Sunday, November 28, 2021


Yesterday I improvised as I began my practice. An idea appeared. I chased where this melody led me for 90 minutes. My practice ended as we went to visit family for the rest of the day.

Today part of the answer to my question of Friday manifested. This was wonderful. For much of the year my focus has been on developing and learning new works. And then ever few days I play older works I know. Today the idea to alternate the old with the new arose in my mind and I experimented with this.

I practiced parts and then the whole of About to Be for about 12 minutes. Then I played through an older piece Gathered Hearts. Immediately I noticed how as I played GH ease and joy arose in my playing. I continued like this for the next 3 hours. Breaks for coffee or Qi Gong included.

In the latter phase of this practice focus was still there. I played What Is This? a technically difficult piece as good as I’ve ever played it.By alternating between the unknown and the known my body, mind and spirit were nurtured and better able to stay with my practice. Amen!

Photo by Kyle McDonald

Friday, November 26, 2021


 Question I am currently holding.

How could I make the recording of Fences, Frames and Alleys easy?

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

What’s Next & How to Get There

Finally found a printed copy of a poem I wrote a few years ago - Boys in Blue Ties. A while back I was mind mapping my next release and had put this down as a possibility. But I could not find it on my laptop. I wondered and doubted that I had only written it by hand somewhere, because I knew I had recited it in a workshop and an open mic. Come to find out it is on my old lap top and for some reason did not transfer. Now I have to determine what else might be in limbo.

But I was excited upon finding it last night. I recited it for my wife this morning and then recorded myself to hear the cadence and rhythm of my recitation. After listening I dropped a few words and made some changes and taped it again. I then played a bit with what might be possible to play while reciting this. Nothing solid yet. May need to be someone else, another instrument or just my voice.

Does it fit with my solo guitar work. Time will tell. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Mock Recording

As I contemplated how to practice today I decided it was time to change my direction just a bit. I aim to record these pieces I've been working on and that process has it's own challenges above and beyond just playing a piece. Something about those microphones that hear EVERYTHING pointed out my guitar. At me. I chose Searching, Down the Hilll and What Is This? to work with.

With the mics armed and the recorder on I wanted to record three full takes of each piece. There are challenges that arise such as feeling good about how a particular recording was happening and the resultant loss of focus due to the mental chatter I did not notice and curtail in time. Then there are the false starts that I abandon quickly, but need to recenter and keep my bearings. And that darn mic is looking right at me.  Each challenge took less than 20 minutes and reintroduced me to the "pressure" I experience with recording. 

As the pressure builds it also exposed how much work I still need to put into What Is This? 

Photo by Pingnews

Monday, November 22, 2021

Mental Practicing

 How many notes do I play in a day? How many imagined? Listened to via scoring program or recorded music? Practice right after breakfast for 75 minutes. This is generally my best time. Had a couple meetings this morning and then errands to run as the food stores in the US get crowded by the upcoming Thanksgiving Holiday.

90 more minutes of practice after dinner. I decided to nap in the afternoon and took the score for What Is This? with me. Complicated piece that I’ve been working on a long time. After studying this score yesterday I decided to just work on the right hand plucking as there was confusion there. Valuable insight. Before I studied it today I reopened Donald Greene’s book Performance Success. Regarding mental practice I noticed part of the process I have been overlooking. He says “The process cue for mental practicing is to imagine yourself playing the piece correctly all the way through.”

I did this then and also later as I studied the score for Looking Both Ways before practicing. I also used Mental Practicing with the score for Anchor Fence is Gone.

Sunday, November 21, 2021


 As we completed our Qi Gong practice this morning I chose Freedom as the word for today. We choose a positive attribute that we want to develop in ourselves. As we moved to our sitting meditation I choose a reading on Volition as one of the Four Nutriments instead of continuing with our reading of Understanding Our Mind by Thich Nhat Hahn. We’ll return to that book tomorrow, but today I needed this other reading.

As I was practicing guitar I reminded myself I was cultivating freedom. Where in my body could I allow freedom and ease to spread? I also caught myself going into self-judgement mode as I had begun playing through What Is This? without pausing and nourishing my performance cue. Instead I pulled out my emergency cue “Float” to slow down the thought process and let me keep the energy directed towards executing the piece. It worked.

Two other times I found myself wandering towards judgements of people I was in a zoom meeting with. Rather than feed my story of them, I nurtured understanding of their suffering. This is huge. More is needed.

Once I publish this I will get out a couple scores to study before bedtime per my commitment. 

Friday, November 19, 2021

Matka Boska

My Mother was born on this day 102 years ago. Sounds like a long time doesn't it. What is time? What is birth? Death?  Catherine Teresa or Kashka as the Poles would call her is still alive in my heart and mind. Always will be. I think of her every day when I play. Look at her black and white photograph as a young woman to inspire me. After all she gave me the breath of life.

And my first real guitar - a Fender Jaguar. But she only did this after I practiced for months on a rented acoustic. She was generous, but not foolish with her hard earned money from working in a can factory.  Many years ago I was improvising one evening when a piece began to arise. The notes just flowed out of me and I knew it was about Mom. The easiest piece I have ever titled - Matka Boska. Polish for Blessed Mother. 

Tonight I lit a candle and with my wife listening I played Matka Boska. You may listen here: