Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end. (“Closing Time”)
Tell me you are a member of Generation X, without telling me you are a member of Generation X.
[Starts final blog with a quote from the song “Closing Time” by Semisonic]
This column marks the end of my series on mindfulness and meditation on ChoralNet. This past summer, I became interested in blogging about my meditation practice here because I wanted to see if I could integrate my interest in meditation and mindfulness with my career as a choral musician. Because meditation has changed my perspective on life and work so drastically, I hoped to introduce some of the benefits a meditation practice can have for you, and when appropriate, your singers and students. I didn’t emphasize the science of meditation in my blogs, but for those of you that are “data-driven,” meditation has been the subject of decades of research that has demonstrated the positive impact it has on the health and function of the brain. A recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education noted a new awareness of meditation’s benefits that has led to courses in meditation being offered on college and university campuses across the country. Where secular meditation practice once lived primarily in the business and sports spheres, and is performance based, mainstream culture is beginning to realize the role meditation can play in promoting overall wellness. I’m convinced that meditation in the choral context can do both things, improve performance and contribute to the well-being of conductors and singers.
Throughout my journey, I found inspiration in the work of two individuals in the choral wellness space, and, if you are not familiar with their work, I hope you will seek out their contributions to this topic. First, I am regularly inspired by the work of Ramona Wis through her blog “The Conductor as Yogi.” I find something to meditate upon in each of her blogs and her approach to the practice deeply resonates with me. I’ve also been moved by the insight and work of Jaclyn Normandie, a choral conductor, yogi, and author of The Mindful Musician. Both women are terrific conductor-teachers and I’m happy that our shared interest in meditation, mindfulness, yoga, and music have allowed our paths to intersect.
In the coming year, I’ll be pursuing opportunities to deepen my meditation practice and to practice in community with other like-minded individuals. I’ll be exploring the more overtly spiritual side of the practice, which, in my opinion, is not at all controversial, but should not be imposed on anyone without their desire and consent to learn, especially singers or students under our charge in choir. I’m not sure where this next part of the path may lead but, at the same time, am open to whatever the future may hold. Thanks for reading.
Steve Grives, D.M.A., is a choral conductor, certified meditation teacher, and Visiting Professor of Music at Shepherd University, Shepherdstown, West Virginia. He can be reached with questions or comments through his email, . For further thoughts on meditation and mindfulness, inside or outside the choral context visit https://stevegrivesblogs.wordpress.com