Ditching Dogma

Uncategorized May 13, 2021

I have been a classical musician and immersed in the culture of music my entire life. And when I say entire life, I’m not exaggerating.


My parents met in music school, my Dad proposed to my mom after a rehearsal and they both pursued lives and careers as musicians and music educators. Since I was in utero I have been drenched in the beautiful world of music.


Growing up music was just a part of who we were. The piano was always being played and a part of the culture of both our family and the classical music world was performing at a high level.


Excellence was expected and part of our family identity. Being able to skill build, perform at a high level under pressure and my ability to reflect and hone a craft have all been amazing assets to me in my life. Each of which can be traced back to my experience as a musician and our family of high performers.


Just like any beautiful world, the world of music has it’s complications.


Competitive classical music fostered perfectionism, low self-worth and a perpetual desire to do things “right” in not just me - in literally every classically trained musician I know.


In classical music there is very much a “right” and “wrong” way of doing things. Part of this is a testament to the precision and opulence of the artform. There are specific techniques and traditions that are beautiful to uphold and execute at a high level. Just like the awe, height and splendor of Pointe Ballet.


There are also ways of playing that are “accepted”, especially in auditions, and ways that simply are not. Part of the puzzle is honoring each composer’s unique creations and stories as the musician who brings it to life. Part of the puzzle is also the culture accepting one way as ultimate fact and truth with unwavering expansion or new thought allowed.


This is dogma.


Not only can this shadow side of classical music culture stamp the creativity, innovations and free expressions of artists, it can block “non-musicians” from accessing all the good that the art-form has to offer.


I will never forget the first time I dated a non-musician. He was asking a bunch of questions about what was ok to wear to hear me play. He was like, “Don’t I need to dress up? With a tie?”


Experiencing and witnessing his perspective gave me a new and eye opening view to how the “outside world” portrays classical music. It’s seen as something that even needs to be experienced and enjoyed in a “right way”.


All of these shadow sides of the classical music world left a bad taste in my mouth and heart - many of which led me to create Mindful Music. In Mindful Music I seek to uphold the amazing traditions and offerings of the art-form while inviting a more accepting and open way of experiencing it as well.


Is it possible to hold it all? The traditions and reverence for the art-form and at the same time drop the controlling, judgment and ego-based sentiments?


My answer is absolutely yes. And, it’s necessary. For the expansion and thriving of musicians, non-musicians and humanity everywhere.


This dogma gets to be ditched.


Fast forward to this past year when I was in a formal education setting outside the space of music for the first time ever. I enrolled in and completed Yoga Teacher Training.


Upon entering the terrain of yoga education, I felt dogma show up again - this time in my sacred space of mindfulness and yoga! The very thing that had allowed me to heal from the wounds I had experienced as a musician.


Hold. The. Phone.


There is dogma in yoga, meditation and mindfulness too? My sanctuary?


The answer I received through my experiences and educational spaces was yes. Not only did it exist, it was alive and well.


As I peeled back more layers, experienced more teachers, read more books, dove into my training and took more asana I discovered dogma everywhere I looked.


I heard that there were “right” and “wrong” ways to meditate. I was once told that if I use a mantra, it’s not meditation.


I was given alignment adjustments that were the “right” way to hold Warrior three. However, I felt my knee tweak upon that adjustment.


I even was verbally put down once in front of a whole group of yogis because of a question I asked. It felt bad to feel unsafe asking questions and know there was a status quo to uphold.


It was one of those experiences where once you see something you can’t un-see it. You can’t un-feel it.


The bubble had been burst - dogma exists in yoga and dogma exists in music.


What I discovered is this: dogma doesn’t discriminate.


In both spaces of my expertise and training, it exists. In spaces that I do not have expertise or training, it exists too. The idea of hard and fast rules of “right” and “wrong” in art-forms and genres of life is an ugly shadow.


Just because this shadow it exists, doesn’t mean it needs to run the show.


So, how do we ditch the dogma? How do we drop the judgement and at the same time uphold the roots and traditions that mean so much?


It’s about living in the Land of And.

The first step in releasing a dogma driven paradigm is the ability to drop binary thought and expand the ability to hold paradox.


I can love and appreciate playing a Sonata true to form with all of the ornaments and style neatly and precisely executed. I can deeply honor my craft and the composer in this way.


In the very same breath, I can create my own compositions independently. I can experiment with different kinds of ornaments and how they may have been played in different time periods. I can even play with, what does the me of this exact moment feel sounds beautiful?


It doesn’t need to be and cannot be (if rooting out dogma is desired) an either or situation.


It gets to be both.


It’s living in what I love to call, “The Land of And”.


Same thing in yoga and mindfulness. I can show up to my meditation cushion using a mantra one day and find it immensely supportive and transcendent. The next day I may focus on my breath or simply welcome all parts of myself just as they are observing my sensations and thoughts.


Neither is right or wrong. Both can exist and both be beneficial and true.


Another powerful aspect of this flip is the idea that I’m not denying either reality. I’m not denying the existence of dogma and I’m not denying the existence of a way without it. Both are true.


It’s about living in the Land of And.


It’s about technique and form.

I think the basis of a lot of dogmatic structures that exist is an original desire to preserve the integrity of each art-form.


This is beautiful, necessary and something I’m totally on board with. The problem is that the original intention has been many times distorted.


So, by all means let’s think about it in a way that doesn’t distort! Let’s think and embody it as technique and form.


Whether it’s baroque, classical, romantic or 20th century music - each has unique attributes that get to be honored, expressed and passed on to budding musicians. It’s about learning that technique and form of music in a way that honors the roots.


What it’s not about is making that specific technique and form “right” or “wrong”. It’s a fine line.


Same in the space of mindfulness, meditation and yoga.


So many different ways of meditating, mindfulness practices and even different styles of asana (the shapes and movement) exist and each gets to be honored for the unique gifts and perspectives it brings to the table.


There is not “right” or “wrong”. There are different techniques and forms that get to be experienced, honored and practiced.


It’s about technique and form.


It’s about exposure, ability and choice.

Something I do in my Mindful Music lessons is “exposure repertoire” and “choice repertoire”. I have different buckets for the intention and way that my students do the different pieces in our lessons together.


Exposure repertoire is with the intention of exposing my students to the different techniques, forms and styles of music that exist. I want them to receive a well-rounded and complete music education. I want them to have deep awareness of what the music world has to offer.


If they aren’t exposed to it, how would they even know if they like it or not?! Just like if I never tried sushi, I would never know that it’s one of my favorite foods. So it goes with music.


Choice repertoire is when my students get full autonomy over what they prepare and play. Most of the time this is what they perform as well. Lots of pop, rock and Top 40 music shows up in choice repertoire. Some of my students choose classical or jazz too after they’ve been exposed to it.


This approach works because it expands their awareness and honors their autonomy at the very same time. It’s based in the Land of And.


I never want my students’ creativity or exploration to be stamped by their ability to play a certain style. This is why we focus on being able to play the different styles and forms rather than needing to play them.


It opens up their creative world and offers them the full spectrum of colors to paint with.


Similarly with my mindfulness coaching clients and yoga students, I embody this value of exposure, ability and choice.


I view myself as a tool extender. I hold tools, practices and different ways out to my students.


I share all the different ways to meditate and help my clients do them. I share all the different poses and guide each person in making that shape with their body. Most importantly as they are exposed to all the different ways and practices, I send them back to themselves to choose and know.


What works for you? What gives you benefits? What does not? What supports you in accessing your highest truth?


Similarly, I don’t want my client’s lives to be limited by their ability to access different tools. I support them in learning how and they decide if.


As a leader, it’s my job to facilitate exposure, ability and empowered choice to every single person that I hold high - whether it’s a kid at the piano, a coaching client or a yoga student on their mat.


It’s about exposure, ability and choice.


It’s a thing, so let’s shift it.

As much as I’d love to say that the worlds of music and yoga are squeaky clean with no shady corners, that’s simply not the case.


One of the gifts of mindfulness is being able to witness truths in a neutral and scientific way. From this powerful stance, conscious choice on how to move forward with that information can take place.


This is the antidote to being caught up in a painful mental story and just call a spade a simple spade.


There is dogma in classical music.


There is dogma in yoga.


The ideas of “right” and “wrong” in these art-forms harms and blocks.


I propose a better way. A shift and a gift.


What would it be like if we lived in The Land of And?


If you knew it was about honoring technique and form rather than right and wrong, what opens up for you in how you experience the art-form?


What would it be like to embody exposure, ability and choice to have the full breadth of experiences at your finger-tips?


Dogma doesn’t discriminate. Lets use mindfulness and ditch it in whatever way it shows up.


It’s a thing, so let’s shift it.



Are you interested in rooting out dogma in your own life? Do you want to learn all the different ways to access your power through mindfulness and use it to fuel your dreams? This is what I offer my coaching clients! And great news - I am accepting new clients. I’d love to hold you high on your journey!

Sound exciting? Book a free resonance call with me here to learn what coaching looks like. It’s my greatest joy to witness and support people as they consciously create their potential.


I bring these principles on dogma to my Mindful Music piano students! As they learn the piano they also gain a mindfulness toolkit for life. We create something really special together and I officially have only one space available! If you’d love your kid to learn in this container or even would like to learn piano this way for yourself, reach out to me here. If this is you, make a move today. I expect to have a waiting list soon.



Every moment of every day, in every way, each of us has the power to make shifts that matter.


Whether you’ve recently experienced a “right” or “wrong” moment in your craft or have a loop in your mind on repeat from your childhood - I invite you to step off the merry-go-round today.


When you see dogma show up, ditch it.


It’s about The Land of And.


It’s about technique and form.


It’s about exposure, ability and choice.


We get to stand tall in both.


It’s possible to hold it all.


All of the beauty, peaks, traditions, forms, innovations, splendor and unique expression.


It’s possible. Let it sparkle together.


In pivots, shifts and honoring your unique gifts,

⭐️  Adrienne


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