Carys Gittins is a flautist at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and we spoke to her about how meditation has helped her with her music degree.
How long have you been meditating? Do you do it on your own or do you attend classes?
I started meditating around a year ago now. My college was running free classes and so I went along to those but I also practice in my own time. Doing a music degree can be really demanding, especially with the hours we have to practice every day alongside orchestras and written assessments. I find it helps me switch off from my degree but it has also improved my flute playing a lot.
How do you feel you’ve benefitted from it?
I would say I am much more mindful whilst I am practicing now. Being able to understanding why I am practicing and for what reasons helps me to focus a lot more. If I’m just practicing and not thinking about why then I find that I don’t play as well.
As I mentioned before, my focus improved a lot when I started meditating. I was able to focus more clearly on what I was playing in the moment. A lot of meditation, especially mindfulness, is about being aware of the present moment so this helped a lot when I needed to concentrate fully on what I was doing like in concerts and auditions. It also benefitted me a lot in not thinking about other things when I am playing which is so easy to do. If you lose your focus it can really affect your playing so being able to shut other things out is key.
A large part of playing the flute is about your breathing, and being aware of this is so important as it can completely change a performance. When practicing meditation, you’re really aware of your breathing and this made me more aware of it when I’m playing the flute as well. It also helps me to relax by focusing on this which is really helpful during audition time.
Would you recommend meditation to other musicians?
Yes, I definitely would. Doing a music degree can be intense and anything to help with that is great. It forces you to switch off, take a step back and relax!