Last week I shared a blog from Donna Wilson, local performer, teacher, and mom on the concept of mindfulness, or simply being in the moment, and how it is so important to our everyday lives. She has a routine that she practices every day which has helped clear her mind of negative thought processes, focus her attention on the task at hand, and helped her become a better and more compassionate parent. She even writes how it makes her a better and more focused musician and performer!
As a mom and a musician, mindfulness is something that has been rattling around in my head a lot lately. And let me tell you first of all: it is HARD. I feel like my brain is always ten other places other than the present: worrying about the past (“did I get that person called at work?”), the future (“will my sweet daughter go to sleep and stay asleep tonight?”), and everywhere in between. As a consequence, I frequently feel distracted, frustrated, and like I’m not giving 100% of my effort to whatever I’m doing, whether it be playing my instrument, taking care of AJ (my daughter), or working in the flute shop. However, I have to just keep reminding myself to come back to the present moment: focusing my attention on the notes on the page, the email I’m reading, or the needs of my family at this. present. moment.
So why is mindfulness so important for musicians, anyway? Why are we even talking about this? I found a great article on Musiciansway.com that I feel sums it up perfectly. Writer and musician Gerald Klickstein, author of the book “The Musician’s Way: A Guide to Practice, Performance, and Wellness, said, “When we’re mindful, we notice. We attend to our sound, emotions, execution, and coperformers. We perceive accurately, without judging ourselves. We bring fascination to every phrase we play or sing.”
Sounds great, right? Well, Klickstein guides readers through the five most important characteristics to bringing mindfulness to your music-making, no matter your skill level or career. You can find the entire, wonderful article at the end of this post; I will just summarize his main points.
Five Characteristics of Mindfulness
1. Openness to Novelty
Feel a sense of wonder and gratitude of the music you are making. Be inspired by others with whom you are creating.
2. Alertness to Distinction
As we zero in on distinctions in sound and technique, we heighten our perceptiveness, and our creativity expands in step.
3. Sensitivity to Different Contexts
Such sensitivity keeps us flexible – we recognize that music needs to adapt as moods and performance situations change.
4. Awareness of Multiple Perspectives
We uphold a healthy awareness that we might be missing something, and we’re eager to pivot beyond the familiar.
5. Orientation in the Present
If there’s a central tenet to mindfulness, it’s noticing. With a mindful orientation in the present, we sense how we truly sound without preconceptions or self-judgments. Then, with shining eyes, we mold our music in boundless creative ways.
Read the entire article, as well as watch a video on psychologist Dr. Ellen Langer on mindful learning, here.