Friday, September 2, 2011
Allowing Alexander Technique to Influence Improvisation
Tonight found my wife invoking my two times to practice rule on me - when I want to and when I don't want to. So grateful for such a supportive presence in my life. While doing my AT lie down before picking up my guitar, I marveled at the complex systems which we call our body. Bones, tissues, and an energy system the power of which I have only glimpsed. Numerous biochemical processes adapting to the sustenance and abuse we absorb. I recalled the sense of awe I had when I first held DNA in a test tube during biochemistry lab. And then I came back to my body.
Allowing my thinking to touch various aspects of the Alexander Technique as I continued to lie down, I sensed the freedom that is available to us. Can I practice tonight with the aim of maintaining this freedom, rather than becoming concerned with results? After playing through two pieces I paused, recalling a project a couple of online friends are participating in Creative Pact 2011 which began yesterday. I know the value of support, but finding out about Creative Pact on the day it began, I was unsure of how I might participate.
As this project is hosted by a group called Inclusive Improv, I did have a sense that working with improvisation was a way in for me, but how to share the documentation. I do not want to get bogged down with recording/editing of improvs to share with the project. I also thought of Alexander Technique and my writing related to application of this to my musical practice. So tonight in the spirit of joining the creative pact 2011, I improvised with the intent of being quiet in my thinking and free in my use.
The first improvisation came to a halt when I noticed that my judgemental thinking had begun it's dialogue. Coming back to myself and quieting the thinking by observing my breath, I then directed my thinking with the Alexander Technique. Beginning again, I soon faltered with judgement thoughts impeding the flow. Centering myself again, I simply enjoyed sitting on my stool, and then began to play with a sense of space between the notes. Allowing this sense of space between the notes to inform the sense of space within my body. Directing via AT, in between snatches of playing. I continued in this fashion for 15 - 20 minutes, occasionally pausing to reconnect. Noticing that my mind was quieting and my energy rising.
I took a short break and then resumed in this manner, exploring and playing with different ideas. One idea I borrowed from my pianist friend Mike Vargas was to restrict myself to a particular "zone" on the guitar. In this case the notes between the 6th and 15th frets including open strings. Little judgement surfacing now, just playing and following where I might go.
Deciding at one point to play through Gathered Hearts from this space I was in, I did so. Then with the partial capo in the second position, I resumed improvising. Finding an idea that I will return to, I now had my bridge to begin my practice tomorrow.