I know, I’ve been silent for months, and now it is time to recover.
I always have so many things to write down and so little time to do it. This period has been so intense and full of travels and changes that, sometimes, when I wake up, I forget where I am and what I am expected to to during the incoming day.
I wish to share with you a special occasion I had for my research on music flow at the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics in Frankfurt am Main. I was invited to speak about our research on music flow on an exclusive Symposium at the the Max Planck Institute.
BTW, what is flow?
ok, keep your eyes closed and keep breathing while you are imagining the last time you did something so involving to absorpt you totally, when time passed extremely quickly or slowly, you forgot everything else except the task you were doing, you felt so at ease, everything was under control and perfectly flew without interruptions. This is flow. An optimal psychological state you live while immersed in an activity you can perfectly manage, although it is still challenging, and all the rest is left apart.
This definition resonates so well with me if I think about my musical practice. When I sing, I am always in flow. Time stops, I am “in the moment“, “In the groove”, “was ‘tuned in’ to what I was doing”…(Martin, & Jackson, 2008)
Four years ago, in 2015 during my internship, I wrote my first article, which was also the first systematic review on this experience in musical contexts. I called it “When music Flows“. To be honest, a lot of things have flown since that article. First, I started and finished my doctorate. Then, I got a PhD position keeping on my favourite topics., and discover that Flow is a sort of potential transformative experience but at that time I was not aware of it. Crucially, I have been invited to talk about this work at the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics by professor Winfried Menninghaus’ group. When I received the email I was astonished and kept thinking about “Is it really true?”. Yes, it was true and it has been an amazing experience. Two full-time days dedicated to flow research across different fields, including music.
Flow is music is considered the key of success….want to know more? Go on reading!
Here’s the opening.
Why this Symposium on flow?
“Enjoyment appears at the boundary between boredom and anxiety, when the challenges are just balanced with the person’s capacity […].” – this quote by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (2001), one of the pioneers of Positive Psychology, illustrates how a person can find pleasure in an activity and become completely engaged with it. In artistic contexts – whether it is creating, performing, or receiving art – enjoyment of the activity in its own right plays a central role. By studying artists, who show a high degree of dedication to their craft regardless of external rewards, Csikszentmihalyi discovered a specific state of mind associated with such intrinsic enjoyment: Flow.
Nowadays Flow is not only a popular term people use in their everyday language to refer to the feeling of “being in the zone” while doing something. It is also the object of an ever-evolving research field, sparking scientific interest amongst scholars from a wide range of disciplines such as psychologists, neuroscientists, and health scientists. In this symposium we will bring together experts in Flow research, to present and discuss recent advances and future directions of the field. The symposium’s main focus is on Flow in the context of art, music, and creativity, but also on psychophysiological and neurophysiological indicators of Flow, as well as on motivational and interindividual factors contributing to this experience. We are looking forward to two interesting days of scientific presentations and debate!”
I was so happy to let other researchers know which progress is possible now in the field of music. I presented our perspective on group flow, a state of low enlarged to more than a single individual and involving an entire group of people, I showed our encouraging results and met wonderful people, such as my hero, professor Örjan de Manzano, the first who studied psychophysiology of flow in musicians, his colleague, professor László Harmat, who is doing great research on group flow and who we hope to collaborate with in the future, the sweet and brilliant Corinna Peifer, international expert in the psychophysiology of flow, professor Fredrik Ullén, who introduced a new genetic and dispositional big data perspective on flow, as well as René Weber, who presented the Synchronization Theory of Flow, and the promising researcher Kelsey Finnley, who developed the scale of Aesthetic experiences including flow (I hope to be in charge of its italian validation).
I have been so happy to be among these people and share our insights ideas and data. I wish to thank them all.
Below the full list of speakers:
Arnold Bakker (Erasmus University Rotterdam, Netherlands)
Alice Chirico (Catholic University of the Sacred Heart Milan/Brescia, Italy)
Genevieve Cseh (Buckinghamshire New University, England)
Kelsey Finnley (Claremont Graduate University, USA)
László Harmat (Linnaeus University Växjö, Sweden)
David Harris (University of Exeter, England)
Johannes Keller (University of Ulm, Germany)
Örjan de Manzano (Karolinska Institute Stockholm, Sweden)
Corinna Peifer (Ruhr University Bochum, Germany)
Birte Thissen (Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics Frankfurt, Germany)
Fredrik Ullén (Karolinska Institute Stockholm, Sweden)
Martin Ulrich (University of Ulm, Germany)
Regina Vollmeyer (Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany)
Michael Wagner (University of Ulm, Germany)
René Weber (University of California Santa Barbara, USA)
P.S. A special thanks to professor Johannes Keller who assisted me and recover me when I got lost in the building looking for the cafeteria 🙂 🙂 . He is a man full of talent and passion, an open-minded person, and passionate beekeeper. I’ve loved sharing ideas with him.
And a “see you later” to Manuela M. Marin, expert in music and who will visit us in Milan in the final part of 2019: see you in Milan!
- New collaborations:
- New insight about how to enter flow while playing, performing or listening to music.
- Flow alone and in groups.