When frogs sing together, I don’t imagine they spend much energy judging the performance. They probably just notice how things feel– how it feels to sing in the warm night air and how it feels to sing together.
Certainly we all process and relate to sounds differently. And certainly I’m not the only one who turns a critical ear to my own sound output. On a good day, I’m in the business of paying attention to what I’m doing, noticing what’s working and what isn’t.
I wrote about practicing music with awareness in my recent article The Inner Game of Irish music, suggesting that when we listen attentively to ourselves, and when we trust ourselves to hear and feel what is working and what needs to be adjusted, we enjoy playing… and we offer ourselves the opportunity to make lasting, meaningful improvement.
Being aware of the process has led me to rethink my stage shows, too–not just the playing, but all the bits in between when I get to connect to my listeners. I’ve been REALLY trying to savor this time. Every night is different, and there’s always something different to comment on. That’s such a great part of my job!
So now I’m trying to take the awareness game to the next level. Before our last show and onstage, I pledged to try and extend this practice of presence and appreciation to my day to day travels: sometimes I can get overwhelmed with details on the road and I miss some of the cool stuff along the way. (Or I transform what could be a chill day into a more stressful one…)
I think the first step is to lay back and just prepare to leave (and not WORRY about preparing to leave). If I can do prep work for a tour with presence and joy, I can certainly do the tour… and all the traveling, checking into lodgings, finding meals, checking email on the road… with a certain amount of ease and humor.
Last week I cleared out my studio. This symbolized a clearing of old nonsense and baggage. Why not clear out my tired old I’m-so-overwhelmed story… and just pack what I need and prepare to enjoy the trip? And then once I’m on the road, why not just be on the road and do what I need to do in each moment? What’s the big deal?
The frog gets the idea of just singing, without worrying about how it’s all going and how it all fits together. Teach me to leap, little frog, one step at a time.