Learn to use the powers of the mind more effectively in your music practise
Today, while sitting outside on the grass with bare feet and bare lower legs, I was trying to imagine that they are not a part of my body. The reason for this is that there were some small insects scuttering around which I normally hate being on my skin (especially spiders or other big insects – I’m pathetic). So I thought of ways to not react so much to the feeling, and rather let it happen. Two other things I thought of to help is that my feet and legs don’t contain nerves to be sensitive and make me scared of creepy crawlies crawling over, with the other idea being to think of them as part of nature so that they can be joined with these very small insects and bugs without harm – particularly as we are living in England where there are very few, if any, dangerous insects. It can be a nice unity and feeling which can help to make yourself become less instantly and unnecessarily reactive to small things like that and to become better at being at one with yourself and with the nature that surrounds us all. Remember that you are in yourself a piece of nature so don’t think that you are distant or separate from it. ( – Just my rambling thoughts while sitting outside).
But how to connect this idea with music? Well, one idea that springs to my mind is that of when making mistakes and wanting to improve in practice. Rather than instantly reacting and recoiling from small mistakes, wrong notes and little slips (including places that aren’t even mistakes or wrong yet are still repeated again mindlessly), I think that this analogy of observing and not instantaneously reacting is important for allowing yourself to arrive into your practice like an emperor. My preconception is that we tend to have an image of emperors looking down on everything and observing it from their high and mighty position.
When we notice that a mistake is made we should act like that emperor. We can observe what needs to be done for showing yourself how to play it simply with a way of thinking that makes it easy. And especially if the mistake is a repeatedly occurring thing then we need to tell ourselves that we don’t want that wrong note or wrong way of playing to take control, but that we want the intelligent pianist/musician inside us to lead the way and not allow the wrong way to take hold ever again. For example, if one keeps playing a wrong note in a fast passage we can say “Uh-uh, that is not what we want; goodbye Mr Wrong Note” and can instead really show yourself where and what the right note is. As an example:
“The Bb note that I should be playing sits just above and to the right of the A. The Bb will naturally happen and introduce itself after the A”.
I will take a moment to admit that I am not fully perfect in always practising in this manner. However, when I do practice like this I notice everything feels very simple and not like a constant game of tug and war, which it can often sound like with many people’s practice. I am on a path of trying to practise and play in this clear, obviously simple condition, and while experiencing how much better and more I can achieve this way I wanted to describe it and share it.
Saying that, allowing creepy crawlies to crawl over my feet and legs is perhaps one challenge that I might not achieve any time soon…