The Absent Musician
A Dutch friend told me how headlessness has affected her work as a musician. She plays the viola professionally and for years worked in an orchestra. Often she would find herself anxious to the point of trembling. There she was, in front of an audience, on show and feeling painfully self-conscious. Perhaps you have had similar experiences and know how she felt? Sometimes, too, the orchestra had to play long works by Wagner and she would feel overwhelmed at the prospect of playing literally for hours. She felt stressed.
Things changed when she became aware of being Room for life. Now she realized that from her point of view, instead of being a thing being looked at, she was Capacity for what was happening – her viola, the music, the rest of the orchestra around her, the conductor in front, the audience beyond… No longer confronting the situation, she relaxed. And the idea of playing for hours? Well, the silent Depth she was now conscious of was timeless. With just this moment unfolding in the Silence where she was, with her attention not only on the music as it poured out but also on the Source out of which it was pouring, she found herself unconcerned with the length of the piece. She was not worrying about the future but resting in the present. And then, surprise! surprise! she would find herself at the end of a long piece by Wagner feeling inspired and refreshed!
What a difference! No trembling, no anxiety, but instead, relaxation and delight!
She also tells me that she senses audiences register this change in her – she now plays in a trio, so it’s easier for her to tell since the relationship with the audience is closer and more personal. Audiences feel uncomfortable when a musician is uncomfortable. It’s hard to relax when the performer is anxious. But when you see the performer obviously at ease, open, sensing all around her, taking everything in, enjoying playing… Well, you can’t help but be touched and inspired and put at ease yourself. Your attention moves from worrying about her, to listening to her, to being with her as the music flows through her. And happily but not surprisingly, the quality of my friend’s playing improved with this shift in her attention, from what she looked like to where she was looking from.
You can watch several short videos on the website on the connections between Seeing and music – see Conductor Composer, First Person Piano
If you have your own reflections on this subject that you would like to share with others, please send them to me.
Please send your comments to Richard