This is the blog of Miriam Hlavaty, musician, Timani-teacher, pianist, listening guide, composer, improviser, lecturer, Nutritious Movement Restorative Exercise Specialist, book lover, tango dancer, practiser of somatic meditation plus a lot more. So what is it all about?
This blog centers around the lost art of listening
I am a musician, therefore listening is a main topic of my life. So what do I mean by “listening”?
Well, for starters there is a big difference between hearing and listening. Hearing might be said to be an automatic response when encountering soundwaves whereas listening on the other hand involves directing one’s attention towards a specific part of something we perceive.
However, today this act of directing our attention has become an endangered ability which are being increasingly threatened by the very world we live in.
Have you ever felt overwhelmed by an overload of sense-stimulation? The background music of the malls and the shops, the intertwining tunes of the cell phones, flimmering commercial banners, neon signs, flickering screens, the half muffled sounds emanating out of earplugs.
This is the world we live in today, a world where distractions are labeled as enriching experiences. A world where we spend huge sums on learning to practice mindfulness and internal silence while at the same time stuffing our environment with an ever-increasing amount of noise and distractions. In this world of distractions I am concerned with the comprehension of Music and the art of mindful focus, externaly as well as internally.
In order to comprehend music we need to be able to listen to it. To be able to listen is to be able to focus. The ability to focus is not something which we are born with, it is an acquired skill.
Improvisation and composition as a way of enhanced listening
Improvisation is an art intimately linked to listening. It has been likened to walking backwards into a new landscape: You are holding in your mind the remembrance of the music you have just made while creating fresh new roads that evolve and grow out of what has gone before. At the same time you are also aware of the future musical consequences of the current choices you are making.
A good improviser needs indeed to have a streak of schizofrenia, – an ability to split herself up and be several places at once. The difference, however, between the schizofrenic mind and the music-creating mind is that in Music there is no split-of-from-reality but rather a rising above the false perception of the limitation of time. Every choice carries with it its logical consequences according to what has gone before, like the growth pattern of a tree. But in order to perceive this while improvising we need to listen deeply and to use our listening as a way into that special state of awareness which opens up this wide-angled auditive view.
My work as composer and improviser is based on the grand piano and mostly involves extended piano techniques where the exploration of the instruments wide variety of sound-possibilities is central. This is one short improvisation:
for more: Check out my webpage here.
The embodied musician – Listening as a way of connecting with the body
For musicians the art of internal as well as external listening is an important skill to hone. No matter what our instrument might be: our initial instrument, the human body is the most advanced instrument we will ever encounter and as such it demands a thorough knowledge in order to be mastered. Timani is an approach towards this kind of mastering and consists of a physical and neurological training of our movement system. In my practice I teach Timani as well as an other system of movement-training based on bio-mechanics called Nutritious Movement. Topics from these two systems will also be addressed here on this blog, as well as thoughts concerning the term “embodiment”.
Thanks for stopping by and feel free to leave a trace!
Wish to see more of what I do? Check out my webpage: www.thelisteningexperience.com