Dream Master Class for Musicians (Astral Plane)AC 249: October 28, 2005 (Boston)
I was waiting with a group of clarinetists to play for a High Being--not an earthly conductor, as in an audition, and not a master clarinetist, as in a master class.
The location was the Dream Zone, a special area having to do with continuing education in the field of fulfilling one's life purpose. The High Being was examining us to see how well we played. The criterion wasn't technique or expressiveness, but soulfulness.
The players in the master class ranged in age from student to professional, and included players who were making a living as freelancers, teachers, and symphony players. There were also passionate amateurs and talented beginners. The only requirement for being there was taking one's vocation or avocation as a clarinetist seriously.
The High Being was a Facilitator, perhaps an advanced variety of Personal Trainer. Personal Trainers are available to work with us one on one in the dream state. But this Facilitator was working with us as a group. The term Master Teacher seems appropriate to describe the function of this Facilitator.
I saw the Master Teacher as without gender, having a human form that was nearly dissolved in a cloud of light. Imagine purple clouds parting to let in a flood of golden light, and a figure standing on the edge of the clouds, visible against the light as a shadow, but also somewhat revealed in the light. It was possible to see a calm, shining face that seemed both friendly and welcoming, and terrifyingly radiant with nobility and spirituality.
In the presence of this High Being, there was no possibility for pose or pretense. Near-Death Experiencers sometimes describe encounters with a Being like this, calling it God or Jesus. In the company of this Being, they saw their lives pass before their eyes and felt a loving and compassionate judgment for behavior that the Being deemed spiritually inappropriate. This Being emanated such a strong moral force that it seemed to embody the principle of spiritual conscience.
The Being in my dream was like this. But everyone in the dream was alive and dreaming.
We each played for the Master Teacher. None of us were nervous, as we might have been before an earthly teacher. Yet there were varying degrees of awareness of what was going on. Some people were barely awake, just going through the motions of what was required of them. They were not really conscious of what they did or the results.
Others were preoccupied or self-absorbed. They thought they were in a real audition or master class on Earth. Their reflexes and consciousness were wholly directed into getting through it. They had little awareness of the High Being as anything but an authority figure they had to please somehow for the audition or master class to be successful. For them, this was just an anxiety dream.
One or two dreamers seemed to be on the verge of a breakthrough. Maybe they would be able to remember and use what they'd experienced in this master class.
The two dozen or so dreaming clarinetists in the master class were mostly unaware of what they were doing, where they were, or what they could do with the amazing opportunity that was being presented to them. Most of them would not remember their dream of the master class when they awoke. Or the dream would dissolve shortly after awakening. Perhaps they would carry into the day some indefinable emotional residue that might affect their mood without knowing how or why.
It was heartbreaking to watch the players who had been seeking a solution to some problem connected with their playing back on Earth solve their problem, or come close, here in the Dream Zone. Maybe in a moment of apparent inspiration, they would be able to recover the solution, not knowing that their insights had originated in a dream. More likely, they would just keep searching while awake.
As they each played for the Master Teacher, they became aware of the distance between what they'd accomplished on the instrument and what it would be like to play from the level of mastery of the High Being. The Being's presence made them aware of this distance with love, humor, compassion, kindness. There was no judgment, only a gentle coaxing to move beyond what had been mastered, to keep growing.
I heard a male player who was entirely in his head. His playing said, “Technique and control are everything.”
I heard another player, also male, who was all heart. His playing said, “Expression is everything.”
Each player was good. But in the presence of the High Being, neither could be entirely satisfied with what they'd accomplished. What was lacking in their playing was immediately apparent--at least to me. I'm not sure how the other dreamers registered what was going on. As mentioned, they seemed pretty self-absorbed.
Over and over, I heard players who were brilliant, true virtuosos, bound and able to impress an audience with the evenness of their tone, their flawless technique. Their by-the-numbers expressiveness effectively realized what was in the score. But in front of the Master Teacher, their playing seemed forced, thin, even strident. There was too much ego, not enough soul.
Then came a woman who played a passage of arpeggios--no melody. She didn't even play them quickly. Her only intention seemed to be to render what most players would consider a boring technical exercise with presence and authenticity.
I was in tears. Here at last was a whole soul, coming through in every note, effortlessly, without self-consciousness or any desire to impress.
The whole room became supercharged with feelings of "Yes, that's it." For a moment, each of us felt an opening, a momentary sense of connection to each other and the High Being.
For the woman who was playing, all that mattered was her one-pointed focus on the task she had set herself: to bring life to even the most inexpressive passage work. I heard in her playing the same radiance that shines forth for me from the simple arpeggiated figures in the C major Prelude from the first book of Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier.
When she finished playing, she looked up, as if only then sensing the charged atmosphere in the room. She looked at us quizically, as if to say, "What?"
I knew then that she was one of those who were searching. She'd experienced a breakthrough here in the Dream Zone. But she probably wouldn't remember it consciously. I hoped that some residue of the feeling from her dream might drive her to keep going in the direction she'd been exploring, her one-pointed focus on bringing expression even to apparently boring passage work. I wondered how much more her growth would be accelerated if she could remain aware of the dream experience we'd shared and could make use of it consciously in the waking state.
I woke up before I had a chance to play for the Master Teacher. But it didn't matter. I'd gotten what I needed from the experience--a new direction for my own practicing.