Saturday, September 24, 2011


View of the entire near-infrared sky

With this commitment to Creative Pact 2011 along with my investigating improvisation, I am also allowing the Alexander Technique to facilitate my use in the act of playing.  This is subtle and frequently below the surface of my ability to capture in words.  In general, I have been thinking and thus using AT more and more in the course of my day.  Many efforts of the application of AT to my guitar practice have been captured in this blog over the past two years.  Yet those smaller moments of returning to direct my thinking while brushing my teeth, walking at work, sitting in traffic, and all the mini pauses throughout my day has intensified this month.

As I completed my sitting today, I thought of my upcoming AT lesson with Pedro de Alcantara on Monday.  How might I best prepare for this I thought?  Practice of course, I smiled, yet this is a question that is larger than one lesson.  How might I best prepare for life might be the real question.  So for this weekend I decided to pause every half hour and direct my thinking with the Alexander Technique.  To cultivate this freedom and ease of use and perhaps be in a place where I am present to absorb what I can from this lesson with Pedro.

As I approached my case after writing the above, I inhibited my action to open it.  Directing and finding myself in the space before the case, I allowed my right hand to unclasp one clasp and then while thinking to keep my neck free, I opened the rest.  Reciting my guitar gatha as I took hold of and removed the guitar, I kept the directions alive.  When I placed the guitar on my body I was free.

 I played through Gathered Hearts to set the mood and then played three short improvisations.  I was a bit amazed how easily three ideas came to me, the last one with a Bach feel to it.  I noticed towards the end of the third one that I was holding my jaw.  How often do I do this when playing, when living?

This afternoon, I began by improvising on my piece Gathered Hearts.  I was amazed at the music that could easily be generated by playing with and expanding the framework of this piece.  I then moved onto an exploring an idea generated by Pedro de Alcantara's exercise called the Cat's Leap.  Then I improvised on Gathered Hearts again and then played with Pedro's idea some more.  I noticed a bit of tension in my neck as I was playing this last improv.  Old habits die hard.

My wife arrived home and I improvised on Gathered Hearts and another free idea while she listened.  Then as she took a call, I continued improvising with various ideas for another 15-20 minutes.  Feeling free and comfortable, happy that there has been a shift in my approach and confidence. The directing on the half hour fell  apart while I was at a film with my wife and for some time before and after this.  C'est la vie, we begin again constantly.

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