Reflections during the holidays
When the holidays roll around many of us reflect on what we do and love. Family, work, hobbies, life choices… many of these important parts of our lives seem to face us with their visceral demands for our attention. Are we making choices that are fulfilling? Do we have practices that help quell the nagging voices that roll around in our brains? When we think about singing and our music, do we sing for pleasure? Or to prove ourselves worthy? Or simply, to earn a living?
I don’t have an answer for you. We each have to look at these questions within ourselves, and the answer will change and shift as you grow through your life. There are many inspiring words of wisdom by many people who’ve thought about this stuff a lot. For this year’s holiday time, I thought I’d give you the gift of sharing some of this wisdom.
The wonderful writer and jazz pianist Allaudin Mathieu writes in his perfect little book of musical meditations, The Listening Book, “In the act of hearing, you experience a part of the creation that made you, something that has been alive from the very beginning, something you almost remember.” Mathieu also writes, “We ordinarily use mistakes to fuel self-denial, as proof of our incompetence. But since mistakes are inevitable, try turning them into your best advantage. Mistakes might be detailed instructions on how to take apart and rewire physical motions, muscle by muscle. …The goal is not to make music free of mistakes. The goal is to be complete in learning, and to grow well.”
Several of my Berklee students write amazing things in their final papers. I learn from them every day, too. Here are but a few of their thoughts. “As the selves from yesterday and tomorrow meet, a convergence results that produces today’s “myself.” (Max McKellar) “I believe silence is something we all wish to achieve at some point in our lives, but at the same time, fear it. We fear what we might hear in that silence. Where there is nothing to hear, we will hear what we want, or don’t want.” (Nicholas Veinoglou)
And guitarist John McLaughlin has said, “If I can get out of the way, if I can be pure enough, if I can be selfless enough, and if I can be generous and loving and caring enough to abandon what I have and my preconceived, silly notions of what I think I am—and become truly who in fact I am, which is really just another child of god—then the music can really use me. And therein lies my fulfillment. That’s when the music starts to happen.”
I wish for you a beautiful holiday time, love, family, great food, awakenings and connection—and some rest, too! -Jeannie