Thursday, June 14, 2012

Balancing Mistakes

2005-09-29 nasher museum

Tonight's practice was shaped by two different blog posts I have read in the past 24 hours. The first was by Erica Sipes in her blog Beyond the Notes. I read these inspiring words last night - I don't let myself play the same mistake twice in a row.  If I do, I need to change the way I'm thinking. Wow! This is certainly not true for me, and Erica's post certainly got me thinking about how I might aim to make this my practice.

As I prepared to practice tonight I decided to address a section of a piece that I have yet to figure out how to play well consistently.  And this was where the second blog post arrived to assist me with changing my thinking.  This one by Bill Plake, a saxophonist and Alexander Technique teacher from California.  Bill's post was about the principles of standing while playing. There is lot's of good practical information in his post that I am not going to regurgitate here.  But while working with finding balance within my feet while standing, this shifted my habitual way of playing the section I was working on. I saw what I did not understand about the section and worked with this.

After a short break, I returned to practice, but seated this time.  Still finding and paying attention to how my feet supported my weight.  I began addressing the section again, in very small parts this time, to focus on the various transitions between chords.  After a "mistake," Erica's words arrived again.  I need to change the way I'm thinking. And the thought that arrived was a very Alexandrian -  think up!  As I did my body found a "better" balance while seated and an ease entered my hands.  I continued to direct my thinking via the Alexander Technique while addressing the particulars of this section of music.  Steady improvement was made and I enjoyed the process.  Grateful for the wisdom and insight that is freely shared across the internet.  Both Erica's and Bill's blogs have proven valuable to me in the past and I urge any musician to avail yourself of them.


  1. Ahhhhh, the joys of what those 'happy' feet were able to deliver Up! Thx for including us in your journey, Patrick.

  2. Thanks for taking an active interest in the journey Lynn. I always smile when I recall having the AT session with David giving my my guitar during a lie down that was inspired by you.

  3. Both Bill and Erica are superb writers, aren't they? Their articles are a powerful tool for improvement, and I've learned a lot from them both.

    I really love the way you documented here your application of what you learned from the blog posts. It's a gift to be able to see a musician's practice 'from the inside'. Thank you!