Archive for March 15, 2021

Which Road to Take

I have been reading the latest journals in my AT for Musicians classes.  The questions the students answered involved insights about our Body Mapping section of the curriculum, responses to the breath work we are doing, and general reactions to sections in the book they are reading. Certain responses have really moved me.  They are not the ones on particular realizations of how our arms are connected to our back—as important and life changing as that can be. It’s the stories of recognizing how hard we can be on ourselves, on how self-compassion can go a long way toward musical improvements. 

We are so driven to get things right that we are often oblivious to the ways we are sabotaging ourselves.  Alexander spoke of “endgaining,” our blind focus on the end result we wish to achieve without enough attention on the process that allows us to reach that goal. Endgaining is a huge part of our existence in today’s society in general —  and its role in our ability to survive in the music world is no different.  We would be crazy not to recognize the importance of reaching certain musical goals, sometimes in record time.  But I believe we can still attend to the process.  Actually I believe it’s critical to attend to the process. That’s the way we can avoid the unlearning that often becomes necessary when we rush to the finish line.  What’s that old saying?  Haste makes waste. What is clear to me is that endgaining and self-judgment/criticism go hand in hand.  And simply put, self-compassion is the speedy route to reaching our goal. We won’t waste precious time on self -judgment and will deal directly with self -improvement.  This does not mean we don’t need to critique ourselves honestly.  It just means we do so with forgiveness and compassion so that we can get on with our work. 

I have a huge virtual folder called the Isn’t that Interesting folder. I put things in there all the time when I notice something I’m doing or not doing that I start to wonder about. The tendency to want to analyze these things is certainly interesting. But sometimes I just need to realize THAT I’m doing something—not WHY I’m doing it. I have compassion for the WHY. But I can pop this thing into the virtual folder so that if I choose, I can ponder it later. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve decided with certainty why I have created a particular behavior only to decide with more certainty maybe a year later that that was not the reason why.  Hmmm.  Isn’t that interesting? In the meantime, what’s most useful is that I am able to choose to do or not to do something I have done many times before.  The choice empowers me. The questioning of why does not always empower me.  The why may lead toward more compassion—and that’s useful.  But needing to get to the bottom of it does not seem so useful to me.

I suggest we consider our choices with all the possibilities before us. I suggest we have compassion for our stumbles along the way. I suggest we celebrate those stumbles as the process toward our achievements. And I suggest we do all this with the joy of music making that brought us to this profession in the first place.

March 15, 2021 at 4:32 pm Leave a comment


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