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  • Writer's pictureJoseph Arnold

​Redefining Performance, Practice, & Teaching

Hello friends!

Here’s another excerpt from my upcoming book, “Soulforce Arts: The Vital Role of Musicians & Other Artists in a World That’s Lost Its Mind.”

This is from my chapter on performance, practice, and teaching, where I explore how to approach each of these with the development and expression of Soulforce in mind. This excerpt is the opening of this chapter.

If you want to support my work, please consider contributing to my Kickstarter campaign, which ends on 10/19/22.




Redefining Performance, Practice, & Teaching

Like I describe in earlier chapters, I believe that the highest purpose of artists and musicians is to be the broadcast nodes by which our crucial “system updates” are spread so that humanity can better adapt to our many collective and personal crises in ways that allow us not only to survive, but to thrive. To that end, our main job is to evolve into the kind of people that the world really needs right now—that is, fully alive, grounded, soulful, and dedicated to growth and healing—and then devote ourselves to making art from the deepest truth, beauty, and goodness that we know.

Thus, Soulforce Arts recontextualizes artistry, both in focus and in scope. Soulforce Arts takes a truly holistic perspective on all aspects of artistry, and shifts the central concern away from the traditional myopic focus on the craft itself to a focus on the artist-as-a-whole in relation to the craft. It also expands the scope of the focus to include not just the artist as an individual, making their way within traditional institutions, but as the artist in relation to the whole planet. 

Figure 10.1 Soulforce Artistry focuses on the artist as a whole person within the larger context of the whole Earth and all of its beings. Images adapted from

Here are some examples of the wider context the Soulforce Arts offers:

  • Instead of focusing on technique as if in a vacuum, we examine the use of the whole body/mind to aid that technique. 

  • Instead of unconsciously borrowing expressive habits from the past, we actively plumb our inner depths and open ourselves to what’s happening in the world so that our full, raw soulfulness shines through each creative act. 

  • And instead of seeing ourselves as separate monads, making a living doing something that we at least enjoy, we view ourselves as agents of the vanguard of culture, constantly reaching into new potentialities and reflecting the new realities, perspectives, and ways of being that call into existence the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible.

This more holistic perspective allows us to recontextualize performance, practice, and teaching in relationship to all the things that are typically left out of conservatory-style arts training: the whole person (instinct, emotion, body, mind, soul, and spirit) and a world that is radically different from when our artistic traditions were first created. What I love most about this—in addition to the ease, flow, and joy that result from this approach—is that it empowers us to make a positive difference during the things we’re already doing as artists.

From this point of view, practicing becomes an act of developing “the knowledge of the soul,” the technique to express it, and the effortlessness necessary to let it shine through; performing becomes about opening to the relationship between the Self and the audience so that your “system update” can be well-given and well-received; and teaching becomes about guiding students up the Consciousness Escalator* and into their own capacity for Soulforce.

In this chapter, I will share the ways that I currently know how to do each of these things. I share my ideas with humility because, although as the author of this book I am setting myself up as an “authority,” the real authority belongs to us as a community of creative, purpose-driven artists. I only have some pieces of the puzzle; you very likely have other pieces that I have yet to realize. So I invite you to view my offerings in this chapter (and in this whole book, for that matter) as my few pieces of our collective Soulforce Arts mosaic.

*Note: This is in reference to an earlier chapter on Spiral Dynamics, which is a developmental model of human consciousness. The “Consciousness Escalator” is a term for a person’s growth into more complex and adaptive ways of being.

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