Thursday, May 31, 2012

Changing Strings & Noticing Use

Time to change strings again as I have a gig tonight.  Always in pursuit of beautiful tone and after intense playing at the course last week, the strings needed to be changed.  As I was changing the first two strings I noticed poor use of myself as I had the guitar on my lap.  Lifting up my right leg to "support" the guitar when just allowing the foot to be on the floor was sufficient.  Why does one part of my body look to "help" even when this is not necessary?

As I went to put on the third sting, I paused to direct my thinking with the Alexander Technique and decided a lie down was in order.  After the lie down I had a clearer sense of myself, and paused a few time to direct  my thinking again.  The strings sound beautiful and crisp.  Time to rest before the gig tonight.

                          Photo by: Jackie Dervichian

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

New Strings

"String Web" woven sculpture by Machiko Agano
Just put new strings on my guitar, always such a pleasure to hear those bright and beautiful tones. If only it was as easy to change my mind or change a habit as it is to change strings. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

Tuning the Musician


After a long intense day of professional duties, I came home and just sat and talked with my wife for a bit.  The past five weeks have been demanding, but I am grateful for the work that I do there.  I went onto the back porch for coffee and listened to the birds as sunset approached.  Smiling I decided to get my guitar and play for them a bit.

As soon as I sat down, I knew I needed to begin with gentle playing.  Neither my body nor my spirit were ready to be pushed hard just then.  As I was playing the chatter in my mind about the days work kept interrupting the music.  Once again I saw that it is much easier to tune the guitar than it is to tune the musician.  So with a gentle spirit I began again, and then again, slowly allowing the vibrations of the notes to nourish me and draw me closer to the present moment.

I noticed that the birds had gone to bed, so I moved inside to play.  Steadily my energy increased, the thoughts of the day dispersed and progress was made on the piece I am learning.  Grateful for music, love, and the people in my life.  Laughing as I realize that just like my guitar needs to be tuned regularly, so do I.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Accessing Musical Presence With Qi

Norse Peak
I have been spending much more time practicing Qi Gong these past few weeks and am finding this is paying off in various ways.  Tonight while practicing guitar I interspersed the session with a few minutes of Qi Gong.  Though I did not count how many times I took a break to do this, it must have been 7-8 times as I reflect back.  Brief 10 -15 minutes of guitar with 3-4 minutes of Qi Gong.  As the evening went on I found my presence with the guitar increasing and an energy coming into my playing that was very strong and rich.  More exploration of this to follow.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Playing Around

playing around

Life has been very serious of late.  Mounting intensity on the day job, has kept me working long hours and generally wiped out when I arrive home.  Fortunately practices like Qi Gong and the Alexander Technique lie down help to rejuvenate me and get me to the guitar.  Issues in my right elbow has kept some practice sessions short, but I do what I can and the elbow is improving.

I've had two great practice sessions this week though on Monday and tonight.  Tonight I was interspersing playing around with a position of mechanical advantage shown to me but Pedro de Alcantara in a recent workshop. He calls this The Plunge and is described in his latest book Integrated Practice.  David Jernigan and I worked with this a bit during an AT class last night and when I came home I found the description in the book.  One thing I like about the Plunge is all I need is a wall, so I have experimented with this at work and in elevators and of course at home.

Sunday night I decided I needed to work with my pic for a change and took out a tremolo piece that came to me last year. The latest working title for this piece is Hymn 38.  Finding the proper tempo to learn this piece, I have begun learning it from the end as several people including Pedro have suggested. After making good progress with this tonight, I played through a few pieces and then began improvising with arppeggiating an A maj/min chord.  Finding a funky rhythm, I was moving this chord around and stumbled upon a nice transition to using fourth chords.  Just a little fun at the end of a long and productive day. And an area to continue to study.