Friday, December 19, 2014

Listen Listen

Listen, Listen.  The sound of the bell brings me back to my true home.  Thich Naht Hahn

Listening, one of the most important senses a musician employs and develops.  The same might be true for all of us as we strive to bring harmony into our world.  While reflecting on how to begin my practice today, dynamics arose as an area to begin and focus on.  I always love to play with dynamics and the fourth primary from Guitar Craft.  This simple and beautiful arpeggio, not only returns me to moments of innocence, but provides an ongoing challenge to the independence of the thumb and fingers of my right hand.  I can simply alter the dynamics as I play the arpeggio.  Building a crescendo or decrescendo or use a loud and soft combination of any fingers.

The sea in front of me provides an example of effortless change in dynamics with the breaking waves.  As I begin to tune my guitar, I invite the low C string to sound.  I am immediately captivated by a richness and heretofore unknown intensity of the Ovation Guitar I have with me.  Suddenly I smile as I realize that this new found power is the result of an ocean going vessel heading out to sea and sounding it's fog horn.  A glimpse of what a master might sound like, I return to tuning.

My listening sharpened by this experience, I begin with a simple piece that has been unveiling herself to me recently.  Inspired by the Muslim call to prayer, I intone these notes with respect and awareness.  Reflecting on this now I realize that  my aspiration is that all notes should be invited in this way; better yet - all the words that I say to another.  A distance wider than the four oceans, awaits me on this particular journey of sound.  So be it.  Like music, the journey will unfold in time; either I will be present to the journey or not.   Knowing this, I cultivate my practice of awareness and insight daily, as often as I remember,  when a bell of mindfulness invites me back or when Nature in all her Glory simply demands that I pay attention to truth and beauty before me.

Playing through a piece, Senseless Loss, the fog horn which is close to  a C sounds again.  Harmonizing with the low E, I am playing, another smile blooms.  Two more times over the course of 30 minutes the fog horn resounds & blends with my joy and with the sea around us.  What a gift this life is, what a gift that music bestows upon me, on all of us.  Wake up, wake up now; listen!  On my own I need help, and the Universe continues to provide this help.  All I need do is to welcome the invitation and practice with what is offered.

As I return to the guitar,  I decide to address the primary with attention to dynamics that I had originally intended to begin my practice with.  While playing these notes, sensitive to the use of my right hand fingers, I notice a flock of small birds joyfully flying by.  Their flight hampered, bolstered, and guided by the wind.  Smiles returning as the birds and I practice taking flight together.   Smiling again as I recall this day is still quite young and many more opportunities await me.

Photo by Yazir Yacob