Tuesday, December 14, 2010

don't fret my pet

what's on your stand?

There's a lot of hoopla out there about staying present and experiencing the moment and blah blah blah, but sometimes it's essential to look ahead.

When you're riding a motorcycle (or a bicycle for that matter) and you need to make a tight turn, it helps to look at where you want to go and almost like magic, the bike will follow your gaze. There's this awful exercise that they make everyone do in the motorcycle safety course that consists of making a figure eight in a very small box outlined on the pavement. The only way to execute the move is to turn your head in the direction that you need to go. If you look directly at the course the bike is taking instead of where the bike needs to go, you'll never be able to make the tight turn required to stay in the box.

The same thing goes for reading music. To stay with the tempo, you have to be able to play one note while looking at the next set of notes to see where the melody is headed. If you look at each note as you play it, you will always be behind the beat, and if you're sight reading (i.e. playing a piece of music for the first time, possibly for an audition or for your monthly hootenanny), forget it. You'll stumble all over yourself and wish you had taken up latch hooking instead of music.

It also comes in handy for instruments that have a large geography to cover. If I'm playing the guitar, and I need to get from the 3rd fret to the 7th fret, the best way for me to hit the right position is to play the 3rd fret chord while looking at the 7th fret so my hand knows where it's going (assuming you have to look when you play, which I do because I'm just not there yet). If I wait until the last second to mentally and physically transition to the next chord, it's sloppy every time.

What's my point? Well I thought I was going to be able to wrap this up neatly into a lesson-shaped package, but I'm having trouble keeping it cohesive today. So, instead of hitting "save now" and attempting to perfect this message, which we all know I will avoid like the dentist, I'm going to publish as is because it's been far too long since I've contributed to the cloud. Sometimes you have to vomit before you can get to the good stuff.

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