Mary Knysh wrote this article for the Fall 2015 issue of Connections where she shares how our participation in the creative arts can lead to both personal and creative transformation. Such an important topic that I wanted to share it with the larger community. — Jan Hittle, MfP Webmaster
As another autumn season approaches, the Music for People (MfP) community is looking forward to entering our 30th year of sharing this amazing work in the world. I can still remember the first time I met David Darling and experienced this creative play. I felt as if I had discovered my people for the first time and knew I had to be a part of this. For the past 25 years, I have been most honored to continue to be actively engaged in spreading MfP across the globe. David Darling has given us a most incredible body of creative work to share and I thank him and each and every one of you for your continued engagement and support.
I have experienced and believe in the transformative power of this work. My commitment to carry the joy of music improvisation to all ages and communities has brought me all over the world to guide and mentor others. As you know, the Musicianship and Leadership Program staff has changed over these past 30 years; each evolution bringing us new focus and energy.
I am very curious about creativity and the process of transformation…. Over the past several years I have been exploring reference points that capture the essence of optimal, positive change and growth.Mary KnyshThis fall I will step into the organization as the MLP Chairperson. My goal is to work with the MLP staff in order to support a Musicianship and Leadership Program (MLP) that meets the changing needs of our community, a program that inspires our members to carry this work out into their lives and communities in new and innovative ways.
I am very curious about creativity and the process of transformation, both on a personal and an organizational level. Over the past several years I have been exploring reference points that capture the essence of optimal, positive change and growth. As we move forward as an organization, I hope you will consider these steps as a roadmap to our future.
Everything that we do in Music for People (and life) requires us to become completely present and listen. David always reminded us to honor the silence and to see it as our friend. It truly is in the silence that we can discover or rediscover the depth of possibility. In a quiet and reflective state of mind, so much of the beauty that lives within is revealed. I believe that this active form of listening is truly the way in which we can connect to the genius that lives within each of us.
Once we have taken the time to listen and become in tune with our deep inner resources, we naturally want to reach out and connect with others. Life is always so much better when we can share the experience. When I consider the beautiful structures that David shared with us over the years, they were always based upon listening and then connecting with that which lives within. One quality sound (take a breath-connect and share your sound) is a perfect example of the simplicity of taking a breath and the extraordinary sound that can emerge, effortless perfection!
I have always felt that one of the most profound aspects of the MfP creative work is the way in which complete strangers could embark upon an ensemble experience and immediately be in complete and direct communication with one another through their music. Music is one of the most powerful forms of communication available to human beings and yet there seems to be so few places to access and explore it in our lives. Not only can we share with others on a deeply profound level, but we also have the unique and incredible opportunity to listen to others as they share.
As in any process, once the basic foundations are in place, (listening, connecting and communicating) we can begin to collaborate and create together. It has been a stunning gift to witness all kinds of ensembles creating together over the years! Ensembles that include a range of experience levels from beginner to professional can sit down together and embark upon an exciting musical adventure together. The results are always fresh and new, never to be recreated again in exactly the same way. This is music and life at its best, always innovative and alive with each new moment.
In the midst of this creative process, we cannot help but discover new ideas and find inspiration from both what surprisingly emerges from ourselves and from what we are hearing and responding to in others. It brings me back to the mantra that David shared with me the first time I met him. The sheer WONDER of it all, to be amazed at all this beauty. It is this very inspiration that has kept me coming back to this work year after year that has truly changed my life in more ways that I can even know!
At the end of the process is the transformation that takes place within each of us. We walk away from the experience and gain new perspective concerning ourselves and those around us. We begin to trust the fact that the only thing we can really count on in life is that life is always changing. Although that sounds perplexing and somewhat precarious, we can become comfortable with improvisation, change and this creative process and move ahead in life knowing that opportunity, growth and wonder are always as close as the next breath.
So join me in taking a breath, bringing our hands up high in the air and releasing to the next phase of our MfP organization, believing in the profound power of transformation and this brilliant body of work lovingly gifted to us by David Darling so many years ago.
Published in Connections – Fall 2015