December 13, 2014, I was privileged to play at the Kala Academy for students and music lovers. It was such a great experience to meet and create a connection with the audience that attended. I feel very blessed and fortunate to have made this connection while in Goa and to meet some of the aspiring musicians and individuals interested in contemporary classical and fusion forms that I can provide.
What I found most enjoyable about the experience was the receptivity of the audience. A long time ago, I learned that having an audience that is able to connect to and understand the music that is being played makes a 100% difference in the outcome. It is the willingness to open to the experiences of the music that makes it enjoyable. As a performer, I can tell when this is happening and when there is resistance. Since I’m playing my compositions with twists in the classical and fusion realm, I know that I’m taking a risk and that it requires a fabulous audience willing to learn, appreciate and tune into what I’m playing.
Of course, this is an interesting thing for students of music to remember. I’m speaking about it being the audience, but it’s not the audience. It’s the musician. If I walk up as a musician with a big ego and think that I’m the greatest player in the world and I’m going to play technically correct with every note and amaze audiences with how great I am, then that message will be conveyed. That presence is given to the audience.
I was told in another performance that I lacked this particular type of presence. I could do nothing but agree! I don’t want this particular presence. I’m not interested in conveying how great I am because there is nothing to prove. I am here as a musician, conveying a message with the strength to get out of the way specifically for that message.
I was interested in the experience that we could all take together and the special movement of the phoenix. Every note that I played, every intention that I held and every composition that I pieced together was specifically for the phoenix. It was to convey her movement from the fire and into her glory and greatness. I knew not to lose that intention, ditching my personal agenda or outcome and showing up specifically with the intention to give this to the audience.
Amazingly, this is exactly what happened. Children and adults from different walks of life spoke afterwards about the Phoenix and how they could feel the presence of this mystical creature surrounding them. A professor stated:
“I felt like I was on the stage with you, taking the journey of the Phoenix. We went to so many places and in the end, we were all rising like this mystical creature.”
Another audience member stated:
“I could feel the Phoenix that was there. I was familiar with the myth and the story of this bird, but there was something deeper in the music. The Phoenix was a powerful and present being that was in the concert and that was conveyed to us.”
This particular response is what music is about. I very intentionally set my music and different approaches in honor of the Phoenix and the journey of transformation. My joy and happiness in response to the concert was that the Phoenix was honored and that there was such a positive response in the understanding of the bird.
As a performance coach and performer, I know and understand that this particular power is what performance is about. When I have a great performance is when there is this understanding and journey, a step beyond just playing music and one into the power that is behind the art form of conveying and communicating a message to the audience.