“I’m a football man.” Says Sir Alex Ferguson, retired manager of the English Premier League soccer team Manchester Untied- arguably the greatest championship franchise in sports (for the record I’m a Liverpool FC fan.). This statement was in response to a question asking how to deal with all of the publicity of the team, players, politics, money, fans, etc. This statement strikes me deep. Mr. Ferguson is articulating the exact point of how he became the most successful manager of all time. His ability to maintain focus on the simple playful transcendence of the craft he loves and all it delivers in the human experience is the key to success. Being distracted by the fringes of politics and the ‘show biz’ of any craft only distances one away from divine performance and the goal (no pun intended) one truly seeks.
“I’m a music man.”
As a professional performer being a consummate artist is part and parcel. Understanding and negotiating relationships, political ties, finance, presentation, and emotional intelligence is all part of being a professional artist. But what about craft? How is that affected? My output? What about the transcendence of music? What about my individual, expressive, therapeutic outlet? Remaining focused and connected to the divinity of the experience of being a performing artist is key. That connection can be a struggle at times. The path is growth. Growth is what is natural. The start of that path is focus. When we do not grow, not only are we in cross with nature, but also the artist in us starts to die. When that artist dies we are at the whim of our surroundings and toiles, and far away from the creative drive that propels us. We lose our touch with the divinity of what we are meant to do, and what we are ultimately expected to deliver as performers. Practice, practice, practice… No matter how busy working I may be at times, I must find creative and technical practice time. My instrument speaks to me… Am I forcing? Am I unfocused? Am I impatient? Am I struggling with something outside of my playing affecting my performance et al? I find this only in the solitude of practice. The instrument answers these questions. I am then reminded what my work is truly about, returning to the stage anew- undistracted, playful transcendence.