sat 11/07/2020

The power of resilience: flautist Noemi Gyori on positive ways to face adversity | reviews, news & interviews

The power of resilience: flautist Noemi Gyori on positive ways to face adversity

The power of resilience: flautist Noemi Gyori on positive ways to face adversity

How performers, and others, might best deal with the current crisis

Noemi Gyori: 'I feel more aware of my capacities and my ability for action'Lead and bottom images by Laszlo Emmer

The magnitude of challenges that the entire classical music industry is facing due to the coronavirus pandemic is unprecedented. In the twinkling of an eye, cultural life became suspended. Many of us, mostly freelancers and entrepreneurs, smaller organizations, but even employees of large orchestras across the world are now dealing with stark financial and psychological pressure. If this wasn’t enough, we need to address difficulties in partial or full isolation - a highly unusual situation for us musicians, who otherwise are so connected to others and are extremely aware of the essentiality of collective creative power.

While the long-lasting consequences of COVID-19 are unknown, I would like to share some thoughts on resilience with my fellow musicians. I hope these may provoke much-needed positivity or serve as a support mechanism to help cope with, and overcome, the current challenges we are facing.

Engaging with Positivity

Resilience became a hot topic in modern psychology during the last decade as researchers looked to discover the behavioral attitudes behind “positive” responses to stress and complex or traumatic life situations. Negative events are inevitable and can heavily affect an individual for a period of time. However, according to psychology studies, they generate disparate long term outcomes in different individuals depending on how they handle the arising challenges.

When extensive stresses are treated in a positive manner, research indicates that they will not defeat or set back a person permanently, moreover, in some cases, individuals are even able to steer the situation towards positive growth in the long run. Some psychologists see personal resilience reserves as the “psychological immune system”, an ever-changing protective network, which is able to help shield from losses and damage. Therefore numerous research was carried out aiming to identify strategies that increased capacities for resilient behavior or the attitude with a “growth mindset”.

Resilience: Musicians Hidden Superpower?

Noemi Gyori in performanceI believe that one indispensable characteristic personality trait of classical musicians is precisely the capacity to be resilient. In our profession, we are trained to cope with stress in a positive way and generate growth even under pressure from early on in our education. We have great skills in concentration, perseverance, and focus - exercised continuously over decades. We are practised and able to function and perform in tense situations and have the ability to react quickly, or even improvise. [Noemi Gyori performing at home pictured above by Reka Erdi-Harmer]

These are all valuable assets which are already within us. But how can we activate and put these skills to good use in the present?

1. Construct your personal framework and limit negative thoughts

The ongoing events, continuous cancellations of concerts and the communication around the pandemic draws our attention towards the aspect of danger, creating a sense of constant emergency. Our mind is focusing on the risks we are and might be facing, directing thoughts sharply onto current and possible future losses. Of course, understanding and accepting the gravity of events and facts is important and it is essential to stay up-to-date. However, we must not allow our mindset to place the disease, and hardships in general at its centr. We need to build protective boundaries to prevent ourselves from becoming over-anxious about negative occurrences that may or may not happen to us in the future. We can do this by limiting our thoughts and engagement only to difficulties that affect us personally at present, viewing these as current facts of our life.

By changing our framework, we are able to shift perspectives and allow ourselves to begin constructing a new personal approach that provides room for identifying positive sides of the given situation (however little they may be). Energies previously dedicated to negative thoughts can be freed up and utilized towards moving forward, giving us energy and space to identify our assets and begin working on creating potential new opportunities. A good starting point for this is to take a closer look at and appreciate the importance of some uplifting facts retrospectively, then presently, and finally look into the future.

2. Reflect and find gratitude

However controversial it may sound at first, times of great challenges can empower us to appreciate the number of positive things that surround us, even when considering our significant losses. A shut-down like we are experiencing may bring us the opportunity to inspect hese personal assets and channel more energy towards them. Perhaps we now have the pportunity to spend much more time with our families and care for our immediate suroundings. This period may allow us to increase the amount of our daily practice; working on peces or addressing technical and musical issues we longed to concentrate on.

3. Reach out to your community

Sudden changes in our circumstances and the increased amount of existential stresses and push us out from our comfort zones with great momentum. This may cause us to question (or possibly to lose) our sense of our personal value and successes. We may not seem to find our role in broader society or the right function in our families. During our lifetime, each and every one of us inevitably experiences demanding phases, times when we feel set-back and limited in our abilities to proceed with a life we desire. Difficulties like these can often ignite feelings of failure or a sense of being unfortunate compared to others. Perhaps it can come as a relief that today we are all in the same boat, sharing similar challenges. It may be the time to reach out to friends old and new, initiate fresh collaborations, or help the vulnerable in your neighborhood as connecting with our acquaintances empowers us to realize how meaningful our emotional presence can be to others.

4. Apply your creativity

Pressured life-circumstances also force us to be creative when looking into the future: we might begin approaching our previous professional activities in a very different way. For the moment many of us musicians are delving into utilizing online platforms, are initiating new projects, or are even starting to learn something new. The experiences of taking charge of our life can prove to us that we are able to overcome severe difficulties, giving us a sense of much needed extra energy, inspiration, and ever so importantly, a source of life-force. Although it may not be instantly comforting, we can remind ourselves of how our predecessors survived the many times in history when musicians were forced to put down their instruments entirely for a period of time or were in need of additional income, doing extra shifts in different fields. So many of our exemplary role models can prove to us that with persistence and resilience, it is possible to bridge similar periods. Noemi GyoriEvaluating our options and facing questions such as the above-mentioned ones enhance us to better understand what vulnerability means. They force us to look at things from different angles, think outside of our usual boxes and push us towards actively taking charge of our situation, always experimenting and finding creative solutions for our battles. They set us on the road of action, open our minds, and consequently, support our resilience.

Writing this article hasn’t come easily to me. In fact, it was a gruelling and difficult process to come to the point where I was able to put the above points into words. When I set out to summarize my thoughts, I still felt very much preoccupied with the pain of my own personal losses and the colossal impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the classical music industry. I certainly didn’t see this coming, and for sure wasn’t prepared for the magnitude of effects it would have on the lives of most people surrounding me, including myself. It is not a joyous process to re-evaluate so many fundamental aspects of life and to see how vulnerable everything may be. At the same time, this process has helped me step by step to get to the point where I feel I am able to take charge of events in my life. I feel more aware of my capacities and my ability for action. I certainly feel more ready and present to do whatever it takes to overcome these challenges and have experienced my days in a more positive way, channelling energies towards constructive thoughts and acts with incomparable efficiency.

I firmly believe that we musicians are equipped with enormous perseverance and creative potential. So I hope that by sharing the above thoughts I am able to aid in awakening these and inspire other musicians on their journey towards facing their own personal challenges.

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