Holistic Music Lessons: Advanced Musician
David Eby, Music and Meditation enhancing emotional connection in performance
David Eby caught the music bug as a child of 6 when the cello rapidly became his first love. By 16 he was a soloist with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. He continued his journey as you might expect, eventually getting his MM from Indiana University, studying with significant names in the cello world and gaining a principal cello position. He was the founding cellist for a group, “Tales and Scales” that used their instruments to tell stories and were doing so inspiring people nationally across the US. In 1996 he became the founding cellist for the internationally acclaimed Pink Martini.
However, despite his incredible success and musical abilities, there were niggling doubts and wrestles in his mind and this was also effecting his physical health. The competition to always need to be the best in the musical world, the wondering how others perceive you, sitting with other orchestral players who simply ‘played the notes’ with no soul, all left him feeling empty, anxious and disheartened.
Holistic Music Lessons: Meditation and Musicians
David started a journey of enquiry and started researching yogic meditation. Rapidly he began to find an inner calm, but little was he to realise that this would also change his musical journey, both as a performer and teacher. In 2001 he took a very different turn.
He left everything to become Music Director at the Ananda Village in Northern California, with the singular opportunity to teach and direct a remarkable group of meditators. Each week they explored more deeply the realms of music, consciousness, inspiration, discovering the steps for achieving a consistently inspired performance.
Holistic Music Lessons: Meditation and Musical Performance
He described how they were able to duplicate extraordinary experiences of flow in performance—where time stands still and all that exists is the joy of the music. David talked about how this happened in practice – starting with meditation and breath at the beginning of every rehearsal. He discussed how they would stop at the end of each phrase and try to find a deeper connection with the music and then re-perform it, stop again, find a deeper connection and re-perform and so on until they really found the ‘soul’ of the music. He said how there were intonation issues initially, but that this didn’t stop audiences feel incredibly moved by the emotional and spiritual messages that were coming through in their performances, to the extent that some people even said that they could “feel the presence of God” in the room. Somehow, with the thorough listening that they were doing the intonation issues and whole quality of performance got deeper.
In 2012 he was asked to musically direct and produce the soundtrack for the film Finding Happiness featuring Elisabeth Rohm (LA Law, American Hustle). He now works in Portland where he teaches workshops for the “Inspired Musician”, sharing what he has learned through this 18-year journey into music and inspiration.
Holistic Music Lessons: Meditation for Music Students
David talks in this interview about what ‘meditation’ actually means in a practical sense and discusses what a typical 45 minute practice session might look like. He talks about ‘breath’ and ‘awareness’ as the start of every session. He connects the ‘resonance’ of the body with the ‘resonance’ of sound. He also demonstrates the difference, with a tuning fork, how a note can engage or not engage with an audience. We connect the idea of how somebody’s mood can influence a whole room and how a note travelling through air waves can similarly contain emotion and expression. We re-examine the idea of repeating a phrase or a note and trying to connect something from a ‘higher place’ with that note or phrase as part of the practice session. Finally, David talks about ending a session with a sense of gratitude for the sound produce, for the spiritual or soulful element of the lesson and for the changes or progress made. David describes no longer having an emotionally stressful connection now when he can’t do something perfectly straight away, such as a ‘shift’ on the cello.
Holistic Music Lessons: Meditation Workshops
David’s workshops include practical applications such as how to: (1) Quiet the mind and open the heart (2) Tap into increased energy and enhanced focus to avoid burnout (3) Connect more deeply with your ensemble and audience (4) Incorporate meditation into a booked schedule (5) Retrain the body and mind for optimized performance.
This offering is different from a normal meditation class in that it: (a) Specifically targets reduction of excess tension and performance anxiety. (b) Provides tools to experience the inherent inspiration within the music. (c) Combines with musical performance to create a bridge from the inner experience of the performer to the audience.
David’s interview with me was an amazing experience in itself and reading all his materials, watching all his videos, chatting with him in person, all made me realise that there’s something extra missing that I definitely need to explore in my own work too.
His TedX talk is most inspiring and I encourage you to view that at: https://www.davidebymusic.com/about-david-eby/
His website is: https://www.davidebymusic.com/
Holistic Music Lessons: The Music Student and Meditation Interview
Holistic Music Lessons
Dr Robin Harrison, the interviewer, teaches one-to-one lessons through zoom and in person in Yarm, Teesside, UK:
He teaches piano, organ, singing and vocals in all styles for all ages at all levels, right through to diplomas.
Current offer: 25% off for new students.
More interviews will be showcased over the coming weeks:
Online Music Courses
For holistic music lessons in terms of content (that incorporate aural, improvisation, harmony and much besides) explore The Maestro Online Music Course Library. These courses train ‘the whole musician’. One library membership allows you to access all courses and, very holistically, there’s a person you can email and zoom behind the series to discuss your progress or request courses specifically to your needs.