Look at this picture. Do you know what this is? I’ll tell you. It’s an open rehearsal of the Providence String Quartet. Their rehearsals take place in a storefront, and on certain evenings, they set up some speakers and amplify what’s going on inside. Neighborhood folks come around to listen, maybe sitting on some of those chairs on the sidewalk. Sometimes they even dance.

Q is getting ready to launch a community outreach program — something we’re really, really excited about — and the first phase of our program development is to research other programs, both here in Chicago and around the country. When Melissa Snoza reminded me about Community MusicWorks in Providence, a gigantic light bulb lit up above my head. They do AMAZING work and are deeply embedded in the community around them, from their storefront rehearsals to their 120 string students, from their performances with the Borromeo Quartet to their potluck dinner concerts, where they play alongside their students.

There’s a big, genuine question that’s driving our research this fall: what role can musicians ACTUALLY play in creating a healthy society? Community MusicWorks does an amazing job of answering that question.

It’s been more than two and a half years since Q was founded, and the learning curve has always been steep. There’s a new challenge around every corner. (This week’s challenges included: do we need liability insurance? How will we plan performance dates and repertoire when we’re working with two different violists? Have 27 months elapsed since we incorporated in Illinois? What’s the shortest piece by a living composer in our repertoire? How do you get on Yelp?)

But yesterday, I experienced a reverse learning curve moment. For a moment, I forgot all the challenges, and I remembered why I got into this in the first place. I remembered my dream of a string quartet being part of a thriving, music-loving community. I remembered the thrill of sharing — truly sharing — the music, and the craft, that gets us out of bed every morning. I went back to basics — and now I’m ready to get to work. I guess that’s the value of remembering your dreams.