October 23, 2013

Hang out the “Open” sign?

The other day I was in my favorite over-commercialized caffeine dispenseria doing what loosely passes for work .  Actually I was working, but I couldn’t help but overhear the people sitting next to me.  I was trying to not listen, I really was.  But their conversation kept catching my ear (no, I’m not about to tell you to listen more, although we can all do with the practice) – they were talking about breathing.

And every time they said the word “breath” I’d take one.  And soon I was nearly hyperventilating!  So, I did the only thing I could think of – I inserted myself into their conversation!

And met two lovely people, preparing a talk about breathing.  We discussed all the wonderful things the simple act of taking a breath can accomplish – from giving one the time and resources to think, to helping clear one’s head, to making the music sing like it supposed to.

I’ll beat breathing to death some other time, but for now, think about the serendipitous opportunities that arise every day.  Are you open to learn when interesting people might share? 
What has this got to do with playing the harp? Well, everything!

Be open - When you’re making music, you need to be open to experiences as they come along – whether you incorporate something new into your arrangement, play somewhere you never even thought of being, or play something you didn’t think you could, be open to what you may take away from the experience.

Be flexible – just because you’ve set out to do something in particular (play a piece a particular way for instance), be flexible if some other option arises (some people refer to this as a “jazz improvisation”), which will help you stay in the performance rather than focusing on the deviation.

Be interested – just as meeting new people are interesting, stay interested in your music, your technique, your performance – and your breathing!

Be there – if you’re not present when you are playing, how can you expect your audience to be there?  Be present when you’re playing so you and your audience can enjoy the moment.

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