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The Process of Learning part 2

August 13, 2012

A short post from Guitarfest West

Music is ephemeral because the notes played easily fade from memory. One needs to practice as if your ears hang from the doorway. It is very difficult to be at once performing a task and also observing but this skill can be learned. One way to develop this is to use a recording device: forcing oneself to listen to how the music sounds after you have played it. Many students have assured me that the piece they were working on sounded fine at home, only to sound terrible in the teaching studio. This probably means that they didn’t remember all the restarts and hesitations, the incorrect pitches and rhythms which are so easily forgotten. A small surge of adrenaline improves our hearing and awareness. It might be easiest to quantify and assume that the number of thoughts per second increases from five to twelve. Partly because of this increased acuity details which had been forgotten, come to our attention at an alarming rate. Someone may be playing as they played at home, but the increased awareness is surprising.

We let ourselves get lazy, and as we attend to the idea of the music-” this passage is pretty” – without deciding how to make that clear to the listener. When we know exactly how we would like a passage to sound and are confronted with how we are falling short of the goal, [perhaps when listening to a playback] we quickly become determined to make sure the recorded sound coincides with the imagined sound. Our work becomes creative as we strive to make the sounds conform to our own ideas. Like the painter confronted with errors or weakness on the wall we are driven to fix problems, and become absorbed in the work. The music is something outside ourselves and we work to make it beautiful.

Nassrudin went into a garden one day, pulled up some carrots, turnips and other kinds of vegetables, which he put into a sack and some into his shirt. Suddenly the gardener came up, grabbed him and said, ‘What are you doing here?’

The Hodja, answered, ‘For somedays a great wind has been blowing, and that wind blew me here.’

‘But who pulled up these vegetables?’ said the gardener. ‘Well, hmmm, the windblew very violently,’ replied the Hodja, ‘it blew me here and there, and whatever I laid hold of in the hope of saving myself remained in my hands.’ ‘Ah,’ said the gardener, ‘but who filled the sack with them?’
‘Well,’ said the Hodja, ‘that is the very question I was about to ask myself when you came up.’

From → Creating, Growing

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