Music, with Attention

I have been leading a musicians’ support group in Australia for a little over a year. We use Google Hangouts (similar to Skype), as everyone lives in different parts of the country.

For a while I’ve wanted to see how it would go sharing our music and showing ourselves. It can be a bit awkward playing music or singing over the Internet, due to delays and technical difficulties, but I figured it would be okay and certainly good enough for discharge purposes! With the fabulous attention of the group, I figured out how best to do this:

Each person had fifteen minutes in front of the group, split into two sections. For ten minutes they could discharge and try to play or sing something for us. Then for another five minutes they could discharge while listening to each of us appreciate things about their playing or singing, with as much detail as possible, using our knowledge of music. Then I added another minute for self-appreciation. If we’d had more time together, I would have doubled the length of the appreciations, as they were a big, exciting addition to simply practicing our art in front of people. I think appreciation is where the real contradiction to the distress lies, because as artists we are so used to criticising and comparing ourselves and having our work criticised by others (this is a big part of the oppression). I watched what a huge contradiction everyone’s positive comments were, and it became clear that we all must do a lot more of this work.

People also got to work on holding eye contact and really noticing the counsellors and their attention, which is very challenging to do while performing. Showing ourselves in this way built a much deeper connection within the group.

In the final round I included the question “When will you do this again?” It encouraged people to think about whom else they could have these sessions with, and everyone thought of people quite quickly.

I often use my sessions to play and discharge in front of my counsellors, but now I am going to allow time for appreciations from both the counsellor and myself.

I think this could work for all mediums of art, and I encourage you to give it a go!

Nicola Ossher

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Reprinted from the RC e-mail discussion list for leaders of artists

(Present Time 184, July 2016)

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00