Music Practice as Meditation  

(by Mark Nauseef)

Music practice as a form of meditation is not a new idea and much has been written about cultures relating to music in this way, such as India with its raga / meditation connection. Any musician, regardless of degree of ability or experience, can use music practice as meditation and meditation as a means of deepening music practice. The key is concentration. Focused concentration with complete (laser type but relaxed) attention to the situation whether it is with composed (notated, graphic, verbal, etc.) or completely free improvised music. This is not meditation in the sense of a transcendent state of “no mind” but a meditation of completely absorbed concentration. This intense but relaxed concentration should have the music you are practicing as the single object of the awareness. As well as increasing your ability on your instrument through the benefits of focused / concentrated practice, you are also designing a sanctuary within yourself were you can go which is away from or outside your normal state of active mind. Over time the periods of concentration should become longer and deeper and easier to access. Of course, access to a state of deep, concentrated awareness is also very valuable in live performance situations as well as practice not only to reap the riches deep within the sound but also to cut-off / exclude the many other distractions which go along with live performance. These distractions could include certain acoustics, sound systems, lights, air (or lack of), audience (or lack of), etc. It does not matter if it's in your practice studio or in concert, the key is to develop a way of easy access into this sharp, clear, relaxed, awake, peaceful and concentrated state of mind.   

Here are a few ideas that may help.

It's yoga with music as the object / point of awareness. By making music practice not just something that you do to improve your ability with your instrument but approaching music practice as a destination, a focused, relaxed and concentrated state of awareness inside the music. This cultivation of attention makes music a place to create within as well as the product of creation itself.