Transforming Performance into Ceremony

Over the past 20 years, I’ve had the honor of directing Ananda choirs in deeply powerful performances of Christ Lives: an Oratorio, composed by Swami Kriyananda. Just a few days ago a friend likened the experience more to a ceremony than

Discoveries from the Heart of Yoga, Music and Meditation

Last weekend I helped design and lead a workshop that combined yoga and a live music experience for the Northwest Yoga Conference. Using music in yoga classes is nothing new, but we decided to offer live music not as background,

The Heart Compactors

Fear. Egoic pride. Insecurity. Competition. Judgment. You may face these “heart compactors” daily while pursuing excellence in rehearsals, performances, and lessons. How do you prevent them from compounding the stress you already feel? Do you try to become impervious, protect

It’s Time to Redefine Our WHY of Music

It’s Time to Redefine Our WHY of Music

Imagine working towards a high-level performance: tensions build, expectations rise. Breath tightens. Cortisol flows increasingly into your bloodstream to cope with the stress, leading to eventual disease of body and mind. We justify it all as perfectly acceptable, because “the

Fighting Fear with the Fuel of Music

Fear is ripping our country apart. How can we as musicians fight this pervading fear? How can we best be instruments of change? We need to act more than ever, but expressions of anger and frustration don’t lead to the

Musicians: Curators of Consciousness

I received an awesome birthday present yesterday: a moment of realization! As I conducted my choir of meditators, I felt the purest Divine presence. It left no room for littleness of egoic pride, insecurity, anger, control, ambition. It was 100% benign, holding vibrations or frequencies

A Search and a Call for Truth in Music

15 years ago I was an inexperienced spiritual seeker armed with a righteousness that rivaled JP Sears’ Ultra-Spiritual spoofs. I made a dismissive comment about a musical piece of angry, arrhythmic dissonance to my dear friend and cellist, Andrew Eckard. He knocked me off

Does “Psychological Safety” Help or Hinder Your Music?

My past is darkened with a shameful experience. Many years ago I was in a quartet where I constantly dominated all discussion, told the others what was wrong, and let my ego run rampant. I was playing with younger musicians (I myself was

An inside view of my year with BRAVO

Last August I became a Teaching Artist at BRAVO Youth Orchestra in North Portland. It is an after-school music program based on El Sistema, founded in Venezuela in 1975 by José Antonio Abreu. Gustavo Dudamel, Music Director for the Los Angeles Philharmonic,

Don’t let your ______ hold you back

What word fills in your blank? fear past failures self-imposed limitations attachments past habits preconceptions instrument talent situation relationships I was wailing away on a friend’s cello when suddenly he said – “There! Stop! Now play that exact same passage on your own instrument with