Thursday, July 7, 2011



How do I approach what I do?

Another evening where I am tired, the demands of my professional and family life, tugging at my time to play.  Do I leap in and play a favorite piece with the hope that the energy from the music brings me into the present moment?  Certainly there have been evenings when I have done this.  Yet I aim for an efficient guitar practice, and an efficient use of myself.  Tonight, I was sitting on my stool, breathing and calming down.

After a few minutes I was ready to get my guitar.  Instead I decided to play with AT inhibition.  My next decision was to raise my left hand as if I was to play.  Directing myself to find my length and width, I inhibited this action, and instead spoke the phrase "I am free."  Deciding again to bring my left hand to the guitar, I again used the AT directions, and this time I did allow this motion to proceed.  My next decision was to get my guitar and after directing, I choose to fling my right hand about instead.  Deciding to bring both hands to my imaginary guitar, I directed, and then did nothing.  Next time after directing, I did bring up both hands.  Taking in the room about me, the space above me, and my feet supported by the floor, I decided I was ready to play.

And I was ready.  Having released much of the tension of my day; my mind and body were working together.  Maintaining a sense of myself I rose, opened my case, and tuned. Forty-five minutes of spirited practice ensued.  I played the beginning of Here We Are a few times, each time coming back to myself and directing.  Those opening notes sounding so sweet and present.  As I played through the piece, my mind was hearing the music as I played.  Sensing the freedom of my use, I occasionally generated thought of freedom of use as I played.  I continued in the manner the tremolo piece.  Then while directing prior to playing Gathered Hearts I turned towards the mirror and began to play.  So much easier to do this here tonight.  Was it because I was home? Alone? Or was I just playing in the moment without concerns.  During Gathered, I noticed my breath moving freely and deeply, supporting myself and the music.  I could see in the mirror that I looked more relaxed than I had at the beginning of this session.  I moved onto some single string work with my pic.  Noticing my attention was waning I took a break to write this.

As I think of returning to the guitar, I read my initial question of How do I approach what I do?  Laughing as my use of myself has been less than optimal as I type this.  At least I noticed.

Excited, I returned to my practice space.  Too excited perhaps.  I found myself rushing to check out an idea using a wah-wah pedal.  My old electroharmonix needed a battery, reaching for the screwdriver I realized I had no sense of myself.  I could pause I thought, yet I plunged on.  The pedal did not work so I abandoned this and moved onto transcription.  Again I thought of pausing and directing, but I wanted to get on with listening.  Something about headphones, a score, and the guitar leads me to end-gaining.  Progress was made on the transcription, and towards the end I did pause, direct, and look for how I can approach this process with a better sense of myself.  But tonight in this second half of my practice, habit drove me forward.  As I completed my practice, I smiled.  And so it goes.


  1. Patrick, this is such a wonderful description of what Frank Pierce Jones (AT teacher, and scientific researcher of the Alexander Technique) called "thinking in activity". You are using the Technique on a very deep but practical level. I love how you are able to energize yourself just by practicing inhibition (which always brings us into the present moment). Thanks for sharing this.

  2. Your welcome Bill and thank you. For those who would like to know more about Frank Pierce Jone's work his book Body Awareness in Action is available here: