How to Enjoy Being (Musically) Alive...Some Games.
The point of this article is to help you, in a small and easy way, get out of your head and into your body.
What's that one song? You know, the one you heard and loved. You loved it so much, that you listened to it over and over again. You kept listening to it until something started to change for you. It became dull. It got stuck in your head and cluttered your brain with noise. You lost your fresh perspective of that song.
Did the song change? Did the song become lesser in some way? Do you now not like the song?
The song didn't change. It's the same beautiful piece of music it always was. Your perception changed.
Do you now not like the song?
Your brain might say "yeah I don't like it anymore". What do your ears say though? It's hard to tell. You've "lost" some ability to truly hear the song, to hear it the way you heard it the first time. Give it ten years and listen to the song again. Our brains, which mean well but are chock-full of inaccuracies, might say "oh I love that song!" simply because our ears got to hear it fresh again, which encouraged the thinking brain's new assessment.
In a moment, we're going to take this idea and put it into practice, but first, I want to cover why noticing this can improve your ability to enjoy being alive.
Imagine you are getting a massage, and there is a rock band playing in the room, a lawnmower outside, cold wind blowing in from the window, and a nerve-wrecking public speech you'll be giving to an audience of several thousand as soon as your massage is over. Will you enjoy that massage very much? I don't think so! You won't enjoy it because it will be difficult to be in your body, enjoying the sensations of relief you might experience, as there is too much noise.
And with music, it's often our brains and devices that produce so much thought-noise, we miss most of the sounds that move past us in the song. We have millions of songs to listen to...yet what is the point if we aren't listening anyway?
Here we are at our song we used to love. When we first heard the song, our full attention was taken into the song, so we really listened. Then as we heard the song again, we didn't quite listen as deeply. Replay after replay, we allowed all the noise in our head to distract us from the true pleasure and beauty that song had to offer.
It reminds me of falling in love, and then feeling "bored". Did the person change, or did you forget to notice how kind, funny and creative that person is?
I'm noticing in my own life, that there is never really a sacred time in my own life to put down my phone, and really, truly, deeply listen to someone, appreciating them the way I might naturally appreciate talking to them over a campfire, with no internet and just the birds as conversational accompaniment.
So if I don't choose now to enjoy being alive by getting out of my head and into my body, specifically my ears, then I might look back on my life and realize I had a beautiful song playing, but I wasn't hearing it.
So how do we show up and enjoy what we have now? And how do we listen to the same song, but with "new" ears?
Here's one way: We can play a game. A game that helps you freshen your perspective. If you like this game, let me know as I'd like to do some audio tracks that help you press the refresh button in your mind so you make room to feel more alive through music.
A game for anyone who enjoys music and would like to practice the art of feeling (musically) alive.
Pick a Verse from a Song
It can be a song you love, hate, haven't heard a while or have been listening to a lot lately.
Listen to the song, only paying attention to the most subtle sounds you can hear.
Don't try to label the sounds, just listen.
Listen again. Now listen for the most obvious sounds you can hear.
Your brain will volunteer opinions about the sounds, that's okay, let it have it say and bring your focus back to your ears, which have some surprises for you.
Listen again. Now try to hear the rhythms.
Only pay attention to the WHEN of each sound, not the what. Does it seem to go faster? Slower? Is steady and smooth, or choppy and textured?
Listen again. Now try to hear two elements.
Now pick any two of those elements in the music (the subtle sounds, or the rhythms, etc) and pay attention to jus those two.
Listen again. Now try to hear everything.
Listen so that all the new things you (hopefully) noticed through these different perspectives are all in your listening-attentional-space.
How are you feeling?
Do you feel a little more present with the song? Like you're hearing it more clearly, deeply? Did you enjoy it a bit more?
A Game for Singers.
Pick a Verse from a Song
Pick a phrase (which is like a sentence in music) from an easy to sing song that you know, or a very simple phrase of a vocal exercise you're familiar with. Make sure your phone and all other devices are completely off and in another room. Write down the phrase if you need to. This won't work as well with distractions (remember the massage?).
Sing through the phrase, you don't need to notice anything in particular.
Sing through the phrase, hug yourself...
and notice how your torso moves (or doesn't move) when you sing.
Sing through the phrase again, and notice your volume.
How loud is it in the beginning? How about the end? Does the volume change? What rate does the volume change? Does one volume feel easier than the other? Does the volume change with the vowel?
Hug yourself again, but this time, notice the connection between the volume and the movement of the torso.
Do they seem connected or disconnected? Do certain combinations feel easier and more than others?
Now take a step back from singing. How do you feel?
Do you feel like you're paying better attention to how you're actually singing? Now go about your singing routine...notice how you're noticing more than you were before. You'll be better at most things in singing if your attention is better...but it will also be more fun, gratifying and fascinating.