Teaching in Thailand – American Music Abroad Academy

Headed back to the USA – Thank you, Thailand!

I’m 39,000 feet in the air on my way to Hong Kong, then Dallas, then onto Nashville by Monday night. My trusty earbuds are playing my favorite travel playlist, and I’m thinking about the week I just had teaching in Thailand: new friendships, the impact that was made on me (and that I trust that I was able to have on others), and overwhelmed with thankfulness for the opportunity to teach in the first American Music Abroad Academy this week. 

I arrived in Thailand last Saturday afternoon, and immediately got back into the swing of learning my way around a new place, a new currency, and a new language. I had an hour to pick up a few supplies before my first meetup with teachers and program participants at the welcome gathering party. 

AMA Academy

American Music Abroad Academy is a brand new program. The goal is to invite U.S. embassies and consulates from around the region to nominate outstanding musicians to come work together with American musicians, teachers, and entrepreneurs. 

32 musicians, 13 countries, all meeting in Bangkok for an intensive entrepreneurial musical summit! Each participant has been involved with or touched by a previous AMA program, and this week was an opportunity to build on those friendships and collaborations with more time and depth. 

AMA Academy selfie!

I had the joy of teaching nine of those students in my singers-and-songwriters class. This eager group made me so excited to wake up each morning, and meet them at our classroom where we unpacked what makes a great song a great song, the importance of being as strong a businessperson as you are a musician, and the process of creating brand new music ourselves. We wrote five new songs in five days. Prolific! 

My students and me!

I use the term teacher/student with humility and care. I learned so much this week! My phone and notebook are packed with new information to take back to the States with me… 

Singers and Songwriters

What a group! One of my singers has millions of YouTube views and is a huge star in his home country of Kyrgstan, another is a Forbes top 30 under 30 in Asia, another is beginning a solo career and launching her first album soon, one sings like a bird and could be the next Mariah Carey, another spoke very little English, yet played guitar so well that he accompanied almost every songwriting collaboration during the entire week, another is navigating the music business in a particularly competitive, uphill battle with trying to change the system that she works within in her country; I met folk-pop ukulele players, commercial music makers, and musical theater composers and performers whose talent, questions, and work ethic blew me away… That is probably a run-on sentence, but come on! The room was stacked with fascinating people that I have to tell you about. 

Exploring Bangkok

I was particularly excited to connect with people I’ve worked with on previous tours. 

Though personalities, styles, and backgrounds were all different, I was especially struck by the amount of hunger to learn and the generosity of thought and ideasharing that took place between members of our core group. 

With a markerboard, a guitar, and a pocket-sized Bluetooth speaker as my tools, I was able to fascilitate discussions, help try to clear creative log jams, and offer and insight and wisdom I possibly could. I love teaching, Problem-solving, playing and talking music and business. 

My most sincere hope and takeaway is that all participants return to their home countries ready to meet challenges they encounter with resilience, optimism, AND creativity. 

My flight just touched down in Hong Kong and my layover is quite tight, so I have to run for now. More to come soon…