Mountains and overcoming self-consciousness

Mountains and overcoming self-consciousness

I love mountains – always have, always will.

Having recently moved to live amongst the Southern Alps of New Zealand, I am lucky enough to interact daily with these magnificent mountains.

I am acutely aware of the support and inspiration they give me as a creative person and I’ve been contemplating what it is that inspires me most about them.

Mountains exude a disarming lack of self-consciousness.

Mountains don’t worry about how others see or experience them. They don’t question or doubt themselves for a second. They each simply do their ‘mountain’ thing, standing tall and proud. The mountains are utterly in the moment. This way of being inspires me.

Self-consciousness is of course a human condition and as a creative performer, I am well aware of its destabilising pitfalls. I assume mountains can’t experience its negative effects, but in contrast, their projection of unwavering strength of purpose and confidence in what they are and what they do strikes me strongly. As creative performers, this state is hugely valuable for us to embody.

I find it interesting how strongly I have been struck by the mountains’ lack of self-consciousness. Through my own career, I can point to many times when the destructive impacts of self-consciousness have impacted on my playing and performances.

Gaining more understanding around what it is, why it is so destructive and how to overcome the negative impacts, has been enlightening and rewarding.

What is self-consciousness?

If you are self-conscious, you are:

  • Excessively aware of being observed by others
  • Unduly aware of yourself, your appearance, or your actions
  • Uncomfortably conscious of yourself as an object of the observations of others

The pitfalls of self-consciousness

When we are overly self-conscious, we focus on how others might be observing us, and this often turns into concern about their assessment of us.

As a result, we enter a downward spiral of destructive thoughts, our minds becoming full of worry, anxiety and judgement.

In the process, we lose ourselves.

The imaginary external perspective

As a result of self-consciousness, our perspective changes. We imagine ourselves from the external perspective of others – a perspective that is completely outside of ourselves.

Paying attention to this imaginary external perspective, we lose touch with our actual internal awareness – and this is why self-consciousness can be so self-destructive.

In the case of creative performers, it is easy to recognise this preoccupation with being observed and judged by others, especially as the very act of performing for an audience involves being observed.

Though we are definitely observed by others, there is another particularly powerful observer within this destructive self-conscious mix that has the potential to be the most distracting and destructive of all.

That observer is YOURSELF.

What is your perspective?

  • When you perform, do you have a sense of observing yourself from an external perspective, outside of your body?
  • Is it almost like another person or perhaps a different version of yourself is observing?
  • Perhaps from that view point you are looking down on yourself, or maybe the view is from the audience’s perspective.
  • Perhaps the perspective is similar to that of another colleague.
  • Does this observer have opinions about how you look, sound, move and feel?
  • Is this observer ultimately supportive and encouraging of you, or is this observer critical, eating away at your confidence with discouraging comments and assessments?

I suggest this external observer has huge potential to destroy your performance, and how you engage with this ‘shadow of yourself’ is a key element to your performance success and enjoyment.

Why is this?

Self-consciousness relies on a heightened external awareness.

If we are observing ourselves from the outside, we are distracted from the active sensing and awareness of our body. We are no longer connected and alert to our internal world. We are dislocated from the intelligence of the body and its natural expressive ability and we consequently lose our natural physical control and comfort. Our ungrounded mind, disconnected from our body, effectively runs wild.

The key to reversing this destructive pathway is to turn our focus inward with great curiosity.

Constantly building a more detailed internal perspective gives us access to a completely different performance experience and outcome.

Perspective from the inside out

There is much natural intelligence and wisdom to tap into when we pay attention to our bodies from the inside out: how best to move, how we are actually feeling, how we want to express ourselves.

The results of truly sensing and acknowledging our internal wisdom are often astounding. Paying attention to this wisdom allows for ease of movement, which in turn allows our creativity and self-expression to flow more naturally, unlocking our innate confidence.

Turning off self-consciousness

So, self-consciousness and its destructive impacts can be turned off by practising self-awareness and internal sensing.

When we are self-conscious, our focus is on our distracting and judgemental thoughts. By placing the focus of our minds within our body, there is less room for the destructive dialogue of our external observer and our unruly minds begin to settle.

With full and clear internal body awareness comes a calm, liberating and productive focus and attitude. We become centred, grounded and in touch with the current moment – and this current moment is where true creativity and spontaneity reside.

Being like the mountains

As creative performers, when we are focused within our bodies, we become just like the unquestioning mountains, confident and strong in ourselves and our purpose.

Having discarded the destructive powers of self-consciousness, we can simply do our thing.

Best of all, in this state of whole-body connection, by focusing our attention on intimately listening and feeling within ourselves, we can unlock our true unrestrained creative voice.

Discovering your own internal perspective:

Personally, I am still discovering how liberating and empowering it is to intimately explore and develop self-awareness from the inside out as I play. This has required being constantly alert to how my body feels, and listening to what it is communicating to me.

Fundamental to this exploration has been the ongoing development of a clear and detailed sense of my centre and how it relates to the rest of my body. The positive impact of this awareness of centre is hugely powerful and impressive – and wonderfully, it also brings a much greater sense of enjoyment in the whole process.

As a creative performer, my aim is to be completely authentic and confident in my own creative voice. Developing a clear sense of my centre connects me with my whole body and this connection has allowed a completely different level of comfort and control.

As a result, through detailed and focused feeling and listening to my body, I find myself to be much more in touch with my own unique creative perspective.

Try this:

Experiment with the following ideas within your creative practice and performance.

Practise bringing this awareness to every aspect of your creativity, and notice the impacts.

Stay curious, keep discovering and have fun with it.

  • Feel your centre, notice it, get to know it in as much detail as possible and try to keep your sense of it alert.
  • If you are struggling to find your centre, consider a spot inside your abdomen, approximately 5 cm below your tummy button, and 5cm within your body. Place your attention at this spot and notice how it feels.
  • Consider the size, shape, consistency and colour of your centre. Simply pay attention and notice what comes to mind.
  • Consider this centre and internal awareness as your foundation – fundamental for everything else to flow in balance and ease from.
  • Notice how other parts of your body relate to your centre.
  • Build a sense of your whole internal body in relation to your centre.
  • Notice how different parts of your body feel and how they want to move in relation to your centre.
  • Consider your posture, and build it from the inside out, relating everything to your centre. Rather than imposing any external sense of how your posture ‘should be’, be guided by how your internal body ‘wants to be’.
  • Throw out the rule book of how you think you ‘should move’ from an external perspective and explore movement from an internal perspective of feeling ease, flow and balance.
  • Relate different parts of your body to your centre: Sitting bones, feet, knees, shoulders, arms, lips, tongue, back of your neck. Notice what affect relating different points to your centre has on your internal awareness.
  • Keep feeling for comfort and freedom…explore where you are uncomfortable, and allow you body to advise and guide you on how it wants to be.

When ever you drift away from the awareness of your centre, simply bring that awareness back.

You will need to do this time and time again.

Just bring your awareness back into your body, back to your centre, and notice the affects on your comfort, self expression and enjoyment.

Mountains and overcoming self-consciousness

I love mountains - always have, always will. Having recently moved to live amongst the Southern Alps of New Zealand, I am lucky enough to interact daily with these magnificent mountains. I am acutely aware of the support and inspiration they give me as a creative...

Acknowledging the positive

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Acknowledging the positive

Acknowledging the positive

Beware of your greatest strengths!

Shakespeare is quoted as saying “your greatest strength begets your greatest weakness”.

 

As performers, one of our most valuable strengths is our skill in self-critiquing. We are highly trained in the ability to judge and evaluate every aspect of our playing from second to second, and this skill is vital for our ongoing development. 

However this very same strength has the potential to be our greatest weakness. As we constantly focus on and evaluate what is wrong or what needs to improve, we can very easily lose sight of what is also working well.

Ask any performer walking off stage or out of a practise session how it just went, and they can easily rattle off a list of the things that weren’t so good or didn’t work as well as they wanted. On the other hand, they’ll probably have much more trouble rattling off a list of things that were successful.

It turns out we are highly trained in self-critiquing and noticing what we want to change but poorly trained at observing and acknowledging our success.

Our greatest strength becomes our greatest weakness – disproportionately focusing on what needs to improve, forgetting to acknowledge what is already working well.

Over time, this approach slowly undermines our confidence and enjoyment, and we lose the ability to robustly back ourselves.

Building your self-support mechanism

Many performers report that as their performing improves and their careers develop oddly their confidence and enjoyment of performing diminishes.

What they used to experience as a positive and exciting ‘thrill’ of performance, is now more often an experience of ‘worry and anxiety’ about whether they will perform well enough to meet expectations.

This dwindling confidence and enjoyment could well be a result of many years of self-critiquing without a balanced acknowledgement of the positive within the mix.

Without a doubt, self-critiquing is a necessary process for development, and one that we must keep honing through our careers.

It is however just as important for our success, health and enjoyment to actively observe and acknowledge what is working well.

“Use it, or lose it”

Just like a muscle that needs to be exercised to build strength and resilience, we must ‘practise’ self-support and acknowledgement of the positive in order to build the ability to support ourselves effectively.

Without this vital positive reinforcement our confidence eventually withers away, just like an unused muscle wastes away. Before you know it your whole performance persona is undermined.

Practising the ability to observe success

When you first start to consciously practise the skill of observing success, it’s highly likely that it won’t come easily.

Like a muscle that hasn’t been used for some time, it will initially be weak. You need to simply start using it and slowly build it’s strength with consistent use over time.

Practising awareness of the positive over and over again, you’ll build a strong new habit of self-support that will eventually become a fully integrated part of your successful and enjoyable performing process.

Developing the skill of observing both the positive and the negative in balance allows for a much more successful, rewarding and enjoyable performing experience – and a much more fulfilling career.

Try this:

Each time you notice a self-critical thought/something that is wrong/something you want to change, consciously acknowledge and celebrate your awareness of that thought.

  • Awareness is key for self-improvement, so positively acknowledge (and perhaps even smile) every time you are aware of your inner critic piping up.
  • Being aware of your thoughts around what you want to change is something to celebrate. These moments of awareness hold great power for change.

Then, aim to find positive and successful elements in equal parts.

  • Initially, you may think there will not be enough (or any) successful elements to acknowledge, but this is your over-active self-critical voice kicking into action.
  • Simply start acknowledging the positives, no matter how small.
  • Practising the acknowledgement of the positive over and over is key – just as you have practised the awareness of what needs to change over and over again.
  • With time and practice acknowledging the positive in equal parts to the negative, this more healthy and supportive process will eventually become second nature.

Make sure to also keep noticing what you are enjoying. With this sort of practice you will begin to experience even more enjoyment and connection to the fun and fulfilment possible from joyful creative performance.

Mountains and overcoming self-consciousness

I love mountains - always have, always will. Having recently moved to live amongst the Southern Alps of New Zealand, I am lucky enough to interact daily with these magnificent mountains. I am acutely aware of the support and inspiration they give me as a creative...

Acknowledging the positive

Beware of your greatest strengths! Shakespeare is quoted as saying “your greatest strength begets your greatest weakness”.   As performers, one of our most valuable strengths is our skill in self-critiquing. We are highly trained in the ability to judge and evaluate...

Discovering whole-body awareness

Reflections from a piano class Invited to explore ListenFeelPlay philosophies in an Auckland University piano class, four talented young pianists and I experimented together, witnessing and demonstrating, on the spot, the power and relevance of whole-body awareness....

Be true to your own creative voice

One of the lessons I have learnt over and over again through my career has been the importance of honouring your own voice, your own perspective and your own self-expression. In order to do this, you must pay close attention to your creative intuition, and have the...

Taking ownership of your confidence

I used to think of confidence as something you either have or you don’t have, but in fact confidence is something you 'do', or more to the point often ‘don’t do’…to varying degrees. Let me explain. It was somewhat of a lightbulb moment for me when I realised that...

Attitude is everything

"Attitude is everything" It’s a common saying and personally I couldn’t agree more. When it comes to successfully and confidently expressing yourself and having a great time in the process, awareness of your attitude allows for a wealth of opportunities. Do you adopt...

The mind+body connection

Mind+body connection is at the heart of creative ease and flow. As a human being, your mind has the potential to be your greatest asset or greatest downfall, and everything in between. By learning to objectively observe your thoughts, your mental habits, and your...

Clarity of intention

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Objective listening

Over my years as a violinist, I have come to the conclusion that the most powerful way to develop my playing is to pay extraordinary attention to both the intention: what I intend to hear as I play, and the actual: what I actually hear as I play. These may seem to be...

Discovering whole-body awareness

Discovering whole-body awareness

Reflections from a piano class

Invited to explore ListenFeelPlay philosophies in an Auckland University piano class, four talented young pianists and I experimented together, witnessing and demonstrating, on the spot, the power and relevance of whole-body awareness.

From dislocated-body to whole-body connection

Reflecting after the class, each of the pianists – via different means – recognised that they had been disconnected from certain parts of their bodies as they played. Three had the sense of being dislocated or unaware of the bottom half of their bodies. The other was disconnected from his left side.

When each pianist discovered and played with whole-body awareness, the results were profound. They instantly felt more connected to the instrument, more physically at ease and more in touch with their musical expression.

In addition – and this is the most remarkable part – the class reported that their sound changed significantly. Each pianist produced a more grounded, generous and expressive sound that communicated in a more dramatic and meaningful way. They each felt the difference and were freed by it.

Exercise 1:

Locating your centre

Simply observe where you perceive the centre of your body to be. Locate this place in your body and intimately feel it.

Notice exactly where it is in your body, how big it feels, its consistency, and even what colour it might be.

Try moving it around to be sure it’s in the right spot for your body. Really feel it and get to know it.

Then, remaining fully aware of this centre, play and notice the impact.

What we discovered: As a result of holding their centre within their awareness, each pianist reported becoming more conscious of their whole body. They instantly gained clarity around what parts they had been disconnected from. With their new found whole-body awareness they felt more comfortable, more in control and in flow – and wonderfully they felt more expressive.

The most common disconnection was with the lower half of their bodies and locating their centre had the effect of connecting them with their legs. With this connection came a valuable source of support and strength which in turn allowed for physical freedom and a liberating sense of balance.

Whole-body awareness was empowering for each one of them.

Try this: Practise regularly holding onto the awareness of your centre. With time your whole-body awareness will become second nature.

As you practise, notice when it is harder to stay with your centre. It’s likely to be during more challenging moments in your performance. However, stay vigilant – these are the moments when you will benefit most from your whole-body awareness.

Exercise 2:

Flipping your awareness

As you play, simply observe whether you are more aware of one side of your body than the other – your whole left versus your whole right. Allocate a percentage awareness to what you feel – for example 70% of your left side, versus 30% of your right.

Then try flipping your awareness around, now favouring the other side, and play, noticing the changes.

Then experiment with different levels – for example try 90/10 – then 10/90 and so on. Also try 50/50.

Just observe, enjoy and learn from the changes. (This exploration can just as easily be applied to upper versus lower body awareness too).

What we discovered: One of our pianists appeared to be unbalanced between left and right. I could see it physically and also hear it in his performance and interpretation.

When quizzed about whether he was more aware of one side than the other, he discovered he was much more aware of his right side. He reported being about 80% aware of his right versus 20% of his left, which meant he was 4 times more aware of the right side of his body.

Rather than addressing this imbalance within discussions of technical or musical aspects, I had him play and experiment with flipping his awareness around, now being 80% aware of his left side versus 20% of his right. The results were fascinating.

As well as feeling more open on his left side, he also reported hearing the music differently. By feeling his body differently, his listening dramatically changed. He become more aware of the conversations within the music between the various lines across the whole keyboard. He was also instantly more aware of the harmonic foundations within the music and how he was able to support them from his left side. At the same time he was able and interested to be more expressive with the left side of his body.

Although he was aiming for 80% awareness of his left and only 20% awareness of his right, because he was so familiar with his right side, it is highly likely that within this experiement his awareness was more equally balanced across his whole body. As a result his performance also became more balanced in every way. We all felt and heard this difference.

As a result of his new-found whole-body awareness, his interpretation of the music was instantly more cohesive and communicated with greater expression and power.

Here’s to the power of whole-body awareness:

Unleashing ease, expression and meaningful connection.

I would like to acknowledge the wonderful young pianists that so generously performed in this class. Their talent and commitment were impressive and they were so open to experiment and learn.

Also warm thanks to Rae de Lisle for the invitation and to both Rae and Stephen de Pledge for nurturing such a wonderful group of young pianists.

Mountains and overcoming self-consciousness

I love mountains - always have, always will. Having recently moved to live amongst the Southern Alps of New Zealand, I am lucky enough to interact daily with these magnificent mountains. I am acutely aware of the support and inspiration they give me as a creative...

Acknowledging the positive

Beware of your greatest strengths! Shakespeare is quoted as saying “your greatest strength begets your greatest weakness”.   As performers, one of our most valuable strengths is our skill in self-critiquing. We are highly trained in the ability to judge and evaluate...

Discovering whole-body awareness

Reflections from a piano class Invited to explore ListenFeelPlay philosophies in an Auckland University piano class, four talented young pianists and I experimented together, witnessing and demonstrating, on the spot, the power and relevance of whole-body awareness....

Be true to your own creative voice

One of the lessons I have learnt over and over again through my career has been the importance of honouring your own voice, your own perspective and your own self-expression. In order to do this, you must pay close attention to your creative intuition, and have the...

Taking ownership of your confidence

I used to think of confidence as something you either have or you don’t have, but in fact confidence is something you 'do', or more to the point often ‘don’t do’…to varying degrees. Let me explain. It was somewhat of a lightbulb moment for me when I realised that...

Attitude is everything

"Attitude is everything" It’s a common saying and personally I couldn’t agree more. When it comes to successfully and confidently expressing yourself and having a great time in the process, awareness of your attitude allows for a wealth of opportunities. Do you adopt...

The mind+body connection

Mind+body connection is at the heart of creative ease and flow. As a human being, your mind has the potential to be your greatest asset or greatest downfall, and everything in between. By learning to objectively observe your thoughts, your mental habits, and your...

Clarity of intention

Gaining clarity of intention when creating is vital and liberating. Too often we muddle our way through a learning process without really taking care to ask 'what do I really want?' When we consistently stop and ask a few simple questions about what we really want,...

Objective listening

Over my years as a violinist, I have come to the conclusion that the most powerful way to develop my playing is to pay extraordinary attention to both the intention: what I intend to hear as I play, and the actual: what I actually hear as I play. These may seem to be...

Be true to your own creative voice

Be true to your own creative voice

One of the lessons I have learnt over and over again through my career has been the importance of honouring your own voice, your own perspective and your own self-expression. In order to do this, you must pay close attention to your creative intuition, and have the courage to back yourself.

In my own experience, it is easy to undermine yourself, to question your ability and to try to please others, however, as a creative spirit, the most valuable path is one of expressing yourself honestly.

I encourage you to keep searching at all times for your own personal creative expression – your true creative voice…and enjoy this process of discovery.

 

Paying attention to your physical and emotional responses is a way into discovering your true creative voice.

Try something out and see how it interacts with you physically and emotionally…notice how your body responds…listen to your emotional reaction.

Experiment with another option – a different colour, phrase direction, character – and notice what impact this has on you physically or emotionally. How does it compare to the first time?

Try another option, again noticing your reactions. With practice, objectively noticing your reactions, you will become more finely tuned to your physical and emotional intelligence, and your body will be able to guide you more authentically in your creative exploration and decision making.

 

Mountains and overcoming self-consciousness

I love mountains - always have, always will. Having recently moved to live amongst the Southern Alps of New Zealand, I am lucky enough to interact daily with these magnificent mountains. I am acutely aware of the support and inspiration they give me as a creative...

Acknowledging the positive

Beware of your greatest strengths! Shakespeare is quoted as saying “your greatest strength begets your greatest weakness”.   As performers, one of our most valuable strengths is our skill in self-critiquing. We are highly trained in the ability to judge and evaluate...

Discovering whole-body awareness

Reflections from a piano class Invited to explore ListenFeelPlay philosophies in an Auckland University piano class, four talented young pianists and I experimented together, witnessing and demonstrating, on the spot, the power and relevance of whole-body awareness....

Be true to your own creative voice

One of the lessons I have learnt over and over again through my career has been the importance of honouring your own voice, your own perspective and your own self-expression. In order to do this, you must pay close attention to your creative intuition, and have the...

Taking ownership of your confidence

I used to think of confidence as something you either have or you don’t have, but in fact confidence is something you 'do', or more to the point often ‘don’t do’…to varying degrees. Let me explain. It was somewhat of a lightbulb moment for me when I realised that...

Attitude is everything

"Attitude is everything" It’s a common saying and personally I couldn’t agree more. When it comes to successfully and confidently expressing yourself and having a great time in the process, awareness of your attitude allows for a wealth of opportunities. Do you adopt...

The mind+body connection

Mind+body connection is at the heart of creative ease and flow. As a human being, your mind has the potential to be your greatest asset or greatest downfall, and everything in between. By learning to objectively observe your thoughts, your mental habits, and your...

Clarity of intention

Gaining clarity of intention when creating is vital and liberating. Too often we muddle our way through a learning process without really taking care to ask 'what do I really want?' When we consistently stop and ask a few simple questions about what we really want,...

Objective listening

Over my years as a violinist, I have come to the conclusion that the most powerful way to develop my playing is to pay extraordinary attention to both the intention: what I intend to hear as I play, and the actual: what I actually hear as I play. These may seem to be...

Taking ownership of your confidence

Taking ownership of your confidence

I used to think of confidence as something you either have or you don’t have, but in fact confidence is something you ‘do’, or more to the point often ‘don’t do’…to varying degrees. Let me explain.

It was somewhat of a lightbulb moment for me when I realised that confidence is something you have to generate for yourself. It is not something that simply appears if you are good enough or simply work hard. Confidence is something you need to actively practise and build constructively into your whole creative process. It is something you have to take ownership of and consciously integrate it into your physical, emotional and mental habits.

Pay attention to your level of confidence, and take charge of it. Be clear what sort of confidence you want to be practising into your process, and keep building it.

The more you ‘practise’ confidence, the more it will be a natural and easy part of your process, and with confidence comes the liberation of your self-expression. So bring it on, I say!

Try this:

Explore your current level of confidence in your creative pursuit by noticing what level of confidence you create within. Give it a number from 1-10, 1 being low confidence and 10 being high confidence. Don’t just guess at this, really investigate and observe intimately your level of confidence.

Now experiment with consciously generating a different level…try both a lower level of confidence and a higher level – just for the fun of it…and notice what effect it has.

Ask yourself what you noticed, what you learnt…are you able to generate different levels of confidence simply by observing your confidence more intimately?

By doing this exercise, hopefully you will gain some insight into your own ‘ongoing’ level of confidence – the level you ‘practise’ unconsciously every day. With this new insight, you can now choose to develop the level of confidence that you want…be proactive and learn to generate the confidence that is already within you.

Confidence is liberating…pay attention to it, and let it grow and flow!

Mountains and overcoming self-consciousness

I love mountains - always have, always will. Having recently moved to live amongst the Southern Alps of New Zealand, I am lucky enough to interact daily with these magnificent mountains. I am acutely aware of the support and inspiration they give me as a creative...

Acknowledging the positive

Beware of your greatest strengths! Shakespeare is quoted as saying “your greatest strength begets your greatest weakness”.   As performers, one of our most valuable strengths is our skill in self-critiquing. We are highly trained in the ability to judge and evaluate...

Discovering whole-body awareness

Reflections from a piano class Invited to explore ListenFeelPlay philosophies in an Auckland University piano class, four talented young pianists and I experimented together, witnessing and demonstrating, on the spot, the power and relevance of whole-body awareness....

Be true to your own creative voice

One of the lessons I have learnt over and over again through my career has been the importance of honouring your own voice, your own perspective and your own self-expression. In order to do this, you must pay close attention to your creative intuition, and have the...

Taking ownership of your confidence

I used to think of confidence as something you either have or you don’t have, but in fact confidence is something you 'do', or more to the point often ‘don’t do’…to varying degrees. Let me explain. It was somewhat of a lightbulb moment for me when I realised that...

Attitude is everything

"Attitude is everything" It’s a common saying and personally I couldn’t agree more. When it comes to successfully and confidently expressing yourself and having a great time in the process, awareness of your attitude allows for a wealth of opportunities. Do you adopt...

The mind+body connection

Mind+body connection is at the heart of creative ease and flow. As a human being, your mind has the potential to be your greatest asset or greatest downfall, and everything in between. By learning to objectively observe your thoughts, your mental habits, and your...

Clarity of intention

Gaining clarity of intention when creating is vital and liberating. Too often we muddle our way through a learning process without really taking care to ask 'what do I really want?' When we consistently stop and ask a few simple questions about what we really want,...

Objective listening

Over my years as a violinist, I have come to the conclusion that the most powerful way to develop my playing is to pay extraordinary attention to both the intention: what I intend to hear as I play, and the actual: what I actually hear as I play. These may seem to be...