AN INTUITIVE APPROACH TO MUSIC EDUCATION
Research has shown that by learning to cross-associate the perceptions of what we see, hear, feel, touch, smell, and taste, we are able to learn seemingly complex skills and abilities much more quickly and effectively.
Developing the capacity to recognize and articulate the many feelings and sensations we experience while hearing and playing music creates a dynamic link between our physical, emotional, and mental intelligences, allowing embodied experiential knowing —rather than abstract thinking— to be at the core of the learning process.
COLORIZING Sheet Music
In the standard model of musical education, learning to read sheet music can be a very long and laborious endeavor, requiring one to master a theoretical notation system that involves a high degree of abstract thinking and analysis.
However, rather than relying upon black and white figures to represent musical notation, we can visually 'colorize' the approach, aligning the 12 notes of the musical scale with the 12 colors of the color wheel, in such a way that they musically and visually correspond.
The incorporation of colorized notation simplifies [yet still includes] the traditional methodology, allowing us to move towards a more efficient, intuitive, and holistic approach to learning and comprehending musical notation.
SIGNS AND SYMBOLS
—Pierre Leroux, Pertaining to the Poetry of Our Time, 1831
Reverberations of Life
ur lives are an endless stream of moments; a mysterious display of shifting visions, feelings, sensations ...crisp and flaky lichens encrusted to an old stone wall; scents of damp moss and fallen lilac under the dry shavings of a birch tree; cold shimmering jewels of moonlight scattered on ice encrusted snow... these impressions follow down the pathways of our senses, into our hearts and minds, and lay to rest within our souls.
Residing deep within us, they dwell mostly in the unconscious parts of ourselves; and though rarely seen or felt, they play a part in the sense of who we are, and who we come to be.
From time to time, these inner moments, or noumena, are reawakened. In a spontaneous instant, something in our environment —a pungent smell, a bitter taste, a haunting melody— arouses a strange yet familiar feeling inside us. Much like two strings sounding in unison, the outer vibration of the phenomenon we experience speaks to something in the depths of us, drawing out a similar resonance from within.
These noumena can appear quite vivid—such as the fragrance worn by a past love, awakening emotions as tacitly real as if their presence had returned... or rather vague, like the familiar voice of a stranger, whose face we cannot place, yet feeling somehow to be known.
Although there are countless numbers of these remembrances, they all share a common quality —in the instance of re-collection, we are reminded of something that feels somehow important to us— something that had receded from our conscious mind, but our soul did not forget. Like an ancestor visiting us in a dream, we meet our memory for a moment as it echoes the presence of its past, and then dissolves into the sleep from which it came.
s individuals, our minds have a limited capacity to feel unity. We can only take in parts of our experience—we see the world of time and space linearly, moment by moment, with one individual point of view within each moment, and only one limited perspective within this point of view.
Yet, as science and the great contemplative traditions reveal to us, the world, and all of space and time, does indeed exist as a unified, vibrating whole, composed of an infinite number of 'parts'.
One way to experience this mysterious unity is through the discovery of relationships. Not intellectually, but on an experiential, feeling level, one can observe how apparently separate phenomena seem to intuitively relate to one another—such as a calm feeling of melancholy, a song written in a minor key, and a moonlit ocean.
Once we begin to perceive these correspondences, there arises the desire to name them, which is done through the use of metaphor.
The great conductor, composer, and pianist Leonard Bernstein spoke of how metaphor can 'accomplish the supremely difficult task of providing a name for everything'. Bernstein explained how music can be seen as a powerful metaphorical language that gives voice to our inner worlds, and in so doing, creates a way to communicate the deeper experiences of the human condition that otherwise could not be shared.
hether born from corporeal memory or creative fantasy, truly great, and truly meaningful works of art invoke these metaphorical 'vibrations of experience'. Awakening noumena in both creator and perceiver, such art draws all into a mutual state of resonance, through the fundamental feelings of experience we all share.
Just like the alchemical perfumers of the old world, who boiled down their carefully gathered botanicals in hopes of revealing their quinta essentia, the artist aims to capture the living energy of our experience; to distill it down into a potent artistic form, and through creative expression, reverberate its essence back out into the world.
Throughout all times and cultures, unique individuals have devoted themselves to this special task, placing the immense time, energy, and sacrifice required into works of art that arouse feelings of depth, beauty, and meaning within all who are drawn into their presence.
Like memories of those passed long ago, the creations of such individuals remain. Carrying on like streams into a river, flowing along with all those who have come before, they wait to be remembered, to be born anew, and reverberate within our souls once more.
hen we breathe deeply, and with full feeling, we allow the energies and emotions of our lives to flow through us naturally and completely. Fully receiving and releasing each passing moment, we are at ease; in harmony with the world around us.
However, it could be noted that most of us rarely, if ever, find ourselves living in this natural state. Instead, we often ‘brace ourselves’ against the more difficult and challenging moments of our experience, attempting to resist or control the circumstances and outcomes of our lives. In so doing, we constrict the natural movements of our breath, creating patterns of physical tension, discursive thought, and obstructed feeling within us.
This activity of recoil creates a range of psycho-physical symptoms—from sensations of pressure and discomfort, to states of boredom and irritability, to more extreme emotions such as fear, anxiety, anger or depression.
Finding ourselves in this contracted state, we often attempt to alleviate our symptoms by resorting to various forms of distraction, such as impulsive eating, drinking, texting, watching tv, shopping, etc... or we may try to discharge our tension through constructive activities such as exercise, yoga, therapy, meditation, etc.
These actions may indeed bring us temporary relief, yet unlike the common cold that we can simply take medicine for and cure, the symptoms of this apparent dis-ease always tend to return, re-establishing themselves within us.
Therefore, in order to truly feel better, we must learn to feel better. We must transform our emotional relationship to our experience, learning to unconditionally feel and breathe fully in every passing moment, no matter what pleasures or difficulties we may encounter.
In this way we learn to grow beyond the patterns of our reactivity, maturing into a way of being in which we no longer recoil away from the ever-changing currents of our lives.
Then our day to day experience can become a stage upon which we practice the art of living gracefully. Always letting go into deeper levels of feeling and relaxation, we are gradually drawn into a space of unconditional openness and peace that lies beyond all passing experience, entering into communion with the mysterious and radiant feeling of being itself.