Channeling Your Genius

Posted: December 7, 2011 by phanson in Tips & Tricks

Screen Shot 2014-12-13 at 9.52.18 AMI just saw an amazing talk at by writer Elizabeth Gilbert. She had so many interesting things to say about creativity! She described, back in Roman times a genius was considered a guiding spirit that kind of, channeled through you. That’s were the idea of a genie granting wishes came from. Only later, in the middle ages, when someone did what was considered genius work, was the work considered authored by the person himself.

This remindes me of a talk I saw years ago at Musicians Institute by Kenny Werner, a great jazz musician and composer. Kenny suggested while you’re performing, to let God, or a higher spirit flow through you and your instrument, let him be in control of your playing.

I’ve wanted to buy Kenny’s book Effortless Mastery ever since I saw him back in the early 90′s so today I went to Amazon and bought it. I recalled Kenny also talked about how our western education doesn’t work very well, it’s kind of like a factory assembly line. This is not how we learn best, he said the eastern way is better. For example, when learning Kung Fu, you work on one thing for a long time, master it, then you move on to the next thing. Our modern school’s methods cram so much material into us at a time that we don’t get a chance to digest it.

Back to channeling a spirit. By letting God or a spiritual Deity flow through you, and by letting him do the playing, you’re not the one creating the music, you’re not responsible! So, you don’t feel bad if you didn’t play great, and you don’t take credit if you did play great. This takes the pressure off, you just play, no ego, no pretentiousness. And then you shine, because you’re relaxed doing what you practiced! Btw, you still have to practice.

You know that feeling when you’re playing a gig or at rehearsal and someone important comes in that you want to impress, a manager, booking agent, or that girl you like? At this moment you become self-conscious and you play worse, right? It’s sure happened to me, and if you’re normal, it’s happened to you too.

Letting this higher spirit flow through you is about losing self-consciousness, and letting the music flow. Kenny calls it “the Space”. Elizabeth suggests that any creativity that you have, is just on loan to you anyway. Really, everything’s on loan to us, we’re only on this planet a short time. Elizabeth is a writer and author but I’ll bet you’ll appreciate her talk at the link below and find that her ideas apply to your music and your playing. Thanks Elizabeth and Kenny!



  1. rbarber says:

    Very, very interesting. Thank you.

  2. lapinmort says:

    I think that was the whole point of Jimi Hendrix’ Purple Haze.
    On a more serious note, I play better when my mind is in a relaxed state. My fingers loosen up, and I don’t grip too hard. When I’m not relaxed, I have to make a conscious effort to loosen up and that gets in the way.

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