Sometimes I miss being involved in the classical music world. I miss working together with high caliber musicians, and I miss the paradigm of respect for the art that is sorely missing in the spiritual circles within which I spend much of my time now, where people largely don’t know the difference between a lifelong master musician and someone who picked up some singing bowls last year. But what I do NOT miss at ALL was illustrated in a dialogue that I engaged in today, discussing whether or not it’s appropriate to knit in a concert (more specifically a kiddie recital). The rigidity that dictates that the ONLY way to listen is to sit still and quietly, stone cold and only internally responsive, being “good little audience members” who revere the artists and performers like gods deserving of undivided attention. In reality, there are many ways to listen, to be present, to meditate, to receive.

Classical music demands that people sit still and listen… but to what end? It’s good to learn to listen, but there are many ways to achieve that. One quick glance into the different learning styles demonstrates that without question.  It’s better seen through looking at the models for meditation. Sit in silence, walk, chant, dance, visualize, draw… all are pathways that lead to the same outcome. All are equally valid, all are well cultivated pathways of being still and listening.

I love that in my Sound Medicine work, sometimes people lay there, sometimes they flail about, sometimes they shake and shiver, sometimes they snore, sometimes they sit upright, sometimes they do mudras and body positions, and sometimes they weep. One way or another, they leave the experience touched, nourished, and lighter. There are many ways to experience art, and classical music dies a little more every day as a result of its cultural rigidity. There is such an air of entitlement and better-than-ness in these kinds of attitudes ~ attitudes that, if one digs just a little, are rooted in some of the biggest cultural ills of society, class and economic status, and the ways of colonialism. And I, for one, am grateful to have stepped out of that paradigm.

Many ways to listen

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