Pause • Reflect • Sundays on Pianodao
Written by ANDREW EALES
As I write this, it is May, which seems to me to be one of the most magnificent months of the year! The lingering spring blossom are giving way to an explosion of early summer abundance. The temperature strains upwards towards an ideal, but the mornings still retain a wonderful freshness. It’s really quite magical!
“Spring is nature’s way of saying, Let’s Party!”
For the Daoist philosophers, one of the highest imperatives is for humanity to reawaken to the natural world around us and discover our place within it. Recognising and following the seasons, both in the natural world and our inner journey, is fundamental to our true success.
Throughout history, the Daoists were keen musicians and artists who demonstrated that far from adding to our sense of separation from the natural world, artistic expression can provide an avenue by which we come closer to it. As one of the ancient sages explained:
“As a general principle, music is the harmony between Heaven and Earth, and the perfect blend of Yin and Yang. Great music brings delight, enjoyment and pleasure to ruler and subject, parent and child, and old and young alike.”
The Annals of Lu Buwei, 3rd century BCE
Brindley, EF: Music, Cosmology, and the Politics of Harmony in Early China
State University of New York Press, 2012.
The Natural Musician is the one who has found ways to promote authenticity and balance in their playing, and here are just a few you might consider:
- Try to learn pieces and techniques at a natural, unforced pace.
- Learn to be mindful but non-judgmental as you practise.
- Aim to match the repertoire you tackle to your broader life goals, choosing pieces which inspire and enlarge who you are.
- Always listen to your playing, immersing yourself and connecting with the source of the sounds.
- Balance time spent working at the piano with time spent playing it.
- Remember to develop an Active Repertoire so that your piano playing has a “success foundation”.
- Listen to your body when practising/playing.
- And remember to breathe!
For all the hours spent practising, find balance by spending quality time away from your instrument. Even just a walk in the local park can have a positive impact on our wellbeing.
The outside can only harmonise with the inside if we take the time we need to explore both. And there’s really no better time of year to heed the call, and join the party!
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