Mindfulness Music Approach

When I was studying Jazz Performance at Concordia University, I attended a master class given by guitar virtuoso, Ben Monder. After fielding numerous queries from the audience regarding technique, he paused to share a simple idea. In a measured and slow-paced tone, he said: 

"something special happens in your musical development when you practice playing one tone at a time... and listen to it fully, until the sound fades out... completely..."

The deep listening exercise was perplexing in its simplicity. Here was one of the most proficient and technically skilled guitarists in the world, and all he was suggesting was that we practice playing one tone at a time? Somewhat skeptical, I tried the exercise later that day and noticed immediate results. I felt more focused, energized and creative. I also felt substantially more at ease in performing with others after working on the exercise for a few days.

It was this moment that put me on a path to explore disciplines that are, by nature, expressions and explorations of deep listening. 

I've spent the last 15 years as an ardent student of meditation. In meditation, we listen to the breath. We listen to the body's sensations. We listen to our emotions. We listen to our environment. When we listen deeply, we are able to respond effectively. 

In music, we are constantly listening and responding. The better our capacity is to listen, the sharper the response, which allows the music to thrive. This is true of technique and performance as it is with composition.  

When teaching the mindful music approach, I seek to engage and reinforce the student's capacity to listen fully. I am constantly monitoring and adjusting the instructions to gently guide the student towards the ability to be completely present.  This brings about results that reinforce the student's skill, confidence, creativity and overall sense of well-being, generating a natural desire to keep practicing the instrument.  

My method also draws on the Alexander Technique and the Dalcroze Method, two disciplines that I have delved deeply into, which have a more somatic focus. Musical expression is, above all, a physical act. We are micro-dancers, engaged in choreographing our body through time as it relates to our senses. Learning through the body and using physical cues are vital ways to stay focused and creative.  

Helping students to realize their musical goals, to gain confidence, creativity and joy brings me a deep sense of satisfaction. I look forward to working with you.