Unintentional Music

Imagine you have practiced a piece of music well and want to play it to someone. You have really practised it √† fond, but suddenly feel insecure. Your piece does not sound the way you are used to. Of course, you get annoyed while you are playing and try hard to pretend that nothing is wrong. Alone, it will not succeed. Do you know this? For the next audition, you plan to prepare yourself even better, maybe do some relaxation exercises beforehand and collect yourself even better. These are good ideas and maybe it will work this way, maybe not. If it still doesn’t work, you could try something completely different: Do you remember how it was during the game? What bothered you? What was not like usual? If you have found something, allow yourself to experience it again. Let’s call it stage fright symptom. Explore it, leave out your judgement for the time being and take an interest in exactly this symptom. Maybe a paralysis of the muscles, maybe a cramp, maybe you had a blank spot in your head… There are countless types of stage fright. Amplify what you’re experiencing and let the symptom play out. Enjoy being different, even if it is still strange and incomprehensible to you at the moment. Maybe you will find a special energy that you missed during foreplay and that knocks at your door as stage fright. Maybe you could show more of this energy. Maybe it is important for the listeners to experience this energy, maybe you have been afraid to show it. You have already changed a little bit through the unfolding of the stage fright. Your identity has widened somewhat. This is a small example of how Unintentional Music explores the path to new qualities.

A practical example
In one piano lesson Claudia played a movement from a Bach suite for piano. At some points I saw that her arms moved differently than usual: short signals of larger movements that included the upper arm. Interpreting this, I would probably have said that you play more freely there. This was also part of my hypothesis that there might be a piece of freedom behind these short movement signals. However, as we will see, the process revealed a very personal theme, which I probably would not have been able to come across without Unintentional Music. Claudia reacted to my neutral description with interest. I invited her to try to make more such movements on purpose. In doing so, an important process emerged from the shadows. On the one hand she liked to let her arms fly just like that. On the other hand she was unhappy with the sound result and thought it sounded ugly. Again I suggested to do the unintentional on purpose and to play ugly on purpose. She laughed and could hardly believe that such a thing could go well. Nevertheless she agreed to try the impossible. What did we hear? We heard nothing ugly at all, but a liberated play with musical verve. Claudia enjoyed playing like that, but then became pensive, which gave us the opportunity to think about freedom in playing. This hour had an effect. Claudia made the experience that music does not become ugly when she feels free. 

What’s different if I use the process-oriented intervention instead of just saying, “Play freer.” Can’t she have the same experience? Of course she can, and I practice this again and again in class. But there is also the other way, which goes deeper and brings something fundamental to the surface. Claudia looked down when she became so thoughtful about her “ugly” game. The look down showed me an important and meaningful reaction. The lowering of the gaze, a common reaction during the process work, made me wait, Claudia seemed to be busy with herself. The following conversation made it clear that Claudia was thinking about her handling of freedom, also about her idea of how music should sound. It was not the first time that we talked about her musical ideas. Through this work she realized that it was now time for her to take more freedom in her musical work if she wanted to develop further. Now this topic came up without me bringing it up. The course of the process washed it to the surface. The difference to a mere instruction was that Claudia was able to find out the way to freedom herself through the process-oriented version. The process showed her that freedom does not necessarily have to be connected with ugliness, as she initially believed. It also showed her her personal approach to freedom in the game. For her, this access led through the channel of movement. From now on she could apply this knowledge independently: Identification with the ugly game transforms perception: the game is now perceived as liberated. The game is not ugly, but free and flowing. Claudia feels bolder, more independent, freer. It’s fun to simply play without feeling the pressure of the aesthetic framework constantly on the back of her neck.     

Solution and task: Check the handling of aesthetics: Have I been restricted by aesthetic ideas in the past rather than being opened up to be an adequate channel for the messages of music? Examination of my freedom or rather constraint towards style and playing traditions of music: Is it time to reorient myself? How do I deal with pleasure and fun in life in general?                                                                                  

The examples show: Like is solved with like. Musical homeopathy ? In a certain way, unintentional music can actually be understood as homeopathy[i]. Instead of fighting against something, this way of working is simply interested in what happens anyway. As a musician I follow the disturbances and surprises that appear as short signals and allow them to unfold. I follow the process that leads me to new qualities, to new qualities. Qualities that I have perhaps forgotten or with which I have not yet been able to identify. In this way I discover new facets of my music and my personality. Working with Unintentional Music is a path of constant new discoveries and changes that are able to transform myself, my music and my environment.

The roots of Unintentional Music
The ground on which Unintentional Music is founded is the process work of Arnold Mindell. Lane Arye, a singer/songwriter and process worker who works worldwide, has researched and developed this method in music. His book Unintentional Music is the basic work for process-oriented work with music. I studied this method for years with Lane Arye and have been working independently as an Unintentional Music Coach and Facilitator for over 10 years. Unintentional Music is a powerful way to work on musical and personal issues simultaneously. This way of working accompanies me today through my everyday musical life, be it improvising, working on works, teaching, or even in courses: Everywhere I go, signals appear that point to a deeper process. To perceive these signals and to unfold underlying, often surprising qualities is always something exciting and inspiring. Anything unintentional is a gateway to extraordinary and touching experiences with the result that we come more and more into contact with the mystery of music and our own constant change. You can download my work on the inclusion of unintentional music in instrumental lessons and in practical everyday life as a musician here

[i] Arnold Mindell Dreambody, Bonz 1985, II:2

Lehrerin Natur