chance to work a little in each discipline, the combining of arts in performances. Sonad staff and Glenbrook staff did a great job of running things smoothly and creating a welcoming, friendly atmosphere.”

John and Eric rehearsing “Browning” from Steinmetz Bassoon Sonata

VIOLINIST GWYNETH WELCH: “The whole atmosphere of the Sonad Workshop was very successful. It was a comfortable and relaxed environment where everyone got to know each other. I think that environment is what helps make beautiful art, and beautiful art was definitely made during this workshop. I appreciated the length of the workshop and the excellent food. The group cleanup after meals really helped support that feeling of community that was present throughout the whole experience. The actual products of the workshop were also fabulous. A lot of energy was present.”

Glen Brook’s cook Ash greets French hornist Jan Proctor

AUTHOR TIEN-YI: “I really enjoyed the camp-like atmosphere. I particularly liked the group activities – folk dancing, jokes, music activity, meals together. I also really enjoyed the faculty concert and the final presentations. It was nice to be able to come with my family, as I wouldn’t have been able to attend otherwise.”

Author Tien-Yi and her family at work and play

Violinist Ian MacKay and violinist Gwen Welch on swings


Rich and Chrissie Parker

When I think of the Sonad Glen Brook workshop, two experiences leap to mind.  First, performing the 4th movement of the Mendelssohn Octet with teenagers and someone older than me, galloping around the track with a joyful fury, whipping my violin with the crop to get every bit of sound out of it.  Boy, was that fun!! Second, with a bunch of non-poets sitting around the table, with Jenn’s expert assistance, I was able to throw off two poems that I liked quite a bit, read them to the group, and feel the rush of a new, enjoyable experience.**********************AUTHOR IRENE MILLER

Adam and Irene on the porch

Inside the Gazebo

A soft green light fills the air still moist from the recent rains. The grass and wildflowers all around greet us. Further away the great trees are swaying in  the winds, sheltering our dreams. The soft, warm breeze on my face and neck caresses me. The faint outline of the distant hills in the mist with gray clouds hanging low in the skies adds a touch of melancholy.

Where are we? And who are we?

We are at the Sonad Workshop at Camp Glen Brook, in the gazebo on a hill facing Mt. Monadnock. The winds of time blew together a most remarkable group of humans, who like to write and want to learn more of the art of writing. We all have stories to tell.

A large round table is the centerpiece around which we sit on old wooden chairs, everyone looking in and out at the same time. The rigid outline of the structure contrasts with our spacious feelings and keeps us firmly grounded, yet the open sides define its space; there are no barriers.


Our eyes and minds freely wander beyond the hills to distant times and lands. In our imagination we can even faintly hear the magic strings of music, if we listen hard enough. Our pens are dancing across the pages and the stories are born.



Bassoonist Diane Lipartito

There is a section in the Steinmetz Woodwind Quintet where the oboe and bassoon play together as a duet. The oboe’s part is a little more embellished than the bassoon’s and it makes sense for the bassoon to keep things steady in order that the oboe can be even more expressive with her ornaments, as John suggested at one of our coachings. That was perfectly fine for me and worked well for the passage, I thought. It was a pleasure to play with an oboist as musical as Sachiko in any capacity.

At our next coaching, I don’t remember why he changed his mind, but we were working on that passage again. Actually, Sachiko and I were working on it on our own during a break and John came into the room and was listening. At one point, as I said, I don’t remember why, but he suggested that I just go ahead and take a more intuitive approach to this passage with her rather than keep a strict beat for her to play over. I won’t say that it was revolutionary, I have noticed this inclination before at times, but it really hit home that this is what music is about for me. This joining together in a somewhat spontaneous, almost psychic way where you somehow anticipate or just know how to move and be with that other person in their own self expression. It becomes a real communion of spirit, if even only for a moment or two. Maybe in some ways akin to the spirit of the circle dance, which was also a part of our workshop. Though not spontaneous, in circle dancing there is a synchronicity of energy and excitement that is similar.

Folk dance circle to close the workshop



Mount Monadnock stands guard

I feel I must write about the Brownie (yes, I could only spell it with a capital B, out of respect for the gravity and importance of those few late-night moments).  The crowd was lounging in the lounge during the first night of the Sonad workshop, shortly after the folk-dance session.  I stood firm against the evening winds blowing down the slopes of Monadnock by defiantly wearing my signature shorts.  Jeans had been packed, but I never wore them.  The workshop participants were lounging as we dug into the brownies baked by Grant and Ash.  Gwen, the writer-turned-musician, had taken a brownie incommensurate with her size; although at least triple the size of Baby Milo, Gwen was still one of the smaller participants.  Yet she had taken a brownie equivalent to Mount Everest, K2, and Kilimanjaro all piled on top of one another.  Those of us there remember what happened next: we began telling stories, and a mythology of Brownie spontaneously developed.  The Brownie as Sonad symbol, talisman, and fetish object.  I won’t go into the details, but I’ll offer my analysis.  The playfulness of the whole event mirrored the whole workshop itself: all kinds of different people, of different ages and backgrounds, offering up their personal contributions in a grab-the-moment kind of way.  We were sharing food and fellowship, and we made art together.  Just as the event encapsulated the potential of workshop for generating spontaneous stories, art, and friendship, it also pointed out to me something we might work on for the future:  we were all able to offer up our little morsel of Brownie Lore because we all had knowledge and understanding of such cultural archetypes.  Now, let’s push ourselves a little more: what if a Sonad event eventually included participants outside of that zone: really, aren’t there all kinds of people in the world who just would not get what we were doing there?  Or maybe not… maybe we tapped a vein primal in all of us, the spinning of origin tales and the building of mythologies; maybe, with the prompt of that disgustingly large Brownie, we found the common denominator – no, the Greatest Common Factor – in any possible batch of participants, and celebrated that commonality in an evening of fun and whimsy.

Clarinetist Peter Arvantely