The thing with musicians is that our hobby is our work

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I often meet nice, colorful and inspiring people. One man I recently met is called Roberto, he is a musician and teaches private classes to children and adults in The Hague. I asked if he wanted to be featured on my blog. He was glad to be and below you can read the result.

1. How did you start out as a music teacher?

I started out as a part time job while studying music. It turned out there was a high demand for music teachers for children, to me it seemed a natural job to do. With time I realized how much I like it. I received many positive feedback of students who were happy with my classes.

2. What is your music background in terms of education, experience and passion?

It all started very early. Through my parents I have been listening to classical music since I remember. We were listening music together, talking about it and playing games like “Who made this music, Mozart or Beethoven”. Then as a teenager I started to listen to bands and contemporary music. I always met up with friends to listen and see videos of music. I didn’t play my mom’s guitar, that was resting in its case for ever, until a school teacher taught us to play guitar. Then I had a couple of good private teachers and it became clear that I wanted to be a musician. I have a bachelor in arrangements and composition of popular music in Santiago, Chile, and a master’s degree in Sonology (electronic and computer music) from the Royal Conservatory in The Hague. There I acquired another passion which is computer programming related to sound and music.

3. How did you end up teaching in the Netherlands?

In 2002 I came to study Sonology. First it helped me during my studies, but eventually it became my main job.

4. Could you describe the people you teach; adults and children? What type of instruments do you teach?

I teach mainly children in the age range of about 7 till 18 years old. I do teach a few passionate adults too. I mostly teach guitar but also solfège, theory and harmony, depending the interest of the student. And to some I also teach how to produce music in a home studio situation.

5. What type of music do you like?

All type, but when it comes to listening music by myself, I like the kind of introspective one, music that searches the hidden corners of the consciousness. It might be the singing of African Pygmy, or an orchestral piece by Arvo Part. But it all depends on the situation of course. In general, my preference goes out to music that is an expression of an artistic or personal neccessity rather than music made with commercial goals.

6. What do you love most of teaching?

It is really rewarding to see my students achieving things that at the beginning appeared to be impossible to them.

7. What are your interests besides teaching music?

The thing with musicians is that our hobby is our work, but besides that, I like to travel, to meet new people and places, to eat well and healthy and to enjoy nature, but mostly spend time with my family and to see how my daughter grows.

8. How can people get in touch with you for music lessons?

People can write to me at garretonroberto@gmail.com. I teach in English, Spanish and Dutch.

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14 Characteristics of highly sensitive people

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As you might have read in the blog ‘HSP: Let the pain surface so joy can replace the freed space’; in 2011 I decided to put myself forward as a coach for highly sensitive people. It took me 11 years to realize this fully. In the year 2000 I read the book ‘The Highly Sensitive Child’ written by Elaine N. Aron. In 2008 I was conscious of the fact that the people I coach were a lot like me: caring, creative, intuitive and with soft and loving souls. Below you can read through more of the characteristics of highly sensitive people:

1. Have great imagination
2. Have great intellectual abilities
3. Are creative
4. Have a curious mind
5. Are hard workers
6. Are good problem solvers
7. Are extremely conscious and compassionate
8. Are intuitive, caring and spiritual
9. Have a strong sense of aesthetic awareness
10. Respect nature, art and music greatly
11. Have profound and intense sensations
12. Can access important information from the unconscious mind
13. Have a depth of understanding and feelings
14. Are objective and can see the bigger picture

Also read this article on the “16 Habits of Highly Sensitive People”.

You’ve got a heart as loud as lions

‘You’ve got a heart as loud as lions. So why let your voice be tamed?’ ~ Emeli Sandé

One week ago I heard this song for the first time in the supermarkt. I was caught by it. It wasn’t the lyrics, somehow I didn’t hear the lyrics, I felt the music. I believe it was a mixture between pain and a sense of loss or being lost. Since I didn’t caught a line of the lyrics, I hoped to come across this song soon. A couple of days later, again in the supermarket, I stopped walking and listened carefully. This time I was able to look it up later at home. To my surprise I found out it was a song full of hope telling us to let our hearts speak out loud in stead of pain and a sense of loss. But then again these two go hand in hand. Hearing and using one’s true voice means truly letting go of the physical and emotional pain which was holding your voice back. This song is on ‘replay’ ever since I discovered it.

HSP: being a highly sensitive person in Africa

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The rainy season is coming to an end on Bioko island, leaving space for the sunny, very hot and humid days of the dry season. I am a HSP. I am sensitive to light, sun, heat, sweat. I have got asthma as well as some food intolerance. I do not get along well with heavy spicy sauces or fermented vegetables or tubers (most of country’s traditional dishes that I know of). I am thinking about becoming a vegetarian. Trying to retrieve all-vegetarian African recipes could be an interesting hobby.

I like music, however I cannot stand the loud volume of the radio whenever I get in a local taxi. I love dancing , but I can get extremely shy in public. I feel terribly guilty if I ever find someone hitting a child for the child’s sake!. I feel pain and discomfort when I have to get my hair braided, my scalp is so sensitive. I once had to wrung a cock’s neck and let it bleed on the floor as a sacrifice. But I didn’t faint , did not have any nightmares nor did I feel guilty afterwards, because I was never left alone throughout the process (my mother’s ritual for becoming a widow). I am not a very good model of housewife for I get overwhelmed whenever I have to clean the house and cook or run some errands. This is me. And yes: I am African. I am a woman. Thus I am an African woman. Besides I currently live in Africa. Which makes me somewhat a rara avis?. I don’t think so. So little has been said about us…HS African women…but we do exist.

I am not very good at maths, but considering that the African Continent has approximately a population of 1000 millions, a 20% of that would be around 200 million potential HSP. And thinking especially of those who live in urban areas… I am wondering how do they cope with the million stimuli surrounding us on a daily basis?. How do they relate to their spouses, children and relatives to limit boundaries?. How do they deal with stress?. And HS men…how do they manage to go through initiation ceremonies? How do they feel when they are obliged to take a girl they don’t really know or have never met as wife?. How can they stop the tears from falling when feeling sad, depressed or even just moved, shocked?.

The answer is the sense of community: the family, the village, the clan, the tribe. . In Africa you can be alone at times, but you are never lonely. There is always someone by your side watching you, ready to hold your hand if you are about to fall, to smile at you if you doubt, to push you a little if you are afraid to jump into the river…At least, that is how it used to be. Right now we are loosing our values and trying to fit in a changing world, not anymore one of the traditions but either a fully western individual oriented world. In fact we are in the middle of nowhere trying to just make it through.

Africa is much more than all those TV shocking images of wars, wild animals, droughts, starving children, AIDS, jumping massai, and Developed South Africa. It is much more than that. And from now on I will try to offer a very personal HSP view from my little piece of Africa on this fan page. It could be a fascinating journey. Would you like to ride?

Written by Anneta Gonçalves

Source: HSP Awareness International 

Your talent keeps you young

My deeply felt respect goes out to Robertinho Silva. I got to know him last Wednesday in Theater Culturalis in the Hague. We, six students of Capoeira Engenho, were present to give a capoeira demonstration and to receive a percussion class of the master himself. He was quick, alert and making jokes all the time. He made fun of me being tired. Only a few seconds after a yawn escaped from me, he took his chance to copy my yawn. Oeps! Yeaah..he made me laugh, the contradiction was so obvious. Robertinho, 70 years old , an explosion of energy and me, a woman of 33 yearning for her sleep.

Last night I attended another percussion class and was sitting next to him. I caught myself staring at his hands, arms, face and teeth. His hands and arms could be from a guy in his fourties. The expression on this face was alive and I believe he still had his own teeth! Of course I didn’t dare to ask, hihi, I was there to play the timba. Ok, focus on the music in stead of his appearance. But no, I need to point this out.

Robertinho Silva is 70 and full of energy. I want to be like him on that age. I truly believe that his talent keeps him young. So hence my outcry: stop doing things which totally exhaust you and start doing things that makes you feel alive and kicking!!

So what’s your talent?

Also read: Start doing more mindless things.

Are you a highly sensitive person?

Are you a highly sensitive person? Or perhaps your partner, family member or colleague is? Highly Sensitive People (HSP) are more attuned to stimuli from their environment (via the 5 senses) as well as the internal stimuli of their own thoughts and emotions. In 2000 I read my first book on this topic ‘The Highly Sensitive Person’ by Elaine N. Aron. She described traits and situations common for HSP’s and oftenly I recognized them as my own. After having read the book I let go of the content and focussed on other priorities such as study and work.

Since I started coaching in 2004 I seem to attract this type of people and I was able to guide them in achieving their goals. As for most developments it took some time before I realized that this topic was the core of my work. Eight years to be exact! On the 17th of September 2011 I organized the first workshop on ‘Emotion management for HSP’ in Dutch. In the near future I would like to organize these workshops in English as well. So are you highly sensitive? Read the following to check if you might be…And please send this on to people who find this an interesting topic. Thanks!

Are you easily overwhelmed by strong sensory input? Do other people’s moods affect you? Are you very sensitive to pain? Do you sometimes get so frazzled that you have to go off somewhere by yourself? Are you moved by art, music? Are you conscientious? Do you startle easily? When you are with a large group of people, do you tend to go off into your own thoughts, or need to go somewhere quiet instead? Do others’ feelings affect you deeply?

Do you need more sleep than others? Do you sometimes react differently to medication or the amount, than others? Do you find the labels in your clothes too rough on your skin? Do you get rattled when people try to get you to do too many things at once? Do you have a rich, complex inner life? Have people called you ‘too fussy about heat/cold/food/noise/pain’ or ‘too sensitive for your own good’?

If your answer to these questions is ‘yes’, then you may be one of 15%-20% of the NORMAL population who have a more finely tuned nervous system and who experiences the world a little differently to others. However, you may have grown up with this being reflected negatively to you by those who do not understand.

You can read more on this topic on the website of Elaine Aron