Tuesday, December 14, 2010

All One Practice

Railroad weeds

After blogging yesterday, I turned to my guitar.  While playing with an older musical idea, I saw I needed to work on my right hand technique if I want this idea to come into being.  When I played with a plectrum, I regularly worked various right hand exercises.  These days any musical exercises I work on are driven by the need(s) of a piece I am working with. I actually love doing exercises, my musical development has been formed by them.  But I can also hide behind exercises, patiently working on a particular skill. I did this for years and was told by my instructor to find a balance in my practice.  To leave room for play in each practice session, so that the musical impulse can appear.

When I began working with the metronome last night I quickly found myself end gaining*.  My sense of how I use myself compromised as I just wanted to make progress now!  Why does this device that measures time for a musician, elicit this habitual mechanical striving to be other than where I am?  Knowing that I am again going to address this aspect of my right hand technique tonight, I began my practice with an Alexander Technique lie down.  Always good to connect with and relax my body as a way of tuning myself for practice.

Pausing to find my breath, I took a few minutes to again connect with my body, my heart, and the creative spirit.  Two fun left hand scaler patterns came to me over the next twenty minutes to assist in addressing my right hand needs.  I worked with the AT directions as best as I could, striving to maintain a sense of myself as I played.  While I was enjoying this I took a brief break at this time to connect with myself again through a couple Qi Gong exercises.

Feeling my neck release and then my spine let go, I knew that my sense of how I think I was using myself and how I was actually using myself were different.  Alexander noted that this faulty sensory awareness is a nearly universal phenomenon.  Another good reason for me to incorporate frequent breaks in my guitar practice and to continue to work with AT and Qi Gong.  Smiling as I once again see the interconnections of my various practices.  Now if I can just remember to breath ...

* For those unfamiliar with the language of the Alexander Technique I offer this definition in Alexander's own words. 

            'End gaining is a universal habit' (F M Alexander ~ The Use of the Self).  End gaining is the tendency we have to keep our mind and actions focused on an end result whilst losing sight of, and frequently at the expense of, the means-whereby the result is achieved.  

Thanks to Hillary King for this definition.

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