Monday, May 9, 2011
Take a Different Path
While I was stuck in traffic, I began visualizing a section of music that I am having difficulty playing. At one point during my visualization, I had a sense that I did not understand what my right hand was doing nor what my right hand needed to do. I noticed I was tensing a bit, even though I was not actually playing. Employing the Alexander Technique, I found length and width within myself. As I began the visualization again, I only went as far as the bar where the confusion was. Now I at least knew where the issue began.
After dinner in the back yard on a beautiful spring evening, I decided to practice out on the porch. Between the breeze and the singing birds, I just had to be outside. I played through several pieces that I'll use in a performance at the end of the month. After taking a break, I began to investigate the right hand confusion that my morning visualization had revealed. Deciding to incorporate the AT practice of inhibition, I played the four bars leading up to the confusion and then paused. Doing this several times I saw what my right hand was actually doing. I continued to play these four bars and then inhibit playing the next one, until I had a sense of how to proceed. The issue arose after arpeggiating 3 bars in the same pattern, then strumming four strings, and following this by playing two different artificial harmonics. By inhibiting the movement to the artificial harmonics, I found where my right hand was, and then could think about how to attack the harmonics.
Once I worked out the movement, I began to play the part through. Pausing between parts to direct via AT, I began again, and decided to skip the third bar. I played the harmonics well, and then continued to play with skipping bars and adding bars and varying the bars leading up to the strum in a myriad of ways. By taking these different paths to the transition I was practicing, I was hoping to obliterate the muscle memory that had become associated with this particular transition. While gaining confidence, I was also enjoying this impromptu approach immensely. Grateful that good work had been done, I completed my practice in time to watch the second half of the Celtics/ Heat game.
Happy that I stumbled upon this photo of Vulture Peak in India. This is where the Buddha inspired Avalokitesvara to give the Heart of the Prajnaparamitra Sutra, which in the words of Thich Nhat Hahn is "Avalokitesvara precious gift to us, the gift of fearlessness." Amen.