This morning I was woken by a man driving through the streets yelling through a megaphone that he had brooms for sale. This was then followed by another man with another megaphone selling women’s pyjamas. Then the fruit and veg man arrived with his megaphone, and well, I wish you were here to see how this entire scene played out from my balcony window.
You see, I am currently in Southern Italy. I am spending the entire month of April in a little mountain town in the Basilicata region. Think white-washed villages that haven’t changed very much with time, fresh artichokes in every market (it’s the season), Virgin Mary alters dotted in every street corner, extreme views of the land and sea below, and that’s me here. I’ve given myself the gift of a self-imposed 30-day artist retreat, all organised by no one but me. A few loved ones will visit from time to time, but really I am here on a solo stay.
What’s that about, you ask?
Well, this is me recharging my creative batteries without my normal day-to-day routines in Cornwall. On my table is a tall pile of sheet music I am working my way through at leisure (Mower! Jolivet! Moyse!). Along with teaching my Skype students (they always travel with me) and daily strolls up the steep hills to get supplies, it’s pretty quiet around here (once the megaphones get put away). As I chat with my neighbours using ridiculous hand gestures (my Spanish only gets me so far) and design new things to help you fall in love with your flute playing, I feel myself exhaling a bit more each day.
Over the years I know for sure that a bit of artistic quiet is integral for my creativity. It keeps me from musical burn-out, helps navigate any music droughts and ripens my curiosity to keep making new things. I am a more pleasant human being because I take these breaks.
Though I chose Italy, I don’t think that you have go somewhere exotic (or even spend a penny) to do something similar. To gain a wider perspective on what others do, I asked my Skype students this week
What do you do to recharge and refresh your creativity?
Here is what you told me:
I keep inspired by taking on multiple music projects at once. Then when I am bored with one there is always another one to go to.
I try to stop multi-tasking, and get quiet 3-4 times a day to check in with myself, even if just for a minute each time.
I make sure I practice every day, this keeps me going and is also how I relax.
I give myself permission to not practice and do something nourishing instead, like go to the beach and then go to bed early.
I get on the yoga mat, and then I get on the meditation pillow.
I listen to the the creativity module from Headspace.
I try to change up my routine.
My whole family and I book a cheap package holiday, I lounge in the sun all day reading musicology books. The kids go to the buffet while I can read and read.
I perform! Pushing my boundaries keeps me interested.
I get out the Tilmann Dehnhard extended technique book and try one of his crazy exercises.
I look at my baby’s sweet face and it always makes me want to create music.
I try to take regular flute lessons to keep me on track, but I also surf YouTube for new music ideas.
How about you? What do you do to recharge yourself artistically? Feel free to add to the comments below, I’d love to know your opinion to add to this collection.