In the flow

In the here and now

How do artists get into the flow they need to create something fantastic? Is it particular music? A special workplace? Or is it pure luck? This month: trumpeter and composer Eric Vloeimans.

text: Marloes Elings
photography: Jelmer de Haas

‘To me, flow is lifeforce. A source that you can tap into, and which then continues to flow. If you want to feel it, you have to take care of yourself, both mentally and physically. That’s why I swim a kilometre at least once every week. And I do racewalking to boost my energy levels. To be at one with my body. I meditate too. My mind often feels overloaded, as I always work on several projects at once. Maybe something classical, then a performance at a company do, or – like with HOTSPOT! – a groovy set with five other people on stage.

I meditate to stay in the here and now. I don’t sit on a special cushion or have a special place, I just meditate on a chair or wherever I happen to be: on my bed, outside my forest house or somewhere comfy in the studio. I focus on my breathing. Of course all sorts of thoughts pop into my mind, because you can’t eliminate them completely. But by constantly turning my attention to my breathing, I manage to find peace. It’s just a mental exercise really.The way I look has a huge impact on being able to feel the right synergy on stage. My outfit mustn’t clash with the rest of the musicians. That’s why I always take several suits to my concerts; so I can check what looks best. I’d hate to feel like a Christmas tree standing next to a more subdued fellow-musician. That would put me right off.

I used to get very nervous before performances, but the conductor and violinist Jaap van Zweden once told me: “Always give the very best of yourself”. And that works if you’re well prepared. I never have trouble giving the best of myself, because I love what I do: playing and composing. Obviously things can go wrong. Not so long ago, my trumpet valve broke just before a concert. The secret is to stay calm and carefully re-screw the valve. If you panic about things like this, you lose your flow.
If it’s at all possible, I play with eyes closed. It’s a conscious choice, a way of distancing myself. I don’t see who’s sitting in the front row. I’m concentrating on creating the best music for the audience, and giving the very best of myself.’

Eric Vloeimans will appear in Cloud Nine on 7 May with his new jazz band HOTSPOT! The concert is part of Sunday Afternoon Jazz.

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