The Cello and David Darling in Love

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May 20, 2014

The Cello and David Darling in Love

David Darling May 20, 2014

David Darling, a Grammy®-winning cellist and maverick musician who redefines the way the cello is played and the way music is taught, speaks with Tami Simon about his unique perspective on music. With Sounds True, David has released a new record called In Love and Longing with vocalist Sylvia Nakkach, as well as Just Being Here, a collaboration with Coleman Barks featuring David’s music and the poetry of Rumi. In this episode, David and Tami discuss the cello as an instrument of melancholy, what it takes to be a good collaborator, and the art of good listening. (72 minutes)

See David Darling live in August 2014. Visit WakeUpFestival.com for more information.

“Maverick cellist” is the phrase most often assigned to Grammy-nominated artist David Darling (1941–2021), but it hardly captures the richness, diversity, breadth, and sense of humor of a man who literally redefined the way the cello is played and the way music is taught. His prolific collection of recordings and innovative performance style represent an eclectic variety of musical genres. His playful and unconventional teaching methods helped open the world of music and improvisation to thousands of individuals.

Darling began piano lessons at the age of 5 and the study of classical cello at age 10. He attended Indiana State University, earning his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music education. He studied cello with internationally recognized artists/teachers Lorne Munroe, Gilbert Reese, Fritz Magg, and János Starker, while at the same time pursuing studies in music composition. He was a scholarship student with the Pierre Monteux School for Conductors, and he studied jazz performance at Berklee School of Music in Boston.

In summer 1970, Darling joined the Grammy Award–winning group the Paul Winter Consort. He made his home in Nashville, Tennessee, where he served as assistant principal cellist with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra and worked as a studio session player in the Nashville recording scene. But his main focus was the Consort, an extraordinarily progressive band. He retired from the Paul Winter Consort in 1987 and began to explore the new experiences of working as a solo performer, teaching, and making recordings.

Throughout the years, Darling collaborated with a wide variety of international artists including Paul Winter, Ralph Towner, Glen Moore, Collin Walcott, Paul McCandless, Jan Garbarek, Arild Andersen, Paul Horn, Steve Kuhn, Terje Rypdal, Jon Christensen, Ketil Bjørnstad, Pierre Favre, Glen Velez, Bobby McFerrin, Spyro Gyra, Allaudin Mathieu, Peter Kater and R. Carlos Nakai, Patrick Leonard, Joseph FireCrow, Arlo Guthrie, John Marshall, and Baba Olatunji. Darling’s self-produced CD, Cello Blue (2001), earned rave reviews as well as a 2002 Grammy nomination and the AFIM Indie Award from the Association for Independent Music.

In 1986, Darling cofounded Music for People, an internationally recognized nonprofit educational network dedicated to teaching and fostering music improvisation as a means of creative self-expression. Music for People’s training and certification program, now in its 35th year, continues to flourish in the United States and has expanded to offer seminars and workshops at the Center for Wellbeing and Creativity in Kiental, Switzerland. Darling traveled extensively for more than 40 years, enthusiastically encouraging all humans to explore their musical talents and creative abilities. He inspired and encouraged thousands at numerous holistic facilities and retreat centers such as Esalen, the New York Open Center, Hollyhock, and Omega Institute.

Starting in 1986, Darling worked for Young Audiences, a National Medal of the Arts award-winning organization dedicated to enriching children’s lives by providing in-school programs in the form of workshops, artist residencies, and guest performances. In 1995, he received the Artist of the Year Award by the Board of Directors of Young Audiences, given “in recognition of his hard work, innovation, and creativity in the service of arts-in-education.” In 2001, Darling received the Arts Advocate of the Year Award presented by the Connecticut Music Educators Association for “his excellent work in music education and improvisation.”

Author photo © David Darling

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Also By Author

The Cello and David Darling in Love

David Darling, a Grammy®-winning cellist and maverick musician who redefines the way the cello is played and the way music is taught, speaks with Tami Simon about his unique perspective on music. With Sounds True, David has released a new record called In Love and Longing with vocalist Sylvia Nakkach, as well as Just Being Here, a collaboration with Coleman Barks featuring David’s music and the poetry of Rumi. In this episode, David and Tami discuss the cello as an instrument of melancholy, what it takes to be a good collaborator, and the art of good listening. (72 minutes)

See David Darling live in August 2014. Visit WakeUpFestival.com for more information.

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Busyness, distraction, and stress have all led to the shrinking of the modern mind.

I realize that’s a strange thing to say. Most of us don’t think of our mind as something with space in it, as a thing that can either be big or small, expensive or claustrophobic.

But just think about the last time you felt overwhelmed, stressed, or out of control. Chances are, you might not even have to think that hard. You might be experiencing that state right now as you read these words.

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So it could be nice for our partner, for our kids, and, mostly, for our ourselves to consider: how can we create more space in the mind?

Here are five tools for creating mental space. If you want to go deeper, check out my new book with Sounds True on the topic called OPEN: Living With an Expansive Mind in a Distracted World.

1. Meditation.

You’ve no doubt heard about all of the scientifically validated benefits of this practice. It reduces stress. It boosts productivity. It enhances focus.

That is all true. But here is the real benefit of meditation: it creates more space in the mind. To get started, try it out for just a few minutes a day. Use an app or guided practice to help you.

2. Movement.

So, maybe you’re not the meditating type. That’s fine. You can still create space in the mind by setting aside time for undistracted movement.

The key word here is “undistracted.” For many of us, exercise and movement have become yet another time where our headspace gets covered over by texts, podcasts, or our favorite Netflix series. 

There’s nothing wrong with this. But it can be powerful to leave the earbuds behind every once in a while and allow the mind to rest while you walk, stretch, run, bike, swim, or practice yoga.

3. Relax.

When it comes to creating headspace, we moderns, with our smartphone-flooded, overly-stimulated, minds seem to inevitably encounter a problem: we’re often too stressed, amped, and agitated to open.

Relaxation – calming the nervous system – is perhaps the best way to counter this effect and create more fertile ground for opening. When we relax – the real kind, not the Netflix or TikTok kind –  the grip of difficult emotions loosens, the speed of our whirling thoughts slows, and, most important, the sense of space in our mind begins to expand.

How can you relax? Try yoga. Try extended exhale breathing, where you inhale four counts, exhale eight counts. Try yoga nidra. Or, just treat yourself to a nap.

4. See bigger.

When life gets crazy, the mind isn’t the only thing that shrinks. The size of our visual field also gets smaller. Our eyes strain. Our peripheral vision falls out of awareness.

What’s the antidote to this tunnel vision view? See bigger.

Try it right now. With a soft gaze, allow the edges of your visual field to slowly expand. Imagine you’re seeing whatever happens to be in front of you from the top of a vast mountain peak. Now bring this more expansive, panoramic, way of seeing with you for the rest of the day.

5. Do nothing.

Now for the most advanced practice. It’s advanced because it cuts against everything our culture believes in. In a world where everyone is trying desperately to get more done, one of the most radical acts is to not do — to do nothing.

Even just a few minutes of this paradoxical practice can help you experience an expansion of space in the mind.

Lie on the floor or outside on the grass. Close your eyes. Put on your favorite music if you want. Set an alarm for a few minutes so you don’t freak out too much. 

Then, stop. Drop the technique. Drop the effort. Just allow yourself to savor this rare experience of doing absolutely nothing.

Nate Klemp, PhD, is a philosopher, writer, and mindfulness entrepreneur. He is the coauthor of the New York Times bestseller Start Here and the New York Times critics’ pick The 80/80 Marriage. His work has been featured in the LA Times, Psychology Today, the Times of London, and more, and his appearances include Good Morning America and Talks at Google. He’s a cofounder of LifeXT and founding partner at Mindful. For more, visit nateklemp.com or @Nate_Klemp on Instagram.

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Mark Matousek: Living Like a Stoic

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