Monday, March 10, 2014

Just Feel It

It was after yesterday's gig-  an open mic thing I co-host every month, along with a bass player I've worked with a lot over the years. There were maybe four of us hanging out, and discussing a variety of things within the realm of making music. 

One thing that was discussed, which kinda stuck between my ears(hence this blog, often inspired--nay, necessitated, by excess undigested info or notions), had to do with a bit of musical advice given to one of the people at the table. 

 Just feel it. And the person was saying, repeatedly, what the hell do I do with that?! I mean, it's so vague and nebulous. How do I proceed ? What steps do I take to accomplish just feelin' it?

This was rattling around in my head on the way home, and really the answer is very simple. Well, simple to explain, but still a challenge for some as far as putting it into practice. Just feelin' it is a matter of letting go, of relaxing into the situation. It's more to do with what you don't do, and there are no steps to take(just all those steps not to take!). Like the old expression, you can't get there from here.

Coming from a family with a medical history of hypertension and anxiety, I can understand where someone would have difficulty with this process. I understand because I've been that someone. And I've observed it in my guitar students over the years. The more nervous ones tend to have a problem with time. They rush tempos and/or have trouble playing evenly. The just feelin' it process doesn't come easily to them. A few layers of tension in there to cut through to get there.

But it can be done. Having been someone with these difficulties, I've had to work on them. And I continue to work on them. There are things in life you just plain can't change(like height, dammit!), but there are others which you can at least greatly modify. You can lower blood pressure, and you can minimize anxiety, thus making it that much easier to relax into situations(like making music)rather than going into them with everything flexed. 

I was trying to think of a style of music where tension would be to your advantage, and only came up with thrash-metal, but even that would require some relaxation to get the speed(strangely enough you have to be relaxed to play fast!). 

As someone who's had to deal with hypertension as long as he cares to remember, I've worked to counteract it in just about every way I can think of(except maybe cutting out caffeine- I do like my coffee!), and one of the best things I found was meditation. It doesn't turn you  into the tortoise, but it makes him a somewhat more focused and steadier hare. And it requires one to let go, to just feel it. 

Actually my friend was right in figuring that there are steps to take as far as just feeling it. They're just in the opposite direction.  


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