Tag Archives: improvisation

Studying Creativity Scientifically: A Surgeon Studies The Brain On Improv

Special thanks to my fellow life coach Amy Williams for sharing this with me. A very cool TEDx talk by a surgeon combining his passions for music and the brain:

Essential Self Extravaganza

As 2010 came to a close, I realized that over the past year, I have had the opportunity to become part of three brand new communities (without even changing my physical address). As I embarked on life coach training, certification in music and sound healing, and improvisation as a violinist in the local “open mic” scene, I was welcomed into three totally new worlds for me. As I crisscrossed the Bay Area and the internet interacting with these distinct groups, it occurred to me that no single place brought together people with such wide-ranging interests. What fun it would be if someone could create a space and purpose for gathering that would allow the expression and sharing of all these creative souls! I realized that I could be that person! I was inspired to create the Essential Self Extravaganza. The name refers to a central concept of Martha Beck's life coaching approach, which guides us to find and follow the voice of our essential self, versus the social self we so readily construct as an identity to show the world and "fit in" with the rules of our families, religions, cultures, professional group, or demographic. I had had enough of the typical "holiday party", where the focus is on the display of our social selves. The typical conversations starting with the question, "So, what do you do?" or "Where are you from?" were familiar to me, yet no longer of interest. Instead of complaining or lamenting about these kinds of parties, I decided (in the empowerment I am growing into) to host my own gathering - the kind of party I would want to attend myself. Continue reading

The Space of No Thinking

The creative space is one of NO mind.
This morning, as I was driving to the grocery store, there were these thoughts running through my head: "What if I could just relax into ACCEPTANCE of myself, exactly as I am right now?" "What if I could treat myself as if right now, exactly as everything is, it IS all exactly as it should be?" I was trying to examine my recent thought patterns which were centered around "concern" for a variety of things in my life: was I spending enough time doing the right things, was I doing enough yoga, was I eating enough fruit and vegetables, was I working hard enough on the right things for my business, was I spending too much time on "non-productive" activities.... The list went on and on, and nothing seemed to be "clicking" or "flowing" during the past few weeks until the rare moments when I just let go and did the ONE thing right in front of me. This morning, I was thinking about the feeling and energy around doing JUST THIS, RIGHT NOW. What is it about that thought which creates flow? It's certainly not a state of heightened anxiety and pushing and grasping. It's not an energy of worrying. It's exactly the opposite. It's LETTING GO of all the worrying and relaxing the mind completely. Continue reading

Original versus Cover Songs: So what’s all the fuss about?

One of the interesting versions of partisan politics I've noticed since joining the local open mic scene is between two apparently opposing camps in the music scene - those who play "original" songs versus those who play "covers". "Covers" is a term, uttered either under one's breath with a hint of shame (by the people playing them) or with a distinct tone of disdain and perhaps a spray of saliva on the "c" sound just for emphasis (by those staunch supporters of playing only originals), used to designate music composed by someone other than the performers themselves. This distinction is a foreign one for me since I grew up in the classical music world, where the Great Composers Of All Time were revered and respected as part of my musical education. Some of these Great Composers were Bach, Vivaldi, Mozart, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Sibelius, to name a few. I focused all of my attention on training and developing the technique required to execute the intentions conveyed in increasingly complex written notation, leading up to the Great Concertos. These were the truly epic compositions that required a tour de force of virtuosic technique and range of emotional expression imagined to be conveyed by the Great Composer.

There was no talk of writing music. Continue reading

Join me for Tuesday Tea at Little House in Menlo Park!

Tomorrow afternoon I'll give a 1-hour talk and interactive music demonstration, entitled "Feel and Heal with Music", at Little House, multi-purpose senior center, in Menlo Park, CA. I'll share my personal story of transformation through music, and involve the audience in some music-making that will require no prior musical experience. Plus, a little surprise ending for all who attend! Hope you can make it. For more information, visit Little House's website, or call 650-326-2025.

Watch my interview on KMVT-15 King’s Connections – Remarkable Young Women Series with Rusty King

I had the pleasure and honor of being Rusty King's guest #3 on the Remarkable Young Women Series of King's Connections, on channel KMVT-15 in Mountain View. I met Rusty at a Mountain View Chamber of Commerce event, and we immediately connected on the subject of being musicians. Rusty is an award-winning songwriter and drummer, in addition to hosting his own show on KMVT-15. Thanks to Rusty's thorough research, in this half-hour interview we talk about my entire life, from my childhood in Libertyville, Illinois, through the launch of Chinese Melodrama just a few months ago. Watching it is like taking the "heroine's journey" all over again. It reminds me how this past year of my life, 2010, has been such a rapid whirlwind in some respects, while at the same time being some of the most spacious time I've ever experienced. Rusty and I discuss education, success, parental expectations, music, creativity, failure, and the necessity of following your own heart. Enjoy!

Too much fun!

OK I just loved this performance by my band, Chinese Melodrama, last night. If you grew up listening to Metallica (which I didn't), you might recognize this tune. For me, it's like a thrilling roller coaster ride each time I play it, since I get to make up the ending every time! That's right, totally improvised every time. It reminds me that every single moment is fresh, whether or not it feels familiar in some way. Great way to live life! If you're in the San Francisco Bay Area, you can see us play this Sunday, 8/8, at 8pm, at the OCTOPUS Lounge in Pacifica. And "8" is an auspicious number in Chinese!

Letting go of needing to know “HOW”

Are you accustomed to, or even attached to, knowing HOW things happen? This scientific mindset is useful in some situations, but I've found that when it comes to imagining a different life, creating a different vision, and acting in ways that are new and perhaps uncomfortable at first, holding on to the need to know "how" actually holds us back. I've been practicing holding a clear intention, keeping my energy open and flowing (by lots and lots of letting go of objects, obligations, guilt, and responsibility for other people's reactions), AND consciously releasing my need to know how things would unfold. The results? More amazing than I could have ever planned myself. I dare you to see what happens when you play with this concept in your own life...

Sounds from Half Moon Bay