Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Finding Freedom, Finding Space
Tonight I was again working with inhibition in the Alexander Technique sense, to examine and understand how to play a difficult section of music. This section comprises a jump from playing an arpeggio in the sixth position to the sixteenth position and then onto a yet different chord shape in the eighteenth position. Generally my arrival in the eighteenth position is where the problematic playing manifests, yet I had a sense that my actual problem was beginning before then.
I began by only arpeggiating the chords in the fifth, sixth, sixteenth positions and then inhibiting myself from playing any more. Pausing before beginning this sequence again, I would give the directions to lengthen and widen, with the aim of beginning with good use. At one point I noticed a slight moving forward of my right shoulder as my left hand made the jump to the sixteenth position. Why am I doing this I wondered? An answer did not arrive, but it seems as if somehow my right hand was attempting to help my left hand. As the right shoulder moved forward, this also causes my right wrist to arch. Unnecessary tension was being introduced at this point. I began to work with making this jump while allowing my shoulders to remain wide and free. This took quite some time. I noticed there was a bit of anticipation arising as I finished the arpeggio prior to the jump. Was this emotional entanglement intensifying as the passage continued and also confusing my use? As I was not playing the full passage I could not observe this, but have a strong hunch that it was. When my concentration faded I let go of this work.
After a short break I returned, and played with making the three shapes in the sixteenth position with my left hand and merely strumming them with the right hand rather than playing the arpeggio. Then I introduced the move to the eighteenth position with it's various variations, while continuing to just strum each chord. As I did this, I noticed that while the area between the frets is narrow on this part of the guitar, I was finding greater space to move my fingers within. Nothing had changed about the fretboard, but my experience was one of space. I decided to leave this particular exploration at this point. Both hands and arms had gained new information, and rather than end-gain and attempt to put the section together, I wanted my body to assimilate the information.
As I resumed practicing, I began to play through a few pieces. Happily I noticed that the AT attention I had given to my earlier practice was continuing to manifest with good use. Time to return to playing.