Yesterday I attended an excellent workshop in Bristol called: “Treating context-blindness: How to enlarge people’s perspective“. It was run by Ezra Hewing from the Human Givens College and provided a fascinating insight into some of the mechanisms which sometimes limit our perception, understanding and effectiveness in the world.
Detail or Big Picture?
The workshop tackled the age old question: “When is it more important to focus on the detail rather than the bigger picture? – and what can limit our ability to see the big picture?” This is the whole question of context. We all know that attention to detail is essential to success in any task which has more than trivial complexity. But we also know what can happen when we get so bogged down in the details that we fail to notice the time and realise we are about to miss either the train or an important meeting. It is such a common problem for human beings that we have a metaphor for it: “failing to see the wood for the trees.“
It is clear that in order to live balanced and healthy lives, we constantly need to shift our attention between the wider context and the details, back and forth. Some people on the autistic spectrum (including those with Aspergers Syndrome) and those suffering from depression and mania (for example Bipolar Disorder) struggle to maintain a balance between these extremes.
Relevance to music
What I found particularly interesting was the insight it gave me about my own particular passion – music. Some of you reading this blog will know that I am a keen guitarist with a passion for live performance. In my work I spend many hours with people who, for whatever reason, are struggling to cope with life. My antidote, and what I sometimes consider is what keeps me sane, is the solace I find in playing guitar.
So what specific skills do you need to be successful when playing music to a live audience? Well, apart from some ability, a keen interest and a lot of practice?
In order to excel in live performance I suggest that you need to be able to listen to the overall sound that the band is making, as well as the audience’s reaction to it – in order words, you need to place your attention on percieving the big picture or wider context. But you also need to focus on the fine detail of playing the right notes, and hopefully, both in the right order and also at the right time. It takes practice to be able to split your attention in order to be able to do both of these things well at the same time. Mastering this aspect of live performance requires being able to see the whole forest as well as being able to inspect the grain of the wood in the tree. Perhaps this is one of the reasons that I find myself drawn to stretching myself in this way.
Good News for 2014
The good news for me in 2014 is that I now have regular gigs with Soulville Express – a soul / dance band based in Glastonbury. The good news for our clients is that I will be able to apply what I learned yesterday to help even more people who struggle to cope with problems with relationships, work, family and life in general.
If you feel you are one of the latter or would like to learn more about achieving a sensible balance in your own life, please contact us today to find out how we can help you.