I should quickly mention a book I can recommend regarding musical inspiration by Jonathan Harvey, aptly titled "Music and Inspiration." I have mined many gems over the years from the writings of great composers found in this short tome!
For now, I'll share below my contribution to this project and I hope you enjoy it:
There are so many times when I have felt deeply inspired throughout my life, and most of them have occurred when I am at my most quiet, thinking in my most long terms, and at my most prayerful. It is when I truly make time to be reflective with the greatest amount of humility that I seem to have epiphanies that resonate fully through all I do.
What are some of these inspiring revelations exactly? Nothing that isn’t obvious in many ways; however, I somehow must continually remind myself of what has always been in front of me! Here are a few I will share:
- I feel most free when completely and compassionately honest with myself and others. This has ramifications in my music making, since I must be emotionally and physically open to receive sound, and any part of me that is closed diminishes the artistic experience as a conductor personally, and even worse, for those working with me! Honesty is the gateway to openness and vulnerability, and when in that place, magical experiences flow miraculously.
- If I am generous with others even in the face of rudeness, I always walk away with a sense of power in my humility. Not easy to do, but so good when it happens.
- When listening, I must always be careful to receive through the lens of the person talking. Same in conducting – I always hope to listen to what is really being performed musically, and not what I want to hear solely, because that initial idea found in silence always changes from what I’ve imagined when standing in front of a group of musicians. Relationships transform and evolve my most deep convictions on all levels, and I find this inspiring.
- I must always try my best to make thoughtful choices – this is a difficult one for me, since I always want to get things done, and the quick path is rarely the one that yields the best results.
- I don’t look for high end rushes when living daily, less they become a drug; a slow and steady approach truly does win the race! Even then, occasionally moments of bliss can find their way into my life musically and otherwise – it feels good to be amazed without expectation.
- I need and try to invest fully in the present, whether spending time with my family (the greatest joy of all!), or making music, or doing administrative work, or meeting with students, or spending time with friends. There can only be space for one thing at a time. While planning and organizing with specificity are requirements for survival in all aspects of my life, I never want to allow them to diminish the pleasure of being present.
- When I make time to pray to God without an agenda, answers to questions seem to fall from the air. I’m repeatedly stunned in a most wonderful way!
These are but a few examples of how inspiration reaches into all aspects of my life.
I hope that your life is blessed this year by many moments that are transcendent in the best ways imaginable!