Music is Mindfulness
The Sunday supplements these days are full of articles about how to let go of stress, anxiety and depression; how to move forward and find your way to truly ‘live in the moment’ experiencing life as it happens rather than being physically in one place but mentally elsewhere. I know that I’ve struggled with this over the years, but I’m learning to switch off the voice in my head that constantly seeks to pull my attention in various unhelpful, distracting and sometimes destructive directions. Without even realising it, I can find myself losing hours to ruminating about what I should have done, what things might be like now, creating lists of things that I need to sort out, or worrying about what the future might hold.
The good news is that playing and singing music can be a powerful part of the solution: a way to focus the mind on one constructive activity that’s very much in the here and now. It starts with exercises. If you like you can play scales as a tedious, repetitive exercise that must be completed before you get onto the good stuff. But, an alternative is to REALLY listen to your scales and become aware of the physical sensations of playing them. Consider what it FEELS LIKE to play these exercises, live with them, in them and as part of them for that moment. See how the way you attack the notes changes your perception of them: can you make them smoother, more even, clockwork or express emotion through them?
And, of course, this extends to everything that you perform in music. Practising to get the notes and rhythms right allows you to fully immerse yourself in that process, letting all other thoughts, feelings, concerns, queries dissolve into the background. When you’re singing a song you can become the character or the narrator, or channel the lyrics through yourself and allow the song to be about your own life experience. It’s so much more than just making noises that match a pattern on some paper – it’s about the musical activity being at the very centre of your being for that moment, at the expense of all other things; you are free, for this moment, to concentrate only on the music that you’re making.
This week’s lesson slots
- Tuesday 18th May – 14:15
- Friday 21st May – 16:30