Do You Use Music to Enhance Your Creative Process?

Lately I’ve been thinking about the power of music and it’s presence in the creative process. Do you use it any way to help you with your work? Or do you need silence in order to create?

When I designed my bouffon workshop I tapped into a line up of music that supported each step of the way. At the beginning, I chose music to put participants at ease, to enhance creating an early safe place. I then slowly sneaked in primal sounds to inspire each bouffon to emerge. Eventually, faster pace music helped playfulness release, and then soft music brought everyone back to his or her humans. This, of course, is the readers digest version!!

At the end of most workshops, people request the CD titles as they have enjoyed the atmosphere, and their reaction to the music.

Another place where I have consistently used music is before performing on stage. Again, I listen to my instincts and choose a piece of music that suits what I, as an actor, need to hear prior to making my entrance. I have to say that some of my choices have been most surprising considering the type of role I was playing. I think the most extreme example was when I was playing a demure French woman (Agnes in  L’Astronome) who loved to knit (and opened the play knitting on stage) and who was in love with her psychiatrist. The music that came to me was the song “Shine” by “Collective Soul”. I needed to dance and “rock out” before I became that character! Crazy but it worked for me!

I am a social media enthusiast (this term I adopted from Kevin Knebl who is a musician & warm & effective LinkedIn coach) and you can find me scrolling around on twitter, looking for inspirational gems. I find them. I would like to share one with you now that relates to our discussion on music.

Vivian Nesbitt and John Dillon have a unique place online with their radio station: Art of the Song Creativity Radio. Their mission speaks clearly of their goals and desires for all of us creative types….everyone! I will let their words lead you to their website and their individual blogs. Explore, listen and get inspired for your mode of creation whether it is a play, a poem, a story, a song, a dance piece, a painting, an invention, or a great marketing plan.

“Art of the Song is a one-hour independently produced radio show with music and interviews exploring inspiration and creativity through song writing and other art forms. The program is heard on over 190 stations worldwide. Learn why songwriters and artists create, how they become inspired, and how you can tap into that creative source in every aspect of your life.

Art of the Song is not just for songwriters and musicians, as it explores universal truths common to all creative expression. We talk with writers of folk and roots music as well as novelists and visual artists.

Our mission is to inspire listeners to find and express their unique creative voices, and to connect and grow the worldwide community of creative people.”

I would like to thank all musicians, songwriters, and singers for bringing your sounds to me. I have always dreamed of being one of you but will have to settle for being an actor/writer/teacher for the moment. Maybe one day I will collaborate with a musician to put music to my words. (I can fantasize, can’t I?)

Thanks for reading!

(Here’s a little Collective Soul for nostalgia sake!)

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“A Whole New Mind”…there IS a future for the right brain!

I am excited because I was recommended a new book that I want to share with all who are creative, innovative, and imaginative.

The book is called “A Whole New Mind” ..Why Right-Brainers will rule the future.. by Daniel H. Pink. (I was thrilled to find the author on twitter – @danielpink- and equally thrilled when he responded to my tweet!)

I’m almost finished reading his book, but I couldn’t wait any longer to tell you about it!

As I read “A Whole New Mind” I’m finding myself nodding my head, smiling, and feeling a warm sensation of worldly belonging, and a deep understanding. I enjoy this new feeling of significance.

As a creative type, a theatre performer, a sometimes writer, a sometimes poet, a dabbler in painting, an emotional being (maybe a little more than some), a teacher, a director and someone who was told I was overly sensitive and easily amused (I just have a great sense of humour), and I am finding solace in this book. I feel I am finally being accepted, and even revered for my skills, and talents as a right brained person.

Wow.

Daniel H. Pink is speaking my language. And, I think he is bang on with his theories. He puts it in a way that I haven’t quite before read.  Maybe I’m being naive, but if I am, so be it. Me voila! (Daniel H. Pink parle le francais aussi!)

This book is giving me hope for my future and also a confirmation of my thus far journey. It helps to make sense of my creativity, and my desire to move it into the left brained world. I’m strangely drawn to explore that world, and open it up to a richer state. Does that sound over zealous? But, I do.

Shouldn’t we all be allowed to play? In play we discover what computers can’t. Computers are taking a lot of our left brained work away so what is left? What is left is space for our right brains to kick in and get to work in a much more inspired way.

I won’t go on.

Daniel H. Pink’s book will describe this hopeful movement to you. I think all governments, and schools should read his book. Maybe, then, they will realize that cutting the arts is like cutting off part of one’s brain. Our people don’t deserve that.

Thank you to Simon Howse who we met on a plane to Singapore almost a year ago and who, just last week, recommended this book to me.

Thank you to Daniel H. Pink for writing “

Update: friend, artist, & creative business person, Rebecca Coleman introduces “A Whole New Mind” on her blog. Have a read!

A Creative Reminder…

Every once in awhile I need a good reminder of the creative person I am, and the encouragement to just show up and do “it” without overly judging myself.

Some days are extra challenging.

My father, who’s a painter, and I were talking yesterday about waiting to be in “the mood” to create, whether it be a painting, a piece of writing, or a play rehearsal. My Dad referred to some advice by a fellow painter about how we need to just go into action, and not wait for an inspirational mood. If we were to always wait for that slippery moment, we might never create at the rate we deeply desire. Simply, our actions can get the muse moving.

Again, I’m not expounding anything new. Again, it’s just me speaking to myself, and hopefully giving a nudge to both you & me.

The following letter is one I have hanging in my bathroom. I admit that I need constant reminding, and would like to honour my blog with Martha Graham’s words.

A letter written by Martha Graham to Agnes de Mille

“There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all Time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine: how good it is; nor how valuable it is; nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open … no artist is pleased…there is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction; a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.”

bjeeves-card0158 (a sampling of my Dad’s, Barry Jeeves, watercolour paintings)

The Roles We Play On Stage & Off Stage…

Some of the roles I’ve played onstage are waitresses, a Welsh woman, pregnant hired help, Italian brothel lady, lost “can’t have baby” southern “old maid”, unfaithful preacher’s wife, uptight British wife, drunken British wife, free, flirty British wife, a French widow, a French suicidal punk, a mother trapped between her daughter & her mother, a mentally challenged comedic princess, a serious author, a new kid on the block, a bisexual Goth, a Jacobean lover, Booboo the clown, Madame Rouge the bouffon, Matriarch of a large family, a whip wielding trainer, an incestuous mother…

Some of the roles I’ve had offstage are waitresses, daughter, lover of many types, supportive partner, mistress, heart breaker, horse lover, mentor, guide, surrogate aunt, friend, drunken friend, actress, ESL teacher, drama teacher, businessperson, costume designer, costume set supervisor, driver, cook, milliner, scarf maker, poet, writer, student, groupie, photographer, painter, clown, bouffon, driver, listener, patient, woman, surrogate sister, partyer, dancer, traveler…

On stage, my role is clear, defined, if I have done my homework. I feel good, focussed- present. I figure out my objectives for each scene, for each line, and for the whole play. I listen, respond, and remain open to possibilities. I look after myself, warm up my voice and my body, and give trust to the team of people around me. In the wings, I breathe deeply, listen to my music, and prepare to plunge forward leaving the critical voice behind. Out there, I feel the presence of my whole being, and the audience. I feel alive, strangely truthful, and, myself as I consciously play my role. Of course, there are those times when I just feel “off” and the flow isn’t there. You re-group, try not to beat yourself up, and you try again in the next performance.

What about all the roles we play in life? What about the different masks we wear for each of these roles, and our own judgement of how well we play each role? Which of the roles is most truthfully “me”, and which ones take more effort than the others? Where do you feel YOU?

The topic of “role” comes up frequently during a therapeutic sales course I take (oxymoron, I know, but true). The instructor always asks us from 1-10 where do we see ourselves? I know the answer is supposed to always be 10, but our judgment of ourselves on any given role, on a given day tends to alter the number. I may have given myself a 10 as a businessperson one day, but a 3 as a lover or friend the same day. The trick is to know you are a 10 no matter what. I’m still working on that.

Is our truth, our personal truth only true when we are alone? Or does it exist only in our art – our creative ventures? Maybe my answer for successful role-playing in life is in my theatre rituals.

Again, this isn’t a new topic, but maybe just another version. What are your roles? How do you view yourself within these roles? After all, isn’t “all the world a stage”?

Have a listen to Verve’s song where the lyrics include the line “.. I’m a million different people from one day to the next..I can’t change my mold, oh no…”  Plus, it’s just a great tune!

Too Busy For Quiet Times?

Things have been super busy for everyone, lately, and I don’t think it’s going to calm down just yet. Recently “busy” is the most common word I hear out of people’s mouths when inquired, “how are you?”.

I asked a few people, especially the entrepreneurial types,  if their definition of productivity included taking quiet times. Some people admitted that they just can’t stop, and even if they did, their minds were too busy. I’m guilty of this as well, and am trying to alter this attitude.

Luckily for me, my body demands me to stop at times and a short nap does wonders. More often than not, I receive some of my best ideas in these moments. I stop thinking!

The idea of being quiet and having creativity step in is not a new concept, and I’m not saying anything that hasn’t already been said, BUT, we seem to need to hear and see things over and over before we finally “get it”!! We need to trust that a few minutes away from all distractions, and perceived productivity, could actually enhance & increase our quality of work.

What do you think? Shall we try a few minutes now & then, and see what happens?

Thought you might be interested in this little article I found from The Times Daily.