WILL THE REAL INSTRUMENT PLEASE STAND UP?
by Caroline Ward
When we think about orchestral music, the word instrument brings to mind: violin, cello, trombone, timpani, flute, double bass, piano, and so on. When we add a singer to stage, then the instrument is the voice. But what about the musician herself? What is the impact of his state of being on the music? Is he or she not the ‘source instrument’?
I remember a friend sharing with me about twenty-five years ago that he was at an international leadership meeting in a castle, high on a hill, just outside Prague. In the meeting there was a range of high-powered business people, global thinkers, strategists and artists—among them over thirty orchestral musicians. The musicians were from far and near and very few had ever played together before. After a series of exploratory conversations had taken place about the state of the world, they all decided to do something that many had not done before…ever. There was some nervousness about suggesting it, then more so about trying it. But my friend said that what followed the experiment changed his world inexorably… forever.
Together, they decided to try meditating. They fell into silence… at first, a little uncomfortable, but after a few minutes, all agreed later, that it somehow felt not only comfortable but natural… This scene occurred almost thirty years ago, so in business, science, orchestras and almost every other area of endeavor, meditation was super strange; it was for hippies and Indians. Even so they challenged themselves and they did it… everyone in silence… together… including the musicians.
At that time my friend was a non-believer—in classical music that is. He found ‘música docta’ tiresome and tedious; dull and uninteresting; basically, he could barely tolerate it in the lift going up to the Presidential Suite of his favorite hotel. BUT… when that meditation in the castle finished, without planning, without score, without a conductor, without having rehearsed or played together, the musicians took up their instruments and began to make music. SUBLIME…, he said. TRANSCENDENT. He, and everyone else there—including the very surprised musicians—were sold… forever. The human instruments had tuned themselves, had tuned with each other and then turned to tune and play their crafted instruments.
So, what happened? The very act of being in silence together, of calming the waves, the vibrations, of the mind, the musicians came together harmonized with themselves and with each other (and with the audience too). So, when they lifted their instruments to make more waves, there was only one possible result. Collective harmony. As my friend declared—‘sublime’.
Today, more than 25 years later, there are still a few skeptics who feel threatened by the idea of meditation and the study of the mind, but they are diminishing in number as we see results. On the one hand for example, meditation it is a powerful stress and emotion management tool and on the other hand it forms part of a suite of high performance mind techniques that support excellence across a wide variety of endeavors.
When I started studying mind and brain science almost 30 years ago, it was around the same time that the coaches of elite athletes began to understand that the mind is the seed source of all results. We learned back then that results are determined by the words we speak to ourselves – together with the tone, volume, intensity and emotion we use, the images we create—are they static, are we outside of the scene or in it, is it moving, in black and white or is it in color, is there a sound track, is it small or large, far or near, etc., etc.
What we do with our mind, with our thoughts, creates our felt experience, and that influences absolutely the way we act, the decisions we take and how we move in the world, and as such the results that we experience. The science of success begins and ends in understanding the science of the mind. Unfortunately, with all the studies that exist to prove the power of this science, it is still not taught in schools. Yet it is available, and it is finally available in the world of classical music.
At Fanjul & Ward, we accompany our artists to learn and practice the art of ‘being’ the instrument while understanding and applying the system and science of achieving true success.