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Vashtie Kola was helped by virtual reality.

Fashion & StyleVashtie Kola was helped by virtual reality.

The images for Meta were taken by Arturo Holmes.

If you have ever wanted to learn how to play the piano, but didn't feel like you could afford it, perhaps because of a lack of time, financial constraints or a concern that you won't retain the lessons being shared with you at your old age, it's not The Meta brand recently hosted a Sonic Listening Party as part of their new multi-year campaign, "It's Your World." The brand wants to help the next generation pave their own path on their own terms. Their products are helping them do innovative things, from capturing one-of-a-kind content with their Ray Ban Meta smart glasses to helping you learn new skills through the Meta Quest 3. During Miami Art Week, creatives came together in front of a live keyboard, strapped themselves into the Metaquest 3 and learned to play the piano from scratch. Vashtie Kola, a multitalented creative who is everything from a DJ to a designer, was one of those individuals. She tells ESSENCE that she had a good time at the Sonic Listening Party. I can't read music, but it was fun to learn how to play a song using PianoVision. It is the most fun way to learn.

She feels inspired to learn and do more through virtual technology, which is the whole point of the 'It's Your World' campaign. We talked with Vashtie about being a renaissance woman and mother, as well as the skills she hopes to learn next, from a new language to the drums, courtesy of virtual reality. With the Meta 'It's Your World' campaign in mind, what motivates you as a creative to never be afraid to try new things and pursue your passions? I owe a lot of my career to tech and social tech because I grew my brand largely using the internet, and then transitioned into instagram. It has allowed me to connect with other creatives and I feel like it has grown my following and allowed me to share my work. I met Victoria Monet in real life and it was really nice. I feel like tech allows me to be a creative. What was it about the Meta Sonic Listening Party and learning to play the piano using the Meta Quest 3 that drew you in? That is a really cool opportunity. I feel fortunate that I am able to partner with brands who understand who I am and what I do, and Meta definitely understands me as a creative and as an artist. I was thrilled when I heard about the lineup. I do not know if this is worth mentioning, but as a woman of color, knowing that there are other creatives from the community that were also being a part of this project was really exciting. I had the chance to DJ, which I adore, and they brought me in in a very authentic way, not something that felt natural to me. The idea of testing out a new product in front of a crowd was daunting but exciting at the same time. Vashtie and Austin Millz played on PianoVision with Meta Quest 3 at the Meta Sonic Listening Party during Miami Art Week on December 09, 2023 in Miami, Florida. That is still top tier. I agree with you about the inclusion of women of color in the presentation Meta had, but I wonder if you have had other experiences where you felt like you weren't seeing women who looked like you in that space? I definitely feel that, even if this is not the topic of questioning. I don't feel like I'm part of the conversation because I don't see myself or my peers. I think for this, it was very beautiful because I didn't feel like I was walking into a culture or world that I didn't feel comfortable in. I felt like it was an extension of what I do because I could see myself in the room. I feel like I am a newcomer even though I want to learn more. That was one of the questions I had when I was a fan of virtual reality. I think I am open-minded, but also old.

You are talking to someone who has never used virtual reality, and you are preaching to the choir. I was scared and unsure, but after I tried it, it felt easy. It didn't feel like a strange concept, even though I had made it out to be. I remember exactly what I was doing, even though I don't know notes. It is more professional than a game, but it has the same ease and fun as a video game. They talk about how virtual reality is being used in so many different ways in teaching, even in the armed forces, just teaching people how to do things. The visualization opportunities make it easier for you to retain what you are learning. I think that it is cool that they are incorporating that through virtual reality with things like learning the piano and other skills. I would love to have something in there for learning languages. I would love to learn how to do that in a different language. I would love to learn a language from virtual reality. I feel like learning to play piano is something that most of us want to try, but we never get to it. I wondered what else I could do if I just took the time to figure it out. I feel like I need to figure out how to use drums in my work as a DJ. It has been many years, but you are going to be on the program in a minute. It takes time, and time as a mom is complicated. Every day is a new day and it is an opportunity to figure that out. I am very fortunate that I have help, even though I don't think I have figured it out. It is like I am here, but then I am working, but then I am running around. I think using tech to do it all is a great gift. I don't know how people did it before we had all of these gadgets, but I think it's great that I can be with the baby. It is nice that I have pockets, but I also want to be connected, so finding the balance is important. One of us has to stop using our phones in front of the kids. I feel like there are pockets of squeezing in work when I am with the kids. I feel like my 3-year-old is inspiring me because she is learning so much and she is a sponge. All of them are seeing what they can learn in a day. As a parent, you see those things happen when a child is born into the world and then not have language or motor skills, as we evolve. As a working mom, I want to keep my career going. I want them to know that I am here and that I am successful.

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