Hello All, mama Tea and Jam here - how are doing?
I started to write this on the evening of what would have been the day of the 3rd Session for the 2018 Tea and Jam. Unfortunately, the session was not to be - but rather than focusing on what could have been (or even that dreaded phrase “should have been”), I thought I would take this time to reflect on what it is to ‘give yourself space’.
Being on the autistic spectrum, I find the Christmas season stressful - the changes in light and temperature, the surge in crowds in shopping centres and the like; the insistence on spending more than you have on things that may not be enjoyed by their intended recipient.
The above is even worse for musicians: gig frequency increases, and if you are (un)lucky enough to work a part-time job to supplement the income from gigs, no doubt the number of shifts for that may increase. We live a perpetual life of tight or no money, or no time. Sometimes, if cash flow isn’t working well, it can be both.
By the time Christmas day itself rocks around, everybody is desperate for a respite, but even then there is a certain expectation To Have A Good Time.
The inherent expectation is what drives the stress, I’ve found, and I’ve been thinking... I’ve noticed that this is a similar mechanism when it comes to practising and even performing on your instrument.
Everyone knows playing a musical instrument is gives rise to a number of positive occurrences, in mental health, increased brain function and a peak in serotonin levels that comes with the sense of achievement. This is without the social benefits of course!
But what of the moment when it becomes too overwhelming?
It may seem counterintuitive to stop doing something that’s supposed to be so good for you and make you so happy, but sometimes there is nothing for it than to take a step back from what you are doing, if only for a little while.
It is useful to think of our brains and energy levels are like muscles - they need to be worked, of course, but no muscle can build if it is working at all times. That is the balance: work versus rest - you can’t do one without the other!
So if something prevents a session from happening in future, just take the time that would have been for Tea and Jamming and do something a bit different. Why not listen to a piece of music which has nothing much to do with the piece or instrument your playing?
Why not dance? Why not read?
Doing something else for a bit doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re not interested in your instrument or music any more; in fact, as the old adage goes, ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’!
Our next session is on Saturday, January 5th at 11 am, as usual - see you there?
Go Well, everyone, and have a peaceful Christmas <3
Kat, aka ‘Mama Tea and Jam’ xxx