Wednesday, September 3, 2014
Exercising Freedom Part II
Since my intent was to explore my freedom in this practice session, I began with an Alexander Technique lie down as this simple yet powerful process opens my body and mind. From there I moved onto a little vocal improvisation, a bit goofy & scat-like by my untrained voice. From there onto a guitar improvisation, not as free as the vocal one, but exploratory, even fun.
I sat down and began working with some of Balk’s Facial Mode Exercises. Playing the opening sections to the three pieces I’ll be performing at The Field, I worked with taking in the room with my eyes, then eyes closed, and eyes and mouth wide open. I also played with a couple facial expressions. Though I’m not sure I’d ever perform with any of these, certainly the eyes and mouth wide open, it is the freedom to do so, while playing them I am looking for. Next I moved to standing and repeated this sequence.
Moving onto exercising the kinesthetic mode things got a bit playful. I was playing while standing on one leg and then shifting to the other one, when the Alexander Technique arrived uninvited by myself into my thinking. I wondered was my neck free? From here I began to direct my use actively while still playing with standing on one leg. When both legs were on the floor I would direct myself forward & up, long and wide; then lift the opposite leg for a few seconds and repeat. An energetic shift and a new sense of freedom arrived.
From here I began to work with playing each piece in a different order than the set. While also working with exercising the three modes as Balk describes them - the facial, the kinesthetic, and the emotional in a manner that would support the individual piece. Moving about my practice space, sometimes gracefully, sometimes with detachment, other times seductively, I explored these choices. Activating the face and emotions to support the movements continued to add to this energetic shift.
While playing through Forget-Me-Knot I turned towards the dining room and saw the flowers on our table. Such pure and simple beauty penetrating me as I played. My motion stopped as the notes flowed. I completed the piece and gently took in the process.
Soon the thought arrived to play through the set. Instead I decided that I was free to choose to not do this, not just yet. I could continue to explore and expand my freedom of choices while being in no hurry to measure their success or not. This felt very right.
Moving onto a new idea that recently arrived I explored the theme with some new twists. Seated without concern for Balk’s exercises just playing with the notes. Satisfied I moved onto a piece I’ll be performing next week that has a very thorny section in it.
I took on this new piece of work in a seated position and played a bit with the facial exercises seeing if this might disrupt my habitual playing of this section. I focused solely on this section and slowed my playing way down. Randomly moving through the section I would play a few bars and then apply AT inhibition. A few times, even at this slow pace, I found myself flinching and or tightening my neck. Then I slowed the playing even more, looking for smooth and fluid execution from a free body and mind. Then I stood and began to slowly move as I played with random measures, sometime recombining ideas, oftentimes inhibiting my next action. A freshness arrived as this came alive. Similar to the shift that had occurred earlier I wanted to play through this piece and measure the results Instead I choose to do an AT lie down and let the changes settle in.