T'ai Chi & Yoga for Musicians (& all others too :-)

"Ama Sua, Ama Kjella, Ama Lllulla. - Don't lie, don't cheat, don't be lazy." Quechua greeting during Inca times.

I am going to be sharing some thoughts here during the next few blogs, about T'ai Chi (Tai Chi) & yoga for musicians. I have studied & practiced both T'ai Chi & yoga since the early nighties, as well as being a certified T'ai Chi instructor & teacher in a style called T'ai Chi Chih (loosely translated as "Knowledge of the Supreme Ultimate"). This style emphasizes the health & relaxation benefits of T'ai Chi, & not its traditional martial arts roots.

I am also a musician & classical guitar player. Over the years I have always paid attention to the right balance of warm up exercises, fitness as well as the correct technique & posture needed to play an instrument well. Musicians are athletes, in every sense of the word, & attention to our well-being at a physical, mental as well as emotional levels is necessary to play freely. I'd venture to also say that our spiritual well-being is very important, maybe the most essential level.

The first concept to be aware of when making music is that of focus. Call it concentration, one-pointed focus, being in the flow or the zone... All are describing the same focused performance level. Both T'ai Chi & yoga can be thought of as moving meditations. As a matter of fact, because of the element of movement in both, many practitioners have an easier time with them than, let's say, sit down meditation. And it is precisely why a movement practice can be very important to a musician in developing the level of focus & relaxed attention needed to play music.

Most of my mistakes when practicing & performing music, are mistakes of attention, or lack thereof. By being faithful in my daily T'ai Chi & yoga practice, I have found a direct correlation between my focus & my music playing.

I'll continue sharing more thoughts on this in the next installments.