Going with the flow. Being in “the zone”. Being in the moment, in the “now”, being entirely present to what it is you’re doing. Thinking neither of the past, and the moments that have just passed, nor what is or might be to come.
What is “the flow”?
Being in flow is precisely that feeling or sensation during a performance situation where time almost seems to stand still. It is like finding that sweet spot where the magic of making music can really happen.
Getting into the flow reveals to us that shining, sparking, glorious world where the music just flies from the fingers, the music plays itself, the tone quality full, fat and fruity, the melody gleaming and irridescent, the bass rich and deep.
But you’re not even thinking about that. You’re not thinking at all really. You’re just playing. Just doing. Just being in the moment. Trusting yourself and letting the music happen, letting your fingers, your hands, your arms take the lead and using the training and practice you’ve given them countless times.
It’s the feeling of “ooh yeah… this is awesome….”
So how do you get into the flow?
Good question! Getting into the flow in a performance situation can be tricky if you’re not sure how you find that flow, particularly if you’ve glimpsed it only in patches previously.
Here are some of the things that I personally have been road-testing in this respect:
- Control over my attention and directing my awareness towards my sound and tone quality
- Significantly increasing my overall awareness and having control over my physical state – i.e. identifying if and where I’m holding tension in the body and learning to release it
- Maintaining a positive mental attitude
- REALLY knowing what I’m playing – theoretically and physically (both left and right hands)
- Recognising that the hard work part has been done and the performance is time for sharing and to heck with it if I make a buzz or scrape or fluff a note
- Setting out with intention of actually enjoying what I’m about to perform and sharing the work I’ve been doing
- Letting go of notes and the music as soon as it’s been played, especially if it was a wrong note!
- Not taking myself too seriously – after all we’re making music here it’s supposed to be fun and enjoyable!
This is something I’m very much continuing to explore. What things you do to help you get into the flow state when you’re performing and playing? I’d love to know, so please feel free to leave a comment below.