Tuesday, September 6, 2011

One Small Step

Teotihuacan - tempel van de zon

While driving to work today, I was reflecting on my work with improvisation last night.  I began improvising a melody in my mind, when I realized I could sing an improv instead.  Fairly quickly I realized the limitations of my singing wide intervals, but I persisted nonetheless.  I returned to this a few times during work today, gently singing a melody created in the moment.  While I have done this before,  and have even consciously work on a developing piece in this way, I'm not sure why I have never thought of this as improvisation.

Tonight I had my Alexander Technique lesson with David Jernigan who also happens to be an accomplished jazz bassist,  plays guitar and piano.  I knew that I would have to continue my work on the Creative Pact 2011 commitment I made to work with improvisation and AT with David tonight.  As it was raining I began to use this as an excuse to leave my guitar at home.  I did have an AT related question for us to work with tonight.  A tendency I have to "hold on" with my right leg & foot, and a similar tendency with my left hand.  David has shown me how to apply AT to release my left hand, and this has happened markedly in the past two months.  We worked with the sense of lengthening along the diagonal between the left shoulder and the right leg.  Releasing the lower back to release the leg.

David put me on the table and with gentle manipulation and direction introduced a greater release and length in me.  As I went to get up we talked about the habit I noticed a couple weeks ago, of always rising from a lie down to my right side.  This came up as I had began to roll to the right.  I did choose to continue in this direction, but at least now it is not always just a habitual response to rising.  As I sat on the table, he asked if I was ready to play guitar.  A part of me did not want to get the guitar out of the case and improvise, even though this was the intention I established last night.

A short improvisation followed by a short discussion. And then another, which was moving along and then I was lost as to where to go and stopped.  A bit more discussion about vulnerability and stepping out into the unknown.  I mentioned that I was not using my body to withdraw away from him and hide.  Then David asked me to play again.  This take began with a tritone and had a sense of musical direction throughout.  A bit varied in intensity, and I followed with what developed until I found an ending.  The duration was probably less than two minutes and at one point self-judgement slipped into my thinking, but overall I remained free.  This is major progress.

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