On Tuesday I was a panelist for a philosophy of music class on “What Makes Music Beautiful?” at Lewis & Clark College. Dynamic discussion! Is it structure? Is it emotion? Is it context and memory? Is it tone?

For 90 minutes we danced with concepts and beliefs. I wish you could have been there with us. The students came alive with energy and enthusiasm. Conversation continued in the hall for another 20 minutes.

People love talking about what is beautiful in music to them. It lights them up, and in so doing, lights up others.

Truth be told, though, it is impossible to pick apart with the analytical mind an experience which belongs to the intuitive and subjective. But it is wicked fun to try!

For me, beauty in music comes down to these 3 things:

  • Mastery of technique, but not necessarily perfection. Trying to be perfect often mars beauty.
  • Sharing your genuine experience of beauty through your energy, thought, and vibration.
  • An attitude of offering and openness in performance.

Beauty in Performance

So here are 5 practical ways to increase the beauty of your performance:

  1. Invite people you know who will be responsive to the beauty of your performance, no matter how many imperfections. Don’t let the beauty of your performance fall on deaf ears.
  2. Allow yourself 10% more openness of heart to perceive the workings of inspiration within you. Even a little more openness will allow beauty to express itself more fully.
  3. Meditate before you perform, so that no matter how intense the music gets, the audience will sense a peace resonating deep inside of you. Peace is inextricably linked with beauty.
  4. Keep it simple. Beauty expresses itself more powerfully through simplicity than it does through complexity.
  5. Ask “How is this supposed to go?” By doing so, you bring in the beauty of humility, no matter how many times you’ve performed this particular piece. Release your hold on how you think it should go and open to a greater possibility of knowing.

All these will help your performance ring true with humility and beauty.


What Is Beautiful in Your Music?

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