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Cultivating Awareness

The Sensible Flutist: Cultivating Awareness

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Cultivating Awareness

Earlier this year, I attended the Andover Educators’ Biennial Conference. It was a life changing experience. I am now proud to announce that I am an Andover Educator Trainee, and I am now studying towards becoming a licensed educator to teach What Every Musician Needs to Know about the Body.

The basis of incorporating an accurate body map into one’s playing is with inclusive awareness. In my own study of Body Mapping since taking a course with Amy Likar in 2004, inclusive awareness well…escaped my awareness. Barbara Conable teaching the first hour of What Every Musician Needs to Know about the Body cleared this up, and the conference then became an exploration of this awareness.

Since the conference, I have been processing and thinking about how to approach my flute with more mindful awareness. Where yoga helps me center my self and connect mind to body, inclusive awareness helps keep all the complex processes that go into playing an instrument in my periphery without losing awareness of the music or my body.

Before the conference, I was mindful about my playing but my mindfulness didn’t transcend my issues with performance anxiety. Although I intellectually knew negative words like “controlling” and “trying” are detrimental, those habits continued to manifest themselves in performances. No matter how often I perform, I still get the adrenaline rush. My heart pounds, my breath becomes shaky, and I become a tense shell of the musician that I am.

In the months since, my awareness has shifted to a mindfulness that doesn’t scan from one part of my body to another and then shifts to a tricky section in the music. It lets everything be without trying or controlling the result. When these moments of true inclusive awareness happen, my heart fills with joy. I get true fulfillment. I listen better, I play better, I embody the music better. Everything is just better.

I am a perfectionist. I’ve liked to deny that for years but the truth is, I am. I procrastinate because nothing I do can ever truly be good enough. Doing things at the last minute and getting less than stellar results means I can blame “being so busy” or “lack of time” for perceived failures.

When it comes to performance anxiety, I believe that inclusive awareness will help me get over the hurdles in ways that I haven’t been able to move past.

Shortly after the conference, I had a two gig day. I played for a church service in the morning and performed on the program of a friend’s studio recital in the afternoon. Playing in church has always been less nerve wracking for me than other scenarios. Perhaps it’s that the congregation is there to worship and I’m enhancing their experience, so not all the attention is on me.

There was a particular scripture read in the service that resonated with me. In Philippians 1:17, it talks about preaching with sincerity. How many of us perform with sincerity, or do we perform purely out of ambition?

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At November 30, 2011 at 11:32 AM , Blogger MazzaClarinet said...

Loved this post!

The only thing I'd add is this...

You mention that playing in church is less nerve racking. Along with awareness in all aspects,I've concluded that another key is connecting spiritually when you're playing.

We may not all share the same belief system but the concept is essentially the same - making a conscious decision to plug into the source.

After all, isn't that one of the origins of talent?

At November 30, 2011 at 4:28 PM , Blogger The Sensible Flutist said...

That's a good point and one I'll have to explore. Thanks!


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