I am uncomfortable. It's the walls. They stare blankly.
Cramped in a small practice room, I unzipped my case open and get ready to spend the next four hours in here.
My instrument rests now on the open case. I put some rosin on my bow, tune the violin, and finally warm-up. I'm still uncomfortable. It's the white walls. The empty walls that scream for color. I'm gonna have to paint them.
My instrument's sound waves become visible when they touch the wall. They take random colors, forms, and shapes. Sometimes it's beautiful, other times it's plain and simple. Sometimes complex. But it's always my voice reflected on those walls.
Every day musicians paint the rooms of this conservatory. And every day at six am, the walls reset to white. Looking forward to a new work of art.
So here I am, hoping for a good day's work. But to make it real, I need the help of The Muse. Her fairy dust gives us musicians the inspiration to up our game. It's addictive. And I can't wait to see her today.
I trust she'll come. The Muse will not share her fairy dust if I'm impatient. So I paint and forget about it. Meditating like a monk, I slowly build a magnificent cathedral of sounds and beauty. I hear steps outside my door. Must be her! Don't stare. Focus on the sound.
The Muse begins to peek inside my practice room. I have to smile. Her face rising through the little window on my door. I'm feeling it. Here we go. United at last. Body, mind, The Muse, angels, and even Tinker Bell wants to be part of my music-making. My room is now full of mystic characters. Hell yeah! High on fairy dust, I'm so pumped I can only--
And then my iPhone pings! The Muse vanishes and Tinker Bell blasts off like there's no tomorrow. The magnificent cathedral roars down as it collapses. I see white walls again. Back to square one.
So much for the effort, time, and energy spent finding "the zone". We risk too much when phones are around. Even if set on vibrate. Monks know it and take measures. But musicians make excuses. We have important apps. The metronome, tuner, timer, etc.
But why risk leaving "the zone", where you learn best, for a Whatsapp ping? It can probably wait. Training time is sacred. Ask Tinker Bell!
Here are some retro tips to enter Narnia, "the zone", or that ethereal place where artists seem to do their best work. Leave phones behind! Set the mood by physically building your practice atmosphere. Buy a real metronome, a real kitchen timer and print out those scores on real paper. Bring a real notebook and plan your sessions on real index cards. Lay it nicely in your practice room. Build an inspiring station. These real objects make a 3d version of a world you love. It invites The Muse to show up quicker. Once she's there, treat her nice and she'll hand you the daily dose.
Now that you know how simple it is to keep this delicate guest around, give it a try. Set your altar, start painting, and get lost inside the sublime. Soon enough you'll be growing as a painter, musician, and as an artist.Tweet
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