Canvas Rebel: At Q Music Studio, Making Music is a Pathway to Spiritual Growth

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My most meaningful project…Picture a clutch of multi-colored balloons, all different sizes and shapes, reaching toward the sun. You’re holding them because they are yours. They are you. As for me, helping other people recognize and figure out how they already are naturally creative beings, inherently, brings them to a new place of self-realization. I have found that intending to create anything from nothing (the ultimate meaningful project) is a direct connect to your own inherent worth that is undeniable. It is possibly the most powerful pathway to inner knowing and self-worth. I’d say my most meaningful projects are ones I didn’t even know I took on that I needed most, or ones I welcomed knowing they’d take me on the road less travelled. Making music is something I chose to bring into my life as a kid. I had no idea it would evolve to become the pathway to a spiritual practice, a very different kind of discipline that cleared the obstacles to creativity. The process saved me and now I’m helping others break free from their own self-imposed limitations.

It could be through words unspoken now written. It could be from embodied movement (dance) witnessed by the trees and felt by Gaia’s ground. Even just that particular stroke of crimson red with that ragged edge conveys truth of feeling. Some people feel their primary relationship with life is their magnum opus – how they show up.

At age 5, I asked for a piano, and eventually, my parents said yes. I can’t say I saw opportunities of greatness or fame for myself via weekly rote lessons and recital experiences, because they were hellish and so much felt forced and unnatural to me. In those days, you didn’t take lessons for the pure joy of it. If parents paid good money for lessons after school, you had to be all in, or they threatened to take it away. Additionally, I sang in school choirs and after school, I played on the piano by ear anything I liked the sound of, mostly songs I’d heard on the radio. That was my rebellion against conformity that demanded panicky over-preparation to not screw up at lesson time, knuckling down to read notes and playing what I was told to play ten times in a row without stopping, and no mistakes (even though I did like some of it), but most of all, feigning respect for this high-pressure, militaristic discipline, then deliver the recital for a court, judge and jury of one’s peers and authority figures.

In my innate love of “re-creating” music I’d heard, which I was naturally good at, I just wanted everyone to feel joyful, but in the end, we were push-pinned to praise or put-down on recital evenings, annual Royal Conservatory examinations and spring music festivals because that’s all that mattered. For me, pure joy of making music hid far behind the curtains, terrified. I was not that kind of natural performer. How was any of this truly the meaning or the measure of worthiness? They say you can tell a lot about a person in how they crumble when they hit the wall.

I had to understand the why of this exact form of crumbling under precisely which circumstances in order to rise above it. These insights became the very seeds that would grow the gifts I’d end up bringing to this world ended up being the most meaningful project I’ve worked on – the transformation to inner freedom that no longer prevented me from doing my thing and sharing (as opposed to showing) the uniqueness of what I do and how I do it fearlessly, with others.

I am a creative growth practitioner and musical artist. I could not have become who I am without these challenges, and until I got out of my own way. I did not know at the time I was facing the challenge head on, I only wanted to stop the crumbling. I decided I would leave former standards behind and create from my gifts first, using what I have in front of me, because this brought me to a perfectly natural, fearless state of presence. While in process, the doors of judgment or comparison to myself and anyone else. Striving stops and I give my full attention to what I’m doing. Nothing feels forced in that space anymore, because I choose to evict desperate wanting for anything beyond what is in the now. I have extremely high standards for what I want to create and I keep those dream references close to my heart and always in sight (sound). I combine this with my neutral witnessing of what is coming through. Eckhart Tolle refers to this kind of presence as the neutral alertness of a cat watching a mousehole. The cat is never stressed out, but always on task. Maybe the movement of my fingers over the landscape of the keyboard wasn’t being directed by me, maybe it was, perhaps different now but purer than before… all I do is listen, and attend with peaceful attention. This is what keeps me in process and on the edge of potential greatness in every moment. In short, there is no “lesser than,” because in the carefully crafted world I’ve reserved for my creative process, there is no comparison or judgment, only the letting out of something that is purely of me or through me. I believe information, wisdom, art and good advice can be channeled from something, somewhere, that knows better. I taught myself an unusual acuity for my naturalness that feels like that. If it doesn’t feel natural or honest or pure, I keep exploring without judgment. Unlike traditional trauma therapy that focuses on making sense of outcomes judged as bad, poor or wrong, these last thirty years have been a fascinating, fun journey because I focus on only what comes from a higher place as genuine – the crumbling vanished. Shining out of the cracks came a sweeter (simpler), purer (honest) edgier (emotional connection) music that has grown to become my constant, unwavering spiritual companion the whole way. Direct engagement with the fascination, beauty and mystery of music always extricated me to those higher worlds right from the get-go. What had been missing in my childhood music lessons was the felt and known connection to something higher within or coming through myself. I guess I don’t care about the details of whatever it is, today I feel stronger aligned to it, supported by it…as it. My gifts and opportunities were always there, from the inception of my being, but this had to develop, like a meaningful relationship. I still crumble at times, but knowing this transformation is ongoing, I stick with it.

I know I’m not the only one who loves something for the pure joy of it enough to know it was time to abandon the militaristic, standard approach and begin doing my own thing with a new sense of freedom. I have and need my own structure, but feeling it as freedom required confidence and self-initiative, two things I’d be consistently developing in this spiritual relationship (they didn’t land fully formed in my lap) in exchange for letting go of adherence to ways that didn’t fit me. Setting yourself free does not imply tossing quality out the window, or never taking lessons, or to not getting started entirely on your own, we all have to start somewhere with the correct foundation. Start where you are and carry with you the best gifts of who you are already and always have been. Leave behind everything else that wasn’t a perfect fit for you. One does not embark in a spirit of exploration without your basics because these are your starting points. In my case, I stuck it out over 15 years of formal lessons, doing as I was told. As an adult, I just wanted to do my thing and competition/show was so not my thing. I boxed all my piano books of sonatas etc…, because I relied on my ears almost entirely. I keep a writing journal nearby and only the resources necessary for teaching students. What I needed next in my life was a new understanding of my gifts, to learn how to take charge of them so I could value and position my skills in this world to make a greater difference at heart level.