Last weekend I heard an amazing concert by the Pacific Youth Choirs with guest director Dr. Rollo Dilworth.
As a father, frequent guest artist and clinician with PYC, I had a choice: I could focus with a critical ear, or I could expand the joy that began to resonate within me.
I chose the joy.
About 18 years ago I had my first experience of flow in performance in the most unusual of places: the Virgin Records mega-store in Paris, playing Ravel’s Bolero with Pink Martini, a year or so after I had started to meditate. Suddenly I dropped into a magical state of oneness with the music. Time stood still. My heart expanded. I was filled with a deep confidence. I was free to paint the music from the depths of…well, not my emotional soul, but something much bigger than my ego.
A few months later in Seattle’s Benaroya Hall, it happened again. I felt an electric connection with the other performers. I felt an inspired presence fill the room. If there were any critical listeners in the audience, their vibes were muted by the resonance of positivity in the room.
And then again a few months later, in an intimate setting with only 30 in the audience, the same magic: I felt a deep calm. My heart relaxed and opened, my energy lifted. I entered the flow.
Year after year these experiences have deepened until now I can trust that when I take the stage with the right consciousness, something is going to happen. Something good.
I believe my experiences were enhanced by those in the audience who could tune in and resonate back to me the joy behind the notes. When I ask workshop audiences to be conversely critical then resonant (or vice versa) without telling a test group of performers, the energy in the room is easily perceived. How can it not be, when we are working with such subtle artistic expression?
But back to me as a listener: by choosing not to focus critically, was I dumbing down? Absolutely not—in fact, my listening faculties were sharpened, not dulled.
I simply chose not to focus on finding flaws—not my job that evening, and the performance was so stellar that it would have been hard to do. Hard-core critical listening never really brings that much joy, and I already do plenty of it every day with myself.
My sacred duty in the audience is to resonate back as much joy as possible.
I radiated as much joy back to them as they were giving me. Did I help enhance their performance? Impossible to tell at this point, but by opening up to that possibility, I opened myself to an even greater joy. Totally worth it.