Being present in the process

Our current instant-gratification society seems to be so end-product driven lately that the overall enjoyment and value of process seems to fall by the wayside. This high-speed, technology-driven phenomenon and resulting stress is especially on point in the area of practice and performance for musicians. I will venture further to say that our perceptions of success and frustration in not achieving the illusion of perfection are effected by this recent prevailing impatience as well.

When a musician practices effectively, I believe they take time to attend to the details. In the case of singers, we need to explore the text away from the music. We need to refine aspects of whatever language we're singing, vowel clarity, consonants etc.. especially if its in our native tongue because of the inherent challenges between spoken and sung articulation and the sustaining of the same. We then need to learn the notes and rhythm separate from the text. the tone quality, shaping off the phrases, dynamics, expression, character research and the ultimate challenge-memorization of all of the above. And yet, most of do not feel we have the luxury of attending to these time-consuming details in our "practice", and ultimately become prematurely frustrated if we can't cram a piece into our heads, I even have students who are checking  Facebook, Twitter or text messages during their practice sessions. They are not fully in the present moment of their practice. They are not really paying attention and they are not taking themselves or the task at hand seriously.

I recall many performances where I have felt a bit like I was in a time-warp, so concerned with surviving and managing the stress of live performance and finishing in one piece that I didn't enjoy the present moment of actually singing and expressing the music.

Optimal quality and standards of excellence will ever be paramount in my own personal performance goals, but over time, I have come to value the enjoyment of the process of preparation and paying attention, in real time,  to where I am in the present moment. In performance, I'm making more of an effort to feel and experience the music as it happens and being conscious of all my senses-feeling the energy of the audience and connecting to them beyond my safe survival-oriented place. For me, every performance is a gift of present experience, at that particular point in time, feeling the magic that only live performance can achieve. It's a human experience, not perfectly digitally-mastered and manipulated. If I miss a word, or the onset of a pitch is occasionally sluggish, it doesn't seem to matter in the overall scheme of things. The present moment is a precious thing and I believe we all need to be paying better attention.