Over the last two weeks I have been reading an extensive amount of political press coverage in a variety of media presenting radically different points of view, from the New York Times, to the Washington Times, to the Huffington Post, the Drudge report, to the NJ Star Ledger, to the Daily News. It's interesting to see how differently pundits frame issues - sometimes using what seems like outright deception, and other times just using effective advocacy - and this is on both sides of the aisle.
How does one really listen to all that is being said with objectivity and fairness? I find this extremely difficult in many ways, as it relates not only to politics, but also to music.
Part of what we do as conductors is to rehearse what we hear in live time - to really listen to what is being played in a given moment, and not just react to what we expect to hear. In other words, if I am listening only through the lens of my own experience, chances are I'll either miss an opportunity to incoporate an excellent idea, or I'll miss something that really needs help, or I'll go about fixing a problem in a manner that is not economical or on point (musicians hate when their time is wasted!).
So I am constantly trying to ask myself - am I really listening? I must confess that I am guilty of not doing as good a job as I should, with my excuse being the amount of work in front of me. This is not a great excuse honestly!
The question becomes how does one really get away from filtering material? How many times have you had a conversation with someone where they totally missed your point and visa versa?
I think it starts from taking moments during a busy day to calm one's mind. We have so much on our plates constantly that breathing deeply becomes difficult - are you breathing deeply now? Unless your body is in a position that is not clenched, then it is impossible for the mind to follow suit - who do you know that has an open mind and physical tension at the same time? Before I conduct a performance I always spend a little time by myself doing excercises called mentastics, developed by Joseph Traeger and taught to me by Joseph Gifford. This usually takes away a lot of my angst and puts me in a more open place to receive as a musician. I can tell when I'm not doing this in all parts of my life - I take things more personally, I am more volatle, more rigid. Do you find this in your case as well?
I am going to try to make a committment over the next two weeks to do some more meditation, to take conscious time aside to breathe deeply for a minute regularly throughout the day, and to do some more exercises that I hope will keep things more open and aligned, even if a performance isn't an hour away. I'll be curious to see how this shapes my experience in the short term and am interested in your experience as well!