Innovating Through Artistry

From Clarinet to Coffee- What a Conundrum?

In ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Entrepreneurial Tool Box, Music, The Clarinet Shop, The Idea, WEBSITES & BLOGS on May 3, 2008 at 2:09 am

Marianne Breneman is a clarinetist I know through Lisa’s Clarinet Shop. She is also someone who sets a wonderful example of being entrepreneurial. You see entrepreneurship is not necessarily about owning a small business, even though Marianne and her husband, Brian, do together own Koka Coffeehouse in Cincinnati, OH. But instead, I see entrepreneurial artists as those who take responsibility for their destiny and create the opportunities in life they need most to thrive.

How does Marianne do this?

#1 By having a great education to allow her to the flexibility to choose who she teaches and where she teaches.

As a native of the Detroit area, Marianne holds degrees from Michigan State University, Wayne State University, and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM). With a strong educational foundation it is no wonder she has a very full active teaching studio, as well as serving on the faculty at The College of Mount St. Joseph in Cincinnati, OH. With her credentials, Marianne can afford to have a policy of accepting students by audition only.

#2 By creating performing opportunities to fill her need to play and by taking it seriously enough to commit time and resources to its development.

While Marianne is the second clarinetist with the Kentucky Symphony Orchestra, she is also a founding member and the Managing Director of Conundrum, a unique chamber ensemble of Soprano, Flute, Clarinet, and Piano.

Having built a chamber group over a ten year period of time, as one of the founding members, I can tell you that Marianne is a very entrepreneurial musician. Having played with lots of musicians, some who perform in major venues and others who are fine freelance artists, most musicians have not learned how to take a risk and build an organization that will give them the freedom to play where they want and what they want. Most artists will tell you they would love to do this, but the number one reason they don’t is simply because they have not (yet) learned the skills they need to be entrepreneurial, like Marianne.

An excerpt from the Conundrum website:

What is Conundrum?

“…Glad and sad in the same pair of trousers, I left for Reno ,asking the question over and over as the dirt passed; “why do I feel this way?” The answer was in the shape my feet left in the dirt. Not hooves anymore, but size 3 sneakers.

Why am I a tiny pony in sneakers? Why are there no answers, just more questions? Who wants to listen to any sound that comes out of me? And geez, why do I smell like an old rope? Riddles, rhymes and indecent sirens of pain…”

Yes, puzzling but important questions face us every day. Who am I? How is this supposed to work? What part fits where? Are you my mother? A life’s enigma; a heart’s quandary; a spirit’s conundrum.

When searching yields riddles, like children we play.

Soprano, flute, clarinet and piano:
an unconventional combination of voices creating textures of elemental beauty-melody, rhythm, harmony and language. Alternately serene, playful, quirky, or lush.

We play music we like and we do it with conviction. Our audiences seem to be happy and excited after our performances.

Conundrum is:
Mary Elizabeth Southworth-soprano,
Danielle Hundley-flute,
Marianne Breneman-clarinet
Philip Amalong-piano.

#3 By building on personal interests, Marianne and her husband, Brian, are creating life on their own terms.

When you risk with your heart, and use your head to execute those passions, you find that life offers you whatever you need to flourish. Not only do the Breneman’s now have two coffeehouses, the second which opening in June of 2007, but they are using their creativity in life to create financial and creative opportunities that they can enjoy for a long time to come.

An excerpt from the Koka Coffehouse website:

Welcome to Koka Coffeehouse!

You’ve seen us on Eastern Avenue. We’re the warm happy glow on a cold dark morning. The sunny yellow building with cheerful spring flowers.

No recollection?

How about the tacky flashing light-up arrow sign with the witty sayings?

Wit. Great Coffee. Friendly Service. Intelligent Conversation. What else could you ask for?

Koka Coffeehouse. Not Bigger, Just Better!

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