Pausing Time

I am often asked, “don’t you get nervous?”  In short, no – unless I am horribly unprepared.  Therefore I prepare.  Even in the rare occasion it wasn’t possible to prepare, being nervous won’t help.  A musical performance is a prepared art, much like a painting or architectural structure simply is.  Because it is a prepared art, I can trust the preparation and allow myself to be a vessel through which the music flows.  Even improvised music is prepared, because the mode through which the mind and body functions must be well rehearsed and well practiced.  To prepare for a performance, I teach a mode of being that is distinct from the mind when it is performing.  This integral mode of music making I call Practice Mode.  In Practice Mode, one is able to luxuriate in the ability to slow down and even pause time to allow the mind time to catch up with the body or vice versa.  One can loop through the same passage in a mantra meditative patient mode, like the initial chug chug chugs of a steam locomotive.  One can play forwards and backwards, or play the same finger combinations, i.e. finger twisters, in different places on the keyboard for completely different sounds.  Stretching the content outside its compositional domain does wonders for increasing memory of the composition.  The mind is able to remain in what I refer to as the “yellow” or “green” zone as opposed to suffocating in the “red” zone.  It is a calm and attentive safe mode that is distinctly different than Performance Mode, where time doesn’t wait and the contour of the sounds through time is for a time being, more important than right notes.  I believe this is what Beethoven meant when he declared, “to play a wrong note is insignificant; to play without passion is inexcusable.”  Learn to be patient with your current situation, while hungering to expand your capacity of expression and your musical growth will be a fulfilling adventure of discovery.


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