As a music teacher educator, I was fascinated by the opportunity to discover how I might meaningfully pull mindfulness into not only my classroom but also into the culture of my department. Musicians experience the gamut of unique, intense pressures and demands on time. How could I develop my own personal practice while also learning how to share mindfulness with my students and colleagues? And there was so very much to share – the pause, the stillness, the clarity, the awareness, the openness, the absence of judgment, the measured calm, the wonder. I felt such gratitude for each of these evolving dimensions within my presence of mind, and with that gratitude came a pure desire to give.
What is perfection? If someone asked you to describe your own idea of perfection, what would you say? For many musicians, ideas about perfection lie on some continuum between internally imposed and externally influenced idealizations about musical competency. Furthermore, these idealizations are by definition abstractions rather than the thing itself. The perfect note, phrase, or … Continue reading Mindfulness and Musical Perfectionism – the hidden costs of chasing after an unexamined illusion
A couple of years ago, I received an invitation to present on the topic of music and mindfulness for a symposium featuring some preeminent researchers. One of these scholars was none other than Richard Davidson, author of The Emotional Life of the Brain, and head of the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. … Continue reading Why attention matters – musings on investigating meditation with musicians
I am often approached by musicians who are interested in learning more about how mindfulness can benefit their work. I've written extensively about the subject in blogs, articles, and other mediums, but have never put the basics down in any comprehensive and accessible manner. For those interested, here is the "handout" I've always promised. I hope … Continue reading Meditation for Musicians – A basic guide
Earlier this spring, after years of research and personal practice, I decided to finally put my thoughts together and offer a mindfulness-based class on teaching and wellness. The class is modeled after the popular 8-week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program developed at the Massachusetts General Hospital, with readings, practices, and discussions designed specifically for … Continue reading Five things I learned after five weeks of teaching mindfulness to teachers
At the last National Association for Music Education (NAfME) research conference, I gave a short presentation on the need for teacher training programs to include strategies for helping educators deal with their internal ecology. I like the term “internal ecology” because it puts the locus of control on what goes on inside our own minds, … Continue reading Stress and Mindful Teaching – beyond content and pedagogy in teacher training
A few weeks ago, my colleague Sharon Paul shared an experience with me that I think demonstrates how powerful even a simple mindfulness-based technique can be in changing the dynamics of a practice session or rehearsal. Sharon is the Director of Choral Activities at the University of Oregon, and is in my opinion, one of … Continue reading Three breaths – re-engaging during practice and rehearsals