Go with the flow

In his book, Flow, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes flow as “being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.”

For a musician, flow is that wonderful feeling you get when the whole band just falls into alignment. Everyone is in the “the zone”, to use a sporting parlance.

Basketball players describe the zone as being that magical day, when you can simply do no wrong. Every move feels effortless and you simply can’t miss a shot. You see the ball in the hoop the moment it leaves your hand. It all just flows in what appears to be slow motion.

How do we find flow? What can musicians do to create an environment that encourages flow when playing music?

GET OUT OF YOUR HEAD!!!

When playing music with others, you need to get out of you own head space and into the room and listen to what’s happening around you.

All too often we’re caught up in our own parts , neglecting to listen to what the rest of the band is playing and how we fit in with the landscape.

We spend hour after hour practicing, honing our craft, at home on our own and it’s easy to stay in that mindset when we’re in a band situation.

Once in a band environment, it’s time to step out of ourselves and listen! Lock into the groove, relax and just let it all flow!

Work at integrating flow into your life at every opportunity. Simple tasks, such as washing dishes can become a flow experience if you just let go and focus on what it is you’re doing. Be like the Karate Kid. Remember Mr. Miyagi and all that “wax on, wax off”? He was teaching young Ralph how to find flow in the simplest of tasks. Just don’t start pulling out that stupid pose, yes you know the one!

The difference between a bunch of guys grinding their way through a song, all in their own worlds and a cohesive unit locked together, painting the same picture, is massive. These are the gigs when you walk off stage to comments of “you guys were so f**cking tight tonight!”

You know those moments, when you forget time and it all just feels right? That’s flow…

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