How to Improve Creativity In Music Part 4: Native American Music
Welcome to part 4 of improving your creativity in music! The past three articles have summarized my visits to the baroque, jazz, and EDM worlds. In this article, I am so excited to introduce you all to one of ETHEL's main collaborators, Robert Mirabal.
Robert Mirabal is a Native American flute player, instrument builder and three time GRAMMY® Award winner. In collaboration with ETHEL, we created one of our most powerful programs called "The River". During this program, the audience is immersed in a flow of music, narrative, and ritual, that evokes timeless Native American traditions through contemporary musical artistry. It is truly a unique collaboration and has empowered me to develop not only as a performer, but as a person.
I grew up viewing the stage as a place to perform my piece at a high level, entertain the audience, and somewhere along the way, I started seeking the validation of the audience. These are common views shared by many in the musical world, but what does it result in? In my case, it produced a musician who was negatively affected by both the extreme pressure to execute at the highest level and audiences potential negative opinions. I was simply stressed every time I was performing or auditioning and it wasn't a fun or successful time. To solve this, I learned managing techniques, developed strategies and intense processes for performing my best and enjoying the stage. After years of work, I was able to get to that point and it felt amazing. With multiple successful experiences and auditions, I thought I had performing finally figured out. However, when I started performing with Robert Mirabal, I quickly realized he embodied a different spirit on stage that could help me even further.
If you ever attend a Robert Mirabal concert, which you should, you'll immediately feel his connection with the audience. He is the definition of a natural performer. But how does he get there? Well aside from owning his music and being the best at what he does, he views the stage as a place of ceremony. A ceremony differs from the standard view of the stage because it is just something you do. It's not a place to seek validation and prove yourself. It's not even about executing at the highest level. For example, if you go to church and the congregation or priest is singing out of tune, no one is judging. They are there for the ceremony. Now of course as a performer you don't want egregious execution to distract from the ceremony, but you get my point. The focus is more on creating the experience, ritual, and spirit.
The results of this are some of the most moving experiences I have ever felt on stage, which directly translates to the audience. After a concert, you'll typically hear comments like "I enjoyed the show, you're so talented, and that was beautiful." While we receive those types of comments, we also receive statements like "thank you for healing our soul tonight." This is the power of focusing on the ceremony and makes a concert experience that much more effective.
Now does this mean you have to replicate "The River" and it's ceremony on stage? Not at all. In fact, classical music concerts are already a ceremony. All you have to do is switch your perspective of the stage. When you begin to view every concert and audition like a ceremony, you'll reduce your anxiety, self pressure, and create an unforgettable experience.