Enjoy a healthy, balanced life and abundant musical success.

Become the powerful artist you are meant to be!

December 7, 2015
alexander technique teacher music
Performing and teaching for BodyChance in Japan, spring 2015. Photo by Anchan

I signed up for a 30-day gratitude challenge recently. To be honest, I don’t pay much attention to the non-personal emails that are delivered to my inbox, but today’s email caught my attention with its question: “Who inspires you to be your best self?”

At first, I thought it would be easy to answer that question. But when I started to think about it, my answers were a bit surprising to me. Instead of thinking first about people I’m close to, my family, special teachers, or role models in my life, the first people that came to mind were my students. And then, I was surprised to think next of my audiences.

Students and audiences?!

Well, it’s true that I just enjoyed giving an inspired performance of Massenet’s Meditation from Thais for a fundraiser this afternoon, and I taught a lovely class yesterday, so students and audiences have been very much on my mind.

But I don’t think I’ve ever appreciated before how much I am inspired to “step up to the plate” to serve my best self by these groups of people. In both cases – when I’m in front of a student or class, or an audience –  I feel a certain responsibility to deliver my “best”.

I can be feeling down and dejected, but as soon as a student enters the room, something in me wakes up and becomes energized. My existence takes on an added dimension and new meaning in that moment as I take on a new role – one which serves.

I’ve never thought much about performing as “service”. Hmmm…. I must admit that I don’t think I had EVER thought of it using that particular word until a student brought up that idea in class yesterday, when we talked about how music and virtue might be related.

And yet…of course! Being a musician, performing for others, IS a form of service – just as teaching is a service.

The real beauty of it for me is how much each of these situations offers the opportunity for MUTUAL service and inspiration. The performer needs the audience as much as the audience needs the performer; the teacher needs the student as much as the student needs the teacher. There is reciprocal inspiration: while students and audiences learn and listen, the best teachers learn from their students, and the best performers listen to (feel, are aware of, sense, respond to…) their audiences.

When I perform or teach with awareness of my experience, with the intention to touch and connect and communicate and share and listen and learn and move and help and heal others, I am stepping into the fullest potential of my “best self”.  My audience and my students inspire me to do this. And when I do this, I’m likely to inspire them in turn.

What beautifully beneficial relationships we can enjoy when considered in this way! I feel incredibly grateful to be able to step into these diverse roles. And I am very very grateful to all of the students and audiences who have opened up the space with their presence for me to take on these roles!

It is an incredible blessing to have people in our lives who are willing to receive what we have to give. So, thank you, dear readers, for being a willing part of my audience today. May you be blessed! Blessed are those who give – and those who receive!  🙂


 I would love to hear your comments! You can comment on this post by clicking on the comments bubble Alexander technique teacher musicat the top right of this post, or in the comments box below (depending on the view in your browser).

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  1. I play fiddle in a bluegrass band. We rehearse each week and perform occasionally. I get adrenalin high when performing, but I no longer enjoy performing as I did in the 1970s and 80s when I did it for a living. It’s rehearsing I love, but at this point performing is a “service,” as you noted. It isn’t usually a free service, but all the hassle of getting there, setting up, and then performing is exhausting, and at 72 I don’t have the energy I once had.

    I write fiddle tunes and songs, and I love doing both, and have loved them since I was a young adult. Usually the ideas I have are right at the frontier of my technical ability, so writing a tune demands that I practice quite a bit, often 4-8 hours at a stretch. I don’t notice the passing of time when I practice and this has been true for the last 50 years, since I bought my first fiddle and spent the ensuing 12 hours learning my first tune (from a recording). My reading skills are negligible, though I can now notate pretty well using a program called Sibelius, which can play back a midi version of the music as I write it.

    Rehearsals, jam sessions and performing are all important to me, but truthfully, I live to practice. I know people think I am nuts, but I tell them “Music is like virtue – it is its own reward.” It certainly keeps me out of trouble.

    1. This is beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing your perspective gained from a lifetime of experience! I love your self-quote,”Music is like virtue – it is its own reward.” How true! And you are certainly lucky to enjoy practicing the way you do, and to be able to keep at it for such long periods of time without burning out or experiencing pain. When you love what you do and enjoy it, pain is often a real non-issue! Thanks for writing, and I wish you all the best!

  2. I have also been doing the 21-day gratitude challenge, and when this question came up, I found myself with the same answer: my students and my audiences! You have expressed so well the feelings I have about these relationships, and the element of service in both teaching and performing. What a gift both are! Thank you, Jennifer.

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