The transcendental dimension in pianistic practice: a transpersonal integrative approach

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BEZERRA, Denise Maria [1]

BEZERRA, Denise Maria. The transcendental dimension in pianistic practice: a transpersonal integrative approach. Revista Científica Multidisciplinar Núcleo do Conhecimento. 04 year, Ed. 08, Vol. 06, pp. 148-183. August 2019. ISSN: 2448-0959


This article is a clipping of a master’s research in Interpretive Practices/Piano, which investigated the pianist’s self-awareness in relation to differentiated mental states that may occur during instrumental practice, such as “state of flow” and “culminating experience”. The author participated as a subject of qualitative research of interdisciplinary character, whose theoretical framework is based on Psychology and its ramifications: Cognitive Psychology, Music Psychology and Transpersonal Psychology, in connection with the area of Music. In this work we sought to observe aspects of “transcendence” as components of pianistic practice, in the light of the model of the “seven stages of the development of being” proposed by the Transpersonal Integrative Approach (ItA). The results suggest that not only is there an optimization of learning in technical aspects, but there is a deepening in the artistic dimension as well as a development at different levels that understand the authorial and transcendence of the pianist, inaugurating an innovative perspective in music research.

Keywords: Piano, flow, culminating experience, transpersonal.


Playing the piano at the level of expertise consists of a high complexity action. It is understood that the multidimensionality of an efficient scientific practice is constructed from a set of actions involving execution planning, study strategies (BARROS, 2008), as well as awareness of motricity and systematic actions (PÓVOAS, 1999, 2006, 2007, 2015). In addition to these factors, psychological aspects are woven in this complex system.

This article is part of a master’s research in Interpretive Practices/Piano, which investigated the pianist’s self-awareness of differentiated mental states that may occur during instrumental practice, such as “state of flow” and “culminating experience”. Qualitative research of interdisciplinary character is based on the theoretical framework of Psychology and its ramifications: Cognitive Psychology, Music Psychology and Transpersonal Psychology, in connection with the area of Music. In the present work it is interesting to focus aspects of “transcendence” as components of the study process of a piano repertoire in the light of a model provided by the Transpersonal Integrative Approach (ItA), originating from Transpersonal Psychology, in seven stages: Recognition, Identification, Disidentification, Transmutation, Transformation, Elaboration and Integration.


Transpersonal Psychology, the most recent of the psychological aspects referred to in this article, responds widely to methodological needs so that mental phenomena of transcendent character can be analyzed, such as plateau/flow states and culminating experience in pianistic practice, in a psychological dimension. It is considered the fourth force of Psychology and has as object of study the altered states of consciousness. The first great force in Psychology was Behaviorism, which emerged in 1913 in the United States, through John B. Watson. Then, through Sigmund Freud came to Psychoanalysis, second great strength in mental studies. The psychoanalytic study focused mainly on pathology and extreme suffering in the face of its own impotence and human limitation and revealed the existence of an individual unconscious (SALDANHA, 2006). From psychoanalysis, Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961) brought the notion that in addition to an individual unconscious, there is a collective unconscious. At the same time, the Italian psychiatrist Roberto Assagioli (1888-1974) expanded the concept of unconscious, inserting the spiritual dimension. Other authors disputed or expanded freudian work, including Jacob Levy Moreno (1892-1974) – the creator of Psychodrama – and Abraham Harold Maslow (1908-1970). The humanist school is considered the third major force in Psychology and emerged in the United States and Europe of the 1950s as a reaction to Behaviorism.

Maslow led the humanist movement and in 1968 as president of the American Psychological Association, invited Victor Frankl, Antony Sutich, James Fadiman and Stanislav Grof to a meeting. At this meeting, transpersonal Psychology was made official, which was considered the fourth great force of Psychology (idem p.64). Maslow then created a new conceptual framework to legitimize experiences with altered states of consciousness, including peak experiences as described:

Higher “ridges” include feelings of unlimited horizons that unfold, the feeling of being, at the same time, more powerful and also more helpless than anyone has ever been, the feeling of great ecstasy, amazement and admiration, the loss of location in time and space (idem, ibidem).


The expression “peak experience” was coined by Maslow (1908-1970), which defines it as “a generalization of the best moments of the human being, the happiest of life, of the experiences of ecstasy, maximum enjoyment” (SALDANHA, 2006 p.106). One of the forerunners of Transpersonal Psychology, Maslow published in 1964 the book “Religions, Values, and Peak Experiences”, where he explains in detail what the culminating experiences and their implications are. Abraham Maslow developed a Theory of Human Motivation and deeply studied the various aspects of these motivations (MASLOW, 1970, 1971) systematizing the Hierarchy of Needs. Although he defended Psychoanalysis as the best psychopathological understanding system and psychotherapy available at the time, Maslow stated, along with Jacov Levy Moreno, that Sigmund Freud had a stop in human disease and misery, and that it was necessary ” consider healthy aspects, which give meaning, richness and value to life” (SALDANHA, 2006, p. 63). According to Saldanha,

Since 1943 Maslow has already oriented himself to the study of motivations, becoming one of the most considered specialists in human behavior and motivation, a pioneer in supporting the hierarchy of needs and the concept of self-realization (idem, p. 72).

For Maslow, the phenomenon that includes climax explosion is the culminating or peak experience, unlike the plateau experience. The latter was translated as “state of flux”, by Csikszentmihalyi, who uses a similar example, of a young mother with her child, to demonstrate the same effect:

“When I’m working with my daughter, when she’s discovering new things: a new recipe of dumplings she managed to make alone, an artwork that filled her with pride. Reading is another thing she really loves, and we usually read to each other. She reads a little to me, I read to her, and on these occasions I sometimes forget that the rest of the world exists. I get totally lost in what we’re reading” (CSIKSZENTMIHALYI, 2004, p. 37).

It can be seen that elements of the flow experience described by Csikszentmihalyi had already been defined by Maslow as Plateau Experience, which is why the term “plateau/flow” is adopted in this work to call such a state of consciousness:

The peak experience itself can often be significantly called “small death”, and a rebirth in various senses. The less intense plateau experience is more often experienced as pure pleasure and happiness, as, say, in a mother sitting in silence looking, for hours, her baby playing, marveling, thinking, philosophizing, without believing much in what she sees. She can experience this as a very pleasant and continuous contemplative experience, and not as something similar to an explosion of the climax that then ends (MASLOW, 1964, p. 4).

It is noteworthy that one of the most relevant aspects in Abraham Maslow’s research on the culminating experiences is the realization that there is a significant change in the behavior of individuals who experience these experiences, to which he called ” self-updating[2].” These changes occur towards a healthy, self-realized human being whose characteristics are summarized:

  • A clearer and more efficient perception of reality;
  • More openness to experience;
  • Greater integration, totality and unity of the person;
  • Greater spontaneity, expressiveness, full functioning, vivacity;
  • A real self, a firm identity, autonomy, uniqueness;
  • Greater objectivity, detachment, transcendence of the self;
  • Recovery of creativity;
  • Ability to merge concrete with abstract;
  • Democratic structure of character;
  • Ability to love (SALDANHA, 2006, p. 69).


Flow Theory was created by Hungarian social psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (1934), who initially called “theory about a maximal experience”, based on the concept of “flow” or

that state in which people are so steeped in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience itself is so pleasant that people would experience it even paying a high price, for the simple pleasure of feeling it” (CSIKSZENTMIHALYI, 1992, p.17).

Mihaly found that the plato/flow experience occurs when the individual consciously enjoys the moment and can be described in terms of seven basic conditions:

  • The goals are clear: for the person to engage entirely in any activity, it is essential that he has the precise knowledge of the tasks he needs to complete, moment by moment. According to the author, although the goal is important,

true satisfaction lies in the steps that each one needs to take on the way to a goal, rather than in the conquest itself (…) and usually people waste the opportunity to take satisfaction of what they do simply by the fact that they concentrate the whole attention to the result rather than devote themselves to enjoying all the steps accomplished throughout the mission (id., p. 38).

  • Feedback is immediate: in order for the plateau/flow state to remain active, it is necessary that the individual has to return all the time regarding the results of his practice. For this author, “the ability to provide objective feedback to yourself is, in fact, the signal that distinguishes the expert” (id., p. 39).
  • The balance between challenge and skill: when the challenge and abilities are incompatible, the plateau/flow state disappears, giving rise to anxiety and demotivation (id., p. 40).
  • The concentration deepens: in an activity in which the individual experiences the goals step by step, with the return of immediate results and compatibility between challenge and skills, involvement exceeds a certain level of intensity, “not we need to think more about what to do, just act spontaneously, almost automatically, even if some aspect of the task in question is very difficult or risk-filled” (id., ibidem). In this plateau/flow state, consciousness and action merge into an endless wave of energy. The concentration in flow comes to be so deep that the term “ecstasy” can be used to describe it (id., p. 42).
  • What matters is [foco no]the present: for mental status to be plateau/flow, “the task in progress requires full attention, the concerns of routine life can’t get a place to enter the mind” (id., p. 43). That is, the absolute focus on activity prevents the plateau/flow from being stopped.
  • The notion of time is changed: the notion of time becomes distorted, which seems 15 minutes was actually 2 hours; or the other way around, it remained 15 minutes in the activity, but with such depth that it seems to have stayed 2 hours (id., p. 45).
  • The loss of the ego: when immersed in the experience of plateau/flow, the individual tends to forget not only the problems and circumstances that surround him, but individuality itself. He becomes more aware of his own body, but puts aside his social identity – name, title and responsibility implicated by him – and transcends individuality to “the opportunity to assume active involvement in something greater than the ego, without it renounce any of the individual’s mental, physical or volitive abilities” (id., p. 47).


The state of fluency experienced by a child while playing can be conceived as the same mental state of the pianist when “playing” on his instrument, and leads us to a possibility of extremely natural and organic performance, as well as fun. Csikszentmihalyi describes such a process (fig. 1), where “A” is a boy who is learning to play tennis at four different times. Initially it only manages to get the ball through the net (A1) and remains in the plateau/flow state, which it performs for a few months until bored (A2). When challenged by a more experienced opponent, he enters a state of anxiety (A3) when he sees his own performance as inferior, setting himself new goals, which take him back to the plateau/flow state (A4) (CSIKSZENTMIHALYI, 2008). In the piano study, it is possible to verify this same dynamic proposed by the author. To observe the experience of plateau/flow in the piano study, two types of study strategy were selected in this work: rotation of the parts and conscious repetition. The rotation is a system in which the piece to be studied is divided into parts that are organized and studied separately, and interspersed with other parts or parts of parts. Each of the parts must be executed for periods of time around 20 to 30 minutes each, making the caster (A1).

Figure 1: Challenge graph/skills, by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

Source: CSIKSZENTMIHALYI, 2008, p. 74.

On the other hand, conscious repetition consists of performing each of the parts numerous times, provided that the action occurs with maximum attention, avoiding the state of reverie. The characteristic of “game” of this combination of study strategies creates a dynamic whose goal is not to touch the part from start to finish, but to be in contact with all the work, siking each part, guaranteed by the rotation (A3, A4). Thus, it can be seen the scope of the following conditions necessary for the state of plateau/flow: a) balance between challenge and skill (guaranteed by conscious repetition of small parts) (A1); b) what matters is the focus on the present (the anxiety of having to touch the whole work is neutralized by the commitment to touch only the selected small stretch) (A3, A4); c) clear step-by-step goals (delimitation of smaller and defined time parts brings security to each completed stretch)(A4); d) immediate feedback (by repeating the stretch with delimited time, the individual can, each time, evaluate his performance and use metacognitive skills of self-monitoring and self-regulation, components of motivation (A1, A2, A3, A4). With these competencies in action, the plateau/flow state tends to be established, increasing intensity through automation, leading to the point where the concentration deepens. From there, the loss of the notion of time comes followed by the loss of the ego. The individual is fully delivered to the activity, which can last a few moments or even many hours. “Plate[fluxo]au is fun” (PRIVETTE, 1983, p. 1364).

The situations of plateau/flow in the practice of the piano keep the individual in a mental state that allows and favors the increasingly intense concentration, leading to full awareness of the interaction of the body, cognition and emotions, essential elements to the interpretation of a pianistic work. The more efficient this interaction, the greater the artist’s balance in its realization. These requirements provide the pianist with expanded states of consciousness, which leads to self-updating toward self-realization. A pianist who can walk this path and often experience these experiences acquires the possibility of establishing contact with much deeper dimensions of his own being, as well as the work of art itself. Testimonials by pianists such as the Portuguese Maria João Pires when trying to describe what occurs during the pianistic interpretation define:

We have to believe that a miracle can happen. And they happen, more and more, when you believe… Music is the sign that miracles exist. The light throughout your soul opening up to something unknown, you will… just going to… It’s very important, we can’t say no to something if that something exists.[3]

This style of language used by the pianist in an attempt to report the phenomenon is characteristic in the description of a culminating experience. Ineffability is an attribute of transcendent experiences, difficult to translate with words.

The account of a contemporary composer bears similarity in the description:

You reach an ecstasy so deep that it gets to the point of imagining that it ceased to exist. I’ve had this experience countless times. That’s when my hand moves without any command, and I apparently have nothing to do with what’s going on. I just sit there, watching in a state of reverence and enchantment. And (music) flows on its own (CSIKSZENTMIHALYI, 2004, p. 43).

In the practice of the piano, it is possible to experience moments of intense gratification and pleasure, resulting from a profound aesthetic experience, both for those who play and for those who listen. With abraham maslow’s perspective of self-updating through the frequent occurrence of these experiences, the pianist has the opportunity to adapt to his practice a much broader dimension of his own being, of his connection to the work and the composer, in addition to ressignificafying his relationship with the public; this situation transcends the simple aesthetic experience (linked to the senses).

This theme is analyzed based on the authors of transpersonal orientation, Abraham Harold Maslow (1968), Pierre Weil (1995), Roberto Assagioli (1993, 2013), Vera Saldanha (2006, 2008) and Ken Wilber (2010), who corroborate the idea that consciousness can be Expanded. On the other hand, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi understands by changing consciousness to the simple sense of vertigo caused by an individual who begins to rotate around the axis itself and becomes dizzy. For this author, it is not possible to expand or expand consciousness, just shuffle it. In his words, “Consciousness cannot be expanded; All we can do is shuffle its contents, which gives us the impression of having it enlarged somehow” (CSIKSZENTMIHALYI, 1992, p. 112).

Although we disagree with this proposition, it is allowed to use the indicators of the plateau/flow state classified by the author, described earlier, since they do not represent a contradiction. Thus, the concept of “state of consciousness” is thus defined from the perspective of Transpersonal Psychology:

States or levels of consciousness symbolize, in the theoretical body, walking through the different dimensions of consciousness. These are steps that guide the process, expand and favor the perception of different levels of reality. It is the way through which this practice takes place in the clinical area, in education, in groups, and other areas in which transpersonal guidance is intended. It is one of the elements that differentiates it from other approaches (SALDANHA, 2006, p. 118).


The Transpersonal Integrative Approach (ItA) was systematized by the Brazilian psychologist Vera Saldanha from the main concepts of Transpersonal Psychology, expanding them and presenting them in a structural and dynamic way, to enable their application in education, health and institution, facilitating its reading and understanding. Saldanha called the elaboration of this knowledge in Psychology as a Transpersonal Integrative Approach and its way of teaching it as Transpersonal Didactics. For this work, I describe the seven stages elaborated by the author of the AIT in connection with pianistic practice, applying some psychological techniques and analysis tools. The theoretical framework proposed by this approach fulfills the task of capturing musical experience as a scientific event and requires a protocol that contemplates its subjective characteristic, widely favored in the frame of Transpersonal Didactics, originated in transpersonal Integrative Approach (ItA).

Two of the concepts that underlie the dynamic aspects of this approach are presented here: R.E.I.S. (reason, emotion intuition and sensation) and experiential/evolutionary axis. The experiential axis symbolizes an integration of the four elements of psychic development – reason, emotion intuition and sensation (REIS) – represented by a horizontal line on another vertical line that intersect in half (idem), as shown in graph below:

Figure 2. Experiential axis chart and evolutionary axis.

Source: SALDANHA, 2006, p. 142.

The construction of the axiom is based, in some respects, on the Jungian reference of psychological type[4]s. However, in the transpersonal approach of the ITA, psychic functions are considered elements of psychic development and bring an expanded perspective of the concepts of Reason, Emotion, Intuition and Sensatio[5]n. In this approach, emotion is considered highly desirable, and incorporates the biological conception of knowledge and love, developed by Humberto [6]R. Maturana, the author incorporates the notion of love as

a fundamental, biological and relational condition in education and human health. Moreover, emotion is essential because it gives the situation the experiential aspect, bring the necessary energy to the process of psychic development, favor learning. It will only be harmful if the individual remains fragmented and identified only with emotion, which will prevent the manifestation and integration of other psychic functions and elements of human development (SALDANHA, 2008, p. 188).

In the light of this model, it can be affirmed that the experiential axis deals with evolution in empirical aspects, linked to the practice of techniques and exercises, integrating reason (thought), emotion (feeling), intuition and sensation.

By practicing frequently in his instrument, the pianist takes the first step towards emerging deeper components of the psyche and integrating them into the wakefulness consciousness, allowing a healthier expression of the psyche (idem). On the other hand, the evolutionary axis concerns ethical aspects, values of being (S), and accesses enlarged states of consciousness, at an stage called “higher mental order” (WHO). At the WHO level, insights occur and ridge and plateau/flow experiences occur, and later integrated into wakefulness awareness.

According to Maslow, primary creativity is the stage of inspiration, creative insight, that is, at who level; and that the second phase, secondary creativity, consists in the elaboration and development of the material provided by the first phase,

in hard work, in the discipline of the artist who can devote half a life to learning his resources, his means and his materials until he is ready for the full expression of what he sees. (…) The virtues that accompany secondary creativity, which results are the real products, the great paintings, the great novels, the bridges, the new inventions, etc., are supported both in other virtues – obstinacy, patience, laboriousity – and in the creativity of personality (MASLOW, 2008, p. 85).

In the focus of the Transpersonal Integrative Approach (ItA), there is also a tertiary process

defined as a set of references inherent to the development of the human being that favors the awakening of the spiritual dimension, providing experiential updating of positive, healthy values, dressings both individual ly and collective, characterising a process governed by the principle of transcendence (SALDANHA, 2008, p. 144).

From the perspective of the Transpersonal Integrative Approach, it is admitted to the existence of a “drive to transcendence” in the human being, a concept formulated by Vera Saldanha, based on the studies by Abraham Harold Maslow. In the linguistic practice, this drive mobilizes the pianist in search of his self-realization, whether in the study of a short piece, either in an integral work, or even throughout his trajectory. Prior to meeting basic needs and meta needs in piano study, a drive lies, something that feeds motivation to play and improve more and more.

In this perspective, the pianistic action consists in the interaction between the three stages of creativity, which occurs in a nonlinear and dynamic way, and without which it is not possible to build a practice at the level of expertise and the development of being simultaneously. In the first and second stages are met the needs that Maslow called as basic[7]. In the proposition of the AIT, the most basic needs of the pianist, survival and safety (primary) and of being recognized and self-esteem (secondary) would be met. New needs, self-realization and self-updating, emerge when the tertiary process emerges. At this level the drive of transcendence can be expressed, and covers both basic needs and metaneeds, holocentered, that is,

centered on the whole, in which there are naturally ethical positive values, such as solidarity, beauty, ecstasy and spirituality itself present as inclusive aspects of human development (SALDANHA, 2008, p. 147).

Approaching this approach to pianistic practice, the experiential axis contemplates the study of the piano itself, the use of cognitive strategies, the stimulation of REIS, the application of techniques for optimizing movements, piano lessons and related areas, presentations, i.e. all practical experience. On the other hand, the evolutionary axis, which manifests itself concomitantly with the experiential, concerns metamotivations and subjective aspects, accessed in the dimension of the supraconscious. It is those musical experiences that reach a level of transcendence and fullness, at different degrees of intensity, such as the state of plateau/flow, culminating experiences, exercises of active imagination applied to the pianistic practice, among others. The result of these experiences is the connection with internal values that promote an integral evolution of being (S), as endorsed by Maslow. According to the author of the Transpersonal Didactics,

The dynamics used include the stimulus to the interior resources that the individual himself has and that can be accessed under certain circumstances. This spring is the central point of work in this approach, it is the manifestation of the superior or supraconscious mental order (…). This psychic instance seizes reality lucidly, knows what is necessary and best for us on our journey in the learning process, mental and physical healing. This access, however, is not as simple or easy and, in general, needs to be favored (id.: p. 140).

The interaction between these dynamic aspects of the pianist’s psyche results in a process that obeys a series of steps. Saldanha elaborated a classification in seven stages related to the process of developing the being:

These are stages of a technique, which we call interactive, and are also integrative stages of a process of personal development, being linked to the basic needs of motivation theory, described by Maslow, and related by Weil, to the seven centers psychic and transpersonal development (SALDANHA, 2006, p. 161).

The steps are subsequent and analyzed linearly for didactic purposes, but can occur simultaneously: 1- Recognition; 2- Identification; 3- Disidentification; 4- Transmutation; 5- Transformation; 6- Preparation; 7- Integration. The “development” factor of being, which is based on the proposition of this didactics, is compatible with the development that occurred during the learning process and construction of a work, in the pianistic action, which favors its correlation. The transcendental aspect of musical experience is then observed by this bias, which is why we are not limited to the construct of traditional Psychology, since it does not address this concept.

From the model proposed by the author of the ItA, an analysis of situations involved in the pianistic action is made. When going through the seven stages of this process, from recognition to integration, intrinsic changes occur in the pianist, promoted by the change in the practical aspect, as well as in the psychological dimension.


“Process” is a word that derives from the Latin Processus, projection, descends from Pro, forward and Cedere, go; is related to route, and means “moving forward” or “moving forward”. Thus, it is understood in this work that the advance, the walk forward in work with a musical work in the phase of study or maintenance, consists of a concomitantly psychological process, during which changes occur with the pianist at various levels of the be, through the interaction of the elements of psychic development (reason, emotion, intuition and sensation: REIS).

The approximation of the Transpersonal Integrative Approach with the area of Interpretive Practices is based on the evidence that there is a psychological process inherent to that of preparing a pianistic work. According to Barros,

The process of preparing a pianistic repertoire that culminates with its execution is a relevant research field for the area of Interpretive Practices, because the final result of this execution depends unconditionally on the previous work (BARROS, 2008, p . 2).

It should be noted that in a psychological approach, it is of particular interest to analyze the process, a source of important data for analysis, in addition to the results. The description of this process in the light of the Transpersonal Integrative Approach is presented here based on seven-stage systematization, created by psychologist Vera Saldanha. There are seven stages of a technique that the author calls integrative, and are also interactive stages of a process of personal development. The steps are linked to the theory of motivation, described by Maslow, whose development in seven stages is directed towards self-realization, stimulated by the drive of transcendence (SALDANHA, 2006). It is understood that the concepts presented in the course of this investigation support the analysis and understanding of the pianistic action in the transpersonal process in the seven stages, described below:


This stage consists of a first meeting, the first contact, when the pianist interacts with the musical work in question, according to his profile of interest, or according to Saldanha, “a look around” (idem, p. 162). The work may be new to the pianist, as can be a resumption, a new seven-step cycle of something already known before. Each pianist, according to the level of expertise, experience with methods of study and personality, experiences this stage in a particular way. American pianist Murray Perahia declares that when he begins a new piano piece, he plays it again and again, without thinking about structure and analysis, only getting involved with the work. Brazilian pianist Nelson Freire says that the condition for deciding to study a new play is to be in love with her; otherwise, it feels like a “mole”[8].

In this phase of initial contact some impressions about the play are outlining the link between the pianist and the work. It is of fundamental importance to have in mind, such as metacognition and self-regulation, what is the motivation to learn a new piece. What the pianist consciously or not wants when choosing this play at this time. Fundamental questions to be asked in this first step are, “Why did I choose this piece?”; “What do I expect to achieve with this play?” “What does this play represent to me?” “What moment am I currently passing, while I am deepening my contact with this work?” “What changes have I experienced after completing the full study of this piece and what will change in my life?” A self-conscious attitude requires questioning from the beginning of the choice of repertoire, through the metacognitive capabilities of self-observation, self-monitoring and self-assessment.

In the stage of recognition are manipulated the first musical elements of the work, its general structure, themes, progress, character; it is time to analyze and select the excerpts, mark fingerings, study optimization movements in the pianistic action. At this stage occurs

an internal mobilization, a motivation that can be triggered by intrinsic or extrinsic stimuli. Regarding motivation, it is the moment when there is a gap, a space of ignorance in the face of something new, not learned, that according to Maslow, is part of the basic needs (SALDANHA, 2006, p.162).

Self-awareness regarding the initial stage of learning, regardless of the degree of expertise of the pianist, is crucial to evidence possible unconscious difficulties, which may be latent. At this stage there is a boiling of musical elements, a selection of what is already known and what is new, an awakening of the elements of psychic development, reaching an apparent chaos. Perhaps there is an immediate affinity with a certain type of repertoire or an aversion to the first contact with certain works or on the contrary, there may be a difficulty in experiencing something new, different, that escapes the convenience of working a nearby repertoire of what is already known. The anxiety that accompanies “the new” should be controlled through the mechanisms of metacognition, because it is an emotion linked to fear, which can inhibit motivation and, consequently, the performance of the pianist. It is noteworthy that according to the level of motivation it is possible to reach the state of plateau /flow already in the first stage, provided that the interaction pianist / work / instrument takes place in a pleasant and salutary way.

A recognition step performed satisfactorily allows the transition to the next step, identification, since something cannot be identified without first recognizing it. The first stage sediments the path to the following steps, so the more proficient the work done at this stage, the greater the chances of self-realization in the next steps.


After recognizing and intensifying the involvement with the work, the pianist begins to deepen his bond with the object in question, that is, he begins to identify himself with the work as a whole, with the style and /or with the composer. It relates the identified parts with their previous experience, manipulating the elements gradually and cumulatively. Identification can be understood as an affinity of the pianist in relation to the work or aspects of it. The phase of identification determines whether the pianist will carry forward the study of the work or not, awakening its elements of psychic development, reason, emotion, intuition and sensation and sustaining motivation, which aims to meet basic needs. Therefore, the formation of a positive bond with the work and artistic work involved at this time consist of preponderant factors to sustain motivation and continue the process.

For example, the case of a pianist who is lacking in the aspect of belonging, in the hierarchy of needs, and who decides to include in his repertoire a work of trio with piano, fueled by the motivation of belonging to a group and be accepted by him. Even if this pianist has not yet found the members to form the trio, he remains motivated to be identified with the intrinsic possibility offered by chamber music. A positive link is established with the work and its surroundings, consolidating identification.

Saldanha points out that

identification only happens if there is an resonance with the basic need in which the individual is; participation, interest or otherwise abandonment will occur. Knowledge is only as mere intellectual information, dysfunctional, that information decorated, superficial, which is little used for the individual’s life and is usually soon forgotten. If there is involvement, the participation of the emotional ally with cognitive, sensory and intuitive, the structures related to learning and its acquisition (SALDANHA, 2008, p. 163) are mobilized.

In fact, if there is no identification of the pianist and the formation of positive bond with the work, the abandonment of the study of the piece may occur. This situation is evidenced by the feeling of discouragement in relation to the work, which would be circumvented with a self-conscious posture on the part of the pianist. The lack of identification with the author’s proposal can be translated into a difficulty in memorizing an excerpt or the complete piece; similarly, even if you can memorize easily, but keep an unmusical interpretation, cold and distant, this may be the result of low identification, due to not finding the artistic motivation that translates into an expression musical in the excerpt or in the whole piece.

In the pianistic action it is possible to clearly observe the moment when identification is present. An example of this happens in my practice when working on a stretch of high difficulty, whether technical or interpretive. The process follows: I stand before the stretch, to the piano, and I try to observe which elements involved in this pianistic action. From a self-conscious perspective, I observe my state of consciousness at the moment, and my interaction with the play and the piano. I select the excerpt with the difficulty at the same time as I seek cognitive solutions for my inquiries; I remain in a state of receptivity, allowing the answers to flow, even those that seem disposable. At this point, there is favoration to the plateau/flow state. In this way, I try to work the selected part with the greatest logic possible, respecting the suggestions of movement, obeying the momentary insights, letting flow until the answer arises. From there, an inexorable bond is created with that stretch. The subsequent security resulting from this process allows connections to be stronger and more efficiently identified.

For this analysis, I selected an excerpt from a piece of the repertoire that I prepared in the master’s course in Interpretive Practices, Chopin’s Ballad No. 1, bars 223-242 (fig. 6). According to Alfred Cortot in his Édition de Travaille, in this coda are the most evident technical complications of Ballad No. 1, which the author considers difficult to perform the triple point of view: from finger resistance, wrist flexibility and extension ( CORTOT, 1929, p. 18). In fact, I came across a situation that requires a full pianistic action. To fulfill this task, I have adopted the procedure for identification as per the

Figure 3. Excerpt from Ballad No. 1, by F. Chopin (comp. 223-242).


described above and waited for the emergence of cognitive responses. To achieve the composer’s proposal, I sought to adjust the movements from writing, considering the supports and displacements. Although he has put up with a number of study strategies, such as slow study, separate hand study, study with metronome, study backwards, application of motion cycles, still[9] could not perform the “presto with fuoco” suggested by the Composer.

I wasn’t finding the answers to overcome my difficulty until an interesting fact occurred after two piano lessons in two consecutive weeks. In the first, I presented rachmaninoff’s Corelli Variations with an adequate performance, which were highly praised by the teacher. My level of motivation has risen even more, supplying the basic needs of belonging and esteem of the hierarchy proposed by Maslow. In the second class, a week later, I introduced Chopin’s Ballad No. 1. To my surprise, my performance was the opposite to that obtained in the previous class, with interpretation failures, interruptions and hesitations. Obviously the teacher made a series of interventions, seeking

optimize my performance, which I considered weak. After class, I noticed my level of motivation plummeting, and i threw hands with my metacognitive strategies for self-assessment, self-monitoring and self-observation.

Days later, during a plateau/flow experiment in a study session, there was a catharsis from [10]which the response I was waiting for emerged from the supraconscious. I understood that the gap between one class and another originated in a problem of another order: Rachmaninoff’s “Corelli Variations” is a new piece for me, and Chopin’s “Ballad No. 1” is a play I’ve been “trying to play” since childhood. From this understanding, other responses emerged in the form of a small history of my relationship with this work, as Assagioli describes about the opening of the supraconscious (ASSAGIOLI, 1993).:

I retold the complete fact that at the age of 10 I won the album with works by Chopin; listened to the recording on disc (LP) and accompanied in the score; I ventured into the piano, and did it by jumping from one stretch to another, avoiding touching the most complex parts; finally, I ended up putting aside the play because I thought it was “impossible” to play. Decades have passed and the desire to study the ballad in the master’s course arose, with the approval of my teacher. Since the insight that provoked catharsis, I tried to remember how I felt about the play in childhood, that is, what kind of bond was established in the identification process. I realized that I internalized a number of limiting beliefs, which reinforced the negative link of identification, fueling a basic[11] need, rather than meeting a basic need. Since then these limiting beliefs have been crystallized in my unconscious, sabotaging my self-realization process. My infantilized perspective remained intact, however, unconscious, reinforcing the following beliefs:

  • The piece is very long and difficult to perform;
  • It is very fast, impossible to touch;
  • There are too many notes to memorize;
  • It belongs to a very advanced level of performance.

By emerging to consciousness, it was evident that this psychic material was sufficient to prevent, in a psychological dimension, that my performance would be adequate. At that moment, there was an integration of identification, when “there is involvement, the participation of the emotional allied to cognitive, sensory and intuitive” (SALDANHA, 2006, p. 225) or what psychologists call “closure of Gestalt[12]“. To date the experiential axis has been experienced and it can be said that a puzzle was completed, in which the sum of the parts is greater than the whole. In the use of my metacognitive abilities, I realized the need to deepen my self-conscious process and seek more answers that reverted to an optimization of my performance in Chopin’s ballad. In this way, the next step would be to immediately deconstruct such limiting beliefs, replacing them with new thoughts that were constructive and that filled my needs. I’d be preparing for the process of deidentifying the old standards. At this point there is an integration of the identified elements, to create a vacuum that leads to disidentification, creating a distancing, putting them in perspective. To achieve this disidentification, the limiting beliefs already identified should be seen with distancing, so that they could be deconstructed and favor this next stage.

The technique used to neutralize limiting beliefs was the “affirmation” and consists of rewriting each sentence constructively, performing the appropriate psychological exchange rates:

  • “The part is very long and difficult to perform” was replaced by “I can perform each part stretch easily from start to finish”;
  • “It is very fast, impossible to touch” has been replaced by “I have appropriate techniques to easily perform the quick stretches”;
  • “There are too many notes to memorize” was replaced by “I know all the memory notes, they just appear in my mind”;
  • “It belongs to a very advanced level of performance” has been replaced by “The part is very advanced and is within my performance possibilities”.

The statements are adaptive, with content free of psychological limitations and were repeated daily for a week, all the time: mentally, aloud, to the piano and away from it. Assagioli points out that the act of affirmation consists of

order or statement made by the person himself. It is the use of imperative time, through words such as Latin fia[13]t or “so be it”. The intensity or “psychological voltage” of the statement determines the degree and extent of its effectiveness (ASSAGIOLI, 2013, p. 140).

Throughout that week, I observed the obvious change in my attitude towards Chopin’s ballad, and consequently the positive change in my performance, which was possible to see in the following piano lessons.

The moment I realize that I have a difficulty, but I am not the difficulty, the passage to the next stage happens: disidentification.


At this stage there is a perspective look, such as taking a step back and observing the situation with distancing. What was identified in the previous phase can already be unidentified. After recognizing and identifying certain standards in itself, the pianist can already adopt a perspective vision. Resuming my example with Chopin’s ballad, there was recognition and identification of negative aspects in relation to this work; next comes the time to unidentify, that is, I no longer need this pattern. I find out there’s the difficulty, but I’m not this difficulty. Therefore, I allow the release of this pattern.

The situation of disidentification can be analogously described with the metaphor of the elephant: as a small, the elephant cub, when trained by a tamer, is tied by a rope in a small stake, buried on the ground. After several attempts to loosen, the little elephant stops trying, thinking that “it’s impossible” to escape. After an adult, the elephant remains trapped by the tamer to the same small stake that kept him trapped in his childhood. Obviously the adult elephant can pull the stake by the rope and loosen easily. However, his lack of experience and self-knowledge prevent him from using his enormous strength to get rid of the limitation. I compare my situation with Chopin’s ballad to this metaphor, because just as the elephant, I kept in adulthood the same patterns adopted in childhood, giving up trying because I thought it would be impossible to touch the “presto with fuoco” progress.

In the stage of disidentification the internal and external obstacles in the learning of the excerpt or piece are evidenced and a contextualization occurs: how the excerpt should be touched, when, in this way, so that, where etc. It can be inferred that there is a maturation regarding the pianist’s interaction with the work and it is no longer about the formation of the bond, but an involvement that considers other aspects of the object under study. Deeper reflections on acquired knowledge begin at this stage, when other elements are valued and the elements of psychic development “sensation” and “intuition” predominate (SALDANHA, 2006).

The continuous study gradually highlights certain aspects of which there is a need for disidentification. The teacher’s participation in this stage is paramount, since it is already “on the outside”, that is, unidentified, in perspective. Thus, it is in a privileged position of observer and can visualize what the student still cannot perceive at this point of the study. The fact that the teacher is in this position consists of a highly beneficial intervention in the context of the study, allowing the pianist to achieve superior results to those he would have obtained alone, favoring the stage of disidentification. It should be noted that although the pianist is aware of a series of suggestions made by the teacher, he is still identified with other challenges presented during the study of the work, and cannot perceive such aspects. An example of this occurred during the study of Variation No. 4, of the Corelli variations of Rachmaninoff that I prepared during the Master’s Recital course, presented in Figure 4.

Figure 4. Variation IV, of Variations On a Corelli Theme op. 42, from S. Rachmaninoff.


In Rachmaninoff’s piano writing, the use of voice superposition in various planes is recurrent, generating a dense and technically complex texture, which requires the pianist the ability to carry out such plans with independence and clarity. Although I was aware of this configuration from the writing of the musical text, my execution was not demonstrating this. Due to the initial difficulty of making the displacements and touching the notes correctly, in addition to the interaction of the pedal, the original idea of the composer remained secondary in this stage of the work, and the definition of the plans was not evident. During piano class, my teacher pointed out this reading flaw so I could make the fix. I immediately understood the need to transition from one stage of the study to the next step, allowing the disidentification of this pattern and expanding to a broader perspective in relation to the work.

From this understanding, I sought to prioritize clarity in the definition of the two main plans, which led me to study them separately, playing first the chords that correspond to the conduction of the theme, below griffined in orange; in a second moment I touched the area represented in blue corresponds to the elements with adornment function, suggesting a type of touch lighter than the plane referring to the theme.

I worked this way during two 30-minute study sessions, with a two-day interval. Next, I recorded the execution of the full stretch, and observed the efficacy of the study undertaken. Thus, I noticed the passage of the identification step to the stage of disidentification, in this aspect of interpretation.

In my professional experience as clinical psychopedagogist and piano teacher, I realized that there is a tendency to remain at the level of confluence between identification and disidentification, without being able to consolidate the third stage; or, of achieving disidentification, dishaving from limiting patterns, but without transcending for a transmutation. This fact is explained because some factors can inhibit the drive of transcendence, as well as prevent the occurrence of plateau/flow states and culminating experiences, interfering in the progression of the evolutionary axis. I consider these factors to be true sabotaging agents, wh[14]o create a psychic toxin, potentially harmful to the pianist and his artistic work: concern; anxiety; overall tiredness; exhaustion in relation to the study of the work itself; tension, difficulty relaxing and thinking musically; among others. In other words, corroborating Maslow’s Motivation Theory, meeting the basic needs of the pianist is a crucial factor so that it can achieve a mental state during its practice that is immune to these sabotaging agents, as if there was an ideal psychic environment for this realization; otherwise, you may miss the opportunity to achieve unimaginable levels of performance and self-realization.

Note that the deidentification process brings with it a release, with the energy needed for step change, towards transmutation. Technically, by releasing certain limiting patterns the pianist can accomplish what would be impossible while attached to them, since there was an expansion of perception with openness to the evolutionary axis and deeper reflections about the knowledge acquired. At this moment, the personal inteireza of the individual is favored and intuition and sensation are more valued; there is an opening to levels of perceptuals of greater subtlety, favoring the natural emergence of the next stage (SALDANHA, 2006).


The importance of fully exercising the stages of identification and disidentification in the pianistic action allows there to be deepening in this process, favoring transmutation. The pianist has already internalized the elements of musical analysis, defined interpretation options and it is possible that he already retains the notes in memory, being able to play as if these “came from within him” (of color: from Latin, of the heart). Here technical work gains consistency, movement patterns are established, small changes prepare for great change (next step, transformation). Aspects of fingering, understanding of form, phrasing, harmonic structure, joints, are in consolidation at this stage, where “nothing is entirely certain, nothing is entirely wrong or entirely good or entirely bad” (id., ibidem). That is, adjustments are being tested, all changes are welcome, in an infinite experimentation.

Knowledge acquires personal meanings when

positive aspects , negative, easy, difficult, encourage the struggle between wanting to go deeper and abandonit, as challenges of the new acquisition and changes are imposed. (…) These moment also include the functions of concrete and abstract perception, related to the sensation and perception of synthesis arising from intuition (id., p. 163).

Transmutation occurs in an extremely fruitful phase, full of opportunities for improvement, bringing a broader look and new learning perspectives inserting not only analysis, judgment and reflection, but processes of perception. It is the time of verification, to improve and beautify every detail, every sentence, every passage, where the focus lies on the infinite possibilities of sound, articulations, intensities; artistic-musical aspects find at this stage a highlighted place.

In my practice as a pianist, I observe that this is the moment when the experiences of plateau/flow begin to emerge, because this is where the deepest involvement arises, since the initial barriers have been overcome. Even if I haven’t memorized her play or excerpts yet, I can already access its essence and make music.

Another aspect of transmutation is related to small changes, exchange rates. In the pianistic action, changes are observed being made in terms of sound and results, replacing passages made earlier in a way with a new, more elegant, or more intense, etc.

It is worth mentioning the importance of being with the mind free of barriers that can prevent the fluency of ideas and possibilities inherent to the creative process, intrinsically or extrinsicly. Depending on the level of basic needs of the pianist, such barriers can tolher their development process, such as inadequate intervention by a teacher or co-worker (extrinsic barrier). The teacher must remain as a counselor at this time, allowing the student to discover his or her interpretation, rather than imposing his way of playing. An intrinsic barrier consists of internal patterns of distorted self-image, low level of self-confidence and self-esteem, which inhibit initiatives for pianistic action. The experimentation phase meets several basic needs and metaneeds of the pianist, and deserve to be respected by colleagues and teachers. However, the self-conscious attitude is that it enables the artist and to learn how to deal with such difficulties, largely favorable at this stage.

The possibility of observing the planning of actions and their practical results while observing changes in the level of being is possible thanks to the dynamic and practical aspects, provided for in the theoretical body of the Transpersonal Integrative Approach (ItA) . There is no dissociation between practice and theory, but an interaction of experiential and evolutionary axes. The small mutations are interacting and ground the process toward the next step.


This is the moment when the pianist visualizes the previous steps and checks how much has evolved in his practice, that is, “perceives the current transformed situation” (SALDANHA, 2008, p. 126). After realizing the small exchange rates, there is a large exchange rate, a significant change resulting from the cumulative process of the previous phases. The change of level in performance when performing the piece or musical excerpt is evidenced, providing a resizing of the aspects already highlighted during the previous stage, such as: fingering, understanding of the shape, phrasing, harmonic structure, joints, progress. The expansion of consciousness extends the ability to understand the same elements, in a new context that comprises a synthesis of the previous steps, where fragmentation ceases to exist. According to Saldanha,

Didactically there was a passage, a level change, structural order of information. It is already a differentiated acquisition, brings a new internal and external reference to the individual (id., p. 227).

The author emphasizes that there is a transformation of knowledge into differentiated wisdom, internalized, experienced, contextualized and understood (idem). This phase is gratifying for the pianist, and it can lead him to believe that the work is finished, since it has already achieved the main objectives, that is, achieved self-realization, according to the pyramid of Maslow’s needs. The feeling of duty fulfilled, of a goal achieved, allows frequent occurrences of plateau/flow state, due to the immense pleasure experienced in these situations, being able to reach ecstasy, in situations of culminating experiences and favors the emergence of the next phase. On the other hand, according to the interaction of experiential and evolutionary axes, there may be a certain mechanization of execution, as if there was nothing else to do in terms of interpretation. In this case, there is no drive of transcendence, because the evolutionary axis is at a degree below what is necessary. Thus, it is indicated that the study of the piece is temporarily abandoned, to resume again at another time, taking advantage of the “incubation[15]” inherent in this state of latency.

This phenomenon is familiar to professional pianists. Pianist Gabriela Immreh participated as a subject of the important study conducted by psychologist Roger Chaffin (2003) on memory and pianistic practice and reported, regarding the study of bach’s third italian concert movement, which when he returned to play, after a few days away from the piano, he realized to have renewed his ideas.

This “look back and realize change” is crucial to prepare the next step. It’s like saying that now it’s going to begin the real transcendental process. For the artist who seeks true transcendence through music, it is the next steps that offer the perspectives of achieving an interpretation at the level of metarrealization.


At this stage the technical factors have already been overcome, which allows the artist to play without occupying his primordial energy for problem solving. Kinesthesic, analytical, visual and auditory memories interact, releasing attention to a new level, in which only control of actions to the piano is maintained, without having to reconstruct at every moment the structural standards of execution, which are already ready. This phase offers psychic support for the occurrence of plateau/flow state and culminating experiences. Here, the pianist is free from concerns in his execution, because the work is completely internalized. The extreme fluency with which the pianistic action performs causes the connection to the plateau/flow state occur immediately. Intuitive flashes become more frequent and should be considered by the pianist as valuable information that emerges from the supraconscious to make his interpretation increasingly mature and, especially, personal, without worries and other interferences .

According to Saldanha, at the stage of the elaboration, resulting from the transformation itself from the insights of the new acquisition, there is a global apprehension of the situation and possibilities, promoting the new, differentiated; the sense of the new, of a new dimension of the personal, social, spiritual context and the meaning of experience in its experiential and evolutionary axis, “an apprehension of the true knowledge and meaning of this knowledge in the individual’s life” (id., p. 164). The emergence of the “S” values described by Maslow is present at this stage, when the pianist manages to elaborate philosophical and spiritual conjectures between music and existence, using a language proper to transcendent experiences. Certain musicians remain long time swathes in this state of expanded consciousness, which provides a high degree of productivity and creativity, as well as being fraught with insights.

A contemporary example of this profile is the composer, conductor, violinist, pianist and Finnish teacher Lief Segerstam (1944-), composer of more than 200 symphonies and with an intense performance as conductor. When asked in an interview about the administration of time and its unusual productive capacity, he declares in an interview transcribed belo[16]w:

Time doesn’t exist. Time is the means that is used after the creative process to measure and compare the works, but time does not exist. Things happen, symphonies are written, and I only select the shades. But the 12 shades are available to everyone, as they were for Mozart, Beethoven, Rimsky-Korsakov, Segerstam or Sibelius. We choose the same shades and make interesting combinations that are part of nature, and the strength of nature blends with these shades. In my music, there is free tint, free pulsation, complex tint, complex pulsation… If there are 28 lines on paper based and we do free heartbeat, we can have 28 different pulsations at the same time, and to govern I would have to be an octopus! I can’t be an octopus! Seriously: there is no conductor, the regency mechanism is embedded in each symphonic group and each musician. We have to be flexible with the truth, as in life. We are all writing our symphony, and the score is the homepage for the tonal picker. I choose the shades and assignments. (The interviewer makes an aside: ‘But, 200 symphonies?!’). Yes, but it’s like growing wine, where there are better years and worse. For me, the last year was very good for my symphonies, but not for my life score, because I thought I would die because of cancer. I have nothing and i composed 14 symphonies the summer I received the treatment. Now I’m here, very well on my lab tests. I’m a little big (heavy), but my smile is bigger than it was before.

The correlations made by Lief Segerstam denote the experience in situations of transcendence, due to the ability to analogously establish the complexity of life with the musical structure, which for it seems to occur in a simple and fluent way, without effort. In its account, the presence of most values “S”: Truth, Beauty, Fullness, Transcendence of dichotomy, Vitality, Uniqueness, Perfection, Need, Culminating, Order, Simplicity, Wealth, Ease, Fun and Self-Sufficiency, overcoming the fulfillment of basic needs, achieving metaneeds.

The self-conscious attitude and the use of metacognitive abilities greatly favor the stage of elaboration. As described by composer Robert Schumann:

If Heaven has given you a fertile imagination, then you will often spend lonely hours on the piano, as in a trance, looking for the harmonies to express your deepest feelings. You will feel so much more immersed in a magical circle, the more unknown the world of harmony. These are the happiest hours of youth. But be careful not to feed a kind of talent that can lead you to waste time and energy on ghosts of imagination. The mastery of form and the ability to formulate thoughts clearly can only be acquired through the fixed symbols of the notation. He writes, therefore, more, and dreams less. (…) Maybe only geniuses are able to understand geniuses. (SCHUMANN, 1979).

The trance reported by Schumann consists of the state of expanded consciousness, in a psychic space characteristic of the stages of elaboration and integration. It is noteworthy that this state has nothing to do with daydream experiences, but of a full consciousness. The apparent “absence” provided by this state of consciousness can cause a change in the artist’s behavior and be mistakenly interpreted as misanthropy or even some kind of arrogance. In fact, instead of absence, there is a true “dive” in the psyche itself, in a healthy way and motivated by impulses of transcendence, anchored by metacognitive abilities that monitor and regulate this process. The interaction with the seventh stage is then evidenced.


In this stage there is the “integration of knowledge into personal, professional and everyday life, but now already inserted in the whole being. The individual will never be the same” (id., p. 177). The journey of the previous steps led the pianist to this set of situations in which he reaches fullness: the excellence of integrated pianistic action when being self-conscious. He becomes one with one with the work and with the instrument. For Saldanha,

The greater the learning, the greater this awareness of integration, the fuller, in the various dimensions of being, in the different areas of the individual’s life (…). This natural dynamic of integration and apprehension of knowledge is what makes it a living instrument, an intimate part of the transformative and revealing process of human life, contributes at the social and collective level, at the same time, in which it gives meaning to existence (id., ibidem).

An example of integration as the seventh and last stage of this process in pianistic practice is the time of public presentation of the studied work, provided that you have experienced the previous steps and this is the culmination. In other words, if the pianist won transcended from one step and the end of this route results in a recital, it is possible to reach the level of integration of all these components. During the recital, the pianist has the opportunity to review each stage in an integrated and multidimensional way. The situation of being in public increases the risk of error, distraction, loss of focus, factors that generate the extra production of adrenaline, flooding the bloodstream, altering the heartbeat and bringing other unpleasant symptoms (sweating, dry mouth, tremor, etc.). Such factors can become sabotaging agents and prevent the occurrence of integration if the pianist remains identified with the fear of not succeeding, with the fear of error. To avoid an unsuccessful experience, it is important to maintain the proper mental attitude during public presentation. From the perspective of the transpersonal integrative approach, the seventh stage

aggregates values in the personal and social sphere, which favor the capacity for self-regulation and continuous improvement of knowledge, motivating it to new knowledge and differentiated learning cycles (SALDANHA, 2008, p. 223).

For this reason, it is considered that the results, whatever they may be, will always be positive, since the journey towards the recital is more important than the arrival. The seventh and final stage brings with it the germ of a new cycle, a first step. Therefore, in a transpersonal integrative approach, the role of the artist in this process is linked to other issues, which go beyond the ego, the persona, of the pianist.

According to the Santa Catarina philosopher Huberto Rohden, it is in the absence of the “Ego-Agent” that the artist becomes “Cosmo-Agido”, serving as a channel to give flow to a “Crealing Fountain” (ROHDEN, 1966[17]). In other words, the artist, at the moment he is on stage, must leave aside the attributions that define him as persona: titles, first and last name, roles played in the family, etc. In this way, he will be practicing “not acting”, serving as a channel for the full manifestation of something that involves the instrument, musical work, composer, audience and his own being, to the detriment of his ego-agent, leading to an experience of integration. On the attitude of the interpreter, the composer and conductor Lief Segerstam reports in an interview that

the interpreter is responsible, the composer’s ambassador and the representative of the public and is in a suitable place to interact. We try to get musicians to connect, and when music starts to exist, it’s life, and life is music! Music is unquenchable![18]

Obviously, not all public presentation of a pianistic work consists of the integration stage of the didactic-transpersonnel process of the interpreter. The script we draw, based on the classification of transpersonal didactics, suggests an ideal route of overcoming and self-development in seven stages.

An example of this was the recital I presented at the end of the Master’s course. Over the course of the two years I prepared a repertoire of which were pieces with which I have different types of bond: I played the rhapsodic “Impressões Seresteiras”, by H. Villa-Lobos as a Brazilian piece, the Variations under a theme of Corelli, by S. Rachmaninoff, three Intermezzi opposed 118 (2.4 and 6) by J. Brahms and F. Chopin’s Ballad No. 1 in that order. Villa-Lobos’ play is quite familiar to me, unlike Rachmaninoff’s colossal work, with which I had never had contact. Brahms’ plays are very representative of my pianist profile, because I have great affinity with this composer. Chopin’s Ballad has in my life a history that began in childhood, as previously reported. Resuming the idea that “the individual will never be the same”, I realize that, in this sense, I reached the seventh stage. From my first contact with the Rachmaninoff Variations I experienced different emotional and sensory stages: fear, euphoria, anxiety, rapture, along with muscle fatigue, mental exhaustion, heart attack on the wrists.

Overcoming the difficulties, over time and consequent maturation, I observed that such “trials” served as a kind of “rite of passage”, so that I was able to achieve the elaboration and integration. In fact, in the psychological dimension, I reached this level. Although I had some memory failures during the end of the course recital, I was quite pleased that I achieved this integration, which represents the seventh stage. This dimension goes beyond any bureaucratic convention – as a high or low score, because it concerns my internal process of evolution and transcendence. This attitude towards the event is in accordance with the flow indicator “loss of the ego”, in which titles, social conventions and identification with the persona itself are no longer a priority. At this level, what really matters is knowing how much self-updating has been, how much “I will never be the same” after this experience. It is also important to receive the emotional accounts of people who reached the plateau/flow state when attending the recital. That is, what represented my own integration favored self-updating in other people.

I realized then what integration really means, and this can occur at levels that go beyond our intellectual understanding of the phenomenon. Self-realization/self-updating is consolidated; my conscious ability to improve in different dimensions of my Being through pianistic practice allows the encounter with what is essential to me and makes me unique.


  • It was possible to verify the evolutionary axis and experiential axis acting concomitantly during the process of the seven stages of my involvement with the musical works studied;
  • The seven-step model of the ITA favors the understanding of the occurrence of different thoughts, emotions, insights and sensations (KINGS) from the metacognitive ability of self-awareness;
  • At the level of the supraconscious, when information emerges as intuitions, specific guidance on cognitive and metacognitive strategies arises and thus the evolution in performance in the pieces was observed;
  • It was found that there were flow situations as described by mihaly Csikszentmihalyi indicators;
  • The transcendent aspect of proposed self-updating was verified.
  • It was observed the importance of maintaining self-conscious in relation to the complete process of musical making, that is, the technical, artistic, physical, affective aspects;
  • It is possible to reach the level of metarrealization at the moment when self-fulfilling thoughts manifest themselves, but in moments of very short duration. by Maslow;
  • The seven-step development process of the ItA is dynamic and non-watertight. While reaching the last stage already brings the new cycle, starting again from a new recognition.


This work aimed to focus aspects of “transcendence” as components of the study process of a piano repertoire in light of a model provided by the Transpersonal Integrative Approach (ItA). The course of the seven stages described in the ITA was described in depth, and the stages of Recognition, Identification, Identification, Disidentification, Transmutation, Transformation, Elaboration and Integration were clear.

The results showed that metacognition enables the self-awareness necessary to perceive the transcendental dimension of pianistic practice. This process allows the pianist to experience true leaps in this journey of self-discovery, in search of excellence in artistic and personal performance.

The processes of musical learning that consider altered states of consciousness are still little explored as scientific research. Thus, this work brings to light relevant issues, which can encourage researchers to advance in this field of studies.


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_______. Desempenho pianístico e Rodízio: um sistema de organização do estudo baseado na distribuição e variabilidade da prática. In: Anais XXV Congresso da Associação Nacional de Pesquisa e Pós-graduação em Música (ANPPOM). Vitória, 2015.

PRIVETTE, Gayle. Peak experience, peak performance, and flow: A comparative analysis of positive human experiences. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 45, 1983, p. 1361-1368

ROHDEN, Huberto. Filosofia da Arte:a metafísica da verdade revelada na estética da beleza.São Paulo: Freitas Bastos, 1966.

_______. Einstein, o enigma da matemática. 3ª. ed. São Paulo: Alvorada, 1980.

SALDANHA, Vera. Didática transpessoal: perspectivas inovadoras para uma educação integral. Campinas, SP; Universidade Estadual de Campinas; Faculdade de Educação; Depto de Desenvolvimento Humano, Psicologia, Educação, 2006 (Tese de Doutorado).

_______. Psicologia Transpessoal: abordagem integrativa: um conhecimento emergente em psicologia da consciência. Ijuí: Editora Unijuí, 2008.

SCHUMANN, Robert. Album für die Jugend Op.68. Wiener Urtext Edition, Viena: 1979.

WEIL, Pierre. A morte da morte. São Paulo: Gente, 1995

WILBER, Ken. A Visão Integral. Editora Cultrix, São Paulo: 2010.

– Entrevista:

MARIA JOÃO PIRES. Disponível em Acesso em 20/01/2019. Dur: 08:04. (Entrevista realizada durante o masterclass com a pianista Maria João Pires).

– Entrevista:

LIEF SERGERSTAM. Disponível em acesso em 20/01/2019. Dur: 14:40. (Entrevista realizada com o compositor e regente Lief Segerstam).

– DVD:

NELSON FREIRE: Um filme sobre um homem e sua música. Direção: João Moreira Salles. Produção executiva: Maurício Andrade Ramos. Videofilmes Produções Artísticas, 2003. DVD (102 min).

– Partitura web:

CHOPIN, Frédéric. Ballades. Disponível em acesso em 20/01/2019.

RACHMANINOFF, Sergei. Variations on a Theme of Corelli (1931). Disponível em – Corelli_Variations.pdf acesso em 20/01/2019.

2. In Maslow’s theoretical framework, the term “self-updating” corresponds to the term “self-realization” and also to the term “individuation” and consists of a positive change in the individual’s behavior after situations of expansion of consciousness provided by plateau/flow states and culminating experiences.

3. Disponível em Acesso em 20/01/2019 Dur: 08:04.Entrevista realizada durante o masterclass com a pianista Maria João Pires.

4. According to Jung, the psychological type of the individual determines his way of relating to the inner and outer world, people and things, which occurs through an attitude of extroversion or introversion related to the functions of thought, feeling, feeling and intuition. The attitude refers to the predominant movement of libido, that is, psychic energy, in which extroversion indicates the consciousness of the individual focused on objects or the external world, and introversion, a orientation to the inner world of the psyche. Psychic functions are the resources through which consciousness obtains guidance for experience and comprise, in total, eight types of character, with different degrees between these combinations of attitudes and psychic functions, according to Jung” (SALDANHA, 2006, p.129).

5. SALDANHA, 2008, p. 186-194.

6. MATURANA, Humberto; VARELA, V.F. A árvore do conhecimento: as bases biológicas do entendimento humano. Campinas: PSYII, 1995.

7. Hierarchy of basic needs: physiological (hunger, sleep, etc.); security (stability, order); epertinence love (family, friendship); estimates (respect, approval); self-updating (capacity development, full talents, potentialities).

8. Documentário em DVD “Nelson Freire: um filme sobre um homem e sua música” dirigido por João Moreiran Salles (2003).

9. Movement cycles are derivations of the “principle of relationship and regulation of impulse-movement”, formulated by pianist and researcher Mª Bernardete Castelan Póvoas (PÓVOAS, 1999, p. 87).

10. Catarse: Em Psicologia, a catarse consiste na liberação de emoções reprimidas e possui um sentido depurificação.

11. Basic lack: when a basic need of the Maslow pyramid is not satisfied, it becomes a basic shortage, and according to the degree of intensity, it can become a neurosis.

12. Fechamento da Gestalt: o princípio de que algo se completa, as partes se integram formando o todo.

13. Em latim, fiat significa fazer ou feito.

14. Sabotaging agents: an expression minted by the author referring to the multiple intrinsic and extrinsic factors that interfere in the process of reaching plateau/flow states and culminating experience. They may arise through comments and attitudes of close people, colleagues or even the teacher;they can still be generated by the pianist’s own recurring thoughts, becoming misguided and counterproductive beliefs.

15. Incubação: na ótica da psicologia transpessoal, no período de incubação os elementos trabalhados anteriormente no nível consciente passam a exercer sua atividade num outro nível de consciência.

16. Disponível em acesso em 20/01/2019.

17. In his more than 60 published books, Huberto Rohden writes in a prologue the following warning: “Replacing the traditional Latin word to believe by modern neologism to create is acceptable at the level of primary culture, because it favors literacy and dispensation mental effort – but it is not acceptable at the higher level of culture, because it misrepresents thought. Crear é a manifestação da Essência em forma de existência – criar é a transição de uma existência para outra existência. Infinite Power is the creador of the Universe – a farmer is a cattle farmer. There are creative genius men, although they are perhaps not creators. Lavoisier’s well-known law says that “in nature nothing is believed and nothing is annihilated, everything turns”, if grafarmos “nothing is believed”, this law is right but if we write “nothing is created”, it results totally false. For this, we prefer the truth and clarity of thought to any academic conventions” (ROHDEN, 1966, p. 5).

18. Disponível em acesso em 20/01/2019.

[1] PhD in Ongoing Knowledge Engineering (UFSC); Master’s degree in Music: Interpretive Practices (Piano) (UDESC); Specialization in Music Education (UDESC); Specialization in Clinical Psychopedagogy (UNISUL); Specialization in Transpersonal Psychology (Alubrat/ICPG); Graduation: Social Communication (UFSC).

Submitted: January, 2019.

Approved: August, 2019.

5/5 - (2 votes)

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