My mother often used to quote someone (violinist Itzhak Perlman?): “If you make a mistake, do it with conviction!”
And from a wise friend of mine: “It isn’t a mistake if you learn from it.”
We all spend our lives experimenting with making choices. I’ve become more and more conscious of the decision-making process as a musician, but especially as a student and teacher of the Alexander Technique.
I call my work “The Art of Freedom” because I find that our greatest power lies in realizing that in every single moment we are free to be active participants in the choices we make. We unleash that power and manifest it from potential into reality in the instant that we commit to the choice we are making. With every choice we make, we re-direct our entire lives.
We make choices that are better or worse for ourselves or others, but the more we pay attention to the PROCESS OF CHOOSING, the more conscious we become. We also get better at:
- receiving and processing information efficiently
- becoming sensitive to changes in ourselves and our surroundings
- “quickening the mind” (as F.M. Alexander put it)
- making better choices in the future.
How do we make a choice? How do we choose which fingering to use in a tricky string passage, or which notes to stress or vibrate? How do we choose what to eat for breakfast, or whether or not to get married or divorced?
In my experience, there is a choosing that does itself when my thinking-arguing-analyzing-fearful mind quiets and I become more aware of what’s happening in the present moment. The choice that emerges in that moment is the best one I could possibly make in that moment – both for myself and those around me (even if it doesn’t look or feel that way at first). That’s what it means to “do my best”.
Miracles happen when we take care of our primary instrument (body – mind – soul – Spirit) and empty it of extraneous STUFF (unhelpful thoughts, unnecessary muscle tension, passionate attachment to desires, etc.), in order to create a pure space for the Choice to take place within us and through us.
Sometimes the Choice remains a private inner conviction, and sometimes it is expressed outwardly through movement, words, or music. But the next moment – and therefore the rest of our life – is affected by every single choice.
Great music happens when we first prepare the ground of our primary instrument, access the “Non-Doing-Space”, and let our Choices flow magically-naturally with Ease from the Silence… as we watch and feel our hearts moved by the flow. This is the process that I teach with The Art of Freedom.
It’s not about what I choose to do with this or that note or phrase or bowing… it’s what I choose to do with MYSELF in that moment of choosing that makes all the difference in the world. Literally.