Hi There – Hope this sunny Tuesday finds You well – after coming back from breakfast at Ikea and after a stroll in the sun. thought about putting some washing out, and then I got to thinking about what I have come to call the Washing Machine Mistake that sadly too many people unknowingly, unwittingly even make when it comes to Music Making.
Because there is a question You ask when You are getting your Washing Machine installed, maybe the same question you ask when You’re in a rush for your order of four triple chocca wocca mochas, though definitely not the question You ask if you happen to be at work, or maybe stuck in an office on a day like this.
And it’s definitely a question You shouldn’t ask when it comes to Music making – there is a far better question – more about that in a moment.
So what is the Washing Machine, The Triple Chocca Wocca Moccha, but not the Office or work question – Ofcourse it’s
How Long Is This Going To Take ? And perhaps that is a perfectly valid question for when You are getting your washing machine installed – especially if You’ve run out of clothes.. though my suggestion for if You’re ordering your triple chocca wocca is to go easy on the how long is this going to take question – making complicated coffee takes time, know your barista is doing his or her best.
Now when it comes to Guitar Playing, sadly sometimes new folk will ask the question how long does it take – and then when I give my answer they’re surprised – Why ?
Well My answer now is, well You see that depends – because the Music doesn’t change, but you might – Johnny B Goode, or whatever meaningfull music making means for You, sounds the same monday through friday, though You might not.
So a better question would be, instead of how long is it going to take – rather than that, how quickly can You get focussed ? Because without focus, it’s either going to take too long for You to get into Music Making, or You’re just going to play the same old things You already know, or after a few minutes You just put your guitar down.
And this is why I spend a lot of time for example in initial lessons coaching and training people to be able to focus on the Music, the challenges are not always in the hands, they are in how and where You place your focus, your attention – and this is about coaching You to get out of life mode and into Music making mode – to get out of ” How Long is this going to take mode” and get into making music – to be fully present.
So how did I come up with this – well some years ago, before I discovered wht I now call Priming Your Musical Mind I was…
Teaching a Black Guy The Blues …. And then I thought Errr Hang On
Because he’d just shared with me in his first lesson, that he had started to work out his family tree, and somehow he was related to legendary Texas BluesMan Lighting Hopkins.
So I did think, for a moment, err hang on – maybe he should be teaching me the Blues – maybe this should be the other way around, instead of me showing him some BB King and some Albert King stuff (wasn’t interested in Lightnin’ Hopkins).
But unfortunately because at the time I wasn’t aware of what I now refer to as Priming Your Musical Mind, a set of tools and techniques to get Your mind fully focussed on Meaningfull Music Making; now this can be as simple as connecting to the rhythm of the music, by simply tapping along to the beat, or perhaps even tapping along to the rhythm of the guitar playing part, but this meant that this Guy would really be starting to get into playing, towards the end of the hour, towards the end of his lesson – yes he did try to do some practice, but because he could only find 20 or 30 minutes would mean he wasn’t fully focussed, he hadn’t primed his musical mind, and yes because he had a stressfull Job, he would sometimes get caught up in that how long does it take to get good –
Which is going back full circle to the other how long does it takes in our lives – such as how long does it take to fit a washing machine.
Because okay perhaps with a washing machine, you just want that fixed and fitted so You can forget about it, but You don;t want that with Music.
What students have told me is that, once they have got out of life making mode into that Music Making mode, provided their playing practice is going well – they find that 20 minutes can easily turn into 30 minutes, maybe even 40 minutes or even sometimes 60 minutes.
Now ofcourse sometimes life does get in the way – but if we’re really willing to be honest, once You have gotten Your mind primed, and You’re into Music making mode, a little more patience and a little more persistence will mean You get a lot more enjoyment out of your playing time.
I do believe that Meaningfull Music making is going to become far more important in this 21st century – infact I was reminded yesterday that tonight, on radio 2 Labour MP Dennis Skinner is going to be talking about his battle with Dementia and how he is using Music to help with that – I sincerely hope this is some form of Music Making, even if it is drums/ percussion, or perhaps singing, rather than passive listening.
So if You ever get caught up thinking about How Long is This Going to Take, referring to Music – remember Music Making is not a thing that gets done, forgotten about, and then next – it’s way more important than that – I believe it is one way to achieve Mindfullness – and after all what would You rather have – a mindfull of Favourite Music, that You are fully engaged in making in someway – whether guitar, drums, or some other way – or would you rather have a mind full of problematic thoughts ?
I know which I would choose – How about You ?