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


Sunday, January 31, 2021

Two Hours

 Two hours of guitar practice per day did not seem unreasonable when I made the commitment, but some days it takes until 10:30 to get it done. This was one of those days. Other practices, meetings, exercise and family time must be honored also. I am a fortunate, but tired man.

Friday, January 29, 2021

Be the Note


 Today was a day where my attention was on the music of life. Today is one of those milestone Birthdays for my wife. Lots of last minute stuff getting older people the technical help they need for posting to a Kudo Board and Zoom. Family and friends have been so sweet and supportive in the spirit of celebrating her. Harmony has arisen between some dissonant players as a result. That’s the best notes of all.


Photo by Rose Nitely

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Diving In




I Found a photocopied page from W. A. Mathieu’s book Harmonic Experience that I have worked with at various times to little avail. The page is from a chapter titled Dronality in  Equal Temperament: Mixed Modes.  Blending Mixolydian, Harmonic Minor and the Phrygian Mode. I know I’m in over my head. Smiling I dove in one more time. The following came out after a couple hours exploring options. 



Maybe I should go back to page 1 of this book someday, instead of opening it up every few years. But hey Life is short.


Photo by Jim Bahn

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Being Available


 Music is a benevolent presence constantly and readily available to all, but we are not constantly and readily available to music. From an Introduction to Guitar Craft.

As a musician, a guitarist my work is to make myself available. This can take many forms. All is interconnected. My morning practices inform my ability to be present. These practices nourish my energy. How I do one thing, open my case, carry my guitar and take a seat on my chair make a difference. When I honor my commitments over time I prepare this musician for those moments when music whispers.

I still need to honor my guitar practice commitment so back to work.


Photo by Mike Lawerence

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Focus


Morning practice set the tone for my day. As we completed our Qi Gong practice my wife choose Focus as the word for today. With this as my guide I honed in on the subtleties of When Am I? Also focused on some difficult transitions in Searching. An email arrived with a challenge from one of the members of the Ravens which had me hooking up some effects to a mixer in the basement. I'll see what arises. Been a long time since I played with effects but always did love the process. 

A session led my Curt Golden in the afternoon gave me some ideas to pursue that will strengthen melodic construction. Great to have some many people in my wife that work at their craft and generously share with others. After dinner I taught our Five Animal Play Qi Gong class and have one to teach for the AAD in the morning. Life is good. Need to get in 10 more minutes of practice before bedtime.

Image by John Goalby


Monday, January 25, 2021

Music Needs An Audience

 An idea arose over the weekend to schedule more online performances. A weekly series of solo sets and other artists joining so that each week would be different. Stay tuned. 

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Honoring Commitments


On Wednesday 1/20/21an International At A Distance Guitar Course began that I am participating in. My commitment to my guitar practice for the duration through 2/28/21 is to practice 2 hours per day. Normally this is not a problem for me.


But today … I practiced an hour in the morning. It was good. Then some important tasks needed to be addressed. Which of course took longer than expected. A wonderful walk with family for a couple hours. A nap. Dinner. Then my regular commitment to practicing with the Washington Mindfulness Community. Suddenly it is 8pm. I’m tired. And I still need to honor the other hour of practice. The resistance began rationalizing.  For the first 20 minutes my practice was great. Moving forward on learning the ending of When Am I?, the guitar was sounding great. Pride swelled a bit at my tenacity of putting in my other hour. A short break and then the middle hit. Negative thoughts, poor execution of the notes and on and on.

Experience told me to simply persist. While being gentle with myself I knew the middle would pass and it did. Normally I do not practice when I’m this tired, but the practice of honoring commitments is vital to success. 


As the Guitar Craft aphorism states: With commitment all the rules change. 



Photo by Tim

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Renewal

 



After I journaled this morning, renewal leapt off the page at me from a passage I was reading. I decided this would be my word for today. Usually we end our Qi Gong practice with a word. Today I offered the idea that we also begin with the word - renewal. After all we cultivate our Qi to nourish and/or renew our energy.

Settled on the ending for When Am I? Next I need to learn to play it. Reviewed the form of Day Two in the morning as I had to perform it in the afternoon. Joined a group practice session with a seminar I’m involved in. Reviewed basic picking technique which was fun. Seldom use a pic these days but good to revisit. As I write this I saw how renewal slipped in to my practice unaware.


Photo by Paul Bolfe

Friday, January 22, 2021

Where Am I?


 Though it is tempting to think of yourself in small integrated parts when playing your instrument, think of yourself as an integrated whole. And that “whole” includes your not just your body, but your thoughts, as well as how you relate to your external environment.

Bill Plake - Alexander Technique Teacher

This mornings practice was challenged by my thinking. I had a limited time as we were going to celebrate an accomplishment of my wife by getting out in nature for a long walk. Thinking of her and having to perform a piece tomorrow and a couple ideas that arose this morning had me bound up. Body and mind were not in the same place.

I know what to do in this situation - meditate. But there was the time factor. Decided to let go and bring order to some stuff. In the afternoon with better focus I played. Continuing to work with how I relate to the external environment while playing.


Photo by Master Tux

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Does It Stop?



When Am I? took another step forward today. I may have found the ending. Listening to a very interesting solo guitar piece The Behavior of Mirrors composed by Roger Reynolds and then Synchronisms #10 by Mario Davidovsky. Hearing myself ask “How did they do that?” The learning never stops.


Photo by Paul Keller

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Balance or Not


Balance the consistency principle with the inconsistency principle. Brian Eno Oblique Strategies.

As I listened to the notes I had scored from When Am I? yesterday and then played with some of the other ideas I had for the piece, I suspected I was making a mess. Then Brian Eno’s aforementioned Oblique Strategy arrived in my mind. Have I achieved that balance? Do I need to? The Strategy helped guide me to options. That is what’s important and I believe the intent behind why Eno and Peter Schmidt had articulated them. Worked for me today, I think. I’ll have another listen in the morning with some fresh ears… You can have a listen now.

 When Am I? 2.0

Photo by Myriams Fotos

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

When Am I?


 If you forget yourself, you become the Universe. - Haikun

Thought I’d develop Lost in Sand today, but then this new idea When Am I? whispered to me. Have a listen.

When Am I? (Opening)

Photo by Geralt

Monday, January 18, 2021

Lost In Sand

 


In the desert

I saw a creature, naked, bestial,

Who, squatting upon the ground,

Held his heart in his hands, / And ate of it …


Stephen Crane In the Desert


Sunday, January 17, 2021

The Blank Page






The blank page

is the only muse

you will ever need.


John Zbigniew Guslowski