Since I began studying nature awareness and connection five years ago, I have noticed many positive changes in my life. My senses are more attuned, I posses much more confidence and self-esteem (and can even navigate varied landscapes in the dark), and I am overall happier and healthier. I have also become a better musician. I bet you might be wondering how that happened seeing as I didn’t even mention music yet?
In my opinion, a good musician experiences life fully and draws upon that in his or her music. A good musician listens, and knows when to “speak”. They also have a healthy dose of confidence. Many modern musicians spend hours practicing, studying theory, jamming and gigging. These are all important components of music. What I find missing in many of these people is actual presence. For the sake of this post we will define presence as being in the moment, not lost in thought. I believe one of the most powerful paths to presence is through studying and connecting with nature. Why?
As humans we have been intimately connected with the earth from our beginnings. We have literally evolved as part of the landscape. Recently human beings have had the luxury to forget that connection. When we reconnect to nature we are plugging back in to a long evolutionary line of information. Through this we become more whole, more activated, and more intelligent. We also become better musicians.
Opening up our senses is one of the ways we can reconnect. The more our senses are in working order the more pertinent information we receive. See where I’m going? Here’s an example: In music I can release all my tendencies to over think and over analyze by turning on my senses. I use my mind to do this which gives it something to do that will actually benefit me! Now I am in the present moment and have a more accurate feel and sound of what is actually happening around me. This is the kind of sensitivity that leads to incredible musical experiences that elevate everyone.
As a naturalist, not only is it important for me to be aware of and connected to my surroundings, it is also important for me to study what I find out there. The same is true of music. Learning notes, chords, theory, and song structure all enhance my ability to be able to express myself musically and share that with other people. When we combine our academic studies with practices of presence, that is where the magic happens.
Nature is a powerful mirror. It can teach us intimately about who we are, simply by spending time in it. Nature doesn’t have judgments, it simply is. This can be incredibly healing and such a nice change from the constant flow of opinions from everyone around us. We receive access to space. And space is something our modern culture desperately needs.
Wouldn’t it be cool if there were a place in this world where you could study music and nature together and be taught by incredible people? I am glad to let you know that there are two such places. First, check out Victor Wooten’s camps. Victor is a Grammy award winning bass player. He is an amazing musician and teacher and draws outstanding caliber staff and students. Go HERE now!
Second, for the past 2 summers I have helped to run a Music Nature Camp for kids called Island Beat on Mercer Island (near Seattle). This camp is based on my experiences at Victor’s camp along with my experiences working for Wilderness Awareness School. If you know any kids between the ages of 9 – 14 that love music and the natural world, then pass our information along.
If you’re a Washington local consider joining us for a benefit concert this Sunday February 26th from 5-7pm to raise scholarship funds for our camp! It will be an incredible evening and Joe Craven and his trio will be performing (these guys are world famous)! Buy your tickets here: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/220395. And even if you can’t join us, consider purchasing a ticket in support of our camp! Want to hear a sample? Click HERE.
So, how does doing one thing in your life make you better at doing something else? Have you ever experienced this? Tell me your thoughts and stories below!