Here at BIMM Bristol, we were honoured to have celebrated English musician, producer and educator, Mark Smulian, visit us on 13th February for a fascinating and philosophical Masterclass which really caused us to look inwardly at ourselves as musicians.
His energetic and interactive workshop discussed the responsibilities a musician has to society, and the mature emotional skills used which underpin all of our performance behaviour.
Mark talked about the ‘codes of behaviour’ employed by musicians – Respect, Responsibility and Listening – and expressed that by recognising and understanding these codes, artists can improve their self confidence, advance their musicianship skills, develop their professionalism, and better acknowledge the uniqueness of their musical partners.
Mark discussed the challenges artists face having to give a fantastic performance every night to a different audience, and the difficulties improvising musicians have in trying to consistently reach ‘the Zone’ – that longed-for space where the music performed becomes ‘magical’ and creativity flows without interference. He advised that in order to grasp it, musicians must acknowledge these three codes of behaviour: they must ‘Respect’ the individuality of others and themselves; show an ongoing ‘Responsibility’ of their position as an individual within the group; and prove they are ‘Listening’ by stepping back and observing/hearing the collective as a whole as well as their self as a single ‘event’.
The Masterclass group worked with these understandings and ways to practice, and through explanation, debate and personal experience, the students discussed ways to include them in their performance. Mark also talked about how easy it is to have fun with sound when musicians experiment with improvisational ideas that fuel creativity by releasing them from playing “right and wrong” notes – in essence, teaching how to “let music lead”.
Our students came away from the Masterclass with a useful understanding of the three basic emotional patterns going on during a good music performance, and a knowledge of when and how to apply them physically, intellectually and emotionally in any musical situation.
We’d like to thank Mark for coming in to visit us and engaging our grey matter in such an interesting and practical manner.