Tuesday, August 30, 2011

FBSMC 3, Contemplation 6

Time: realm of the transient

As musicians, we know that music has tempo and rhythm. From that, we can see that life itself has tempo and rhythm. Think of some popular expressions like; 'This day is really dragging' or 'The day slipped right by me' or 'The years go by so fast' or 'This homework assignment is taking forever!' These expressions point out to the quality or type of mental, emotional or physical condition we might find ourselves in in certain circumstances that give rise to how fast or slow time appears to move.

I bring this up because making time for our Personal Art, can bring about a deepening of our musical endeavor which will add quality time to our life. Take the time now before it is taken from you.

Now that the summer is almost over and school, new symphony season or the whole fall- winter schedule starts up, I find it is good to have reflection. Reflection is a great thing if it is taken seriously. If you are a student going back to school (or whatever you might be doing if not a student) ask yourself:

What did I accomplish this summer?
Did I have some kind of plan to begin with?
How was my time spent?
Was there any improvement?
What was the balance of work and play? (there's a good question!)
What was the quality of my practice sessions?

I'm sure there are many questions one could ask of oneself. I try to do it everyday. Asking myself these types of questions, keeps me in touch with myself and I try to be totally honest. The more honest and objective you can be the better. If you hit a 'sore' spot in yourself with some of these questions, feel the ache, and make a plan to find a better way to make the most of your time. It is a process and it is very easy to get out of balance.

I used to practice an absurd amount of time. Some of it was a release and/or an expression of emotion.Was that practicing? Looking back, it was a great need to express and to never want to leave the music. In this way I spent a lot of time with the horn and music. I would practice, meaning working on weaknesses by repetition of exercises, studies, solos, excerpts and drills that I would make up or design to improve specific areas of my playing. I tried to touch on as many aspects of playing as I could.

Now when I practice, efficiency is a very important part. I know what to target and I don't try to cover all areas of playing everyday. It depends on what I want to maintain and what is in my schedule that I have to play for. I really play everyday. I took maybe 30 hours off a few times this summer. Usually I would play well within a 24 hour period of time. I could have laid off but I really like to play everyday. Some days I spend with the horn in a more devotional way. But always the basics are addressed daily. I like having a good 'reed'! When the 'reed' is good, there is a freedom from focusing too much on the physical so the soul-spirit can soar. Good thorough preparation makes for a better lift off, flight and landing!

Friday, August 26, 2011

FBSMC 3, Video 10, Instruction 6, Personal Art, more personal

I speak very openly in this video about my first approaches in Personal Art. The first aspect of Personal Art if you recall from the other videos, was to 'play' in various territories like tone and articulation and discover their properties. Here I talk about how I used the instrument to express any emotion that was going through me. I also talk about my mother's influence on me as a person and as a teacher. She encouraged freedom of expression and to not be afraid to have big dreams of what you want in your life.

Most people that I know who wanted to be in music, felt something very personal in the music. 'It' spoke to them. Then with wanting to get a job, comes the intense work of refining our basics in a certain kind of way. Even if one just wants to get better on the instrument, it takes a lot of technical practice. Wanting control, stability and consistency, if not balanced with a musical element, can be very stifling for many people. That is why it is important to allow yourself to 'play' in the territory and to find the spectrum and freedom in the mechanical aspects. This finding the freedom will not happen right away. Each person needs to find their own way. If the passion and desire are great enough, and the person manifests this passion and desire into action, much will happen organically over time.

The development of the Personal Art is a choice. Just think for a moment if some of the great painters just thought about technique only. They would not have been able to capture the essence of the subject matter and make their painting seem so 'alive'. I'm sure many students of painting and drawing get very captivated by the world's great artists and wonder how they did it and what techniques they used. That is natural to want to know how and if it is motivated by the love of art, not just for the love of art itself but what it can express, anchor and transmit, then the desire for the technique has a real purpose.

Here to highlight a few of the important points of developing our Personal Art, I made a small list of things to keep in mind:

1. Allow yourself the freedom to let go of judgment and heavy standards so you can have the room to find your Personal Art. A little bit at a time.

2. 'Play' with your sound, articulation and phrasing like a child plays with something they love and can't put down.

3. Pick up your instrument and play the way you feel, mentally emotionally or physically. It could even be one note or a phrase.

4.Here are two different ways of approach at making your playing more personal:
a) Start with trying to access your own emotions and/or experiences and put them into your music.
b) Try to capture the nature of something outside yourself like a plant, animal, person or situation and play whatever comes to you about it.

5. Find important personal things in your life and play a piece that you think expresses your feelings or thoughts about it.

Personal Art in it's higher form is the person being instrumental for something else to play them.
This is being in service to a higher need. As my wife and partner in the Frequency Band Carol Viera says, "The most important instrument is the human instrument." You can use these thoughts if you wish, as a contemplation.

Enjoy, discover and quest on!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

FBSMC3, Contemplation 5

For those interested in teaching...

Teachers are guides to help, assist, inform, inspire, reflect, wake you up and remind you when you loose sight of what you say you want. They are not there to put their thing on you and eradicate your own unique voice and pathway.

At a higher level:
The higher duty of a teacher is to awaken or enliven the essence of the person and assist in encouraging and inspiring the subject matter in them and their unique expression of it. The ART OF CONNECTION

Sunday, August 14, 2011

FBSMC3, Video 8, Instruction 5, Part 1 and Video 9, Instruction 5, Part 2

These videos are meant to be viewed one after another in one setting. They dive deeper into integrating Personal Art with daily practice. Plus, there are some insightful words about teaching and when would be a good time to bring up the topic of Personal Art to a student.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

FBSMC3, Video 7: Instruction 4, More On Personal Art, Part 2

As we take our beginning steps into the Personal Art, more awareness of ourselves is an excellent byproduct. For those interested ones, lets keep the ball rolling down a wonderful hill of allowance, patience and discovery! This video will offer some guidance when the resistance comes from within ourselves.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

FBSMC 3, Personal Art


This thought 'start with what you can do but start' is a slight variation on the phrase 'start with what you can do', something people have heard me say many times. Starting can be difficult for several reasons. Sometimes we don't know where or how to start or we don't start because we want to do it 'right' and not get off on the 'wrong' foot.
In the unfolding of the Personal Art, letting things happen in their own time without judgement or hard critique is essential.

You need lots of ALLOWANCE to balance the RESISTANCE you might come up against. By having allowance and letting the discovery process happen, there will be a TRANSFERENCE to you from the process which will ALLOW for a new type of TRAINING to occur and RESPOND to. This will open up a vast RESOURCE of knowledge and ACTIVATE a new but latent TECHNOLOGY within yourself.

Near the end of Instruction 3, I was getting into the process of 'playing' something I saw on a walk. This might be a good place to start for some people. To find something on the outside of oneself to take a 'sonic picture' of before getting inside oneself. The caution would be not to avoid getting into yourself and accessing your own experiences, thoughts and feelings. Going inside oneself and having the music come from there, will help in taking a 'personalized sonic picture' of something on the outside of ourselves. The reason is that we will be in touch with our own 'registrations' of our internal processes more and having them come out of our instrument. This is, eventually, a very important component element in opening up Personal Art.

It should be getting clear that this is a huge and incredible area to be getting into! Something that can always be with you that will have lasting benefits outside of music. As my dear wife and working partner Carol says, "The most important instrument is the human instrument."

Much more to come..