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I'm very excited to share with you a new podcast episode with @itsjustben.emotionalfitness! Thank you to Ben as well for helping to produce this episode and providing extra clips
Ben is an emotional fitness coach based in the UK.
He has played the piano since he was seven, going on to study at Leeds College of Music until an injury lead him on a journey of discovery, diving deeply into the relationship between emotions and self-expression, with regards to music, performance as a whole and general personal development.
Join Ben and I as we discuss the interconnected states of flow, presence, and communication in found in public speaking, break dancing, and musical performance.
00:00 - Introduction
00:49 - What does Public Speaking feel like?
01:25 - Spontaneity and Connection in Public Speaking
3:44 - Flow state in Break dancing
Mindset in Music
6:49 - Different Performance Mindsets in Public Speaking, Dancing, and Music
8:21 - on Mistakes
11:30 - Flow in Dancing
12:52 - Finding Flow in Music and Creativity
15:55 - Stage Presence and Spontaneity
19:48 - Finding Vulnerability and Commitment to Expression
22:25 - Nervousness, Resistance, Anxiety
24:57 - Practicing Stage Presence
26:22 - Self Mastery, Acceptance and Surrender
36:04 - Connection to Freedom in the Sound and Body
38:54 - How to Emotionally Connect with Music and Yourself
49:14 - Unlocking Physical Freedom
54:38 - Ben’s Social and Contacts
55:22 - What does an Emotional Fitness Coach do?
Hello, everyone. Welcome to this episode of the open score conversations. Today we have Ben good rum who studies in music led him to deeply explore the integral relationship between emotions, self expression and performance. Ben has a wide range of experience in regards to performance. He's a public speaker, a musician, a breakdancer, and an emotional fitness coach. This allowed us to draw many interesting connections between those disciplines, such as stage presence, how to profoundly connect and communicate with an audience, the exhilaration of being spontaneous, and in the flow state, and much more. These are all high performance states of self expression that every performer tries to achieve with their audience. I hope you enjoy this episode, let's get right to the show.
Ben Goodrum 00:49
What is the feeling of public speaking, it's just an extra. It's an extra bit of nerves almost. And it's an extra, like, it's a feeling of performance is affiliate performance. Whereas I feel like with a video, I somehow don't feel that as much if I'm making if I'm just making a video camera, I know that I can edit it. But it also that also could be because I'm just not. I don't do public speaking as much as I used to. And, you know, I might not have that feeling when I wish I did it a bit more often.
Do you miss it?
Ben Goodrum 01:25
I do. Actually, I'd like to do some more. I've just been focusing on the one on one coaching a little bit. Maybe that could be one of the reasons but it's something that I do really enjoy. Yeah, I would like to get back to you. There's something about it, there's something about it like same as this same as why I like this as well. What you have to articulate yourself in the moment. And, and sometimes, sometimes when you have that performance situation, things come out that otherwise won't come out in other scenarios. And I find myself, even when I've prepared a speech, I find that if I'm in front of a group of people, and I'm in that kind of that whatever that state is, I'll sometimes say something in like a way that I've never said it before, I'll communicate in a way that I've never communicated before. Maybe because of like stakes, because it feels like stakes somehow as well. There are different aspects that you need like a Toastmasters meeting where you practice your practice impromptu speaking, and prepared speak speaking. And both of them have their own their own benefits to doing but I found that it it helped me communicate and learn to communicate in so many new ways. I've always loved performing. And, and as I've grown up, and my sense of what performing is has kind of matured and refined, I realized that I just love that feeling of connecting with an audience with a large audience. And when you feel like you've communicated something to them, and they enjoy it, or they understand, understand it in some way. So that's kind of Yeah, what I liked about it. So yeah, I do miss it.
Yeah, it really seems like you've missed like being on stage or at least on a bigger platform and connect with people. Do you find that the having yourself be on stage, there is a little bit of that nerves, there is a little bit of that kind of pressure, that also helps your brain connect in different ways to help you articulate in different ways that even it surprises you.
Ben Goodrum 03:28
100% Yeah, 100%. And I can identify, I imagine you're linking that to performance of music as well. I can completely link that to performance of music, as well. And even performance of that we speak about before that like breakdance.
Yes, a little bit. Go into that too. For those. You break dance as well. It's amazing.
Ben Goodrum 03:49
Oh, thank you. Oh, you saw some of the stuff, didn't you? Yeah, yes, I have. So I haven't posted much in a while. But I do have some stuff up there. And yeah, that these times I know when specifically because breakdancing. You can relate to jazz a lot I feel in the because of the improvisation. And there'll be times when I'd go out into a circle. And I do something and you talk to a lot of breakers and they have this experience where I do something I be in the moment I come out of it. And people be like, Whoa, like, what will I what was that? And I'd be like, I literally don't know, I don't know what I just did, because you're just so in it. And there's something about that, that being in that performance flow. That happens has happened a lot more for me in breakdance. And then it has maybe even in performing jello, I think although I have had that in piano more recently, kind of more recently in my music, career or music, you know, playing
What instruments do you play and do you only exclusively play classical music or do you do other genres? And do you also improvise
Ben Goodrum 05:00
I played piano like it's my primary instrument. That's what I've played since I was seven years old. And that's what I went to college for. I played the trombone. When I was a teenager, I started with the trumpet when I was like 10. One, I think when I was 11, or 12, moved to trombone, and I played that all the way through my teenage years. And that music college as well. And after I left university, I started playing the tin whistle. So I absolutely love the tin whistle, like an Irish traditional music. I feel like gives you a feeling that no other music gives you. And I've just had my first lesson on that recently, actually last week, but I've been Yeah, yeah. But I've actually been teaching myself that just on YouTube kind of online videos for about seven years. It's interesting, because that's quite you would see it as like a relatively simple instruments like a six hold instrument. And is because it's only 20 diatonic. It's only in D or E or F or whatever key. And so you think of it as a simple instrument, but it's got so many little quirks and subtleties that are hard, that are difficult to get your question. You're saying what interests those are the instruments that I play? And do I improvise? So on the trombone, I played many jazz. And that's what got me really into jazz was on the trombone, my teacher was mainly a jazz teacher. So I improvised a lot on the trombone really enjoyed that. And that moved a little bit over to piano for me. So I do like a little bit. But it's, it's always been snippets that I've done over the years, I've had a jazz lesson here, I've got a friend who does jazz, and I've played with him a little bit. And the knowledge obviously moves over a bit. So I can do a bit of it, but not to have very high standards, I'd say,
No, you totally nailed it. I just wanted to set a little context, because I want to kind of tie this back into your love of public speaking, and also with B boying and there seems to be this element of being in that state of flow, being in, like, in an improvised way, and just getting things to connect. And I'm wondering if you've ever had that similar experience, if you improvised in music as well, more particularly in piano? And have you ever made any connections and found yourself to be in the same state for all three of those things? So public speaking, dancing and music? Or are they slightly different for you?
Ben Goodrum 07:29
Yeah, so really different? Well, as you say, that it really strikes me how important it is actually, to have different disciplines within the arts sometimes, because you can learn something in one thing that you can then take to the other. And I know that all of the different things that I've done, have impacted over the different things that I've done, I've learned something over here. And it's impacted my piano, I learned something piano and it impacts my break, dancing. You know, I learned something in public speaking. And I remember actually, because I used to sing not kind of I used to sing in a barbershop group. I'm by no means any kind of level of singer but but my, my public speaking impacted the barbershop singing and and vice versa.
Do you find they come from the same place for you? Or are they actually slightly different areas, that feeling I'm sure, it
Ben Goodrum 08:21
all comes from the same place. But it's happened in a different way for each one, that the piano was so interesting for me, because because I've learned that for such a long time, you know, I've got the whole idea of flow. And what that meant, only really only really started learning and having experience of know, after I was 18, maybe applying that to piano was a very, a very different or like a very conscious process. So with that, it was it was like with the piano with my teacher, Charlotte, you know, that was it. And again, I loved the piano. And I was I was I got to quite a good standard of it. And I was expressive and people enjoyed my playing. But as far as me experiencing, like a flow in the sense of that place where you feel effortless and you feel like that one with the music or at one with the crowd or whatever it is. That took me that took me a while with the piano. And I'd say that, I would say I'm still on a development, development roots with that. With jazz, maybe I have a little bit when I've been focusing on jazz on the piano. Just within my own practice, a lot of it's happened within my own practice where I get that flow state within practice, it's almost a lot easier because you because you're feeling a lot more experimental, right? With public speaking, because I approach that from from a standpoint of connection with the audience. I was really realizing the benefit of like, what's my connection with the audience right now and how can how can I come to that first almost before what I'm saying And so it almost happens a lot more speaking in public, and braking is just like a whole different thing. That that comes from every angle that comes in the practice. And when you're just figuring stuff out and you're playing about, you're falling over, but then also, yeah, cuz you the thing with one of the philosophies, right is with breaking is that you learn how to fall over. Yeah. Right. And it's like jazz is like, you learn how to make mistake. You learn how
to learn how to get out of it really nicely to write.
Ben Goodrum 10:37
Right, and that becomes an it's like, that becomes the Muth. Yeah, it's like you learn how to get out of it. It's like, oh, actually, that was really sick. Well, that was, you know, that was really awesome. Yeah, so yeah. And in breakdancing. It would happen in practice, and but very much, so when you're feeling of a crowd as well. I wouldn't go to as many competitions, I wasn't really on the competitive scene that much. But I'd go out with my mates and dancing clubs in the weekend. And there'd be a crowd there. And you'd kind of feed off that we also have this amazing beatbox band that we that we would dance with. And they were very improvisational. And so we'd feed off them. And we'd have these absolutely incredible notes every Sunday, every Sunday night, where we would get together and we jam and the crowd would be there and the fan would be there. And that was such an amazing place. For flow for getting into a flow
sounds incredibly energizing. When you're just bouncing between three triangles of like, Yeah, who knows what will happen? It's so exciting.
Ben Goodrum 11:49
Yeah. And I remember I can remember, points where we knew what they would do. We knew that patterns, and they kind of knew us, and they knew our patterns. And so we could start to predict what was going to happen. And then when you could, and you kind of went, something happened, we went bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, but it was all improvised. And you're like, I got it. I got my moves on the beat. And they were just completely improvising it. Those were the coolest moments, the coolest moments.
Yeah, it's this way of connection that is, I would almost say transcends telepathy in a way, you just know it. Like it's a communal knowing, and you don't know how it happens. But you can't think about it, because it'll just destroy all of it. You just gotta go with it. And it's just so exciting.
Ben Goodrum 12:39
And you will know, it's happened. Like my mates who like you who the other break is that like, oh, and the crowd, like, oh, it was just like, and, and you can't recreate that moment? And that's like, the beauty of it. Yeah,
Yeah, absolutely. I love moments like that. And I love that we're kind of touching on this whole idea of like being in the moment, being present, and being vulnerable and expressing with our body. Because I think that's a really big wall for classical pianists. And I'm going to kind of circle back a little bit to how in breakdancing like, and and jazz you kind of learn how to fall and you'll learn how to get out of it. And it's in that falling where you fall into a place you can't imagine. And you've got to be creative and think on your feet and figure out what to do that I think we don't have as much in classical music, because we're so like, to the score. We're almost afraid to make mistakes. And when we're practicing, we're practicing, how will I be able to practice so I don't make this mistake ever again in the future. Versus in the practice room be like, Okay, I made that mistake, I fell into this area, what can I do and be curious about it to problem solve. So yes, I don't have that mistake in the future to have a secure performance. But also find creativity and almost improvise your way to your solution. In the practice room, unfortunately, not as easy to do in like a real performance unless you're improvising but at least in the practice room to still have that state of flow, that curious, playful flow.
Ben Goodrum 14:10
The time flow came for me with classical music was when I was doing these kind of meditative exercises. So I did. I might be moving away from your question a little bit.
You can, you can circle back; It's all good.
Ben Goodrum 14:25
So I remember meditating before I would start playing a passage of something. And I would I remember a time when I started listening part of the meditation was to listen to just the area just around your body. And then listen to see if you can bring it out to a meter out and then see if you can listen to the room. And I started listening to the room and then I'd be listening to my play in a completely different from a completely different perspective. And it just maybe it was just because it was like Switch, in the sense that I was just playing in a different way I was coming from a different angle, it was almost like it was substituting improvising in the way that improvising is, you're coming at it from lots of angles. And this was me coming at a piece that has specific notes that you need to play. But I was just suddenly going, like out there instead. And I remember, like a presence to my playing, or my presence to my playing something a very much in the moment feelings were playing, that helped me to, to tune into something that was a lot more spontaneous. It may be in my, in myself in my energy, and how I felt and how I was expressing myself in that moment, then I would have done otherwise,
I'm really glad you brought that up. Because I have something to kind of piggyback on top of that, too, I find that the space that you're talking about where you can play from a different area, whether it's inwards or outwards, I also do that to try to get in a certain headspace where I have enough space to play with, I guess, in classical music, we really play with the tone quality of the sound, maybe not the arrangement of notes. So I had a teacher once told me that they are there are three concert stages that we play in the first space is between you in the piano, and then there's you and like a little bit into the audience, or at least up to the stage at the edge of the stage. And then there's you and your instrument and like everybody in the crowd. And I think when you start to think about not necessarily having yourself travel farther and hit the back of the room, unless that's the type of like direct sound that you want. Getting that presents also has to do with this kind of imaginary mental space that you can take up this much space as an expression as the music. And it's in that place that I find more spontaneity as well.
Ben Goodrum 17:07
I can really resonate with it with that. And for me, that is the experience that I that I haven't had as much with the piano. And I just I did just start to get so I can remember an experience with my with my teacher, Charlotte. And there was something either that she said there was like it was this way of it was this way of me changing my mentality. And I felt myself become aware instead, all of a sudden of her sitting beside me. And then there were two people listening as well. And then I was kind of I kind of felt aware of them. And it was. And that was a magical experience of playing music actually. Yeah, so I can really, yeah, I really resonate with what your teacher said. With that. For me, interestingly, my expensive performing piano a lot has been has been nervous actually, or has been this kind of like I must get it right kind of experience. So it's been it's been really useful. That's that's one of the reasons for me why it's been so useful to have these other disciplines that have helped me to learn how you can do that. And if I can be free, in this way, in this other thing that I do, maybe I can bring it back into piano somewhere.
Yeah, I'm wondering if we're talking about, you know, extending our energy, if we if we get into that type of language, if we start our energy to a wider area, do you find that it's the same for you with public speaking? And do you find that it's the same with you dancing as well, that you're automatically bigger?
Ben Goodrum 18:46
I love that. This is so interesting. With public speaking, yes, I've never thought of it in these terms before. But with public speaking, yes, I very specifically, feel like I want to connect with these people. First, I want these I want to have a conversation, I want to say something that is useful, I want to say something to this person that they understand that will help them or some something like that. And that very much feels like extending using, as you say using that language kind of extending my energy out there because you start to I really feel like you start to feel that connection. And interestingly, that's what makes the nerves go.
Like go away or that "go" as in they turn on?
Ben Goodrum 19:33
go go away. Okay, when you start when you come from that place of connection, and with and with breakdancing,
because I wonder if you're just automatically there as a breakdancer
Ben Goodrum 19:48
That could be the place that could be the thing so I've done a lot of I've done a lot of different coaching courses and coaching weekend's and seminars and so on. And you Somebody wanted to use me as an, as an example, once on a coaching weekend to help her teach about voice and through the way that I was with breakdowns because she saw me breakdance. And she was just like, a few people have said this to me before that when I dance, I'm just, I'm completely in this level of like self mastery, you're, you're totally, and I feel like, that's kind of how you have to be as a breaker in particular, you've got to be in this space of like, I am here, I deserve to be here. Because it's part of the culture, actually. And she said to me, she was teaching me how to sing. And she said, right, I want you in front of all these people, I said, I want you to break down, like, get some music on, I want you to do what you do when you break. And I do this thing where I'm just I'm, I get out of there. And I'm big. You know, I probably not as I say that. I mean, it's probably the voice but my head, I'm not as big as other other breakers, you know, like, like, I could get bigger, but like, in comparison to I don't know, where to whatever. I'm big in that space. And she said right now, feel what you're feeling right now be that energy that you're being and sing. And I, my voice completely transformed from how it was before I did that, and then afterwards. So you could be right, because, but I'm just there, I'm there anyway, because it's, it feels in that environment, it feels essential to you being able to do what you need to do when you break down. So it's not a small thing. It's really you can't be you can't go out and just like, and just, and just-
There's a level of commitment, and that standard, I feel is much higher than in some places, like the starting place.
Ben Goodrum 21:49
Like if you can't commit, you're not going to learn you're not going to be a breaker like you just have to commit. And until then you're not learning. You're not a breaker.
Ben Goodrum 21:57
Yeah. Yeah. It's like you got you you're standing on your hands, for example. And you can't just imagine doing a handstand in the slightest, in small way, like an uncommitted handstand, you have to go, and you're gonna be bang. And even if you fall over, it's better that you go out, bang, and then you fall over, and then you hit it somehow. Or it just doesn't really look like a dancer.
Yes, yeah. I'm completely vibing with what you're saying. And I wish that there was more of this type of attitude that was cultivated and nurtured in classical music. It's kind of difficult with just like the natural nature of it, you know, you got to be like very direct on score and things like that. You know, we can't necessarily just completely revamped Rachmaninoff concerto on the fly with the rest of the stage, necessarily. But I think you touching upon really looking ideally for connection as a first and foremost to kind of circumvent the feeling of nerves is really important. Because a lot of times I think, the nerves get in the way, because we're thinking I can't express myself or I can't connect, or I can't do either of those, because I'm afraid I'm going to play a wrong note, I'm afraid that my technique is not good enough. I'm afraid of Bla bla bla bla. And we're just nervous and resisting the tension of like, our barriers to keep us from connecting. And I think it's more, there's a there's a fine line between mistaking nervousness for resistance. If that makes sense. Elaborate. At least for me, I find that the when I'm resisting something, for example, like I want to go out on stage and perform this, but I'm scared. I'm not prepared enough. So there's a resistance to go out on stage despite that desiring. Yeah, kind of little tingle of oil and I'm unsure is also very similar to nerves.
Ben Goodrum 23:58
Yes, yes. Okay,
it's very easy for them to just kind of get into this mixing pot, and mistake nerves for just resistance and just needing to let go of that. Versus nervous being like a sense of real danger here. And I mean, they're both kind of the same, you're kind of resisting a sense of danger or threat. But sometimes just being in that slightly different shift can instantly help you let go of something and get you into action and doing what you want.
Ben Goodrum 24:26
I do like that distinction, actually. And I think that comes back to what we're saying about how, like how I feel about public speaking, is like, if that if that feeling like of performance, and it's kind of nerves, but it's but but it's like this space, you have resistance. It's like the space where you feel like oh, this is the this is the space where I now need to open up and that's where the magic is gonna be. But it's always a little bit of your vulnerability. Did you mention that? Did you set up hadn't but
that's a really good word. Yeah.
Ben Goodrum 24:57
Yeah. And coming back to bringing that, that spaced up big space into all the connection, first type space into classical music. I don't know if you ever do this, but one of the things I do when I practice is that I play and I practice the bigness. And I allow myself to make mistakes. So, especially if it's a big piece, I'm just thinking of your sub something like Rachmaninoff. And you want to be big with that sometimes, like, yes, you know, and you practice that term, I'm just thinking of the G minor, Prelude, you practice the, the space that you want to occupy. And then you can bring it down. And you've also got to practice the specifics of that as well. But you can do it from both ways you can like you let your learning lecture start, do don't don't do that. And then you bring it out, and then you bring it back into the specifics. And that's kind of a way that I've, I've brought that expression and also like with the body and you talk about expression and practicing how like how do I want to move with this phrase, and bringing it to my body first, just practicing bringing it to my body first, and then bring it back to like, oh, did I did I get too much work, but allowing myself to actually get it wrong. As long as I get the phrase, and I'm moving how I want to move,
I love that we're going to get to that I just want to just come back and then thread it through. Do the idea of stage presence, because I feel like we're starting to touch upon it about you know, taking up room, taking up space. And and just tried to fill it and having connection. And I want to connect that with another facet, I think is really important in stage presence is self mastery that you just mentioned as well previously. And if you can go into a little bit more about what self mastery means to you, because I feel that sometimes people think Self Mastery means like, Oh, I'm so good at my technique. I'm so good at my tone quality, I'm so good at blah, blah, when I think it's actually a different thing. And it doesn't necessarily mean that you have to have really good technique or really good musicality or really good tech or a talent to demonstrate a self mastery, so to speak.
Ben Goodrum 27:19
Yeah. And that phrase popped out of my mouth earlier, I think we're not necessarily thinking about it. But what comes to mind when you say that self mastery is so much confidence in yourself that even if you go wrong, it fits right? It feels right. So, so no, it's so self mastery is just really being able to bring out the expression that you want to be there, or there may be the expression that is there. So I think about that walking out on stage and speaking in front of people is like, what I know right now is what I'm supposed to know, the information I have is very slightly different. And it's very slightly unique to me, to me, and if I just say that as honestly as I can, maybe, and that there's again, the vulnerability part of it is like is this there's probably a part of me that's a bit afraid that oh, it's not going to be received, people are going to think I'm a bit weird, or this isn't, you know how this is supposed to be interpreted or whatever, but, but when you kind of almost lay that lay that bare, or you just allow that to be what it is. And the closer you can get to that. That feels like self mastery. So so when I and there's a surrender, so when I, when I breakdance I just think, well, what are the things that I would do is I just go out with the weirdest move, or the biggest move, just to kind of get that sense straightaway of bam, like I'm there so that I don't, so that I don't accidentally stay in my shell somehow,
You know, the two words that popped in my head along with self mastery and having a vulnerability and kind of getting to that state of confidence is the fine line between acceptance and surrender in the sense that you were mentioning before, like, I'm going to I'm not sure if it's going to be received well I don't know someone's going to think I'm weird. I'm just gonna have a weird move and I'm just gonna fly with it and surrender to whatever is gonna happen and I'm gonna fall for him not and I think part of being present part of having stage presence part of connection part of vulnerability, all that stuff also has to do with accepting. Yeah, someone might not like what I'm doing. Yeah, this is kind of weird, might not hit, this is you know, different. And in the acceptance also comes a sense of surrender, they kind of go hand in hand. And then when you can have that level of vulnerability, I think that is what people kind of Call stage presence because you do need a certain platform and presence to hold that, but also to connect with. And if you want to take that however you like, please,
Ben Goodrum 30:10
I just like agree with that I wasn't sure what you meant to begin with about acceptance and surrender, but when you kind of went into a description, I, I, I vibe with that definitely like that level of acceptance, and coming along with that surrender, and then that being those elements, making up what people call stage presence. And what came to came through there as well was also that sometimes it might not like work out in, in, from any given perspective, from your perspective, from their perspective from you two years later, going, Oh, that was that was a terrible thing. But that's the, you know, that was awful, like performance I did or that was such a bad idea. But that's part of you being at the edge of your own explorative mission. And, and the more that we go there, the more that we're likely to find our originality or like what our original movement is, what our original expression is. Another thing that I think was break with breaking and is it really does seem to be for me, the thing that allowed me the most freedom is that you need to be willing to look a fool, and to look stupid, and to be really stupid, and to do the cool thing, you have to be willing, and even put yourself in a position where it's like, well, this really could be like, really stupid, I might look back on this and cringe and feel awful about it. And when you're in that space, that's when you allow yourself to find whatever your true expression is, or your original expression.
I totally agree with that. And in that space where you're like, this might be totally crappy, and I'm gonna be a fool, but also accept and surrender, that that's also a possibility so that you can step into that and see what you're going to grow into, is also the part of, you know, the vulnerability and self mastery.
Ben Goodrum 32:03
Yeah. Yeah. And also, it's like, that's when the coolest stuff happens. So I think I think particularly with with breaking, that, when I'm in that space of I'm, I'm going to allow this to be really stupid. That's when all of a sudden, you're like the truest expression you want to express and the way that your body wants to move, suddenly meet and you do that things like, Oh, that was it. But it can only happen in that space.
Yes. And then I want to dovetail this into how you're saying before that you had some exercises that would help you, you basically you go and you try to make the biggest sound and you try to experiment, which I think is exactly what's happening right now. We're we're allowing ourselves to just try different things. And to take up room, how are you bringing that back into the body? Do you mean that by simply just doing that action in the body gets more comfortable with it.
Ben Goodrum 32:58
So I suppose it would be meditation, some form of meditation. And it's funny looking back on old videos I made of breakdancing as well, I realized that I, I think I found some videos, small videos, and I realized that I knew this was breakdancing way earlier than I did with other stuff. Because I would I would stand in the middle of my living room. And the music would be playing. And I'd have my eyes closed. And I would just start moving, I would just start moving my body and and shaking it about and in this way that almost Yeah, with this mentality of like, doesn't matter if you look stupid type thing. And that was that was a meditation of pretty much what I view is, I feel is feeling into the kind of the center line of my body. It's usually around my sternum, where you just feel how do I want to feel about this music? What would I you're kind of asking yourself the question, what would I want to do? If it didn't matter what I did? What would I want to do if I could do anything I wanted? And it's all at that maybe seem vague or vague, but but but that helps me to feel into my body and like what my, what I want to do from that place. With piano, I think it would be the same thing. I would sit and I'd meditate. And it's about feeling free in your body as well. It's about what actually is it that makes me free up because as musicians one of the problems right is that we tense and that's how a lot of problems can arise. And so I'm just like, get my body into a position where I feel free first. And then if I was to play this free Is that I'm practicing from a place of freedom. And it's not just about like in your wrist and that you know, almost that arbitrary, like you need to have, you know, it needs to be free here you need to be, it's like, genuine like what emotionally feels free. And then when you think when you take it back that far to what emotionally feels free, your body will start to feel free. Because Because how we feel emotionally and how our body physically feels are very closely linked, if not, yes, exactly. Links, you know. And so, we can, like we can learn like the technique of you should have a loose wrist or being you know, just a loose wrist or you should have freedom the elbow this point, you can, you can contrive that, or you can be like what actually feels free in my whole body, and then that will, and then that translates to the rest of your body. I've never been interested, your questions are so good, because I've never like thought about that. In the same way.
I love where you're going with this. So I'm gonna continue riding this wave as we both are. In the sense that I totally resonate with finding that freedom by feeling like kind of like the centerline of your body and from there, like, what's going to happen and finding the freedom. I'm wondering how often classical musicians start about hearing the music, whether it's in their head or from some external source, and actually ask themselves, what does this make me feel? How do I want to express it? I find with classical musicians and the way that we train, it's more from like a reverse approach being this is the sound I want. How am I going to get there? By moving my elbow in this way? How am I going to make sure I'm perfectly aligned? How am I going to think about the sound first, when really, as most of the great say, it's like, what is the sound that you want, and you want to find your connection from there to where you're at and just try to straight shot it. And part of it is keeping yourself open to that freedom. So your body's like I hear, that's the sound that you're looking for. And I think if we do this, we'll get it. But you have to try that. But then we get straitjacketed into Oh, if you're gonna get that sound, you must approach from like, a free arm and like come from above. And sometimes that might be too loose for some people. And they do need a bit more instruction. But I think for classical musicians, especially if they're having some tension and injury issues sometimes approaching from thinking about, okay, what is the music? And what does it actually make me feel like? And like, Where can I play that play from that place?
Ben Goodrum 37:37
what comes out from there?
Ben Goodrum 37:40
Absolutely. And that's the connection to freedom. And this place, I think, very, specifically for classical musicians. And that's where I found it from. Because there is there's such a long history of this music, right? And it's so incredible in nuanced and, and, and clever, and developed in so many ways by limitlessly talented people, that it's like, what like, what do I have to add to it? Like, how can I add to something like that? It's like, you know, you're learning from from them from two 300 years ago, or however long ago it is in the first place. And and so with all of that history, and because it's kind of such a high art, is that a good way of putting it with we're still, you know, when we're learning we're trying to, we're learning from them. And we're matching up to that first by learning all this technique, but I remember with, with Charlotte so So Charlotte Tomlinson, who I think you have her book, which was,
I know who it is, but for the listeners who don't know, can you give a little background?
Ben Goodrum 38:54
So Charlotte Tomlinson was my teacher when they came out of university, and she was friends with a family member and my family members said, oh, you should absolutely find Charlotte and Charlotte is really what opened. For me this world, this holistic view of playing a learning piano. And a lot of experiences that were I had a new experiences of music came from what Charlotte taught me. And she's written a book called music from the inside out. So she kind of taught me first this this way of looking at my emotion. And specifically what I'm what I am feeling, and that whatever that feeling is literally whatever that feeling is, is valid. And the way that I learned this was through them. This was the story I told you before when I was playing. I think I told you this one before was playing the piece of Mozart and I've never really fully connected with Mozart, emotionally, where I really felt like I was in the music. You know, I played it because I learned it and I learned the tech You can like a play it to a to a, a good enough standard. And we're playing the first page of the Sonata. And when I'd finished playing this first page, or a few passages, or whatever it was, she said, How do you feel about it? And I said, I don't know. It's just, you know, she said, kind of feel into how do you actually feel about feeling to your body? And feel where the feeling is in your body about this music at the moment? And what is that feeling? And I said, I really felt it, I felt it in my chest was oh, there it is. That's the feeling. I was like, God, I feel dead and stagnant and bored. I feel bored playing this loop and playing this music. And she said, Okay, great, play the music board play from that place of being bored and stagnant, or whatever it was. And somehow, through doing that, I suddenly like, saw the music better. So whatever cliche, but like I suddenly saw the music, and I suddenly felt something deeply about the music. And I realized that I loved it in that moment. And it was through connecting with how I genuinely felt because for whatever reason, you know, I wasn't allowing myself to connect to it, or I wasn't allowing myself to connect to how I truly felt about it. And then it was like it was laid out in front of me in this way that I've never seen it before. When you feel into your the physical place in your body, and you feel the actual feeling you're feeling that can create the music that you want to create.
Yeah, I love that you touched upon going into your body. And usually people ask like, Oh, what do you feel about it? Some people take it as a very abstract thing. But it's it's quite literal in the sense of like, where do you feel it in your body? Does it feel light, heavy, whatever, your arm and your chest like, where is it and from there, find something. And I am so thankful that she gave you the opportunity to be like, Oh, you're bored with Mozart play me aboard Mozart. And just to find a connection to an emotion as opposed to being Oh, Mozart supposed to be like light and happy. And you know, if it's a gleeful section, play gleefully, but if you're in a place where you're like, I hate feeling Glee, you're gonna go into the intellectual part be like, Okay, well, Glee to me usually sounds brighter. So I'm going to find a brighter sound, which means I'll use staccatos or something like that. And you start to fabricate a mask. Sometimes if you just tap into feeling bored and be like, okay, it's okay to play a board Mozart, it's okay for me to be bored with Mozart, it's okay to have it sound bored. And then now you're actually connected, you can then go as a launching pad to somewhere else be like, Okay, where can I find like, lino, where can I find a place that makes me happy? And I think if more teachers can tap into that with their student, just take a pause in the lesson and be like, are you feeling bored about this? Why don't you play a board for me? And then students become safe to feel like, it's okay for me to not really have an affinity with this piece just yet. Yeah, find it later, as opposed to try to force it to happen.
Ben Goodrum 43:02
Yeah. And very specifically, to allow them to name as well to be like, it's okay to feel bored. And it's also whatever other feeling that you're feeling right now. Is okay. And valid to feel?
How do you try, I don't just like totally ordered your domain, but as an emotional fitness, because maybe we can do like a little cross pollination. But let's say someone says, Okay, I feel bored about this piece. And they're like, Okay, let's, let's try and play from bored. They're like, I don't know how to do that. Because I've never done that. I've always played it from my brain. So how would you try to get someone to connect into their body and just express it in some way? Or do you find it's just their personal judgment that kind of gets in the way of actually physically taking action towards it?
Ben Goodrum 43:54
I wonder if that the thoughts that come to me that it would be important to find music that you can say how you feel about it somehow. So if the first if what we really want is to be able to connect with how the student feels about specific about music, in general about a specific piece of music, is to find something first finding like another piece of music. I think if you're feeling bored with a piece of music, like you'll know that you're feeling bored with it. It might just be the maybe almost the courage to say that this is what I feel about it. Like I feel bored. I feel when you say how you really feel about something a lot of the time, and you tune into how you feel, it can be a kind of vulnerable thing to do, because a lot of times you're finding something that you might not expect. And so it's about giving the space to that student to, to explore and to express whatever that thing is that they find that they don't expect because I find that a lot when you with emotional work in general, and this definitely comes across to the piano and teaching music as well, that when you tune into what you feel in any one moment, you might not know what you find. Like, you don't always know, you can surprise yourself a lot of the time. Yeah, so it's about it's just about being able to really open that space for whatever, whatever's there to be there. And sometimes, I like I don't know, is also the first step. Like, I really don't know what that is. So it's like, if you don't know what that is, let's find a place or find some musical find something that you can play, where you do know what that is.
Do you think there needs to be like an element where the person who is feeling this emotion or not sure what they're feeling has to be convinced that they are feeling like, Yeah, this is anger that I'm feeling worthy. I am convinced I am feeling this. Do you think there needs to be a little bit of that element there?
Ben Goodrum 46:05
Yeah, so. So when I coach people in my sessions, so for the, for the emotional fitness, feeling can be such an alien language to us. That when we dive into the feelings, it's like, there is an uncertainty there like, am I? Am I feeling that? Is that really mean? Like, and then we come up with a sentence, I'm feeling this because of this. It's like, well, am I? Is that really real, though? Is that really true? And people do struggle with that? Ultimately? Yeah, I think there definitely has to be some conviction. And that take, that can be a journey in itself. And it may be so in some scenarios, that might not be really quick for, for the students. And this isn't for me, you know, this is why when I learned with Charlotte, I realized that there was a huge, just a so much for me to learn about emotions. And then she sent me to, to my coach after that was Terry, and I learned all about emotions. I was like, Oh, my God, this world here was absolutely huge. And I have not even scratched the surface with piano. And I, I went off to learn about that. And I became, I became, in some ways more interested in that. And yes, yeah, I just, I would say that that conviction is what's needed in the end. And that's, and that's a learning process together.
Which will, how would you describe what emotional connection feels like to you? Like, if you just emotionally connect to what's your feeling? What does that feel like today? Is it like a settling Is it like a thing unknowing. For some people who might not have never have never connected with their emotions, like, if they needed a quick guide,
Ben Goodrum 47:51
There is a surrender. It's an opening that physically it feels good. So you'll have some kind of physical marker feeling in your body that just feels good. And for me, a lot of time, I get a feeling like a lot of my spine, where you'll just feel something open up. And that's actually, that's what can help with the conviction actually, is that is to start to trust your, your body's intelligence. So when when something feels makes you, maybe your chest opens for me, like I feel kind of a line from my spine, go up to the top of my head, and I can, I can feel it, my chest opens up. And I found, I found over time, just to trust that that means that I'm emotionally connected, because what comes after that is is some kind of authentic expression that feels very, very authentic. And then the more that I have trusted, that I'm going forward with it, and it's been, you know, you can you can tell afterwards, it's a true expression, then the more that you start to trust that
Do you find at least for your own self, that has really helped with you unlocking tension? Or did the tension and playing come from something else too?
Ben Goodrum 49:14
I haven't thought about this in such a long time, actually, with with this in, in connection to piano, specifically. But yes, I think so. I thought about it from so many different angles, I thought about it from from the mechanical angle as well. And so I'm remembering that, you know, we did, you know, show it we did do this work on on the mechanics of it as well. So, so it's good to come from both angles, to learn that there needs to you know, you need to have this kind of tension in your finger and then you need to let your arm your arm be freer and you to learn that kind of thing. And I think we probably did that first and then came to the emotion, the emotional stuff. Because sometimes when he didn't the mechanical stuff and we free up that that can also, if you work at it from both angles that can also help to, to free up to this space was like, oh, that's the web, I feel it. That's why I emotionally feel it and I've freed up my body to that place. So it kind of works both ways.
Yeah, I love that you said that it works both ways. Because I think in the same way that tension constricts your body and you physically can't move, it doesn't give space for that emotion to exist freely. Yeah. And then at the same time, if you're trying to if you are emotionally free, but your body's not, you're gonna have some heads combating there, if you do free up your physical body, but you are unwilling to accept that the emotion is there or to utilize it, that's also going to seize the body as well. And so there is a little bit of this balancing game between what you loosen up here, what you loosen up emotionally, and so on, so forth, and you find a place where your body and your emotions also meet happily and play from there.
Ben Goodrum 50:57
Yeah. So maybe that would be the answer, then is that it's like, it's both. It's coming from both angles.
So if anyone out there is like stuck on their technique, tune into yourself emotionally, I would say, what has happened help for me is sometimes I get tension, not because I'm not in good alignment, or I'm not accepting my emotions or whatever, is that I'm holding on to the emotion too much, I want to feel it too much. And so like, my shoulders will go up. And I'm like, I want to feel this passion, when really, you want to express that passion out of your body. And that can help loosen like some things that were gripping on to some certain feeling that you feel that either you want to hold on to or you don't feel big enough to contain, if that makes sense.
Ben Goodrum 51:41
I wonder if in that moment, in moments like that, is to play rather than trying to play what's they're all trying to play? It's like, coming back in and joining to what is there right now? What's the cause that might because it might be, for example, frustration, and I can't play this as passionately as I as I want to, for sadness, because I'm not reaching my I'm not reaching the passion that I think that I do feel about this piece. But for some reason, it's not it's not working right now. And it's always through accessing whatever you're presently feeling that you will access the truest expression of whatever you could. You could play right now. It is, is what comes to my mind with with that.
And I love that you said right now, too. Yeah. Because it also makes an acceptance that, you know, whatever passion is stored up in there, it might not come out the most prettily in the standard that you have in your brain in that moment. Yeah, that's okay. Because sometimes we try to jump to the end goal, and we get so frustrated, we're not the end goal when it's like, you gotta start where you are, and you will get there. Yeah, so it's okay to have that passion. When you finally release and it comes out and it like fizzles into like nothing on the keys. It's okay, that's just what it's like now. But if you keep working on it, it'll get bigger.
Ben Goodrum 52:58
Yeah. Did I answer? Did I answer all I say all the questions that I did I cover everything that you
I think so. Yeah. Yeah, everything touches on it, I was gonna ask a little bit of what freedom feels like for you. But I think we've like, unless you have anything more to elaborate on that.
Ben Goodrum 53:19
What freedom feels like for me, and again, in the context of piano,
piano, which is body movement or emotional because he had touched upon about feeling like, not just mechanically feel like I have freedom in my elbow. To some people, that just means I can just move it, like piano technique wise, but I think there is also a sense of freedom in terms of the emotional storage that's there. And freedom of being able to have other things stored in your body as a form to later release in the form of, of the expression in the music or whatever. I don't know if that's going to spark anything in your head.
Ben Goodrum 53:56
So so when you're saying that yeah, thinking freedom. For me is feels like the freedom just to express whatever's there. That whatever is there right now is okay, and it's what's supposed to be there and it's what's supposed to be there for music and it's also the best thing that I could possibly I could possibly express to communicate with my audience right now.
Ben Goodrum 54:27
yeah. Good. Good.
Good, so great. Thank you so much for having this chat. Is there any place that some one could find you like, what are your socials? What are your websites?
Ben Goodrum 54:38
So Instagram is just fun. This isn't the three words it's just got emotional fitness. I've got a group on Facebook called emotional skills and knowledge for already emotionally intelligent people. So it's so it's all about like the nuance and emotional intelligence I use intelligence and fitness. But interchangeably, sometimes. So, come there for the nuance come there, if you feel like you're an emotionally intelligent person and come there, if you feel like you're just interested in it, we'd love to have some, some more musicians in there, of course. And that's a cool place to hang out. Those are the two Instagram and Facebook, Facebook groups.
And as an emotional fitness coach, what do you do?
Ben Goodrum 55:25
So I help people to understand how they feel, on a very specific level, and move through those feelings and be able to process those feelings. So it's like with the piano, right, it was, the experience with the piano was in the story that I was saying about the Mozart was that transformation at the moment, like, Whoa, I could feel it and it can change. And so I got interested in how can I learn a process that can help the can facilitate that transformation. So I help people to be able to begin with I help people to transform those emotions. And that creates a lot of insight, inspiration, purpose in all areas of life. And then they take that away and learn how to do that themselves. So they take away the tools, I teach them on how to do that for themselves without me, which I think is the most empowering, empowering thing. And it provides a lot of things, a lot of benefits among what I was saying, you know, the main things I say are purpose, inspiration, and clarity, and every kind of emotional feeling that you can imagine, and the benefits that you can imagine they would have in your life. So, yeah, I think
that there are so many people out there where we have disconnected for from our emotions to some degree. And I think the work that you're doing is so necessary and so valuable. And I'm so thankful that you have this service available for people, because it's not easy to navigate emotions, especially if you were not really taught how to do that. And it is a bit more of like an abstract language. So thank you for providing that. Is there anything that we haven't talked about that you might want to just flush out and get off your chest?
Ben Goodrum 57:14
I wonder about kind of the coaching and what does it provide? If i i say as well. What was I'm just trying to think what was the thing what was the problem that I experienced with college that was that was then sought, solved. And to put that in a in a very binary expression. I remember leaving university, leaving college I call it different things it was it was conservative I Leeds College of Music. And feeling like I loved the piano. And but there was something that was off with my motivation. Somehow, it's like, I was doing it in a way that that that was that made, brought the tension in me in my emotions in my life, and in the way that I played. And it was about finding in my life, what is my the purest place my motivation, where I'm not influenced by the people where I don't feel like I have to do what other people are telling me to do or how, you know, in the context of the microcosm of music, or the macrocosm of my life, and learning how to tune into how I felt, and learning how to process that had a ripple effect across my whole life and expression throughout my life expression of like my work and what I wanted to do, and expression through expression through music and the way that I played music. And it brought so much joy into all of those aspects, especially music. And so I suppose maybe I want to say that, as a musician, it is such an important thing to dive into who you are and who you think you are as a person and who you want to be. And how you want to express yourself in your life. Because that will impact your music that will impact the joy that you have in just the process of practicing. Like I love practicing. I think I did before as well. But like it puts so much more joy into all of the different aspects because you're because you're focusing on what does this mean to me? As I'm doing it, and yeah, that's what I was just I wanted to to leave everyone with, unless you've got something to say, you know, with that as well.
No, I think you close that out really, really beautifully. And the importance as an artist to know themselves because we have to be so connected with our emotions and our purpose to feel like it's meaningful and to feel If we are doing something that is us because art is our expression, so it is in a way us and, and learning how to navigate that can be super tricky. And I hope that there's anyone out there where this conversation has resonated go and contact Ben, he's amazing. He will help you it's I just love the work that you do and I wish there was more people like you out there.
Ben Goodrum 1:00:23
Thank you, Michelle. And yes, please. Yeah, anyone contact me and yeah, very welcome to
I hope we can have more conversations like this in the future but anyone who is listening and you want a transcript, you can find it at my website, the open score.com/blog And happy practicing as usual.
Happy Listening! Michelle
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