When It's All Just Too Much
3 things musicians can do when the weight of the world feels like it's too much
“Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.” -Maya Angelou
We all know what it is like to be a human in the 21st century. We receive constant, often digital, inputs - social media feeds, news, Spotify playlists, podcast episodes, movies, tv, reels, and on and on.
And when we’re not consuming, we’re doing. Rushing here and there, running errands, cooking food, practicing, studying, exercising, parenting, performing.
We are in a constant state of overload.
When a tragedy occurs - like this most recent school shooting in Uvalde or the war in Ukraine - we are already so saturated with “life” that we don’t have the capacity to fully process the reality in which we are living.
Feelings require space. Feelings require vulnerability, openness, and empathy for the lived experience of our fellow humans.
Music gives us that space.
As artists, your impact on the world is not measured in likes or votes or policy change. Your impact on this world happens in the quiet places of people’s hearts.
When an audience is gathered to experience music, they are given a gift. The world slows down for a moment, (eventually) their thoughts settle, and their heart space opens.
You allow them access to their quiet, most intimate places - places where language is insufficient, where Marvel movies and TicTok dog videos can’t touch. And you give them the time they need to stay there and feel.
When you play a Bach Cello Suite or a new piece by Jennifer Higdon, your audience moves inward, slows down, and finds … themselves.
But in order to do that for our audience, we must find a way to create space for our hearts, as well.
3 Things You Can Do When World Events Are Just Too Much
It can be every day, it can be when you have just a moment. When you engage in journal writing, you are unclogging your mind. It’s like Drano. All the pain or frustration or rage that exists within your heart gets poured out onto the page. When you are clogged with emotion, your thinking is less effective, your communication and empathy are inhibited, and your creativity is crowded out of the room. Writing relieves the pressure; writing allows you to feel and to open; writing brings you into a state of flow.
Listen to the sounds that fill your reservoir of inspiration and beauty. Listen to the birds and the kids playing in the park. Listen to the silence in the forest or the crunch of a squirrel going about her daily business. Listen to your favorite string quartet or the slow movement of your favorite symphony. If you can, listen in community. In a theater, to a recording on your bed with a friend, or on your porch with a loved one. The act of listening together helps us feel connected to the greater whole. That’s why there’s so much power in the concert hall.
Often times we wait for a “performance” to share our art. We forget that non-musicians are in absolute awe of what we can do and love hearing music at any time! During COVID, I taught my students outside on my driveway and Every Day my neighbors told me how much they loved hearing the music of my students. Even the beginners! Run excerpts for your neighbor, play at your grandmother’s nursing home, step out on your porch when you practice scales. You have a gift that people are in desperate need of. Don’t wait for perfect. Don’t wait for a formal concert. PLAY. Play for someone today. This is how we heal the world.
The work you do matters. In fact, the world is desperate for it - even if they don’t always realize it! Tend to your heart, keep your emotions free and flowing, and go forth to make the art the planet needs from you.
Next Steps and Additional Resources
Here at The Musician's Mindset, we have some incredible resources for developing and implementing mindset practices that will transform how you perform on stage.
First, check out our Personalized Mindset Tools Quiz to discover the mindset strategies perfect for YOU!
Schedule your FREE 30 Minute Call with Katie. It’s free. It’s my pleasure. And it’s the first step to releasing stage fright once and for all.
Founder of The Musician's Mindset
Katie is dedicated to helping musicians overcome stage fright and believe in their own unique artistic voice. She believes live classical music is a powerful antidote for the division, pain, and loneliness pervasive in the culture and strives to support all artists to confidently share their work with the world. She lives in Cincinnati with her husband, three kiddos, a dog, a snake, and a goldfish named Orca.