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If you’ve ever been to a kids dance or music recital, you’ve seen it. That thing is subtle, almost imperceptible, but makes all the difference in a performance.

The conductor Benjamin Zander calls that thing “one buttock playing”. He describes the progression of a musician, from concern only with playing all the right notes, to playing with passion and feeling that gets them off off their own seat.

The Bible tells of God “forming a man from the dust of the ground and breathing into his nostrils the breath of life and the man became a living being”.

That’s kind of like what we do when we breathe life into our own little creations. We take all the right notes and correct technique and make them into something that’s alive.

At my daughter’s recent dance recital, I saw some kids who were only concerned with doing the right movements at the right time, eyes fixed on their instructor. Timid, scared, or simply inexperienced. Others were comfortable and confident, pouring breath into the movements, bringing the dance to life.

Every artist strives to move beyond the technical correctness of their art to giving their art spirit and life. This is that thing that’s almost impossible to describe, but easy to see if it’s there or not.

The question is, if that thing is so difficult to describe, how do you learn it?

Maybe you had a teacher who helped you learn this. I can think of several music teachers in my childhood who not only taught me the chords and scales, but also tried to teach me (or more often showed me), how to bring the music to life.

The best teachers help draw us out into that scary, vulnerable place where the real art happens.

Where are you at with your art, whatever your “art” looks like? How do you help others learn how to bring their art to life?

May you fill your art with spirit and life this week.