Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Inner Game of (not sucking at) Music

Hubby read  "The Inner Game of Music" as high school trumpet player, probably at some teacher's request.
As mucic students together, he recommended it to  me.
Like, 10 years ago.
What? I got around to reading it... this summer.
It's based off of the pattern of thinking that is introduced in the 1970's book list hit, "The Inner Game of Tennis". However, this installment in the "Inner Game" franchise is largely written by bass player Barry Green. Which is good,  because I don't know if I can take the advice of somebody who plays tennis. I don't trust anyone who enjoys all that running
Actually I should already make a correction: like the tennis book, the premise is that you'll experience success and enjoyment if you embrace a pattern of NOT thinking.
That's exactly the nasty habbit that the "inner game" books are trying to end in us: Overthinking our performance, in any realm.Ending the critical inner monologe - not replacing it with a namby-pamby, positive dialoge - but rather, just STOP THINKING and DO IT.  No "Oh boy, here comes that hard part again, I'm going to miss it, here goes nothing!"
See, Yoda had it before any of us.
And it works. Not all the time, obviously. Lips and fingers and body can only perform so well, in relation to ability and effort.
In my case? I don't sight read well. Recently, when running through beautifully high-level, jazz pieces with a group of musicians who could play cirlces around me, I got lost in the endless little black dots on the page. But I sure as hell played better when I, for lack of a better term for it, let go and stopped wondering if the guy  next to me heard that disgusting flub on that last high note. BONUS: the experience of letting go of worry increases the opportunity for enjoyment. And that jazzy stuff is FUN. :)
A couple weeks ago, fueled by a glass a wine, two cups of coffee, and the urging of a college friend, I contacted the associate principal horn player of a major metropolitan symphony. Why didn't I ask for a lesson? Um, because he's got better things to do with his time than hear me flub? Because that would be the definition of terrifying? Because I'm not really a horn groupie...yet? I did some
internet stalking research and found his personal email.
I did it, I caught him on a rare weekend he was home in our region and not touring the country, and he was inexplicably willing to listen to me butcher Mozart.
And yes, the Barry Green stuff came in handy. Cause otherwise? Yeah. Hyperventilation and wind instruments don't go hand in hand. I "inner gamed" it, didn't shame my self too badly, and actually left thinking I'd done pretty well and gotten some great advice. Then I had to recap the experience to others, some who knew what a freakin' huge deal this was to me, and some who wondered why the heck I'd drive to north Jersey without getting paid mileage. There was time to recount the whole lovely
 mistake-filled ordeal valuable experience in my head, and suddenly - CANNOT. BELIEVE. I. DID. THAT.
From virtually ignoring volume changes to picking that piece to 'show off' on, to contacting this guy in the first place, I spent about a week over-analyzing every aspect of that day, and not in a positive light. What the Hell was I thinking and who the Hell do I think I am? He probably expected to hear somebody who could actually articulate, oh, I don' t know...accurately?  He probably shook his head after shutting the door and thought "there's a lot of time wasted". Aaaaaaaaaaaaah!  The magic of leaving that inner monologue behind is that, in most people's case, it'll often catch up. Just like wondering if your stand partner thinks it's obviously you who's out of tune.
Is there an "Inner Game of Not Over-Thinking Life in General"?
"Don't Sweat the Fact that You Inevitably Will Do Incredibly Stupid Stuff"?
"The Power of Positive Thinking about People You've Offended in some Minute Way, You Idiot!"?
Ok, I'm not usually this self-conscious and crazy. Usually. I just care about this a lot. I've got grad school auditions on the horizon out there, and I'd rather not suck this early in the process.
I think playing in front of a giant, anonymous audience is so much easier than playing for a friend or (ha ha, let's pretend for a second) colleague in the instrumental world. To sum up what Mr. THE MAN of the horn world said to me:  "You've got game, but you're unrefined, unpracticed, and you're not using much of what game you've got."
I may need to re-read that book before taking  another lesson.

No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails