During this holiday of gratitude, I want to thank you for reading my newsletters. I started writing these about a year and a half ago, and I had no idea how much I would enjoy the process, the learning, the experimentation, and the communications with you. I’m grateful to you, who is willing to read and ponder and respond to my thoughts. That is very meaningful to me. Thank you.
Gratitude is an energy of expansion and flow, while stress, anxiety, fear, fatigue all close us down. A few thoughts about how gratitude can help us in making music, especially as we approach our busy holiday season.
- Gratitude evaporates performance anxiety. Identify your favorite passage to play, your favorite note to sound, your favorite word to sing. Sink into the feeling of enjoying that part. Let that focus fill your body and erase anxiety, tension, and fear. Likewise you may do the same for identifying what makes you feel the best about the gig – the conductor/collaborators, the music, the venue, the audience.
- Gratitude keeps things fresh. If you have a holiday gig where you play the same thing over and over every year (Nutcracker people, I’m looking at you), it can be a challenge to stay engaged with the music and the job. Follow the same advice as #1 – find your favorite note, passage, word, moment and let those feelings sink in and wash over you. Find a different moment every performance.
- Gratitude balances out unpleasant colleagues. Well, it may not balance them, but it can balance our approach to someone who is difficult. Everyone has redeeming qualities. Even your most irritating colleague has something positive about them. Identify their best traits and focus your gratitude on those qualities. Perhaps you might even tell them you appreciate those qualities about them! And if that doesn't work, go back and repeat step #1.
- Gratitude helps us accept compliments. How many times have you performed, made some mistakes and got hung up on those problems? Then in the receiving line after, when people genuinely express their gratitude, we dismiss those compliments? Try taking them at face value. Try letting the appreciation of your audience sink in. Know that you touched someone. Know that you made a difference by adding beauty and art to the world.
How else does gratitude help you? I'd love to know your thoughts.
Thanks for reading! Happy Thanksgiving!