This page has moved to a new address.

Recapturing the joy in music making

The Sensible Flutist: Recapturing the joy in music making

Friday, April 13, 2012

Recapturing the joy in music making

I don't have children of my own but I get to work with children closely as a private flute teacher. I've also taught larger groups of children from ages 5-12.

I love children's natural curiosity and since I'm still a big curious kid myself always asking questions, it bothers me that children nowadays have a tendency to shy away from asking questions. Society in general has shifted from valuing critical thinking to valuing conformity and accepting the filtered information that is fed to us.

My goal as a private teacher is to develop a child's interest in music and help them towards musical independence so that they can nurture and enjoy listening and playing music as a lifelong activity. I don't tell my students everything. I ask them pointed questions until they figure out the answer on their own. It may take longer this way, but I want them to think for themselves. When they arrive at the answer, it's a memorable occasion and the information will more likely stick. They can find joy in learning a new piece of information or a new way to approach and practice a piece. I feel this is my contribution to the world in general if I can encourage my students to think and ask questions.

As adults, we may have trouble retaining the joy in music. Competition, lack of motivation, life in general and other factors slowly degrade our passion from joyous to toiling. How can we prevent this?

I've been reading Rosamund and Benjamin Zander's book "The Art of Possibility: Transforming Personal and Professional Life." Every time I read a chapter, I either find myself excited and my motivation returning or I'm moved to tears by the pure emotional clarity. Adults make things complicated. This book encourages us to remove the blinders of judgment and assumption and just be.

I think the most effective thing we can do to recapture joy in our music making is to find presence in our day to day lives. That presence will transfer to our performances, and we will be happier and more fulfilled. Presence helps us rise above the detail of a piece and helps us find context or the longer line in life. I really didn't understand this concept until I began practicing yoga. Rather than trying to run away from the discomfort of a more challenging yoga pose, I chose to stay with it. Presence is a discipline that can reap many rewards.

Life in general stinks, but we have the possibility to change that today and every day forward. As a musician, I'm incredibly lucky to be able to come to my instrument daily and remind myself of all the good things about life. When you find yourself drifting today, notice what you smell or what you hear. Bring yourself back to the present moment and be grateful. This is the essence of joy.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home