Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Tuning Slide 3.46- Ingrain the Positive

Weekly Reflections on Life and Music

We remember the past,
live in the present, and
write the future.
― Shaun David Hutchinson

  • Weren’t things better back then?
  • The music today is nothing like when I was a kid.
  • Do you remember the good, old days?
What? You don’t agree? Oh, you’re too young to remember the really, really REALLY good old days? Well, they were something else. If only we could be there again.

Okay, go ahead, call BS on all that. The good, old days? Really? Nope! And just remember, THESE are the good, old days that many will be wishing for in thirty to forty years. In a phrase I once read in a book, that means all we have to look forward to is a glorious past.

To which I call BS.

I won’t go into what I think the “psychology” of all this is about. Suffice it to say, I don’t believe it. At least not for many of us. Yes, there are many in our world for whom these are bad days- but the past wasn’t much better and many don’t have much to look forward to. To deny that is to dwell in a fantasy world. (Kanye West fell into that trap when he talked recently about slaves, but that’s another story.) Can things get worse? Of course they can. Will be the future be any better than today? Who knows.

Which brings me to the center of that phrase- the present, today, the only day we have to live in. The past is unchangeable. For better or worse we can’t change what happens. But today we can choose to do some things differently. Today is the day we have. These twenty-four hours are our work- and play-space. What are we going to do with them? When the day is over will we look back and be satisfied with what we have done or wish we have done things differently? At the end of the day we won’t be able to change them. So we need to be intentional about what we plan and how we do it.

Those things that we call important are the things we spend our days doing. The default mode of our brains gets into a direction and keeps on moving. That is why we need to plan, to look ahead and make sure we are doing with today the things that will keep us moving into tomorrow. If you can’t do something about it today, don’t try to. Focus on what you can do.

As I was writing this I had just finished doing a first read-through of some music for an upcoming concert. We had not had a rehearsal yet. Some of the music I had never seen before; other pieces were as familiar as a comfortable shirt. I don’t know how it’s going to be to play those pieces, so I did what I could do today. I scanned them, I made mental and other notes of what to look for, I sang through some more difficult looking pieces, I played some of the sections, and then I listened to them on You Tube. Am I worried. No. Why should I be? I’m not at the rehearsal yet, but I did what I was able to do today.

Hopefully I was “writing” a story for the future playing these pieces. I was intentional about my planning.

Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again,
but expecting different results.
― Variously attributed to a number of people

Ah, but how slow we are to learn. If we do the same things over and over we will get the same results over and over. That’s where things like listening to the music on You Tube helps or where a friend or teacher/mentor can help us. If what we are doing isn’t working, change it up. But just as importantly, if what you are doing IS providing opportunities for growth and improvement, don’t stop. In our haste we often don’t give ourselves enough time and energy for the changes to stick.

I have talked before about those times when I have hit a wall or come to a plateau in my playing. I have a plan for when those things happen. I will go back to some good, old Getchell lessons and some of the basic Arban’s. Maybe some days I will work on a Concone etude as well. Basics that are familiar and get me back to the fundamentals. I try to listen to Self 2 who knows better than I do what is and isn’t working. I try not to keep barreling ahead making the same mistakes over and over. If I do, it will be the mistakes that get ingrained.

Ingrain the positives; make the good things the habits; rewire your brain to do the next right thing.

And the only time to do that is today. So the video for the week is from Bird- Charlie Parker- Now’s the Time.

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