Thursday, February 3, 2011

Responding to Listening


My old friend and musical partner Steev Geest contacted me today regarding recording.  His timing was impeccable, as I was pondering the very thought the past two days of how to invigorate the live recording project.  Tony and I are so close to completing the recording, but I still need a couple more pieces.  Now that my professional demands have lessened, the opportunity arises.  We decided to meet this Sunday to experiment with the equipment.

I was excited to get to practicing after a nap and dinner.  Beginning with the Alexander Technique, I came into a relationship with my body.  Allowing my body to release and my mind to quiet.  As I began to play, my guitar sounded so sweet.  Part of this was switching from my practice amp to my Genz Benz, but the tone had a certain presence.  Listening as I played, I was a bit surprised at how easily I had arrived in the moment.  As a rest would arise in the piece, I would think "let my neck be free and everything else."  This simple focused thought allowing my body and mind to release into my playing.

After working Gathered Hearts for 15 minutes, I moved onto Lost Balloon.  Just listening as I played, again using the thought "let me neck be ..."  I worked on the two sections of this piece that needed addressing; just enjoying the movement of my fingers and the freedom in myself.  I played this through twice and then paused. 

I began improvising, and immediately heard a beginning.  Playing with this for a bit, and then I needed a bathroom break.   Returning to the guitar, I was excited about the potential piece that was coming out.  No longer quiet in my mind, and feeling the anticipation in my body, I decided to inhibit my impulse to continue.  Instead I did a lie down, allowing myself to rest, and contemplate my body.

Returning to the guitar, there was still a bit of anxious anticipation.  Had I disrupted the creative flow? Perhaps, but I also knew that the place I had arrived at, needed to be released.  As I begin to play with the new idea, I was thinking about listening, but was not.  Taking time to run through the AT directions, I began again.  My listening was actual now, and I experimented with various musical directions and moods.  I did a quick recording to capture the idea.

Then I returned to play through GH and LB again, this time with the tape running.  Again I found myself thinking or talking to myself about listening.  But this is not listening, so the fingers stumble as I was not present with my actions.  Pausing to begin again, I used AT to come back to myself .  As the piece began, I was simply listening and playing; integrated once again, if only for a short time.  Over and over, I must return to the present moment, using the Alexander Technique, my breath, and sometimes even my ears.  In this moment is where life is lived, where music lives.  Grateful for the paths, and those on the path that point the way to this moment.


  1. Reading this, I found myself thinking and trying out what it would feel like to approach the computer this way. Stop and breathe, get in relationship with my body, relax my neck and... wow, what a difference. I can tell my body would really appreciate the attention. Can't tell you how many times I think I'm just plopping down for a moment to check messages and find myself 30 minutes later with hunched shoulders and one leg under me going numb...

    I love how you always remind us to be present. Each moment IS begin again...

  2. Kathy, You could take a mindful approach to your computer or anything you do. As you practice in this way, your body does appreciate the attention, which further supports the practice. Computers are very easy places to get lost. Let me know if you pursue this.