Monday, October 4, 2010

When Do I Begin to Listen?

Musicians listen deeply.  Any note can be invited to sound in a myriad of waves. Play a  note ponticello and you invite your listener to a different place then the same note played tasto; pianissimo offering a different state than forte. When my listening is attentive the quality of my playing changes. So when does a musician begin to listen during a practice session?

I asked myself this question as I approached my guitar this evening.  Then I heard the sound of the clasps that secure the case as I opened them. I listened as my strap slid over the strap buttons. I noticed the strap brushing against the fabric of my shirt as I brought my guitar to my body. I reveled in the beauty of the bringing my C string into tune. The bright attack as I secured the cable in the jack. The snap of the switch on the amp and the subsequent slight hum. I heard my body settle into my stool.

And then I noticed that already my mind had begun to quiet from the distraction of my day. I heard my nails touching the strings as I began playing Dancin' Free. A short but active run through of Dancin' Free, Kinnara, & Stepping Stones ensued. I wanted more but had to honor an obligation this evening. I was able to collect the joy generated from this brief session and take it with me. We got into the car, I heard the engine roar, and then I was lost.

When will I begin to listen again? Will it be with my beloved guitar or with a person? Suddenly I hear myself say "don't criticize" as a man begins to share his voice. That one thought the coda to my day. Here I was - Alive again. I was improvising my response to the theme that was actually stated, harmonizing in a new direction, rather than falling back on my habitual historical rendering of old melodies that did not fit this music. Yes musician listen deeply; listen to the sounds of life.  Allow your listening to be in service to the muse. Regardless of the instrumentation, the style, or the ensemble be present to the music that is being played. Be it the sound of  a string or of a string of thoughts, I know I will get lost again. So when do I begin to listen?

1 comment:

  1. Our ears need cleaning to listen like this, to be open to a whole new way of hearing, especially of hearing people we think we know, anticipating their words, pre-judging. Very insightful!