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Fay Guiffo

Musicians and Mindfulness (part 2)

January 10, 2020

(To read the first part of Musicians and Mindfulness, please follow the path.)

Directing with a clear mind

A year ago, I came up with an ambitious idea. I wanted to create a film based on the music composition that I wrote, Queen of Hearts. This project implied that I co-lead and work with artists from different backgrounds (filmmakers, actors, dancers/choreographers, musicians…). This adventure was a real challenge for me because I had to step out of my comfort zone several times. It was the first time I composed a music for a film, first time I had the role of a film director/producer and first time I collaborated with so many different artists.  Since it was a long creative process, I felt impatient during multiple occasions: the composition took months before I was satisfied, the script evolved many times before the co-writer and co-director Victoria Jones and I agreed on the last version, finding people to help us with the choreography was difficult, financial considerations were also an issue… There were many occasions for me to feel negative feelings and to take fast and wrong decisions during the process. I believe that, thanks to meditation, I could manage my stress and take a step back to re-balance my emotions. I understood that when it’s about building and producing a weighty creation, planning with a clear mind is utterly important. When I felt that my thoughts were blurred, I had the patience of putting problems aside, so I could go back later and take the proper decision. Thus, Zazen taught me how to be more reflective. This experience confirmed what researchers discovered about Buddhist meditators. Indeed, meditation practitioner develop the ability to ‘uncouple negative emotional reactions from their behaviour’ (Downar et al, 2011). As a result, a regular practice of the mindfulness meditation has a positive impact on human decision-making.


Final words...


                As I felt the necessity to manage my negative emotions, I discovered how useful meditation practice could be. By committing to Zazen meditation, I have evolved as a person and as an artist. It allowed me to develop artistic qualities such as focusing on my music practice with more consistency. I have learnt a powerful technique to clear my mind when I need to. I can manage my anxiety and negative feelings more easily. Furthermore, I improved my skills as a leader by getting better at decision-making.

Thanks to this experiment, it becomes clear for me that students, musicians, and artists in general would all benefit from committing to mindfulness practice. This is not just about performing at a better level, but also about being happier in our artistic and personal life. As a result of doing this research, I decided to dig more into mindfulness practices and relaxation techniques. Finally, I encourage my colleagues to explore meditation and to infuse some elements of mindfulness into their teaching and performing practice. They might discover new ways to engaged in a healthy and fruitful artistic journey.




Bouddhisme Zen Sôtô Ryumon-Jizazen. (2016). Le film - Pratique du Zen dans un temple bouddhiste. Available at : https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=11&v=zFhJptNnum8 [Accessed 19/06/2019].


Cockey, L. (2008). Body, Mind and Spirit: being at one with your instrument. American Music Teacher. [Online]. 57 (6). pp.42-44. Available at https://www.jstor.org/stable/43541123. [Accessed 15/06/2019].


Downar, J., Kirk, U., and Montague, P. R. (2011). Interoception drives increased rational decision-making in meditators playing the ultimatum game. [Online]. Available at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnins.2011.00049/full . [Accessed 20/06/2019].


Koen, B. (2007). Musical Mastery and the Meditative Mind Via the GAP—Guided Attention Practice. American Music Teacher. [Online]. 56 (6). pp. 12-15 Music Teachers National Association. Available at: https://www.jstor.org/stable/43539281

[Accessed 15/06/2019]


Sieger, C. (2017). Music Performance Anxiety in Instrumental Music Students: A Multiple Case Study of Teacher Perspectives. Contributions to Music Education. [Online]. 42. p.38. Available at: https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2307/26367435. [Accessed 20/06/2019].


Sorbero, M.E., Ahluwalia, S., Reynolds, K., Lovejoy, S.L., Farris, C., Sloan, J., Miles, J.N.V., Vaughan, C.A., Kandrack, R., Apaydin, E., Colaiaco, B., Herman, P.M., (2015). Introduction. In Meditation for Depression: A Systematic Review of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Major Depressive Disorder. [Online]. RAND Corporation. pp.1-4. Available at: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7249/j.ctt19w7254.10 . [Accessed: 15/06/2019].