Our Inner Instrument re Improvising, Memory, Concentration and Mindfulness.
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Our Inner Instrument
Wait, wait again…You’ve got to learn your instrument. Then, you practice, practice, practice. And then, when you finally get up there on the bandstand, forget all that and just wail… Bird
Whenever I notice that I should play an idea… I don’t… In command and out of control”… Kendrick Scott
Don’t just play something – sit there! Jim Hall
The hippest thing you can do is not play at all. Just listen! Lennie Tristano…
Jazz Zen master says – don’t play ‘til it hurts!
Sage advice to all improvisors, myself included.
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The practice of improvising is close to that of mindfulness and many aspects of performance psychology. Regardless of our personal views regarding faith traditions, our musical practice offers the potential to balance our mind, creating mental wellbeing as well as enabling us to create conditions likely to result in “open attention” and a sense of flow or play.
The more I practice, the more I teach and the older I get, the more I am struck by the parallels implicit in improvisation, expressive and functional use of speech/language and the various approaches to mindfulness (across faith and secular traditions, Yoga, Martial Arts, contemplative spirituality and so on). How often do improvisors crave a successful outcome, attach to detail or over-identify with the angst self-expression? Our projection and desire are so far away from the flow-state that we claim to seek, confusing it for our fantasy of technical or musical perfection. In these times jazz improvisors are so well resourced with the concrete resources of repertoire, musical materials, transcriptions and recordings as well as hundreds of courses but the need now is surely for deeper understanding of the process and practice of improvising and less a fixation on acquisition.
You might like to start by looking at the 4Ps… (see link in menu).