Photo by Engin Erdgon
For a change I am actually rested on a Saturday morning as I have already had two days off from work. Been enjoying extended Qi Gong in the surf, long walks, and playing with the Alexander Technique while in the ocean. So invigorating to share this precious time with my favorite person in the entire world.
After another delightful and inspiring beginning to my day today, I did a 20 minute AT lie down. I am increasingly becoming convinced that this is the best way for me to begin my guitar practice. The lie down relaxes my body, quiets my mind, and allows me the opportunity to begin this detailed work with my hands from a place where I am ready to observe how I am using them. Today I played through the first piece I ever wrote which is also the title of this blog - A Journeyman's Way Home. Playing this allows me to touch the innocence of the first time I experienced music coming through me. Today as is true of most times I play this piece I also feel the joy welling up in me.
I began looking at Aftermath again today, gently playing through the different left hand positions with out adding the tremolo. This allowed me to warm up my left hand, review the structure of the piece, and continue to exercise good use of my body. Also worked with the crescendo that completes the piece. After a short break I found a metronome setting to work the piece. I am paying careful attention to allowing my body to be free as possible as I relearn this piece. By applying the AT principles throughout this learning process, I can be more efficient in bringing this piece of music to life, while also not over straining the previously injured tendon in my left wrist.
Paying attention to the quality of my breath will also allow me to see when I am 'trying' too hard. When I can play something my breath is gentle and relaxed; when 'trying' my breath is shallow or worse yet - I am holding my breath.
I have decided to break the piece down into sections and slowly work the transitions before attempting to playing the piece through. Especially at this slower metronome setting, my left hand will be subjected to having the fourth and second fingers anchored at an interval of a fourth while the the index and third fingers dance around playing the bass line. I also can break this down further by practicing just the movement of the anchored fingers as they move through the piece. If I can allow them to release from the strings I will avoid the 'screeching' string noise caused when left hand fingers drag across the positions. I also worked out a tempo where I can practice the right hand tremolo patterns.
As I look at this process I am undertaking I realize what is different for me is that I am usually writing pieces on the guitar and not learning pieces that are already complete. A problem with writing the pieces with the guitar is that as the piece evolves I tend to move through it looking for options and transitions. While doing this I am not paying attention to what I am playing and begin practicing mistakes. Frequently this takes a lot of work to unlearn.
Thus relearning Aftermath is offering me a different approach to my practice. Stay tuned!