Finding Flow With Your Musical Instrument
By Michael Cerreto and Laurel Black
Musicians can lose connection with their instrument, which creates stagnation alongside a loss of motivation and artistic expression. The hours you spend learning and mastering the small details of musical scores, technique, and theory can depersonalize your relationship with the very instrument you fell in love with. It's easy to get lost in those details over the years and lose your natural flow and connection with your instrument.
The more you mature as a musician, the more you take on advanced material in front of audiences that expect a higher level of musicianship. This advancement can cause anxiety, a lack of confidence, and a more intense drive to be perfect. Your craft becomes more complicated and can result in more negative self-criticism, comparison, and self-talk. You need to learn how to create moments that simplify your relationship with your instrument, and help you find flow.
Flow are moments when you are outside your head, separated from thoughts, and focused on actions in front of you while trusting your instincts. It is a mental and physical state during which you feel connected to every touch, movement, and sound. It is a moment during which you feel effortlessly in-sync with your instrument. It is a moment when your instrument feels like an extension of you and you are an extension of it.
Create Flow Time With Your Instrument
You need to first think of your instrument as a living being. Imagine it has a beating heart, blood flowing through its veins, and the need for personal connection. It’s a best friend that will never leave you and always wants to bring you joy.
As friends, you spend different times together: practicing technique, rehearsing, performing, and traveling. These are special moments, but it wants and needs more Flow Time with you to remain close. Your instrument knows that only through Flow Time can you both stay motivated and perform up to your artistic potential.
Here are some ways you can create Flow Time with your instrument:
Give your instrument a name
Have conversations with it about your day and how things are going
Say good night and good morning to it
Ask how well it slept
Tell it how you want to work together today
Ask how it feels about your progress together, and tell it how you feel
Have 10 minutes of “flow” playing together
10-Minute Flow Playing