I had imagined that the day after my TEDx talk I’d be physically and emotionally exhausted.

But I wasn’t.

Usually after an important performance, I experience a fabulous afterglow followed by a letdown, even a vulnerability hangover.

But not this time.

Why was this different? Why did I continue to feel so much inner freedom after the talk? Finally it hit me:

I shared my story, not someone else’s.

No matter how well I play a Bach Suite on stage, the listener can always find a recording to compare with online. My performances can always be measured and judged, especially by me.

But I didn’t share someone else’s music that night. I shared my truth, my own unique story and inspiration.

Your truth, your story, can’t be judged

Can we critique the truth and story of another human being? Can we criticize their life experience? Listening to the 5 other speakers that evening, I found that I couldn’t. I was greatly moved by how powerful their vulnerable sharing was. I feel strongly bonded with them, even though we’ve only just met.

The sharing of my story was more powerful than I had ever imagined.

Feeling this freedom, I started to wonder, how we can we share our story while playing music written from someone else’s story? If we’re lucky, we learn a piece so deeply that it becomes our own, with our personal phrasing, interpretation, tempo, dynamics.

But we can also make music our own with something deep within us: the tangible experience of resonance.

Our own unique resonance

My whole talk explored what we mean when we say we “resonate” with music and ideas, and the energy that is awakened within.

As I was practicing the G Major Bach Suite last night for another performance, I heard my thoughts: “Everyone knows this piece, David. What are you going to do to make it unique?” I responded with exterior alterations, trying to make my playing measure up in quality and originality.

But then I focused on something different — faith in my own resonance. I want to perform with the awareness that I’m sharing my own resonance, my own energy, my own story. That’s hard for me to do. Decades of exterior evaluation speak loudly in my critical ear. Focusing on my resonance is still a new habit in comparison.

What is resonance?

Simply put, resonance is energy and vibration we feel within that is more than an emotional response. We talk about this energy all the time when we are touched or moved. When something strikes a deep chord within us.

Although this feeling of energy cannot be generated by ourselves, we have the capacity to tune into its presence. Music is one of the most powerful tools to awaken resonance. Meditation is one of the greatest ways to amplify it.

Resonance is genuine, because we can’t take credit for creating it. It springs from a mystical source within.

Although we can take responsibility for how much we open ourselves to resonance, we aren’t responsible for how resonance is received by others. What a great source of freedom that is.

Resonance can’t be judged

So my greatest takeaway that night was this: by residing in my resonance and in the story of how it has shaped my life, I’m saved from one of my most feared critics: myself.

Take action

I would love for you to experience this for yourself. Try this:

  1. Choose a piece that you know extremely well and are willing to trust your muscle memory
  2. Watch how it awakens energy within you by meditating briefly before and after you play or sing
  3. Focus on that energy, that resonance within, as you dive into it again.

Yes, there will always be technical aspects to improve.

But technique doesn’t change the world.

I believe your resonance will.

(here’s the link to my TEDx talk on youtube)

Every Musician Should Give a TEDx Talk. Here’s Why.

3 thoughts on “Every Musician Should Give a TEDx Talk. Here’s Why.

  • November 9, 2019 at 7:11 pm

    Bravo! And thank you for sharing your post, and your insight with us!

  • November 10, 2019 at 12:16 am

    Technique won’t change the world, agreed.

    In my own experience, I have been trapped into feeling stuck in an endless “technical” mind-loop. It is so hard to prioritize feeling, or experiencing the music internally over focusing externally (praise, criticism, other people’s experience). I have just recently found my way back to using technique as a vehicle for achieving more nuanced expression rather than getting stuck in it as a drudgingly endless process. It took a life-threatening situation to bring this about, this after searching for that lost spark for years. I have found solace in music again, and I could not be more grateful and in awe of the universe. I am happier than ever to just be a part of the magic of its inner workings;)

    • November 10, 2019 at 5:54 am

      YES! Thank you so much for defending technique as a tool of more nuanced expression. In fact, technique is the primary tool for experiencing calm centeredness, crucial to expression. Moreover, Brahms writes that “Without craftsmanship, inspiration is a mere reed shaken in the wind.”

      So glad that you made it safely through, and that you’ve found your spark! That spark is what the world needs, because it shines through you in every note you play.


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