|Weekly Reflections on Life and Music|
Music is the language of the spirit.
It opens the secret of life bringing peace,
― Kahlil Gibran
More than once on this blog you will find me writing about the "Inner Game." This is based originally on the work of Timothy Gallwey's 1972 classic, The Inner Game of Tennis.
Where I want to start in this post is to talk about what is there, inside, where we do the work of the Inner Game. What we find there, I am convinced is the soul, the spirit, that we all have in common but which is expressed in unique ways in each of us. In the midst of that spirit is music, the language of the soul. A large part of what a musician does is get in touch with that inner language and then use the tools of the Inner Game to move that language outward.
We can easily lose this when we think about the music too much. If we try to read it, analyze it, dissect it as if it were a science experiment, we won't hear the music.
When we begin music it is like learning any language. Whether it was as infants picking up our native tongue or learning a second- or third-language as we got older, we start first with listening and then the basics of the language- notes, time, etc.
Surprisingly (or not) with the language of music it is actually a short jump from "This is a note." to "This is a measure." and on to phrases, songs, and beyond. I watched an instructor take a complete non-trumpet player from nothing to playing a simple song in less than 30 minutes. That included learning how to make the sound.
I'm not going into detail on that at this time, but it was fun to watch. The volunteer was doing this in front of a room full of trumpet players and was somewhat nervous. But in the end it worked. And we all learned something.
One of the things that I think makes this happen is simply that there is music within us. Our minds, bodies, spirits all respond to music in one way or another. We have an inner rhythm (our heartbeat, for instance) and an awareness of the music around us.
The fact is that at any level of playing music, we have to, in one way or another, hear the inner music. With some songs it is easier than others. There is a hook, or phrase that gets our attention. A local composer has written a few marches for our community band. One run through and I found myself humming the tune. I don't know what it is, but he has a way to connect with my inner music, and I guess the inner music of others.
Then as you work on a musical piece you can be freed to move within the music and no longer be an observer of it. That's the part of the inner music- singing it to yourself, reading it as music, not notes on a staff. The desire to "figure it out" through logic or tricks doesn't allow the music to flow.
We aren't used to learning music through the inner music. Brandyn said to me:
If you think about the next passage instead of just hearing it you'll create obstacles and that's bad. Just keeping that mindset of singing everything and letting go of everything else is by far the hardest thing and most unfamiliar thing for me to work on.But when we learn how to do it, it will amaze us. The music we will be able to make will increase drastically each time.
That is where we will look in later periodic posts at the inner game of music. How do we free up this inner music? How does part of us (called Self 1) keep us from doing it and how can we free Self 2 to allow it to happen? It works in all of our lives. The result is musical.