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When I first began studying Creative Motion, I remember my teachers speaking of the “founding mothers” of Creative Motion, including Martha Russell, and her first generation of students. My teachers spoke so fondly of Opal Gilpatrick, who led the Creative Motion body classes for many years at the Windswept workshop. Opal’s death in 1968 was a catalyst that inspired Margaret Allen and Anne Niles to put pen to paper to bring us the first edition of Creative Motion.

Through this collection of recorded word, I was able to get to know some of the fascinating people who first uncovered the principles of Creative Motion. Though I was never blessed with the opportunity to meet Martha, Opal, Margaret and Anne in person, through their writings, I was able to get to know them.

Fast-forward forty years, and publications chair, Dr. Mary Ann Fritz, undertook the task of soliciting companion articles and painstakingly editing the text, to bring us the 2nd edition of Creative Motion in 2010. This new version included, among other things, an index, supplementary articles, and comments by leading teachers of Creative Motion.

This week we learned that Creative Motion 2nd edition is available to audiences in a whole new way. As of February, 2014, the 2nd edition of Creative Motion is available in an electronic format. This is a significant achievement which energizes me and gives me hope for the future of our work!

As I think of the new audiences we will be able to reach with this new addition to our publication offerings, I am feeling such a sense of wonder and gratitude. I am grateful to all of the teachers who contributed to this compilation, and to the tireless efforts of the publications committee to help share this gift with the world.

Join me as we celebrate the release of the 2nd edition of Creative Motion in electronic format, and consider ordering your copy today.

Creative Motion, 2nd edition is now available in electronic format for $9.99. You can purchase books compatible for Apple® products through the iTunes Store and for Kindle® through by following the links below.

Apple Products eBook Format


As we celebrate the start of a new year, I have been lucky enough to spend time catching up with Creative Motion friends.  It never fails that when I am around my Creative Motion family, I find myself more centered, connected, and energized.  Whether it is a night out with Beth and Dan Dodson, a phone call from Harold McKinney, or spending time laughing and catching up with Chris Watson, being around Creative Motion friends reminds me to live my life through Creative Motion principles.

Because my life has always revolved around a traditional school calendar, it is hard to imagine the new year beginning in any place other than August.  Attending Windswept Music Conference the week before the start of the fall semester has always seemed to energize my spirit and allow me to spring into the school year with a holistic connection of mind, body, and spirit.  This year, the week I spent recharging at Windswept allowed me to find the impulse that would carry me through an exciting semester of personal growth and change.  Within our organization, I saw a similar impulse toward growth as our board met in Fort Worth at the start of the year to make plans for Windswept 2014 in Arkansas.

When I think about ringing in the new year, making resolutions, and sending energy out into the universe for what I hope to cultivate, not only in my own life, but for our organization as a whole, I cannot help but think that I have had not just one impulse into the new year, but two.  The week I spend each year at Windswept allows me to cultivate relationships that have the power to shape my life in many different ways.  And for the past two years, I have made it a priority to ring in the New Year surrounded by the love of my Creative Motion family.

In our board meeting this week we shared our dreams for how we hope our organization can grow in the coming year.  We were honest with ourselves and with each other, we shared our fears and our dreams, and with the leadership of Karen, Mary Ann, Justin, and the Windswept planning committee, we came away with a beautiful vision of Windswept in a new location.

All of this leads me to wonder where impulse turns over into climax.  At what point do our governing ideas and dreams for the new year become a reality?  Where does the inner feeling loop turn over into the outer action loop?  I am excited to see where this new year will take us, and I feel grateful for the opportunity to share this year connected with so many of you.

Our four-year-old grandson is well known for being the embodiment of delight. If he is awake, he is smiling. Period. (OK, so I don’t see many of his grumpy times… but his DEFAULT disposition is “delight.”) For instance, a certain kind of cookie “makes him laugh,” he says.

As four-year-olds will do, in a family where siblings are taking piano lessons, Caleb was “improvising” the other day on our piano. When he stopped, Lynda said, “Oh, that was beautiful, Caleb.” His quick reply was, “Yes, wasn’t it magical?!”

This delightful expression of what music is all about rolled around in my mind. I realized once again how the adult music teachers in my life who had true insight simply knew –  without having to be told or read about it – that:

1) Music tells a story, paints a scene, or simply evokes a feeling.

2) Music needs to sound as if it is being made up on the spot.

3) When we perform, and we are in touch with the essence of our music, we won’t be “making” the magic happen. It will flow out of us.

Our Creative Motion piano teacher Margaret Allen – when she couldn’t get the result she wanted by encouraging us to “curve your intervals,” or “spring those harmonic beats,” went quickly to her imagination to help us find the magic that was ours. We owned an imagination that was uniquely ours, but it had to be awakened. She intuitively went to something like an odor (Debussy), a love story consisting of musical sentences (the exposition of a Haydn Sonata movement) or a color (Chopin) to awaken our inner creativity.

One day Margaret appeared at the door of my private teacher’s house with what was obviously a cold. When asked how bad it was, she said without blinking an eye or even acknowledging that she might evoke a response, “Oh, it’s just a dominant seventh…nothing worse.”

So if our life’s story leads us to a new wave of experience, and we re-make it into an artistic expression, doesn’t that  express something beyond words?  It seems to me that the stories I see on the web about poor children or prisoners who make beautiful music for the first time in their lives are telling us about how delight works. The children don’t have to know why they are happy making music. And the prisoners find a different kind of freedom, at a level deeper than their past experiences would ever have allowed.

So, thank you, Caleb and Margaret Allen, for getting us out of our heads. The bigger picture seems to include something ineffable.

I am about to go accompany for a Christmas Vespers music event at a local retirement home. O Holy Night will inevitably bring up emotions in the performers, the residents, and in me. My father loved it; as I was growing up my brother and I thought we were too sophisticated to give it its due.

Why are the reactions to that piece emotional? For a multitude of good reasons, no doubt. And none of the spoken reasons will encompass all of the magic.  But if we approach performing tonight by taking an improvisatory stance  just delighting in the music’s simple beauties – we can trust that the ineffable will have been expressed.

Gotta go now. My energy breath is coming in. It brings me up and over the top. Ah, there’s the two way stretch as I release into the trip to the retirement home, the set-up of the room, the mini-rehearsal, and the unspoken riches for all of us!

bob smith



As so often happens in music, while we start with the notes and rhythms and harmonies, our experience within the music deepens and grows into a living, breathing, awe-filled moment.


While the group instruction was to explore intervals and levels of swing, when the small groups enacted their representation of the music as it was played by Dr. Robert C Smith – art happened.


Living sculptures that enacted the deeper truths and emotions of the music.


My group discussed the heart-beat that pulsed throughout the piece.  We imagined the Pieta – Mary holding Jesus in her arms as the life left his body.  The group tried to show the myriad levels within the music by enacting the pulse/heartbeat by the person on the floor.  The next level was the person who compassionately is helping the heartbeat reach and move toward the light.  The next level was a person who represented sending energy to the entire tableaux.  And then there was a beautiful angelic presence representing the shimmering light.


Enacting the music allowed me to analyze and experience the music at a deeper, more spiritual level.  To place it in my body.  To change forever my memory and perception of the music.

“Daily it became more obvious that vulnerability and trust are prerequisites for any intimate relational act.  Vulnerability is a preliminary that cannot be willed but only relaxed into in situations of great trust and tenderness.”

~Joan Borysenko

Vulnerable: capable of or susceptible to being wounded or hurt.

Surrender: to give (oneself) up to some influence, course, emotion, etc.

Both of those words have a pretty powerful definition that stir a response of wanting to guard and protect. Yet I’m going to encourage you to step into the discomfort instead of backing away from it. I’m at my most favorite conference of the year-Windswept, sponsored by the Creative Motion Alliance. It is an amazing week of sharing music and energy and surrendering to vulnerability. I am surrounded by people who know the power of their gifts, even if their individual journey hasn’t allowed them to fully embrace their greatness…yet! It is not uncommon for emotional releases to take place during this time. Admittedly, I’ve had at least one release each day I have been here.

We were reminded in this morning that Western healing promotes stopping when you feel discomfort, whereas Eastern healing encourages stepping into the discomfort to experience true, deep healing. To me, that embraces both surrender and being vulnerable. If you have the courage to step into that vulnerability, the depth of the impact goes farther than one could ever imagine. I say that it takes courage because there is a level of trust in ONESELF that you have the tools and inner strength to ‘expose’ yourself. Eleanor Roosevelt said, “You have to accept whatever comes and the only important thing is that you meet it with courage and with the best that you have to give.” Talk about surrender…

One of the classes at Windswept includes ‘pouring in’ the music and responding to what you feel. Today, we were asked to find a partner to mirror-one person responds to the music and the other copies what they are doing. I was blessed today with an amazing partner. There was absolute surrender to the vulnerability. There was safety in the expression, which was completely unspoken through words. And there was trust. A lot of trust. After a brief discussion, “Over the Rainbow”, sung by Eva Cassidy, was played and we were again asked to respond. If you have never heard that arrangement, I strongly encourage you to listen to it. She sings it from the heart and there is no denying the spirituality she embraces in her rendition of the song. Again, I was blessed to share in heartfelt energy shared through an embrace, which lead to my emotional release.

I was honored to share in stepping out of the box for a masterclass performance, too. We both intentionally stepped out of our comfort zone and let the inner response be shared in a performance setting. Talk about a powerful, exhilarating experience! I’ve even been able to witness and experience the vulnerability of others in the masterclasses, too. The willingness to step out of familiar and trust that it is safe to try things that may seem very different. The magic of the moment is incredible to bask in.

And the vulnerability continues outside of class through conversation. In reality, I only really talk and share with the attendees here once a year~when I’m here. However, it doesn’t feel like any time has passed since the last time we were together. We pick up where we left off. Even the ‘newbies’ are embraced and accepted into the Windswept family immediately. I have been graced with the opportunity to deepen friendships and express more vulnerability in our journeys. The connections and similarities are amazing and comforting.

My goal, as it is every year, is to carry this vulnerability into my “regular” life away from my Windswept family. It is very different to trust the safety of surrender when there is more unknown lurking around each corner. Don’t get me wrong. There is definitely ‘unknown’ here, but there is safety and comfort in knowing that we are all in the same boat-voluntarily. In our worlds away from Windswept, we never really know how our expressions of vulnerability will be received. Yet our heart and soul constantly crave that connection and vulnerability. Knowing that the Self we offer is the very best, most perfect Self we have to share at that moment in time.

I think it’s important to say that this needs to happen in baby steps. Start with your safest relationship now and trust that you can be even more vulnerable and trusting than you are now. After all, we always can go “once further”. Think of your spouse or partner. Imagine the increased tenderness and intimacy you could experience if you allowed yourself to be vulnerable. Show your weakness. Let your guard down. Let them support you. Offer them the gift to offer their best to you. It is in the exchange of heart energy that we flourish. Our dreams of knowing love can be reality if we choose to experience it. They key is knowing that we have to be open to receiving AND lead by example. It is the mirroring exercise we do at Windswept. Allow yourself to respond from your ‘center’ and ‘dance’ with your partner. Then switch leaders. The interplay can happen effortlessly if we trust in the surrender. The dance happens every day, typically at a very unconscious level. Imagine what you could have if you brought awareness and intention in the interaction. Now imagine what this could do for your relationships with your closest friends. Or family members. Get rid of past resentments. Offer the invitation to the dance. Know that if they get up and leave, it is their choice. They are not ready to receive what you have to offer. That doesn’t mean they are ‘bad’ or the past hurts should still exist. It means that they don’t know how to receive that level of vulnerability. Give it time. Continue to send the intention and carry that energy in the space between the interactions. Have the courage to continue to be vulnerable. Sometimes you are the one taking the leap and sometimes you are the one providing the net. (The leading and following in the mirroring….). Live with purposeful intention. Trust. Surrender. Be vulnerable.

I want to offer my deepest gratitude to all of the Windswept attendees and faculty. You have enriched my life since I first attended three years ago. I have experienced life so fully with your guidance and support and continue to open to life in unimaginable ways. Shine on. Continue to be the light. I am humbly honored to share in your ‘greatness’. You are all such a gift. With heartfelt admiration and thanks….

Visit Ann Basten’s blog at

You want me to sing?
I didn’t bring music.
Well . . . okay, sure.
I’ll sing.

Intimate sharing
Improvisation, jazz
An accompanist who shares in the dance
Connection at the heart level.

Coaching, positive comments
Walking the bass line
“I’ll just be right here by you.”
Support, nurture, encouragement.
Same song, same singer, but a little shift
changes everything.

A sense of spirit presence
The experience of more than could be imagined
Singer changed. Player changed.
Listeners changed.
Completely captivating.

Many readers will be aware that one of the world’s most important piano competitions was held in Fort Worth, Texas during the last couple of weeks. In fact, the Fourteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition just ended last Sunday.

When one is in a piano teaching profession in Fort Worth these days, people ask you, “What did you think? Would you have chosen the same pianists as the judges did to win prizes?”

Without going in to my Creative Motion background, I tell them, “You know, the main element that activates the musical energy inside of me seems to be the one that acknowledges the difference between weight and force in the production of tone.  I can usually measure my reaction to the different players in the competition by their ability to lead me on through their pieces via a flow between light and heavy note balances.”  Now by that I mean, I tell them that some of their fortissimo playing will actually have a light quality, but at other times their pianissimo playing (perhaps in a Debussy Prelude, for example) might have a heavy quality.

That observation may not apply in the same way for all Creative Motion folks who were at some of the competition; and there were a number of us from the surrounding area who sampled some of the live sessions.  I hereby invite others to chime in on this blog with their own ways of measuring excellence. And of course, for any professional pianist – performer and/or teacher – there are many, many traditional ways to evaluate a performance, and those things also contribute to a thrilling result.

But how interesting it was for me to be in a place where I was NOT so awfully engaged by the usual and almost expected superlatives that surround international competitions: speed, accuracy, articulation, dynamics, the “right” tempo, etc.

Yes, I realize that all of those things, when they are done effectively, can be thrilling at some level. I personally envy anyone who can accomplish such feats of “wow” by exceeding anything I could ever even imagine doing with almost every piece of piano literature that I heard during the competition.

But I am so grateful for another dimension to listening. For me, I am linked to a performer by that wonderful figure eight loop of energy that comes through the “light and heavy” variety in their tone production.

bob smith

The Creative Motion Blog invites quality submissions from students, scholars, teachers, practitioners and artists interested in Creative Motion.

All members of the Creative Motion Alliance are welcome to contribute and guest contributions from non-members will also be considered.  Submissions will first be reviewed by the blog’s editors.  Postings should be related to one or more of the following topics:

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