Sheswai Nail Lacquer: So Pretty & Totally

"sheswai lacquer is FREE of formaldehyde, toluene, and dbp’s, making it less toxic.
...caps are made from sustainably harvested wood, grown on family owned tree farms.
sheswai is the first nail polish in the beauty industry to use a custom wood turned cap, thereby reducing the use of plastic.
...sheswai lacquer is lovingly made in the USA."

What: Sheswai Nail Lacquer
Price: $16
Size: 0.5 oz/ 15ml
Where to Purchase: Sheswai and Anthropologie

Totally- "this sophisticated fuchsia is bold,bright, and ‘totally’ fantastic" 
Such a great color for all year round. 

So Pretty- "A sweet shade of creme that's sheer with a touch of opalescence, leaving your nails with a glorious glow...oh, it’s so pretty!"

Sheswai nail lacquer goes on beautifully. The applicator brush ensures smooth and quick application with no mess and no fuss!

It is self-leveling so you do not need to go over it again and again to make the polish look smooth. With one coat, there is complete and even coverage. All this without the harsh chemicals we don’t want!

The colors are also very rich and beautiful in addition to the excellent packaging! The wood adds a nice touch to the bottle and the wood cap is made with sustainably harvested wood, therefore reducing the use of plastic

Extremely quick drying time as well. Such great quality nail lacquer. 

You may view an interview with Debbie Leavitt, owner and creator of Sheswai here

Interview with Debbie Leavitt, creator of Sheswai

Sarah Velasco: Can you tell us about yourself?  
Debbie Leavitt: I'm a proud Cali girl born & raised. I believe in peace, love, happiness...glamour and painted nails.

Sarah Velasco: How did you get into the business? 
Debbie Leavitt: Since I was a young girl I've loved to paint nails. Naturally my career progressed into nail styling for the fashion and beauty industries.

Sarah Velasco: Can you tell us about your role as creator of Sheswai
Debbie Leavitt: My role as the creator of Sheswai naturally evolved from my passion of natural nail care, into a desire to create a polish brand of my own.

Sarah Velasco: What is your schedule like?
Debbie Leavitt: My schedule varies, which I love! Some days I am on set styling the nails for fashion editorials, ad campaigns, or commercials. Other days we are busy brainstorming and watching colors for future Sheswai collections. Our motto here at HQ (head-quarters) is: 'Make it fun, get it done.'...and we do!

Sarah Velasco: What is the significance of "Sheswai" How did you decide on what to call the brand?
Debbie Leavitt: Sheswai (pronounced she-sway) is a name I made up. It refers to the way a woman moves…she sways;-)

Sarah Velasco: Can you tell readers what makes the Sheswai lacquer special?
Debbie Leavitt: Sheswai Lacquer is the smart choice for a polished nail. With a 3 FREE formula and a deep opacity, Sheswai color is tried, true, and on trend.
Sheswai Lacquer is a sexy, fun, bold & bright, pop of color in an eco-chic bottle.

Sarah Velasco: What colors are in for this spring, and what colors should readers start wearing in the summer?
Debbie Leavitt: We really love a bright nail around here. I always recommend that one should go with what they're most comfortable wearing, however polish is a fun way to experiment. It's only polish, you can take it right off ;-) Our favorites for Spring are 'babe' and 'stoked' for a pop of color, and 'so pretty' is perfect for Summer to show off that golden glow. We truly believe that all Sheswai colors are the perfect accessory anytime of year.

Sarah Velasco: Can you tell us about some nail trends that we should try out? 
Debbie Leavitt: We are all for experimenting...we love to layer our colors! For example, try a coat of babe or stoked and layer a coat of so pretty on top. It gives an already bright color a bit of opalescence.

Sarah Velasco: What are some major differences in nail colors between this year and last year?
Debbie Leavitt: With nail polish being such a strong force in the beauty industry, it’s allowed for some really innovative color options. From the deepest darks, to the many shades of grey, anything goes.

Sarah Velasco: Could you give readers four essential nail tips or regimes?
Debbie Leavitt: My favorite hot tip is to keep it natural; nothing is more glamorous than a well groomed natural nail. To achieve this I recommend investing in cuticle nippers to trim those pesky hangnails before temptation to bite them off occurs. Also moisturizing with good 'ol olive oil. On the hands & body this is a tried & true natural remedy. I also prefer skipping a base coat. Less is more! Also being mindful of what you feed your body & mind. Happy thoughts and healthy treats go a very long way.

Sarah Velasco: What are the most common misconceptions about nails?
Debbie Leavitt: That people don't notice...they do! And being that our nails are our best accessory they should reflect that. Good grooming!

Sarah Velasco: Can you tell us which colors will look great on every skin tone?  
Debbie Leavitt: Unless you choose a soft & sheer color, there really is no one size fits all for color. It's personal preference.

Sarah Velasco: Do you have any tips on finding the 'perfect' or 'right' shade for our skin tone?  
Debbie Leavitt:Choose colors that compliment your own unique natural tone. And most importantly, make you happy!

Sarah Velasco: How has Sheswai changed or evolved since the company started? 
Debbie Leavitt:We've been growing steadily since our launch in 2009. Our collection has developed from 7 shades to now 14 colors.

Sarah Velasco: Are there going to be any changes? 
Debbie Leavitt:We intend to keep evolving while staying consistent with our formula for great on trend colors.

Sarah Velasco: What can readers look foward to at Sheswai? (new colors coming out etc) 
Debbie Leavitt: More More More. 


Yoga Jeans High Rise Skinny Spectra Black: SECOND Denim

Shop Girls has such a fantastic selection of trendy pieces with the best from up and coming, and reputable Canadian designers. Pieces range from labels like Christopher Kon and Veronique Miljkovitch. Shop Girls also has the largest selection of SECOND Denim in Ontario.

About Yoga Jeans by Second Denim:

Yoga jeans are hand cut and made by SECOND Denim in Montreal.

"We have successfully combined the true comfort and flexibility of a yoga garment with a trendy five pocket design. Made from only top-quality denim containing brushed cotton and elastane, combined with a specialized waistband, Yoga jeans hug your curves and keep you comfortable in any position. Our revolutionary treatment allows Yoga Jeans to contour and lengthen your body while keeping you comfortable and feeling sexy throughout the day. Their shape memory denim also allows you to wear them into the evening without having them lose their shape. When you buy a pair of SECOND Yoga Jeans you are buying a little piece of denim heaven!"
You may read an interview with Founder, Eric Wazana here
Courtesy of: ShopGirls and SECOND Denim Co
Manufacturer: SECOND Denim
Wash: Spectra Black, High Rise Skinny Leg Jean
Price: $125
Sizes: 24-34
Material: 64% Cotton, 32% Polyester, 4% Elastane
Style #: SWP-1149 
Made in: Canada 
Fit suggestion: Most people feel comfortable wearing one or two sizes down from what they wear in a regular denim jean
Washing Instructions: Machine wash in cold water. Do not bleach. Tumble Dry. Iron at low temperature. Wash colors Separately.

Jet Black with a Sheen 
Thinner than a standard jean with a faux front pocket.
Standard inseam of 33-34

SECOND Denim is a label to keep an eye out for and remember. Their jeans are all about comfort and the perfect fit while hugging your curves and elongating your body. Each and every style that was tried on in their line went above and beyond expectations in a jean. No matter which cut and styles were on, each pair felt as comfortable as the next.

All SECOND's products are extremely comfortable to the point where you forget that you are actually wearing jeans. In terms of fitting, I agree with their sizing suggestion. Going down one or two sizes from your usual size in denim jeans will make sure you have a perfect fit.

The High Rise Skinny Leg Jean in Spectra Black is no different. Extremely comfortable and tight in the right places, legs look longer, bodies looks leaner and butts look fantastic. This particular style of jean is a great piece to take from day to night. The material is thinner than their other styles, and it has a nice sheen which makes them perfect for being less casual as well. 

Now, can you workout in them? The denim is flexible enough that you could play tennis in them and, having done yoga, I would say it is possible. The comfort level and cut are both wonderful.

Highly recommend finding a store that has jeans by SECOND Denim. The visit will be extremely worthwhile and you will never find a more comfortable pair of jeans!

Visit www.secondclothing.com for their up to date Store Locator


Alcôve Volumizing Mousse by Oligo Professionnel

"You incarnate style and creativity, and this new side-kick will ensure your do resists what ever comes your way! Alcôve’s new Volumizing Mousse by Oligo Professionnel will have a lasting effect on voluminous hairstyles with a supple and natural feel, leaving behind the crisp effect other products can leave on your hair. Enriched with Alcove’s unique UVDefence Microcapusules Technology, this new high-performance mousse adds volume to the hair and gives it an airy touch. "
What: Alcove Volumizing Mousse by Oligo Professionnel
Price: $14.95 240ml.8.2 FL OZ
For: Fine to Medium Hair
Directions: Apply two-three pumps of the product on damp hair before blowdrying 
Features: Aerosol free pump, nature-friendly packaging, adds shine, protects against humidity, controls frizz, 

"Alcove's Volumizing Foam is enriched with Olgio Prfessionnel's exclusive Microcapsule Technology. Formulated with a UV Defense Microcapsule, a selected ose of Benzophenon-3 (UV Filter) and Vitamin E, which is rich in antioxidants, procures ultimate nourishment , hydration, and protection required."

This product add fullness and holds on its own. This mousse is great, and has a fresh light scent. Most of the time when I try to keep my hair in place, the fine texture of my hair combined with mousse falls flat, especially close to my scalp. 
Using about 3 small pumps, the mousse feels very light weight and does not weigh you down. 

It makes your hair airy, full, and without frizz. The end result leaves you without feeling like there is too much product in your hair.

Many products in the past have caused me to have a wet, crunchy look with synthetic shine. This product does not leave you with that, rather, it creates a healthy satin-like sheen, and soft touchable hair. 

Available : Exclusively at salons, Oligo Professionnel, Nata Boutique


Dynamite 'Tie it your way' Sandals

‘Tie it your way’ Sandals
These sandals are the perfect solution for the girl with a budget who still wishes to be creative with her personal style. Sold with three different colors of ties (zebra print, red, and black), these sandals can be worn in so many different ways.
Packaged in a clear plastic re-usable pouch that becomes a great little beach bag,  so no need to worry about wet bikinis and towels after a day by the water! $29.90 (To be sold in all Dynamite stores as of March 17)

We love the black and white print on the right! Which sandal will you be wearing? 


Essence Cosmetics I LOVE Limited Edition Series

 "essence cosmetics presents Canada’s first LIMITED EDITION,  the I LOVE series featuring a chic rocker edge.  With high voltage fuchsias,
hot pinks and jet blacks, this essence it-girl knows how to keep heads turning. Keep those nails looking fresh and varnished with ULTIMATE
PINK: COLOUR & GO QUICK DRYING NAIL POLISH. Try the I LOVE EXTREME MASCARA to top those lashes and take them to the
next level. The STAY WITH ME LONGLASTING LIPGLOSS gives you kissable lips and goes from day to night."

What: Essence's I LOVE Limited Edition Series
Where to purchase: Available at Shoppers Drug Mart or Pharmaprix across Canada
When: April 2012
Price: $1.49-4.99

You can find more about these products on Essence Cosmetic's website

Great products to try:

I LOVE EXTREME VOLUME MASCARA $4.99 0.40fl.oz/12ml made in italy
mascara for extreme volume 
- ultra black
- ophthalmologically tested
One of the most important things that makes a good mascara is the brush it comes with. The mascara wand from this collection is great. The wand is made in such a way that keeps application precise, while creating volume and fantastic lashes. 

STAY WITH ME LONG LASTING LIP GLOSS $2.99 0.13fl.oz/4ml made in poland
- colourful lipgloss for glossy lips
This lip gloss has a nice fruity scent to it. It goes on nicely with or without lip balm beforehand and gives your lips a splash of color and tint. 

COLOUR+GO QUICK DRYING NAIL POLISH $1.49 0.16fl.oz/5ml made in france
- flat brush 
- quick dry
- trendy nailstyle within seconds
Fantastic applicator brush which makes quick and fuss-free application with extremely fast drying time. Everything you would want or need in a nail polish.  
Recommend color: 08 Ultimate Pink

I LOVE GLAM POWDER EYELINER & EYESHADOW $3.99 0.02 oz/ 0.7g made in germany
- glamourous powder eyeliner + eyeshadow
Highly recommend this as a must-have product! The brush is so great with application. This does everything a stand alone eyeshadow would with the convenient application brush inside plus much more

Essence Gel Eyeliner $3.99 0.1fl.oz/3ml made in italy
- high precision eyeliner
- waterproof
For this gel liner, use a thin angled eyeliner brush and before starting application. The brush would be best slightly moist to help facilitate application. Very precise and a long lasting liner, perfect for something creating a cat eye or body art. 

I LOVE ROCK GLOSS EYE PENCIL $1.99 0.03oz/1g made in germany
- ultra black
- rocking glossy eye pencil. 
For an eyeliner, the most important thing for me is that formula is made in such a way that it does not aggravate or irritate your eyes (especially for when you rim inside the eye.) This formula is non-irritating, and the texture of the liner goes on smoothly. It also smudges very nicely if you're aiming for a smoky eye, meanwhile if you want a precise line it does that incredibly well too.

All these products work really well, the packaging is great. All such affordable products! Highly recommend to pick some up at a Shoppers Drug Mart or Pharmaprix 

Essence Cosmetics also supports projects that help girls around the world which you can read about here

Interview with designer Golnaz Ashtiani

Sarah Velasco: Can you tell readers about yourself? How did you become a designer?
Golnaz Ashtiani: Coming from a creative family, I was always surrounded by art and music.
When I was 14, I moved to the UK where I studied art and design.
In 2007, I graduated from the prestigious London College of Fashion with a Bachelor in Fashion Design and Technology specializing in Womenswear.
After working for designers including Amanda Wakeley and Jasmine Di Milo, I made my return back to Toronto. In 2010, after gaining a great deal of experience in designing and learning the business side of fashion, I decided to work for myself and I started my label ASHTIANI.

Sarah Velasco: Can you tell us how the label was created? How did it start?
Golnaz Ashtiani: I launched my label ’ASHTIANI’last year after being awarded the TFI Best New Labels competition for my Autumn/Winter 2011 collection.
After five months of hard work and several judging sessions, I was thrilled to land in first place.
We officially showed our spring summer 2011 at Toronto fashion week last season.
We will be showing our Autumn/Winter 2012-13 collection during World Mastercard™ Fashion Week. This will be our 3rd season in a row presenting our designs and we are very excited to reveal our latest collection called “Ethereal”.
I’m fortunate to have a great team working with me who help me during the hectic lead-up to fashion week.

Sarah Velasco: Was this something you always wanted? How or when did you decide you wanted to become a designer?
Golnaz Ashtiani: I think I always new my passion was in the arts. A combination of being fortunate having  such a supportive family  and living in London where you are inspired by simply walking on the busy streets, allowed me to expand my creativity in fashion.

Sarah Velasco: Can you tell us about the label? What target audience do you aim for?
Golnaz Ashtiani: Ashtiani is a contemporary womenswear brand, synonymous with modernism and precision cutting. Structured silhouettes combined with soft draping techniques make the collections suitable for the fashion-forward woman who still wants to remain classic and elegant.

Sarah Velasco: What types of pieces will we see in the latest collection?
Golnaz Ashtiani: Our signature structured pieces in new and unexpected fabrics. 

Sarah Velasco: Who or what is your inspiration? What was your vision for the latest collection?
Golnaz Ashtiani: My main muse for this season is a Moscow-based artist called OLEG DOU who has a unique style of combining reality and idealism by digitally manipulated images. Other inspiration lay in European history and surrealism.

Sarah Velasco: Have there been any major changes in your designs since you started? What has remained the same? What has changed?
Golnaz Ashtiani: The brand has always focused on a consistent image of quality and elegance while being unpredictable and innovative with the design and the choice of color and fabrications.

Sarah Velasco: Can you tell us what trends you think readers should anticipate for the summer?
Golnaz Ashtiani: Lots of soft pastel colors and sorbet tones, fluid silhouettes and peplum dress are the must-have trends for this summer.

Sarah Velasco: Any key pieces for the spring /summer you can suggest from Ashtiani?
Golnaz Ashtiani: For a smart-casual look, our wide collar white shirt with fitted trouser and a soft leather waistband. The structured shoulder dress with pleats and peplum in contrasting colors will be a great cocktail dress for special occasions and in warmer weather.

Sarah Velasco: What should readers anticipate for the next collection?
Golnaz Ashtiani:  A fresh winter color palette, lots of structured shapes with interesting textures and fabrics.

Sarah Velasco: Any current or future projects you can let readers know about?
Golnaz Ashtiani: We are working on our Spring/Summer 2013 and also we have been asked to be part of the White Cashmere design contest.

Sarah Velasco: Where can readers purchase items?
Golnaz Ashtiani: Our main stockist is Wolf and Badger a great independent boutique in Notting Hill, London where we have our complete spring summer collection available.
We also accept special orders through our website www.ashtiani.co.uk
We are launching our official online shop March 14th; just in time for the Fashion Week!


Interview with Adrian Anantawan

SV: How did you get into playing violin? How did you start? 

Adrian Anantawan: Whenever I talk to my colleagues who are musicians by trade, the topic of conversation often shifts towards how we started our instrument, akin to asking a couple how they first met. Generally, the stories uncovered are ones of happenstance and self-revelation—anecdotes of kids watching Yoyo Ma on Sesame Street, and subsequently demanding their parents purchase a cello for them. Often, my colleagues describe how they implicitly knew they were musicians from a very early age, and all they needed was a trigger to set them down a path that was wholly predetermined. Uncovering possibilities within the arts for these musicians was the beginning of a path that was intrinsically motivated, and therefore a reflection of their learning goals for many of their early experiences. Personally, I never had a glamorous, riveting story of discovering the violin, and the decision to start an instrument seemed like a pragmatic, deductive form of reasoning on my parents' end—they believed in an education that included the arts, informed by a quasi-Platonic, holistic philosophy of human and spiritual development. 

I was nine years old, and the teacher informed us that we would be playing the recorder for next year’s music class. While I was blissfully unaware of the implications of my disability would have on this aspect of the music curriculum, my parents were already ruminating of the possibilities for alternatives—options were singing, percussion, trumpet and the violin. Logically, it would have made sense to try singing, although I had a voice even a parent couldn’t love. Trumpet was too loud, and the same argument was applied for percussion. If they only knew how a novitiate violinist would sound for the first ten years of development! With the help of biomedical engineers at the Holland Bloorview Kids Rehab Hospital in Toronto, I was able to play with an adaptive device known as a “spatula.” This product of technology has allowed me to play the instrument proficiently, with careful guidance from innovative arts educators within schools and the community. 

SV: When and how did you realize being a violinist was something you wanted to do as a career?

Adrian Anantawan:  I will answer this question indirectly, as there was no cathartic experience that led me to a career as a violinist, which may reflect that I’ve never considered the violin alone as my sole “profession,” and hence identity, in life. However, I will attempt to answer anecdotally: 

I remember when I was first accepted to the Curtis Institute of Music, coming home on a spring night from high school. I was sixteen, and my mother had sat me down in the kitchen with the look that usually accompanies long lectures of various life topics, so I had already braced myself for the worst. Instead, she told me that the director of the school had called home earlier, and had offered a position in the school in the following fall. It was a shock at first, as I had auditioned earlier not intending to get a spot, but rather gain some experience for next year, as I had a year left in school, and interests in other fields—following the footsteps of my esteemed cousins who had gone on into medicine, law and science. At first, it was as if fate had put a twist on my life plans, like interrupting my attempts on getting a date with my first crush or applying to universities with my best friend. It was then my parents told me that opportunities like this don’t come very often, and that sometimes you have to be courageous and have a path choose you. 

SV: If not violin, what career path do you think you would or could have chosen?

Adrian Anantawan: My parents advice was wise in retrospect, and thinking about it now, ten years later, I have no regrets on where the violin has taken me, from the White House in Washington to Carnegie Hall. On a metaphorical level, performing music has made my life into a special one, full of rich experiences and kind people who have brought out the best in my attitudes towards others.

A few years ago, after I finished my Masters at Yale, I moved back to Toronto and began teaching the violin to beginners. At first I was intimated by the responsibility of providing information that would have such a drastic influence their affinity for the instrument. I remember the first set of lessons I taught to a six year old: a mischievous but charming girl who was, like most children her age, a direct reflection upon the efficacy of the method. A song that engaged her visual imagination (i.e. “the circle song”) was met with a smile and recognition, whereas playing to a metronome led to a perturbed expression, followed by general restlessness.

Children have no reason to lie—the expressions written on their faces are in fact the best gauge as to whether you are making an impact or not. Having a positive impact led to increased engagement and attention span, while its antithesis led to boredom and vacancy.  What is interesting in education, however, is how aesthetics are intertwined with practical technique, often acting as a mask for the inherent tedium of developing specific sensory motor skills. These set of aesthetics are often formalized and intertwined to a method, allowing teachers to work within a proven framework, but not necessarily bound by it. 

As a teacher, I had to meditate upon the most basic elements of my craft in the same process of distilling the core values in a composition for performance. The necessity of being constantly aware of my actions and their relation to the reactions of my students, while optimally adjusting my teaching style in real time is identical to the mindset I have in a performance. That we attempt to communicate an idea or set of our values through music is an act of education, while still encouraging our audience to form their own opinions of our expression. Ideally, this communication requires us to create an accessible environment in order for a classroom or audience to optimally engage with our material. 

So, I sidestepped your last question for the very reason that perhaps my current role in education, as much as it is a lateral career shift, is one that I’ve had the oppourtunity to choose for myself. My career path can be considered slightly unorthodox, as I haven’t stopped playing since my studies at Harvard, and have still had many opportunities to perform in a traditional context. 

SV: Can you tell us about what your studies at Harvard? What are you studying?

Adrian Anantawan: I’m currently enrolled in the Arts in Education program at Harvard, where I’ve been studying children with disabilities, from their socio-economic, sensory motor, psychosocial, cognitive, emotional and behavioral background. With my classmates, we’ve reviewed and evaluated the relative strengths and weaknesses of pre-existing programs within music education (curricular and extracurricular), then broadening our approach to include effective strategies within the arts in general. Of particular interest to me has been measuring the efficacy of adaptive musical instruments within a Universally Designed (UDL) curricular framework, and their role in enabling children with disabilities to participate meaningfully with their typically-abled peers. We have settled upon some very interesting questions in the past year, which will require years of study. For instance, where is the line between using an assistive technology to enable a child with a disability to play music, rather than an augmentation that defeats the inherent challenge we must all have to learn? Can we effectively design for to the possibility of failure with a student using technology and still maintain the integrity of the art form? I believe many of the answers are contextual, and it seems that fields create silos between one another, addressing their own questions employing an idiosyncratic taxonomy that promises the least antagonistic, and hence the path of least resistance towards isolated peer-reviewed research. However, I feel as if we lose so much in this complicit acceptance of convenience, where in the end, the child ultimately is deprived. The potential for innovation is at least equal to the barriers that keep disciplines discrete, and I think more than anything else, it will be the require a collection of passionate, like-minded individuals who are fluent across multiple disciplines to begin this serious, important work. Harvard is a breeding ground for this kind of work, and my mind is bursting with new ideas, amidst a busy schedule academically and also with my performance career.

SV: What is your schedule like?

Adrian Anantawan: There are two ways to react with such overwhelming experiences here. One is to lose quite a bit of sleep and add a bit of coffee, but the other is to realize our limits, and appreciate how dependent and interconnected we are in the work that we do. Coming from a music background, I only knew one language; in the world of education, I am learning that in order to collaborate in a knowledge sharing world, we must be able to translate and interpret the disciplines of others, hopefully to understand the values and goals we share. 

Everywhere you turn, there is a new learning oppourtunity to be had, and oftentimes outside of the classroom. At Harvard, you can’t just sit by a coffee shop window and watch the world pass you by, as chances are, you’re bound to run into a friend from one of your classes, and spend hours talking about philosophy, science or music. The last topic I feel relatively more fluent within, but even then, it has been by talking to colleagues in business, neuroscience, medicine and law that have given me a stronger picture of my role as a musician within the sphere of a larger society, and how we all strive (at our best) to make the world a better place.

The Arts in Education curriculum here is intense, but it’s all so relevant that it would be impossible to slow down on behalf of sanity. Perhaps we will find time to relax after our program finishes next spring, although none of us would be here unless we were not used to an unusually heavy workload. It’s like we’re here to take one large breath over the next few months, filling our lungs until we can finally exhale, and synthesize all the knowledge we’ve acquired. 

SV: Being at Curtis, then Yale and now Harvard are there any similarities between the three? Major differences?

Adrian Anantawan: Innovation, creativity and passion come to mind. The differences I’ve observed are more from the inherent nature of the specific programs I’ve been a part of than a generalized ethos of each of them. In every school, I am inspired by the dedication towards exploration of my peers—they are relentless, curious, and ultimately love what they do.  

SV: Who or what inspires you the most?
Adrian Anantawan: Over the last nine months, as part of my field experience program, I have worked in the Henderson Inclusion Public Elementary School, assisting as an intern, researcher and music teacher. Located in South Boston, the Dr. William W. Henderson Inclusion Elementary School, formerly Patrick O’Hearn Elementary School, serves children with special needs—30.7% of the total student body—and includes all students regardless of ability in general education classrooms for the entire school day. Observing and immersing myself in the study of these children in the formative years of their lives has been one of the highlights of my experience here in Boston, and has made me more curious than ever in early childhood development, especially in regards to the formation of imagination and creativity through the arts. While helping these children (aged 4-12) to make music, it has not only been a way to separate myself (literally and figuratively) from campus, but it has also allowed me to apply, in a utilitarian sense, the fruits of our research and classes. Some of the most profound, inspiring moments at Harvard have not come from the depth of our rhetoric, but in the spark of recognition of a five year old with down syndrome, when she is exposed to classical music for the first time. 

SV: Do you think there are any common misconceptions about being a violinist?

Adrian Anantawan: I’ve been carrying my case around, and people have mistaken it for a tennis racquet. Does this help? :)

SV: How do you prepare for a performance? 

Adrian Anantawan: Over the last few years, I’ve realized that a masterpiece is not the product of extreme inspiration--the systematic process of composer informs our practice. I ask myself questions, in the same way that I have in my studies in education. How does the piece "happen?" How do we know when intentions are conscious or unconscious? How informative is it to understand where something comes, in terms of it’s lineage? Music is an iterative process similar to the development of language—think Chomsky and the Bernstein lectures at Harvard (www.youtube.com/watch?v=14VhzlcSuT0). As a performer, we loosen the fetters of structure, untangle paradoxes, and through a close examination of phonological, syntactical, gestural components, our technique is informed. It seems esoteric, although I believe that music performance is a top-down process. We must think, explore the mysteries of notation, ultimately uncovering the promise of innovation and the potential for making this phenomena we call “art.”

SV: Even though there are so many great works- concertos,  sonatas etc is there one particular work or piece that  that you could say is your " favorite?" or most special to you if yes, why?

Adrian Anantawan: No piece is more or less special to me, and I feel relatively democratic in terms of my favourite music. Right now, I’m listening to Bernstein’s West Side Story, as we’re performing this with the kids at the Henderson School. Lovely music, and certainly the flavour of the day!

SV: Are there any current / future projects you are working on that you'd like to let readers know about? Summer plans?

Adrian Anantawan: I’m hoping to continue my work in arts in education, continue studying, play a few concerts and catch up on some much needed sleep!  

SV: Can you tell us a bit about the CODA project and VMI initiative?

Adrian Anantawan: The CODA Project: Here’s another story for you. In May 2011, on one of my preliminary visits to Hawthorne Public Elementary School (now a partner school with the CODA Project), I conducted a faux interview of twelve year-old Hannah, to gauge some of her prior knowledge of classical music: “If I were to say the phrase chamber music what comes to your mind?” She had a few thoughts, some ranging from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets to being trapped in chains. I eventually opened up the question to Hannah’s classmates, and after a few seconds, one boy raised his hand provided the most popular answer amongst his classmates: jail.
This was precisely the reason Bryan Wagorn and I had decided to start the Community Outreach for Developing Artists Project, or CODA. While we had a wonderful time teaching and coaching some of Canada’s brightest young talents (including this interviewer!) as faculty members of the SMI, we realized that there were many skills they would require in the 21st century, outside of their scales and etudes. In June of 2010, Bryan and I started developing the CODA Project with the premise, “why not start training outreach skills to kids sooner than later?” We had been blessed with the opportunities to hone such skills during our college years, through mandated outreach performances on concert tours, and also sporadic courses at school. No such artists teaching skills were being offered to pre-collegiate musicians, so during the two-weeks we had in the 2011 SMI, we decided to create workshops to train our students (aged 12 to 18) to present outreach programs for specific schools and social programs in the Ottawa community. We were banking on the fact that they would enjoy sharing with their peers, no younger than them, the joys of classical music, an in doing so, finding a deeper understanding of its meaning in their lives. We hope you enjoyed the experience, Sarah—you were amazing!

The VMI Initiative: In the fall of 2009, through a grant from Yale University, I created a program called the VMI Chamber Music Initiative, which brought together a team of musicians, music therapists and educators to assist children with disabilities to play classical music using adaptive musical instruments and repertoire. My project worked in tandem with two researchers from the University of Toronto: Dr. Tom Chau and Dr. David Alter. This knowledge translation project allowed us to use our disparate backgrounds to increase the technical and artistic functionality of the VMI, and to conduct research into its efficacy in a myriad of domains. As a professional musician and educator, seeing these children interact with the VMI was akin to observing the creative process at its inception, and it raised further questions ranging from the instrument’s aesthetic and educative quality. Our project was recently completed last November with a performance of the VMI with the Montreal Chamber Orchestra, where a quadriplegic student at the University of Toronto was able to perform on the concert stage for the first time since he was paralyzed ten years ago.  

          SV: Why is it important to combine music and outreach?

Adrian Anantawan: I believe that the work that we do in outreach has the ability to save lives. The quality of our lives is dependent not only on our motivation to pursue excellence, but to enable others to do the same. In order for accomplishment and fulfillment to align in our lives, we must give and never stop at reaching beyond our means. To paraphrase Leonard Bernstein: “True accomplishment happens with a plan, and not enough time.”   

SV: Can you give one piece of advice to readers wanting to be in the industry and pursue music as a career?

Adrian Anantawan: Ironically, a logical examination of our capabilities will ultimately temper the achievement of the possible. All cases I’ve seen of those who achieve the “impossible” do so through mindful ignorance: an expectation of change and challenge, without the fear of failure. 

Fun questions...
If you could meet one person in the past or present who would it be? My grandmother, who I never got to know, since she passed very early in my life.

Something that you haven't played yet that is on your list of things to learn: Those wine glasses filled with water.

Favorite pop song and artist: Joni Mitchell

Something people may not know about you: I LOVE Star Trek. I’m a big sports nut.

Dream vacation: In space, when they make it affordable. 

Favorite sport: Can’t choose between baseball, hockey and basketball.

Book / movie you currently want to read/ see: Not sure the title of it, but I saw it on a preview a few months back. It was a documentary following four(?) babies from different parts of the world, and observing their development.

You may visit Adrian's website here