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Classical 101

"Ohm" Monday, Week Three: The Science of Mindful Meditation for Musicians

Magazine for the National Endowment for the Humanities online (www.neh.gov)
Artist James McNeill Whistler's 'Nocturne in Black and Gold and the Falling Rocket.' (1875)

Back in 2013, University of Oregon School of Music professor and researcher Dr. Frank Diaz asked 132 students to participate in a study which analyzed the affects of engaging in 15 minutes of, "mindful meditation," before listening to 10 minutes of music, opera specifically. The results showed a sort of natural behavioral modification that allowed the students to better focus on the music.

So for today's "Ohm" Monday, we are getting mindful with our music and our yoga mats.

Along with the research that is on-going at the University of Oregon, the UCLA Mindfulness Awareness Research Center offers courses in "Mindfulness," as well as online guides. 

What does this term, "Mindfulness," mean? The UCLA research center's website describes it as an awareness of the present moment with curiosity and a connection to breath, observation and "one's inner experience."

This sounds rather similar to what many music teachers ask of their students. 

In fact, in both piano and voice lessons, I have been asked to close my eyes and pay close attention to my breath and movement. I have asked my own students in the past to build awareness through breath control - this is definitely not new territory for musicians. 

What might be new to many readers is the terminology and the effects of meditation on listeners rather than performers alone. The research from the University of Oregon focused not on the performance capabilities of musicians, but on the mental acuity and awareness of listeners. That is something anyone and everyone can practice. So, with that in mind, here are a few tips and guides along with, of course, Classical and 2oth Century music to fit the mood.

Guided Meditations

Here is the link for UCLA's Free Guided Meditations. They range from three minutes to 19 minutes and are suitable for just about anyone. I like to incorporate these activities while seated, cross-legged on my yoga mat or in any relaxed yoga pose such as Child's Pose or Śavāsana. You can find descriptions of various relaxed poses and restorative poses on pocketyoga.com.

Be sure to comment below with your favorite selection and why you enjoyed it!

Music Research

Here is the link for Dr. Diaz's research on Mindfulness and Listening. Feel free to add to the comments section with more reading and research that you might find on the web. 


Finally, here are a few selections of tried and true music that can be used for meditation, quiet time, or just relaxing on your yoga mat or even your porch. Tune in to Classical 101 radio station all week for more music that fits the practice of mindfulness.