Three ways to lessen suffering the pain of auditions

The other day I saw a marvelous television program in which Bill Moyers interviewed Pema Chödrön, an elderly American lady, now Buddhist nun, who has become famous for her wisdom mixed with common sense.

One of the subjects she dealt with that struck me with great force was the difference between pain and suffering. The interpretation she chose to differentiate between those words was powerful. She described pain as being for example, an unwelcome event, an injury, a disappointment, and so on. And suffering is what we then do inside ourselves in response to that event.
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The courage to grow

I’ve been finding Michelle Bennett’s recent posts on her blog very thought-provoking. She’s been extremely courageous in revealing her inner challenges as a student and a professional singer, and how these have led her to psychotherapy and inner work alongside her musical life. So often musicians, like any professionals, are extremely hesitant to reveal anything less than perfection. Yet, the reality is that we are all dealing with inner challenges every day. And, as Michelle says:

“There is no doubt that the process of facing one?s self is hugely difficult, especially if, like many artists, you have been hurt badly or are very sensitive. I would wager that most people will never do it because of the enormous effort required and pain of the task. It is an odyssey.”

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Hike in the Sespe

Having had some health challenges lately, I haven’t been able to hike much, but recently managed a short walk in the Sespe with Robert and Barry. As usual, I was taken aback by the subtle and fresh beauty of the chaparral, so different from the countryside in my native England. Its grey-greens and golds, the brush, multi-layered rocks, pines (often blackened by fire), lizards and brightly colored birds are exotic to me. Yet again, I was struck by how essential it is to me to be out in nature. How absurd it is of me to think that I am in any way separate.
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Stressed out? Read on…

You know all those upbeat articles that tell you how to avoid stress and live positively? Well, here’s one that takes the opposite tack on the same issue, and it really made me sit up and think. Love it.

I just lost a week!

I haven’t posted anything much lately, and I’ve really missed it! We found out a week ago that we have to move by June 1st, so I’ve been busy house-hunting, and am pleased to report that we have found a nice rental right in the heart of town.

In any normal town, I wouldn’t consider living in the center, but Ojai is QUIET! Nothing much happens after 8pm, which I know would drive some people crazy, but is fine by us. Since Robert started getting up at 6.30 a.m. every morning to write, we’re learning to be creative, free-thinking, bohemians… who go to bed early!

BTW, Robert’s sister Lisa now has her own blog, with some inspirational entries- I heartily recommend a visit.

Classical music is cool, y'know?

I think I just found the most horrible classical music website on the net. Or useful, depending on where you’re at. Here’s the blurb from .

“Get to know the most popular Classical Music in pop culture today! You’ve heard these famous Classical Music pieces in movies, trailers, commercials, cartoons, video games and ringtones. Now you can find out what the pieces are called and who did them! Just click the PREVIEW links to immediately identify the piece. It’s all the cool Classical Music you know, none of the boring stuff. ”

This is followed by such tempting offerings as



At this point I could make intelligent and sombre predictions about the future of classical music, but hey, it’s the weekend! Enjoy!

Practical tips for budding professionals

I’m really enjoying Christopher Foley’s Collaborative Piano blog at the moment. He has some wonderful tips for collaborative pianists (otherwise known as piano accompanists) on getting work and learning to be a professional. Lots of advice I would love to have had when starting out.

Hugh Sung also has some great practical tips for budding professionals about getting organized, amongst many other interesting posts. I thoroughly recommend these two blogs for a good read. Anything which can help in training musicians to be entrepreneurs!

Are you feeling disillusioned? Great!

I’ve always thought that becoming disillusioned was one of the worst things that could happen to a creative artist. I’ve seen it happen to friends of mine– “I’ll never have the career I want”, “No-one is ever going to give me a rôle”, “Even when I am working, the work isn’t what I expected it to be.”

So I was completely taken aback the other day when I heard someone I greatly respect say that disillusionment can be a good thing.

However, when I stopped to think about it, I soon realized that there was something to it. The word dis-illusion-ment actually means the result of being deprived of your illusions. And an illusion is a misleading image, a misapprehension, a hallucination, something that deceives (thanks, Webster’s). My favorite definition is “a pattern of reversible perspective”. So looking at it that way, couldn’t disillusionment actually be a good thing? There is really nothing to be gained by being in a state of illusion.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that you give up your hopes and dreams! Just that there are times when it can be good to accept what is, rather than beating your head against a brick wall. There can be a real place of peace in just observing where we are, of taking stock.

Then, when the time is right, comes the brainstorming; the opportunity to start afresh. Life coaching can be a marvelous way to cultivate a new sense of possibility, to make a fresh start, to reassess the options, to get back in touch with your creative spirit, to set new goals.

In the coming weeks, I’ll be offering suggestions on these topics –some practical ways to begin to move towards a more fulfilling life. But in the meantime, if you find yourself feeling disillusioned…. bear in mind that it could be the beginning of a whole new way of life!

Bell's Hell

Today’s Washington Post story about Joshua Bell posing as a street musician was so thought-provoking that it has been on my mind all day. Joshua’s magnificent playing apparently aroused so little attention that he himself was alarmed and the reporter certainly bemused.

Should we be so shocked? Does it really mean the end of civilization as we know it? Does it mean that no-one has time any more for great art and great artists? It’s certainly tempting to see it that way. Yet as my husband and I realized, context is everything.

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