“Throw yourself into life as someone who makes a difference.” -- Benjamin Zander
As a result of living my life in the described manner by Benjamin Zander, at times something has to give. Guitar practice and the day job are honored. I need some time to rest and to be with my favorite person in the whole world - my wife. Work on new pieces continue as does preparation for a house concert. A great experiment in AT class last night waits to be posted. Finding time to write about my musical adventures is rewarding to me, but alas sometimes I need to sacrifice myself to the gods of sleep and forgo blogging.
Am I listening for the whispers I heard myself stay after another false start with the new piece. Tonight the recording device was annoying me, or I was annoying me, or my grappling with the unknown had me on edge. When the question arrived - am I listening for the whispers - I still had difficulties playing but now I began to hear why. The judgemental whispers in my mind coupled with the subtle yet unrealistic expectations that something profound would emerge from my repeated efforts with this musical idea were robbing my attention.
Now at least I was listening. I returned to stillness, opening my hearing to the sounds of the AC, the chirps of the evening insects, and then to the sound emanating from my strings. Difficulties presented themselves, but I returned to the listening; and then I let go of the playing.
What was my goal in recording? To learn about this piece that is developing. Then let go, play with all that I am, and keep listening and learning. Once again I see that I have to love the process of practice and all that goes with it. The drudgery, the repetition, and my feelings of not having what it takes this time. I hear the whisper of let go, let go, let goooooooooooooooooooo ...
I press record and play. Ninety seconds in I have arrived somewhere unplanned and pause. Perhaps a new way to begin the piece. I press record again, follow the form and and in a later part of the piece arrive at another new area. Record once more and let it rip. Intensity in one section nearly derails me, but I hang on. An idea from listening yesterday that I thought I wanted to explore did not happen but arrived a few bars later. Time once again to let go. Let go and listen.
Still working with this new piece. Stillness remains key to my process. When I slow down I listen. Persistent open stillness allow the whispers of the muse to be heard. Last week when I was completing my work for the evening, I recorded what I had achieved with the piece that session. This act is nothing new for me, but when I woke the following morning I decided to listen to this during my commute. This was going against my habit of having the recording to refer to for ideas. I heard myself saying it is too early in the process to listen, my playing is so flawed. On I went about why to maintain this habit.
I trusted the impulse and listened three times during various parts of my drive. During the second listening I thought I heard something but it was nebulous. Then in the third listen, I heard the whisper of where to take the piece. That evening I worked with the idea and was satisfied with the result. The next morning and a few other times I have done this with this piece. The whispers continue.
This piece is stretching me, as is this process. As I listened this morning I thought the introduction needed something, but I did not hear what this might be. Tonight after a very exhausting work day, I was ready to play, when I paused. I realized that it's been a while since I've done an AT lie down before playing. So I hit the floor and as I relaxed, I began listening to the intro in my mind. I heard a possibility. Of course I wanted to get up and play with it, but I choose to stay with the lie down.
The idea does have merit and I played with another part from my morning's listening that needed work. Now I'll sacrifice myself to the gods of sleep and listen again tomorrow.