Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Drop in the unexpected

I like to improvise on the piano.

I like to let my hands and mind take the lead and to follow where they take me. Sometimes, whether by luck, some kind of intuitive judgement or mistake, I surprise myself. An unexpected harmony or twist of melody drops into the music and gives it a whole new feel and direction that lights up my mind and energises my playing.

You see something very similar happen when musicians improvise together. One of them may drop in a surprising snippet of melody or an unexpected turn of harmony. The faces of the other players light up and their playing takes up and develops the unexpected phrase, taking the music in a new, creative and stimulating direction.      

It is this unexpectedness that gets the neurons firing, rewarding the brain with those strong feelings of pleasure that come of suddenly discovering something of beauty. This sense of pleasure causes the music to 'take off': to become inspired and to become inspiring. It causes the players to challenge themselves: to stretch their abilities and find other pleasurable musical moments to develop and explore.

Dropping in something unexpected is not only for musicians; it is something we can all do. That unexpected insight, observation or idea we keep to ourselves: drop it in. That person whom no one would expect to be invited: invite her. Those actions or decisions usually done sooner or later: do them now. That caring, supportive or pleasing comment we were keeping for a more suitable time: drop it in now. If no one expects you to have an opinion: drop one in. If no one expects your generosity or help: give it now.

Experience the pleasure of the unexpected and watch it ignite your own and others' creativity and enthusiasm.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Use the creative pause

Musicians know the power of the pause

They know that if all they do is play the notes all they do is lose their audience, confusing them, boring them, irritating them all at once!

They know how even the slightest of pauses can highlight a phrase, helping listeners to reflect upon it, comprehend its meaning and enjoy it.

They know how pausing can bring music to life, making its meaning clear and its beauty radiate.

There are different types of pause

There is the pause of anticipation, the pause of reflection, the pause that comes before a change and the pause before an ending.

There is also the pause that comes before the moment of understanding, the pause that allows our thoughts and emotions to converge and bloom into something new and exciting.   

The silence of the pause is truly golden and we can all realise its value

When you need to do some careful and creative thinking make sure you pause:

Pause - to gather your thoughts before starting.
Pause - to reflect before moving on.
Pause - to assimilate and understand what is happening.
Pause - to check your position before changing tack.
Pause - to take stock before ending.

Above all, pause to enjoy!