Monday, June 24, 2013

Honoring a Request

Yesterday was Ladd Everitt's Birthday and I sent him birthday greetings via Facebook.  Then he asked for a 30 second piece for his birthday.  Where to begin?  The time limit was one guiding constraint, albeit a severe one.  Did I need to do this today?  Why yes it is his birthday.  I needed a theme, an emotion, or a key please.  I looked at his name and decided to explore the interval of the fourth A - D.  Quickly I decided to toss in an F# and I began playing around.

After 40 minutes, a piece had arrived  and a rough recording was made on my portable mp3 recorder.  This recording is less than perfect yet was made in a spirit of goodwill and joy.  I sent him a drop box link and set off for a walk with my wife.  I am amazed with the ease of which I released this recording.  No worrying or negative judgement about the lack of time or that it's a mps or I am not worthy of sending this off.  A slight concern about him 'liking' the piece, but this is not up to me.  My response was important; just shrugging off any trace of fear and allowing what I do to enrich a good man's Birthday.

During our walk I told me wife about this.  I had said I wanted to explore and stretch during this time off from work.  I brought Pedro de Alcantara's book Integrated Practice with me as a potential source of ideas to play with.  But I never thought that a simple Birthday wish would provide the stimulus.  What other contexts might arise this week to provide the impetus for learning and growing?
I am grateful for my response to Ladd's request yesterday. In less than 38 minutes after his request, I honored his request without judgement of myself and no notice of fear; just a bit of love being sent out to a good man. 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Sailing the Alexander Technique

I was practicing in a room last night that is new to me.  My guitar sounds different and as I notice this I take in more of the space about me.  A slight release in my spine ensues and I continue to gently scan the wood paneled walls circa 1950's USA as I play.  For the first time since arriving here earlier in the day I notice the two paintings of sail boats, perhaps in a race.

As I see their forward motion & the uprightness of their sails, I shift forward over my sitz bones.  Smiling at the gentle but clear Alexander Technique directions being administered to me by the environment I am in.  As I review pieces of music, I work to keep the directions of forward & up alive within, smiling at the paintings that began this particular piece of AT work.

This morning while practicing in the same room, I notice that the water in the one painting is rough & choppy, yet the boats maintain that dynamic of forward and up.  Much like me navigating the piece I am playing, while the earth was relatively calm beneath me I am in motion. Though sitting in an asymmetric position, both of my arms are extended in different directions with my palms holding my fingers in various positions as the move about the guitar.  Directions remain alive for glimpses of playing, as I come back to them during breaks between what I am practicing.  My awareness spreads gently during these moments of being alive to and with what I am doing.  I notice that I am tired, so I take a break.

On the beach I am once again engulfed by the sheer immensity of the Ocean.  Pondering how wide the Atlantic is, I release my shoulders to approach their width.  Allowing my spine to soar into the delicate floating clouds above me.  Enjoying this snack AT practice as I begin walking in the surf.  Later while swimming and playing in the surf I pause to absorb the Qi of the Ocean, of the Planet, of Life.  Swaying & undulating with the waves, allowing forward & up, wide & free I dive into another wave.  Might one day I navigate music with such freedom and joy.  The aphorism - establish the possible and move gradually to the impossible arrives on time once again.  Finding myself and how I am using myself with the AT directions is one way to establish the possible. I continue to find the technique practical & applicable to any situation.  Examples within life abound to remind me.  What I do with these opportunities to remember or when I intentionally pause to invite these principles into my being continues to invite ease and freedom in.

Thursday, June 20, 2013


 Invite the silence.
Without guarantee practice.
Persist, wish, abide.

Photo by Barry Stock.

Monday, June 17, 2013


Autumn Abbey
What is that music whispering to me?
Gentle, flowing like the wind.
Be still, it murmurs, be still.

Suddenly dissonance roars,
with an introduction of confusion to begin another section.
Another part of life lived.
Again it murmurs, be still; just    be still.

Why is this music whispering to me?
Because I can listen or because I will play?
Or am I just living in this fortunate day?
The quieting roar gently flows towards the end.
Murmuring, murmuring - be still, be still.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Moment by Moment


Moment by moment,
Note after note,
Music breathes or not.

Where is the player?
In the way or on the way?
Present in love and freedom?
Where, when, now.

Moment by moment,
Life passes.
Note after note,
Music evolves.
Breathing in and out,
Noticing, nurturing, giving and given;
a present - this present moment lived.

Photo by Barry Stock

Friday, June 14, 2013

Glimpses of Awareness

  Tonight this photo by my friend Barry Stock spoke to me of awareness.  How often am I aware of the beauty that is  around me?  How often am I aware of where I am in space, let alone what I am doing, thinking, feeling?  Glimpses of awareness show me where I am or where I am not.

I may have great aspirations, but what of my actions?  My thoughts?  My words?
As the Guitar Craft aphorism so aptly states - we begin again constantly.  Grateful for the reminders to stop & notice; for the practices that guide this; and for the practitioners that strengthen & support all of us.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Little Habits

HabitsHow quickly habits set in.

I've been learning Jesu' Joy of Man's Desiring for an upcoming family wedding. The score I have been working with has both standard notation and guitar tablature which pushes the pages to five.  This is more pages than I need to be dealing with. For some reason the tablature is working fine for this piece so I decided to drop the notation and compress the score to two pages.

Tonight was the first time I was working with this and began with bar 39 which leads into an area with kinks to resolve.  I kept getting lost.  Deciding to begin with the first bar and establish the flow of Bach's majesty, I was again getting lost very easily.  Then I saw the problem.  By habit, when my eyes came to the end of a bar line, they were jumping over the next line as if the line of notation was still present.   Laughing, I  began again and lo and behold my eyes jumped again; a bit later once again

Habits, habits, habits.  They develop below the level of my awareness, but then require dedicated awareness to release them.  What's next?

Monday, June 10, 2013

Could it Be?

It's cooler. Is the AC on orchid it be Fall?

The more I think or feel that I am lacking in time to effectively carry out what I want or need, the greater the value of choosing to do nothing?

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Dormant Seeds


Dormant but patient.
Spring storm clouds gather, reveal.
Watch what you water.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Summer Haiku

Instill quiet now.
Then in stillness, blossom deep.
Summer shines within.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Finding the Light

Every now and then
the whisper points and leads.
Those first notes sweet and suggestive;
the next ones haunting and hallowing.

Quietly I listen.
Quietly I 

Where does this melody wish to go?
Open, available, I yearn to know.
Simply play.
Softly stay.

I find
I miss
I float the wish
Slowly, lovingly
note follows note.

Every now and then.