Sunday, November 28, 2021

Unfolding



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

 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

Freedom

 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: https://patricksmithguitar.bandcamp.com/track/matka-boska

Monday, November 1, 2021

Arriving



I beamed with joy this morning as I played through A Journeyman's Way Home. The first piece of music that ever came through me. Playing this piece allows me to touch innocence and today as I recalled the setting where music whispered to me in  the Mansion of Claymont Court. I was in a "dorm" with too many other young males, intimidated to no end as I practiced in a walk in closet. I needed to perform a piece at lunch and I did.

I'll always love this piece and playing Journeyman today gave me perspective on how far I've come. I followed with The Call and then began working with one of the new pieces Down The Hill. This was one of the pieces I played for others on Friday and is now settling into my hands, except for the recurring hiccups in bars 29 to 32. I addressed this difficulty and smoothness in the transition is arriving. Today was the first time I played the piece through from memory.

Photo by Seiya Ishibashi

Friday, October 22, 2021

Outputs Versus Outcome

 


In a meeting with a group of alumni from a workshop I took, a statement was made concerning “output vs outcomes.” This phrase instantly encapsulated what I’ve been struggling with this week. I want to release Fences, Frames and Alleys. That is an output. But what is the outcome I want?

Music that touches peoples hearts. I can not rush this process. And this is not an act of hiding. I just have not yet mastered the material to the point where I am free while playing which allows something else to enter the music. I need to play with an audience for this music to truly come alive.

Photo by F

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Taking Flight

 


We had a wonderful walk along Sligo Creek and then a great meal with my sister-in-law and nephew today. Been too long since we have had so much time together. I thought I'd play the piece that arrived on the anniversary of my Father's passing in February. As the conversation steered and remained on him for some time I knew I had too.

I simply stood up and got my guitar to play Taking Flight. Emotion swelled as I checked my tuning. After two false starts, I calmed, had a solid beginning and played the piece on the edge. Passion was present but not overwhelming. They were deeply touched as was I. This is why I practice - to touch peoples hearts and to open my own. I'll never understand where these pieces come from, but I'll keep working to master them.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Change One Thing




A vital part of guitar technique for the left hand is to release the fingers when the note is complete. The tendency is to pull them off. Subtle different approach that becomes more challenging when one is releasing 3 or 4 note chords and have the same or similar configuration a couple frets away.  Easier to slide the fingers, but then string noise is introduced. When playing acoustic guitars this is very noticeable.

As I was working with releasing chords in a particular passage, I found myself just thinking release, release.  Suddenly my right shoulder dropped. Unnecessary unnoticed tension was released. Once again verifying the Guitar Craft Aphorism - Change one small part and the whole is changed. Grateful that my thinking about my left hand had a systemic affect on my body. What else might have been released that I did not notice? What else needs to be released?

Photo by Graeme Drawes


Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Releasing

 



What do I need to let go of to get to the next level?

What do you need to let go of?

How might we assist one another?


Photo by Dheepek Ra




Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Expanding


As I was completing my meditation practice this morning a "performance cue" arrived - *Play With Silence*.  Since working with the book Performance Success by Don Greene again this year I've been experimenting with various "performance cues" and "emergency cues" as prompts to nurture the mental space I will thrive within. Using Play With Silence was intriguing as I practiced over the course of a couple hours. This may be a keeper.


Solid practice today. Nourised by my new performance cue I made progress on technique issues with 4 pieces. Made good progress with refreshing my familiarity with Anchor Fence Is Gone and even got in about 10 minutes of mental practice. The latter practice is difficult but so very useful. Had an appointment in the afternoon which took a couple hours and then needed to prepare our space for our first session of MoonLight Qi Gong via Zoom. As always happens I felt great after teaching and took a walk on this cool fall night. 


Practice was also energized by participating in the Cycle Study Group with Peter Legowski, Kim Cary and two other Alexander Technique teachers this morning.


Interbeing so informed my day. One practice affecting all the others while all the practices informed the one I was currently working with.  I am truly a fortunate person.



       Image by NASA.

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Can I? Will I?


 

I’ve been holding off working with Anchor Fence Is Gone. If I could answer why, an old pattern within might unravel. Yesterday I listened to a rough recording I’d made when the piece was conceived and studied the score that Brad Hogg has transcribed for me a few years ago. In my heart this piece seems vital to Fences, Frames and Alleys yet the resistance has kept me from bringing it alive again. Today I visited again. As I was playing with the opening section I wondered - Can I make this easier? Laughing out loud I said of course I can. The real question is will I make this easier? So it goes.

Photo by PinkFloydFanSince1986

The Creative Life IS Messy


 In a meeting with today the notion that the creative life is messy surfaced a few times. After this very fruitful time with this amazing group I took a walk outside to digest the experience. Returning to my practice space I looked at the following captures of ideas related to the same piece Jumping Over Fences.

The initial idea arrived on May 4 of 2020. Added to in June of that year and now again yesterday and today. Still very messy but a form is emerging. There have also been rmp3 recordings and at some video recordings to capture the feel of the piece. Fine to dwell in the mess. But I must take care to not allow the mess to trigger negative thoughts about my ideas or ability to play them as they emerge. Paying attention to where I am in this moment keeps the process productive. Unfortunately I fail to pay attention more than I care to admit. So it goes.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Decisions


Reading Seth Godin's blog today I saw the link for the free workshop on decisions but had to act quickly before the 24 hrs of “free” was up. I love free. And More! I decided to let it go. The time to do the 50 minute workshop of which I’m sure there was much value, was going to compromise my best time to practice guitar. A good use of my tendency to have strong boundaries. Music is too important to me to let those precious morning hours slip away. 


Late in the day I stumbled upon a prompt for your six word memoir. Here’s mine: Make Music that moves our world. I do not understand why the music that comes to me does, but I do  keep showing up, Today I decided I would complete the Jumping Over Fences as the energy of the opening to this must be developed for my next release. Made good progress today because I gave myself the time and space to be present with my process. Now I have time to play a little bit more and enjoy the fruits of my practice.


Photo by Rosmarie Vegetal

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Music Creates the Musician


Music creates the Musician. 

Guitar Craft Aphorism



These four words encapsulate my experience.  Music also heals this Musician and for that I am grateful.  May a listener find something of value in what I play and tap the energy to carry on another day.  Some days life is hard; I feel off track.  Though I may not feel like practicing, the pull of Music is there; calling me gently, surely.  Sitting still, I tune and then caress her strings.  As the vibrations swell my heart expands and the path clears. Slowly this musician is tuned, ever so slowly; just doing nothing but playing.


An audience is also necessary for music to come into being. Many have told me that the music I receive and transmit has touched them. This always warms my heart. Still, listeners are hard to find. Will you help me find listeners by forwarding this message to friends.


Friday August 6th is another rendition of BandCamp Friday. During Covid, Bandcamp has generously chosen the first Friday of the month as a day when they waive their fees and allow all the sales proceeds to go to the musicians hosted there. This has been a vital and needed success for many musicians.

Check out the music of the California Guitar Trio, Tony Geballe and others I have supported on BandCamp. Point your friends here:


https://patricksmithguitar.bandcamp.com/music


Recently I have come across the stunning music of Harpist Jessica Gallo. Her latest release Walk to the Sun is absolutely beautiful. Have a listen, I think you’ll agree.


https://jessicagallo.bandcamp.com


Please stay well and be gentle with your good self. 


Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Reframe




Begin again now

From summers heat; winters cold.

Pause. Release. Reframe.


Breaking up my routine a bit with with a 30 minute guitar practice after journaling. Allowed myself to play a few pieces. Focus on calm, confidence, ease and joy. From here moved onto Qi Gong practice with my wife and sitting meditation with our expanded local Sangha. 


When I returned to my music practice I decided to continue playing through the remaining pieces to see how my recent practices have impacted them. When my judgements began arriving I paused at one point and played with a variation from the AT Cycle Practice which arose for me last night - Thoughts Far Away. Again this phrase quieted my thinking. I continued to explore using this “direction” as I practiced and even used this as a cue before playing What Is This? the most difficult piece of repertoire I am currently working with.

I decided to pick up the tempo on WIS? and play it again. Pausing to direct my thinking and free my body I recalled a practice Michael my Shiatsu Massage and Tai Chi instructor gave me a couple years ago. In playing guitar I assume an asymmetric position for long periods of time over decades of practice. This has precipitated some problems muscularly and even energetically. He suggested I play air guitar with my left hand “picking” and my right hand moving about the fretboard. I played with this for a few minutes and then ran through WIS? again. I definitely noticed a difference.


In the afternoon, I played through each piece again. Improvement was noted. Celebrated with a walk along Sligo Creek before dinner. We also offered our Qi Gong class this evening. I’m ready to delve into The Jazz of Physics by Stephon Alexander. 


Photo by Joao Cardoso


Monday, June 21, 2021

The Longest Day


The longest day of the year sure felt like it. I had to tell a group of people I’ve grown quite fond of that I am needed to move in another direction. Fortunately this was well received.


Randomized my practice again with the focus of todays work being the middle of these seven pieces. I’m certainly glad I did. The first piece was When Am I? I thought I was playing this piece well, but the middle section needed a lot of work. I was surprised by this, but then recalled how often I’ve had difficulty transitioning from the first section. All those troubled transitions have left their energy on the middle section. I added the ending of the first section and slowed everything down. Found myself holding my breath a couple times. Never useful, but happens below the level of my attention more than I am aware of.


Working with Exiled I also found myself holding my breath at times. Overall the work was tedious but valuable. Onward.


Sunday, June 20, 2021

Begin With the End in Mind

 6/20/21


The greatest space has no corners;

  The greatest talents are slowly mastered;

     The greatest music has the rarest sound; 

         The Great Image has no form. 


                Tao Te Ching no. 41



I continued with generating a random sequence to my practice today. Supported by the valued Covey principle “Begin with the end in mind.” Before playing a piece, I reviewed it’s ending on the score. Striving to hear what I would play. Then I played the ending 2 - 3 times. The value of this practice for me with beginning with the end, is these notes are not encumbered by mistakes in the beginning or the mental drifting that occurs as I focus for a few minutes. A fresh look at each of the seven endings proved valuable today.


Random Actions

 6/19/21


I decided to assign a number from 1 to 7 to the pieces I’m preparing for recording. Found a random number generator on the web, limited it to seven, and then spun the wheel to determine the order I would practice these in today. You might ask why?


Well I develop habits, look for gratification and have a limited time and attention to do my best work. Wanted to make sure I don’t fall into a rut as to how I approach these. Decided to physically practice each piece, then to either run it in my head or use the score if I needed to and then return to physically practice it again. Seemed fruitful. 


There was something interesting about taking away my choice as far as the order of practice. May play with this more. Listened to a work in progress The Hidden and moved it forward also.


Monday, June 14, 2021

Practicing WIth Distraction

 This morning was just stunning. Beautiful skies, cool and the birds singing joyously. After breakfast on the back porch i decided to practice guitar there too. Soon I realized I was in for a challenge. The birds were pretty high energy. Perhaps they did not like my playing. They sure challenged my attention. With multiple bird songs I noticed how my technique sounded horrible. Every other note seemed to be conflicted and it sounded as if my finger were sliding all over the place. My ears really came alive during this time. Before too long I returned inside. We had all the windows open, but with the room reflecting my guitar tones the birds were not as distracting,

Overall I had a great morning, afternoon and evening practices. Feeling as if I will be ready to record with Tony Geballe at the end of the month. Will do some test recording tomorrow.

Friday, June 11, 2021

Why is Rest Difficult?

 


RECORDING SIMULATION DRILL DAY 6

Rest/Celebrate were the items on the Drill’s lost for today.

Sounded so good at the time I wrote out the drill. Rest - why do I resist? Sure if I was at the beach. But at home? Wish I could go to the National Gallery of Art but the East Building where I long to be is still closed. Skimmed an article of a writer on a train in Japan following Basho the poet’s trail. Prompted the following Haiku:

Basho hit my head.

Spring destination unknown.

Heart still. Open now.

Rest - Restore. I suspect they come from the same root. Now I can rationalize use restore to bring order to parts of my home life. After all it is raining. No long trips to the woods or the bay. Ahhh.

Thinking of the poet Basho reminded me of the guitarist Robbie Basho, who assumed his name. Been a while since I’ve listened to his work. First two titles I selected had Robbie singing - no thanks too early for that. Why am I so quick to judge? Well I am. Found Gypsy Rosary - over 13 minutes long so I know it would be one of his solo guitar works which I prefer. Then listened to Alex Cline - Nourishing Our Roots. Title seemed appropriate to this day.

Overall listened to lots of music, had some walks in the drizzle with my wife, and a couple of conversations. A very interesting meeting with friends from Guitar Craft and a delightful Indian dinner at home while watching Shameless. So it goes.

Photo by JariC

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Constructing Freedom


   6/10/21 RECORDING SIMULATION DRILL DAY 5


Playing with ease is paramount to to any given piece of music and to the long term health of the performing musician. Knowing the piece is bottom line. Then what? Can I play with unity of body, mind and feelings? Between my practice with meditation, Qi Gong and the Alexander Technique I know and understand the vitality available if I allow myself the time to settle into the present moment. Yesterday with the work done within the AT Cycle Practice group I was there.


Todays session was led by Daniela Sangiorgio.  When we had completed doing the Cycle practice there was time for reflection and observations. Regarding the practice of constructive thinking Daniela said “ we do what we do so we can find out when we interfere. When we stop interfering ease will flow.” Yet these are words. The experience of this simple but powerful exercise known as the Cycle Practice over the past few months has been worthwhile. 


I took on recording the most difficult of the pieces I am preparing for later this month. I would like a recording of this work titled What is This? to assist my practice. 


Photo by Paul van de Velde


Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Learning What it Takes


 Recording Simulation Drill Day 4


During yesterday’s session, the work I did with Taking Flight and When Am I? was not worth saving. I was fine with this, also a bit disheartened. Today I decided to begin with recording Exiled. After an hour I let go, deleted the file. Noticing it was almost 10 am I decided to join the Alexander Technique Cycle Practice group on Zoom led by a group of AT teachers.


At the end of the practice I left the group as I wanted to work from the state that had been induced by Susan Allen’s directions. Body and Mind were quiet. I pressed record and took my place in front of the microphone. I decided to record an old piece of mine - Gathered Hearts. I have performed this piece for over a decade and can play it effortlessly. This ease is what is missing in my current recording efforts. Gathered Hearts was beautiful and from this space I moved to recording Taking Flight. 


This was beautiful. A take that if I had the proper set up going would be a possible release. I did skip over two bars, which required me to skip another two bars. Still the ease remained. I stopped recording and saved the recording. Opening a new file I moved onto When Am I? After two takes I knew that some minor edits could probably yield a piece. If I was actually recording with Tony Geballe to release these works another take would have been in order. But I wanted to savor, explore and use the space I was in. 


Without stopping the recording I began Exiled. A rough start. I paused and then began again. More mistakes. Another pause. I played the opening theme of The Call. Paused and began Exiled. A good take ensued, followed by another. Tired and my attention drifting I decided to call it a morning. I went to end this recording and noticed I had not armed the microphone so nothing was captured. C’es la vie.  What’s is important is what I experienced and learned. Fostering and nourishing that energy once I’m in a good state is vital to the success of this project. Vital to the success of life too!


Photo by Paul Downey


Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Questioning My Approach


 As I strive to introduce ease and joy into the six new pieces I am learning I arrived at a couple of useful questions today. What if this learning and practice could be easy? How am I making this harder than it needs to be?

I am grateful and fortunate to have some great music to develop and release. Plus I have the time, skills and discipline to focus on what needs doing. Expanded some mental practice with When I Am? today. Need more of this. While the mental practice is not an easy process, it does not stress my body.

My continued exploration of TheCycle practice with a team of four different Alexander Technique Teachers is also bearing much fruit in the ease of my guitar practice and life. Truly I am a fortunate man.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

And Then Some


Learning. Progress. Mistakes. Setbacks. Learning. Hope. Mistakes. Joy.

Ease. Then not; and so on. The process continues. 


Listening to Bartok String Quartet #5. - Arrived. For now.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Time to Work


 Reality is setting in. Much work needs to occur by May 24 to successful record 7 new pieces. Then to have a few more ready by the end of June. Most of which I have not been playing very long. This is a new challenge for me. Historically I have played pieces for years before recording them. This was my idea to have a release ready before the Intro course in July.

What do I need to let go of to achieve this? Part of this also has to do with age. I do not know when my ability to play may be compromised. While this is always true, turning 65 adds a certain clarity to reality. Coupled with the wealth of new material generated during this time of retreat due to Covid I feel like the time is ripe. Fortunately I have the right person in Tony Geballe to work with. Stay tuned.

Time to listen to Bartok’s Sixth String Quartet one of the most beautiful & powerful pieces of music I know.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Bartok Revisited

 


Very productive day. Sat with Stillwater for an hour than practiced guitar for 90 minutes. I joined a Write Now session for an hour. A muddled attempt at writing about rhythm. Afterward I listened to Bartok’s Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion. Part of my work this week is to visit with my influences and see how they might nudge me.

 Bartok was difficult for me to listen to when I first encountered his work 30 years ago. My intent had been to listen to some of the Mikrocosmos as these solo piano pieces better fit my work. But one never knows how the brain will respond.

After lunch I took at look at The Hidden, a score in progress. After an hour I was uncertain where to go next so I let it go. Happy to have moved it forward and will listen again tomorrow. Picked my guitar up after this and a new idea emerged that I know was inspired by the opening of the Bartok Sonata. After an hour.  Picked my guitar up after this and a new idea emerged that I know was inspired by the opening of the Bartok Sonata. Had to let go before I wanted to for dinner prep and teaching Qi Gong tonight.

Photo by Zantium Books

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Begin With the Impossible.




Listening to Fantasias for Theremin and String Quartet by Caroline Eyck and American Contemporary Music Ensemble. I’ve loved string quartets for a long time, particularly the 5th and 6th of Bela Bartok. Tonight I needed something fresh to open my ears and I’m happy to have found this. The addition of the theremin is adding that other-worldly sensibility that is where I seem to be. Two long days with practice, doing work for the recording workshop I’m taking, walks and life. Wondering at times if I’ve taken on the impossible with this wish to release Fences Frames and Alleys in July. Smiling as I remember my friend Tom’s new aphorism - Begin with the Impossible. So there I am.





Wednesday, April 21, 2021

How Far Within My Limits?


 The human individual lives usually far within his limits; he possesses powers of various sorts which he habitually fails to use. - William James.


How far within my limits have I lived this life? What will I use today that will increase my capability to enhance our world? What might I bring to one note, then another?


Today I began learning a piece that arose recently - When I Am. If I wish to play with ease and joy - how might I apply these factors to my learning this piece? Before I began my practice today I went through the TheCycle by Mio Morales. An exercise of constructive thinking based on his work with the Alexander Technique. I have been practicing this with a group of AT teachers that I was introduced to by Peter  Legowski. 


As I worked with the first four bars of music, I would pause and invite in ease and joy using the TheCycle. When I noticed I wanted to rush to the next section, I would again pause introducing ease. What better  way to have this sense of ease and joy then to introduce them into the act of learning. If you would like to spend a few minutes in active relaxation join these AT teachers at 10 am Eastern M-F. More info is here: https://www.wholenessworkshop.com/post/it-s-hard-to-make-a-change


Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Fences Frames and Alleys












Must doubt creep into the alley attempting to reframe a dream?

 My life?


How many times have I, will I need to jump over this fence? 


Doubt is not an anchor. More a current.

Perhaps a signal I’m on to something.


Who do I need to walk the dark alleys with me? 

Which alley shall I avoid? 

Every fence has a gate.

Don’t shoot out the last street light.

Brake the old frames.


Choose.

Begin again.

Release.


Unending work, uncertain work

Necessary work.

On myself and for others.


                                                                                                   Excelsior 

                                                                Photo by NatureLifePhoto

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Release




Gather Study Do
Practice with rigor then sum

Release into Now.


While journaling this morning I knew what my word for today was - Release. Usually my wife and I choose one as we complete our Qi Gong practice. Today I introduced the word at the beginning of our practice together. Why release? 


I’ve been working on a plan to release Fences, Frames and Alleys in July. Actually quite a leap for me, perhaps even impossible. I have enough good material. I have the time. Can I master the material for the recording process? Well with a plan, passion and discipline this release becomes possible


What else need to be released? Unnecessary tension in my body is always a given.  The stories I have been told that negate my passion. Beating up on myself when progress is not proceeding at the pace I determined should be reasonable. Expectations period.  Any sense that I can do this alone. Much support is needed.


As I opened my case this morning I paused to release my  current expectations and ask for help. I burst out laughing when I opened my case to see I had already moved my guitar into the practice space. So much for paying attention. So it goes.


Photo by Jeff Nissen on Unsplash

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Looking Within the Garden of the Mind

We are what we think. Are the stories I tell myself about life useful? Am I happy? Courageous? Productive? Look beyond the shadows these stories cast upon me and others. Plant new seeds in the garden of the mind. Changing thoughts shifts actions. New stories arise. Now is the time to begin. Am I listening Patrick? Are you?

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Am I Willing to Listen?


 How do I listen to others? As is everyone were my Master speaking to me his cherished last words. - Hafiz

How do I listen to myself? 


Often I need help hearing myself. Right now I really need to listen to myself. How will I create time and energy to get the work done I need to do in releasing Fences, Frames and Alleys? 


Do I want to listen? What if these were my cherished last notes? 


Photo by Andy McQuire

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Even Though I Know Better




Getting ready for the gig tomorrow. Morning practice was fruitful. Afternoon enlightening. Then I decided to pick up the guitar around 8pm even though I was tired. I know better but …

Self-judgement. The ancestors loaded me up on this one. Grateful I have a meditation practice that aids in releasing this and other formations. Sill the right causes and conditions arise and there I am. Making my music practice harder for myself. We begin again constantly and then some. Able to laugh now, even earlier but man what a pain. I know better than to practice when tired, but like the book says “we dwell in forgetfulness."

Tomorrow at 3pm EST I will perform 4 original solo guitar pieces for HomeSong4Life. Listen here:

H4L



Photo by Lisa Zines

Monday, March 1, 2021

Decisions


 Am I making the right decisions to serve my vision as a musician? Am I practicing in a way that best serves the music?


Good to take inventory periodically. If I do not know what I have, how I am using my time and resources then I may miss my aim. Is my vision realistic? Time is precious. Life is precious. How I use my time is how I serve life. May I play with presence, passion and precision. 


Determined the set for Thursday at 3pm HomeSong 4 Life gig. I will perform Taking Flight for the first time in a public setting. World premiere? Audacious. Back to practicing.


Photo by Rosemarie Voegtil


Saturday, February 13, 2021

Evolution


In art there are only fast or slow developments. Essentially it is a matter of evolution, not revolution.  -  Bela Bartok


Bartok has certainly been part of my evolution. When I first began to listen to his string quartets they were too much for me. Now they bath me in silence. Particularly the Fifth and Sixth Quartets. A language I have begun to comprehend. Emotionally moving while spiritually enriching. Tonight I am listening to the Concerto for Viola and Orchestra. I’ve had this recording on the shelf for years but have yet to really engage with the music. 


A busy day with too many meetings. Listened to a few works in progress to see if I could move them forward. Also set up a scheme for an improvisation while reciting a  poem as part of a challenge based on Austin Kleon’s Steal Like An Artist.  During The Creatives workshop I joined a group known as The Ravens for accountability purposes. we continue to meet and are reading and working with Kleon’s ideas for inspiration.


Photo by Edna Winta

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Finding Inspiration


 I sign into Guitar AAD site where I am participating in a 5 week course and I realize that I have missed reading the Keynote. This particular one is an exercise dealing with using an object for inspiration. As I am reading the Keynote something arises in me that does not feel like “finding the object.” I tell myself to do it anyhow.

A few minutes later I enter my practice space and look around. What object could serve my inspiration? Smiling at a souvenir from SE Asia that I have not noticed lately. Cables, paper, books all catch my eye. Then I notice the book Harmonic Experience, which I recently reopened. We spoke of it in tea yesterday. Could this be my object? Feeling the weight of the book in my hands. touching the cover, remembering times this work has challenged me and left me feeling lost. Maybe not.

A few minutes later I hear myself saying what if I went back to the beginning. After reading the introduction I move forward a couple pages to the first exercise. Ten minutes later I move to the next one “singing in unison.” I choose an A and sing. Coming a bit more alive, I decide yes this is my object. After a few minutes I sing with a low C on the 12 fret of the sixth string.

Moving into practicing a piece I begin by singing along with the first note. I am more present with this piece than usual. Searching is the title, and I am not yet playing the entire piece well. I focus on the final section. Occasionally singing the low A this section begins with. Ease enters my fingers. Moving onto another piece, I sing the first note again and practice. I am happy I chose to go back to the beginning of this book.

Looking at an idea that has been coming out the past two days, I sing along with the C that is guiding this idea. As I play through a set of arpeggios, I hear where they want to go next and follow. The next notes reveal themselves. Gratitude awakens for this exercise and I pause for a walk with my wife.

Photo by Nomadic Pics

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Todays Performance

Played a four song set for HomeSongs4Life based in Scotland today. Have a listen.

https://www.facebook.com/Homesongers/videos/1384245841915175

An interesting moment arose as I was putting on new strings in the morning. Noticing that I was distracted it, I paused. Remembering that how I do one thing is how I do everything I resumed taking off the old A string but with attention this time. Recognizing that I am working with my guitar and if I have the intention to be present with changing my strings this will positively impact what else I do, including the upcoming peformance.

Monday, February 1, 2021

Boundaries

 


Boundaries are places where disparate forces can creatively merge.  W. A. Mathieu

Had an inspiring meeting with the Ravens this morning. I am blessed to have their energy supporting mine. We shared our work with an exercise generated by Austin Kloen’s Steal Like An Artist book. Amazed with their creativity. I’ve been exploring Harmonic Experience a bit deeper the last two days. Dug into one of his ideas journeying through five modes today. Not a piece, but a good movement in that direction.

Also rehearsing for my four song set with @davidfee’s Homesong4Life tomorrow at I am grateful for this opportunity to offer music to people during these troubled times. You can listen here:

https://www.facebook.com/Homesongers