Be More Creative!
Are you a creative person? Do you write, draw, plant gardens, or make music?
Have you ever wanted to level up your creative output but weren’t sure how to do it without sacrificing your wellness or free time?
Your creativity is a reflection of your wellness and soul; start a simple system that help you find your creative flow.
Listen in as we talk about how you can develop a mindset to help you feel inspired to create. You’ll also get tips for the best mindset to use during your creative burst. You will also get a short and sweet sample of a quick routine you can do to prep your body and mind to feel joyful and to harness you max creative power.
Since I’m a “Clarinerd” we use music as a specific example in this episode; I also use all this stuff to help my writing, too! We are all creative and express this in different ways, take these ideas and run with them!
Let’s get creating!
Here’s the breakdown of how to amp up your creativity.
1. Remember your “why”
Spend a little time thinking about why you play music, or draw, or write, or *insert your creative awesomeness here*
Write it out! Do you play for fun? Personal expression? To support a social justice cause? Because you love color?
Whatever your reason for your creative passion, write a short declarative statement.
Reminding yourself of your higher vision will pull your creativity forward. By aiming towards your highest ambition, you are primed to have focus and joy. Train yourself to think at this high level of aspiration.
2. Set your mindset!
Before your creative practice, tell yourself that you are going to be “curious and playful.” With a curious mindset the possibilities are endless!
For example, if you’re a musician, think of the first minutes of your practice session like an experiment. Check out what’s going on, be curious about how the instrument feels for you that day, be playful in shifting it towards your ideal state.
Having a curious and playful mindset means that you can explore your music and bring the joy!
3. Do a short physical and mental warm up.
Keep this short and sweet. You just want to get moving a little bit in order to let your creativity flow.
I guide a simple, seated practice at 14:45 in the video-check it out and observe what happens for you.
Keep the flow!
Full Transcript-minus the clarinet playing 😂
Hello, and welcome to The Gita Brown Show, bringing harmony into everyday life. Today, guess what? We are talking about how to amp up your music performance. I'm Gita, and we are here to give you lots of inspired guidance and practical tips. If you're a musician, obviously this session is for you. But, this really stands in for my writer friends, too, my artists, my visual artists, anyone who is asking their body to be of service and creating art. This episode is designed for you. You will find guidance and inspiration.
So, I'm Gita, obviously. I'm a clarinetist, obviously. I'm also a yoga teacher, and I've been doing that almost as long as I've been playing the clarinet. I help creative people from all walks of life to develop a holistic lifestyle that supports their peace, health, and joy. I love to play this little thing, too. It's kind of a cool instrument. Check it out. Aw. Can you see the little bluebirds of happiness floating around?
So if you're watching this, I'm guessing most likely you are one of my musician peeps out there, maybe a singer, especially you instrumentalists. And I'm wondering if you've ever been burned out, or I'm wondering if you've ever had a crippling case, please nod your head if you had, of performance anxiety, or where you've just had some nerves on stage that can have got in the way of your performance, or you've been lacking the joy. Maybe you're a freelance musician, and you're on tour, and you love what you do, but there's part of you that's like, "Wow. This is such hard work." It's kind of the joy is leaching out of the bottom end of your playing. If you're in any of those situations ... Or maybe you're doing really great right now. You're on the audition circuit and things are going really well, and you want to keep that momentum. I just want to note, wherever you are, there's always a way to just go one little notch higher. There's always a way to get a little closer to where your instrument, or your voice, or your art is really a reflection of who you really are, your soul, and also, if you're a musician, like playing Bach, that you're also combining with that great tradition and history to bring new life into that.
Just, I'm going to show you some really cool things in a minute that are really tangible, but I want to just kind of inspire you for a minute if you're a musician, hopefully inspire you. Just remember the why for a moment. Most of us got into playing these things. I picked the clarinet because it could play really loud. I started on violin, and it was ... I was kind of doing lightly row thing (singing) scratch, scratch, scratch. Just not really inspired. Then, I went to hear my sister, who's four years older, playing in the band. The band was booming, and clanging, and banging, and loud, and I went, "Whoa, that is what I want to do." Luckily, I had a band director who put this thing in my hands and I never looked back ever since.
Most of us got into music with some little spark like that. There was some moment that we went like, "Oh, wow. This is fun!" A lot of times, especially if you're professional, we can forget that fun a little bit. We forget to nurture things every day when we practice that connect us to that fun and that creativity. So I'm going to show you a little bit of that in a minute. But remember that out of that initial joy of why you started doing music, remember also the larger purpose of what music does in our society. We as musicians serve such a vital role, and often we don't reflect on it or even stop to think about it.
Number one, we reflect the times that we're in. All the art, all the songs you're writing right now, everything you're playing, all the new compositions that are occurring are reflecting these moments in time in the 21st century. The art we're creating right now is what they're going to look at a hundred years from now to figure out what were those people thinking at the turn of the 21st century. What was going on in their heads? People look to the art of the time to give them a sense of what humanity was going through. That is a big responsibility and an honor, and you are part of that tradition. That is really cool and reason enough to get fired up when you're practicing.
Musicians, also, we just bring the joy. You can be busking on a street corner in New York, as one of my clarinet friends does, hops on the subway and plays for people for fun. You're bringing the joy to people's lives, right? That cannot be underestimated. Life is hard. And we as the joy bringers, that is valuable. It is so important the work that you're doing. We entertain. That's really important. If you're a music therapist, I happen to be a music therapist, boy, we know how much you help heal the world. And yes, I will use that word heal. Absolutely heal the world. Help bring community together and foster communication. Beautiful things.
So remember, your work as a musician, as an artist or writer, visual artists is important. You're the bellwether of the times, you are the representative of the times, and you are the keeper of the beating heart of society. That's your job, and also to bring the joy. So if you want to rise up to that level of impact and influence you can have on your community and you want to play with your full expression and have fun doing it, there's some things you need to start doing today that are going to help you level up your musical performance.
I've been playing this little guy. How long have we been together? Not this specific clarinet, but the clarinet. I've been playing this guy for about, let's see, 31, 32, 33. More than 30 years. Let's just say that. And I've been teaching almost that long. I started teaching when I was in high school. Yeah, I've been playing clarinet ... Okay, honestly, it's been 35 years. I've been teaching for about 30 years.
And I can tell you the number one limiting factor that people have in reaching their artistic development and potential, both technically and as artists, like on expression, the number one limiting factor that all of y'all have, I'm going to say it, every single one of you have, if you're not doing this, your limiting factor is that you haven't developed mental and physical mastery. I'm not talking about the instrument. I'm going to even set it down for a moment because I'm not talking about what you do out there and I'm not talking about the voice that you sing with. I'm talking about your mental preparation and your physical preparation before you ever play the first note. That is your greatest limiting factor. If you are not attending to the thoughts that are in your head and you're not preparing your body, like an Olympian athlete does, to play your particular instrument or make your art, you are always going to be limited in your growth and your potential to have your full artistic voice shining. You're playing with half a deck, my friends.
I've seen musicians get away with it for kind of a long time, but at some point injuries creeping. At some point, burnout creeps in. At some point, they just get disgruntled and turned off from the whole thing and they quit and do something else. I see them doing it, and they're robots out here playing in a major symphony, but there's no joy. There's no heart. There's no connection. They've limited their ability to impact because they haven't taken care of their mental preparation and especially their physical instrument preparation before they come to their instrument or release their voice.
So chasing after improved technique out here is a losing game. You're not going to get there unless you nourish the fullness of your mental and physical self before you play a first note. One of my ... Well, actually, let me give you this analogy. Trying to become a great musician or just the greatest musician you can be, whatever that means for you, without nourishing your mental and physical body is kind of like trying to grow tomatoes in sand. You might get a little tomato and be like, "Okay, I grew a tomato," but it's not going to be the same as if you grew it in fertile soil with lots of sun, and lots of water, and lots of nourishment. It's just not going to be the same result. So what kind of tomato do you want to be? That's a really weird analogy. Who wants to be a tomato?
But, one of my great teachers, Deborah Chodacki ... Deb, if you're watching, hello. She's now currently down at LSU teaching the clarinet studio there, formerly of Interlochen Center for the Arts, and University of Michigan, and lots of other great schools. She's a fantastic clarinetist, and she says to me, "Yeah, I can pretty much tell if the clarinetist is going to be able to play before they even play their first note. I can tell by the way they sit in the chair. I can tell by the way that they compose themselves. I can tell by how they're thinking of the piece before they even play it. And I can tell by the quality of their inhalation what their playing is going to be like."
So, I hope I've inspired you to warm up before you warm up. But you need a systematic set of practices that are going to help you get in the flow. I think I've been doing this long enough that I feel like picking up the clarinet is just like breathing for me. I can just someone hands it to me, and I can just be there and play. I'm just kind of there. These guys in the studio, they can attest I warmed up for like all of like 30 seconds before I played today. My reed is super dry. It's like an old reed. But I'm just kind of living in the flow, so coming to the instrument is just like a natural extension of who I am.
Let me teach you a little bit of how you can train yourself with this mental and physical preparation before you come to your instrument, or your voice, or throwing paint on the canvas so at that moment that you have to literally breathe inspiration into your art you're already there. Everything's already been taken care of, and now you can truly just play like you did when you're a kid. Play. Have fun.
So first of all, I like to run all of my clarinet students through this. We usually do it on a big whiteboard and all of that. But just imagine, if you will, before I start practicing every single day, I remember the why. I literally put this on a sheet of paper. If I had a whiteboard behind me, I'd put it on there. Why? Why am I practicing? And no, no, no, no. I'm not talking about a practice journal where you're getting like, "On measure 72 of the Bach, I need to get it to 120 beats per minute." No. I'm talking about the greater why.
Your why might be to play at my nephew's wedding. Your why might be to win the audition. Your why might be to land that coveted gig with that pop singer. Your why might be to get Taylor Swift to sing my song. I don't know. Whatever your why is, you write it down, like that bigger mission so that at every practice you are reminding yourself of that higher vision because that will pull your technique forward. That will pull your motivation forward, and that will prime your mind the way Olympic athletes think about a race. They see themselves winning it, right? You have to train yourself to think at that higher level of aspiration. So remember your why. Put that there.
Then, kind of go through your mind for a moment and think mindset. I put why on the board. Then underneath that I put mind with a question mark. And what is your mindset? This is that you want to set your mindset for your practice. Here's the one I use that my students use, and it's just really fun. Curious. That's it. Be curious. Sometimes we add and be aware. Because if you're curious and aware, then a warm-up becomes something like, "Ah, let's see what happens," instead of reacting to the instrument, and reacting in fear, and trying to control the notes and make the Bach happen. Like, "Let me be curious. Let's see. Is this reed going to speak today? Am I going to be able to play the Bach?" Let's just be interested in curious. It's like exploring things rather than trying to control them, all right?
So remember your big why, and then set your mindset for your practice. Curious. I like to just be aware. Oh, my shoulder is tense. Oh, my jaw is clenching. Oh, my fingers feel stiff. And when I'm aware, then I can sort of shift things. I move out of trying to control the art, and I get out of the way, and I let it happen more. So you got your why, you've got your mindset of being curious and aware, and then you've got this whole body thing that you might want to help out a little bit. So many times we're coming in from all kinds of crazy things and expecting to put the instrument together or stand there and then all of a sudden create art, or all of a sudden focus, or all of a sudden play a really complicated passage of Bach, and that's kind of ridiculous.
What if you took five minutes at the beginning of your practice to kind of work out the kinks? Maybe you've been hunched over a computer writing a grant. Maybe you've been on a tour bus and sleeping all cramped up and awkward. Maybe you've been rushing through your day at high school or you've been sitting in finals or something and your body's just crimped. How are you going to be able to fully let your body support your art if you're all tense, and tight, and have horrible posture? But we often, especially instrumentalists, I am looking at you, y'all skip this step all the time. You're over there trying to play like this and can't even make it through a phrase in music. So taking five minutes actually to step back and warm up the body will get you that much more productivity. You will get that five minutes back tenfold.
Every time my students skip their warm-up, they look at me, especially if they've been doing it like six months, they look at me and they go, "Oh my gosh. I have no air support. My sound is horrible. Can we stop and really warm up again?" They start to notice the difference.
So let me just show you right now. You don't have to believe me. Let's just experiment. Try this at your next practice. Kind of chart it over like a month or so. Just do it, and don't do it, and do it, and don't do. Just observe what happens for you. Find out what your body needs to prepare for music.
I'm going to show you a few things that I do right now. It's really simple, guys. I have headphones on. I'm like attached to wires. There's a mic. I've got a dress on. I have heels on. You can do this anywhere. You could even do this on a tour bus. One of the number one things I do is to make some space. I'm going to actually throw my net up here. Then, I'm going to play a little bit more in a minute. Can't wait.
One of the number one things you can do is to make a little space in your body for your breath. Want to see the easiest thing ever to warm up? You just inhale the arms up. Then, you flip the palms, exhale the arms down. Really important to link the body and the mind in this because you're kind of trying to shift from all that doing, doing, doing, doing, and to sort of being and flowing with your instrument. So you just inhale up, and then you exhale down. Please do these at your own pace because I don't want to control your breath out there. Your breath might be a lot faster. It might be a lot slower. Just giving you some ideas here. So flow with your own pace
Then, you can inhale up. I love this one. Imagine there's a string on the top of your head. And as your arms go down, that string on the top of your head is pulling your head up, up, up, up, up, up, up, up, up. It really helps if you close your eyes. Let's do one more. So you just inhale up, flip the palms, exhale the arms down, and let the crown of the head just start to float up and get some length in there. Oh, that feels so good. I have to do one more. Inhale up, exhale, flip the poems, and go down. You know what you do when you're doing that, especially wind players? Your rib cage moves like this. Your ribs don't spread apart all the time when you're breathing. Very minutely they do. It goes like this. So when you pull your arms up like that, you're making more space for the breath to come in. You are improving your breath endurance without even trying. You're also warming up all that connective tissue and all those muscles.
Now, you got some sides of the body. I'm guessing you probably sit a lot if you're a human in the 21st century, so let's stretch up those sides and make space. You just inhale one arm up and overhead, and then reach up and out like you're just trying to touch the place where the wall and the ceiling meet. So you're not crunching over, but you're reaching up and out feeling that stretch all the way from the hip, all the way through the side body, all the way through the arms. You might be way over or you might just be over a little bit, especially if you're injured. Just relax. It should feel good. Take a breath in, and then really smoothly exhale, like full complete exhale. On the next inhale, like a string is attached to this finger, it's pulling you up. Then, just let that arm sweep out and down and just release all tension.
[inaudible 00:17:42]. I feel better already. I've done like two and a half stretches. No, one and a half. Inhale, this arm up, and then just nice, reaching up and out. So it's like you're trying to make space in this side body here. Again, no hunchy-onechies. Reach up and out. Let your hips relax. Full energy. Notice my fingertips are reaching. Maybe they can see that, maybe they can't. Take a breath in, and out. Just kind of relax. Then, inhale up, and then release that arm. As I release that arm down, I just let it completely drop.
Now, a lot of times, think if you're a violinist, think if you're a flutist, think if you're playing trombone, think if you're on stage and you like to dance and move all around, you need to get your torso loose and free. Us clarinet players, we like to do this kind of thing, so let's do like a little twist to kind of get the spine into a nice alignment. So you inhale, exhale, turn the belly button to the right, the chest to the right, the shoulders to the right. I'm going to turn my head. You might lose my voice, but just follow me. And then you come back, head, shoulders, torso.
Then, go the other way. Belly button goes to the left. Ribs go to the left. Shoulders go to the left. Then, your head looks over left, too. Opposite arm to opposite knee. This hand can be on the chair, on your back, wherever feels good. Just a little twist. Then, you just come back to center. Then, do that same breath you started with. Inhale up, and exhale down. Now get your feet in a really comfortable position. Find your feet on the floor so you're well grounded there. Your ankles are under your knees. Your hips are in line. Excuse me, your knees are in line with your hips. Then from there, your whole body can stack. Just kind of sit for a moment and kind of relax.
Do a little mental scan. Is there anywhere in your body that still is holding a lot of tension? Just send a little mental message there like, "Hey, hips. Relax a little bit. Hey, shoulders. Relax." The more you relax, the more you can connect. I'll usually do something like that. This a really mini class for you guys, like five, sometimes 10 minutes before I practice. Every time I do it, my practice productivity goes up. My breath support goes up. In fact, right now, I feel so ready to play I cannot contain it.
Then, I take it even to when I'm warming up. I feel like, "Oh, yeah. There's some shoulder tension there. Let me relax." Move a little bit. Let the body, and the breath, and the warm-up kind of arise out of your awareness of your body.
The whole point for a warm-up is not that it sounds great and sounds awesome, right? It's that you're curious, that you're aware, that you're curious and you're aware. Because from there you can shape anything. What I noticed in my body is that playing versus the playing I did at the beginning, I felt warm from the inside out. I felt like my breath was like this barrel of breath that I could just tap into. Before, it felt a little more effortful, like I was trying to play. And now, it just sort of ... It happened. It happened. I could feel that I could just sort of shape things really easily. Also, my fingers were like ... They were just flying, and I didn't have to really force them to move. That was just like a warm-up with like cameras, and lights, and people watching me in the booth. A very weird situation to be doing a music warm-up. So imagine if you did that every day. Ever day you were training your curiosity and awareness.
So my friends, if you're a musician, if you're an artist, if you're a writer ... Writer people, I'm a writer, too. We can be lazy. We sit a lot. Get up and move around. Do a little mental check-in before you practice. Remember your bigger why. Why am I in this career? Why do I do this as a hobby? Why do I care about putting myself up on stage and playing this music in front of people and risking critique, and judgment, and feeling vulnerable? Remember your why. Then, set your mindset for your practice. I'm going to be curious. I'm going to be aware. Maybe even throw in playful there. Why not? Couldn't hurt.
Then, do a little moving and breathing to really get your body and your mind set for that practice so by the time you practice or you step on stage everything in your being is engaged so that you can get to that next level of your artistic level and growth. Because remember, we're talking about how to amp up your musical performance here. If you liked that little taste, that little mini class I gave you ... It was like super mini. Can we call it super mini? Like one of those little junior cones you get. Just a little taste. I have a whole series of warm-ups, like the warm-up before you warm up series. Just hop over to my website, gitabrown.com. I have warm-ups for every occasion, for when you're extremely tired and you can't even practice, but you need to do something. I have warm-ups for when your nerves are going crazy. I have warm-ups for just your everyday practice. I have warm-ups for wind players, specific stuff for different instruments. Just check it out. You might find some stuff there that's really helpful.
If not that, go take some yoga or some Tai-Chi, especially with a teacher that is teaching you how to be aware of your own body, not yoga that's pushing you, and getting beyond your limits, and always striving to do fancy, complicated things, but yoga that's a little more gentle and inward because you have to train your awareness to observe your body so that you can flow with your music. Make sense? So do some warm-ups to amp up your musical performance. To amp up your musical performance. Let's use a rhythm. Train your mind. Train your body to be in the flow.
So, my friends, I hope you liked that. That was really fun for me. I think I'm going to have to bring my clarinet back, unless y'all tell me you hate it, in which case I won't ever. So let me know. Drop a comment. We're going to close with a chance for peace because, of course, I'm a yoga teacher and we got to wrap up this session of high performance for musicians with a little chance for peace. I'll give you the English translation afterwards. If you're a musician, chant along with me. It repeats three times. It's easy. Goes like this. Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu Can't hear you. Lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu . Third time's a little different. Lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu .. It means may the entire universe and you, my dear artist friend, be filled with peace and joy, love and light, om shanti, shanti, shanti. Peace to you.
So if you liked this, please share it with a friend. Maybe you have a musician friend who would like it. Or even better, hop over ... Not even better, but pretty nice, too. Hop on over to my website, gitabrown.com. We've got all kinds of resources for musicians there, warm up series. I have a deep relaxation series coming on the way and a whole yoga for musicians course coming in 2020 which will be so fun. Please give me a shout out on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook. I would love to see you there and hear about your musical progress, and what you're working on, and how the flow state is working for you. Please, please be in touch. I would love to hear from you. You can find me at Gita C. Brown.
Okay, my friends, be well. Om shanti, shanti, shanti. Keep playing.