December 16, 2017 at 11:47 am #15060
No, I have not played original music. I fiddle around at the piano every once in a while, but nothing striking has ever come out of it. However, now that I will start doing a bit of improvisation that may be something I can try in a more serious manner. The problem is that I never know what to do with my left hand.
This morning I orderd a piano book: Functional Piano by J. Chalmers Doane. My piano teacher loaned me her copy for as long as I want, but I want a copy that I can write in and mark up. We start up again on January 5th, so I hope to have it by then.
I have a Facebook friend in France who used to do some improvisation, until he had a bady last year. I’ll have to go back and chect his videos again.
DennisDecember 17, 2017 at 12:35 am #15079
I understand completely. Actually it feels more the opposite for me – I can usually get my left hand running on auto with a broken chord of some kind. (I, III, V, Octave or similar)
But finding right hand melodies is more of a chore for me.
Reading Kenny Werner’s “Effortless Mastery” provided the spark that started my first attempts to create my own music. While I didn’t agree fully with all that he wrote, I came away with enough understanding to start creating my simple pieces.
Here’s some quotes I like;
“As you play, there must be no intellectual interference. Intellect is good for picking out an instrument, teaching or getting to the gig on time. It’s good for academia, it’s good for practicing scales, reading books and studying. But it is not good for creating. Intellect has to surrender to instinct when it’s time to play”
“Most of us think that the license to create is for others, not for us. But inspired people show us by example what is possible for everyone.”
“The point is: you too can have permission to believe in yourself but that permission has to come from you. No one will give it to you until they see that you already have it.”
There’s a PDF copy of the book online if you do a google search. Maybe it can give you some ideas.
The tone of your recent posts suggests to me that you are making some great breakthroughs in both your playing and understanding. Your teacher seems very competent and caring so just keep doing what you’re doing and I bet it moves forward.
KenDecember 17, 2017 at 6:59 am #15084
I think here is a very important point.
Gaston Bachelard in his book “The Poetics of Space” nails the process of creativity (especially in the introduction). I have never read any book, where it described in such a lyric yet precise way.
The idea is that creativity happens on the border between subconscious and conscious mind. It mean that ‘when something enters the subconscious mind’, there is a reflection to it generated. And the reflection is absolutely true, uncensored, unfiltered. And before we can observe it with our conscious mind, we still do not know what is happening there. And before we analyse, censor, ‘crop’ what came, it always includes creativity – something new and true.
Absolutely rule based activities are oppositely least creative, because the rules do not let the creativity develop further and materialize in the real world.
Can you consciously make yourself like a concert or love someone or feel good in a situation, what is not pleasant? If subconscious reflection is negative, you cant, or if, then only after a period of steady work with subconscious mind (which I doubt actually as well).
Great masters have always abandoned the rules and widened them, added something to the existing. Therefore I think the point you brought out is very important.
I am sorry about your back problems. I am happy, that your back is already better. If I happen to find good materials on the subject, I will let you know. And the fact, that you are still with music and playing just shows that you have a really deep interest in it. If I happen to find good materials on the subject, I will let you know.
JaakDecember 17, 2017 at 10:07 am #15095
The physical issues have been both a benefit and a curse. If nothing else, it has forced me to pay attention to what is important and what is not.
There is certainly truth to the statement “mind over body”. When I can find “that space” while playing, it can override the pain and I find myself playing longer, sounding better and feeling more comfortable.
Of course doing the necessary conscious intellect activities like learning my scales and rhythms are much more difficult and slows the learning process. I continue to look for the proper balance.
I will appreciate any info you come across Jaak. Music is pretty much the only thing that occupies my mind at this point. Anything that makes it easier or more comfortable to create is of great value.
KenDecember 19, 2017 at 9:06 am #15128
You could let me know if my interpretation of your blog is correct or not.
I think I understand the reason teachers tell us to let go and make music. I suppose we are so conditioned and disciplined throughout our lives to behave in a certain manner that we have difficulty acting spontaneously without any filters or facades. Children, I think, have more facility in expressing consciously something closer to their subconscious because they have not achieved the full conditioning that we adults have. It is often comical, and sometimes very embarassing how the truth usually comes out of the mouth of children.
If somehow I could tap into my subconscious and let down all the many barriers I have erected through the years, I could produce something quite different at the piano, and in many other aspects of my life.
Being stressed out about something, like playing before an audience, could mean that our consciousness can hinder and greatly alter what is produced by the subconscious. For instance, if in my mind I am mostly concerned about using the correct fingers or playing the right notes, or if I am fighting pain, there may not be enough mental energy left to be creative.
Every once in a while when I play piano late in the evening before going to bed, I play in such a beautiful way that I can hardly believe it is me playing. This is probably because I am very relaxed and the normal worries of the day have dissipated. There are less censors and my conscious interpretation is more connected to my subconscious.
Interesting. Now if only I could achieve this mental state deliberately.
DennisDecember 22, 2017 at 4:43 pm #15152
It is very hard to answer you something too exact or something that I would dare to consider as absolute truth. I would rather answer in a different way and bring out a few bits of information that I find quite mesmerizing.
According to professor Dalton Kehoe (his course “Effective Communication Skills”) the capacity of our conscious mind compared to subconscious mind relate to each other as the numbers 40 and 11000000. When to divide 11000000 with 40 we get 275000. It means, that according to him subconscious mind is 275000 times as powerful as the part of mind that creates consciousness.
Can we act without subconscious mind?
No, we can’t. Subconscious mind is responsible for most of physical actions that we do. It all works through models that we have obtained during our lives. We can control things to a certain amount, which is actually very little. Spinal chord directly controls many motoric actions.
Subconscious mind has many different levels or layers. During the prenatal period the child goes through the whole process of evolution in all phases. Something like a fish, amphibian etc. etc. And all corresponding areas are somewhat still existent in our brain. Tha more early are parts (like limbic part) are really old, the prefrontal cortex is the most advanced and recent part, which is analytical and self-reflective. At the same time more complex and slow too.
We become what we think we are. Basically we act as ‘the subconscious mind thinks of itself’. And we become this. Subconscious mind constantly creates habits through actions that reinforce the subconscious image of self. If we want to change, we need to change the way how subconscious mind relates to itself. It needs time (some say at least 21 days steady action to bring change). This point is really crucial I think. If subconscious mind changes its attitude, which are directed by conscious mind, a bigger change is possible.
The problem, of ‘not letting go’ is often because we think, that we can do a lot consciously. But actually we can not. We can consciously let our mind be more active, concentrated, free to analyse etc. But if we force too much tension on the ‘conscious mind’, the parts in subconscious, which are used to naturally process certain things can just be severely interrupted. And it can a devastating effect.
But the urge to control and the nervousness is interesting from the perspective of evolutionary psychology.
Daniel Goleman says in his book “Emotional Intelligence” that we all have caveman brains but we live in a super complex society. And the stage fright comes probably from the herd time, where standing in front of the whole herd and reporting about something was a question of life and death. And the same tension appears now-a-days in a completely safe environment. There are many of that kind of strange reactions, that do not have a function any more but which were life savers hundreds of thousands of years ago.
Hope it gave some ideas 🙂
JaakDecember 28, 2017 at 3:20 pm #15192
Indeed this gives me lots of things to think about.
Dalton Kehoe is a name I heard a few times in my career. He is a communications expert, and communication is an important part of human resources management.
I heard about the 21 days theory to create a habit. For instance, if we want a child to make his bed in the morning, he has to do it 21 days in a row and then it becomes a habit. In theory! 🙂 This could apply to everything.
I have an excellent doctor. Luckily I do not see her very often, but she often speaks of the human body in the context of our forefathers, how many of our bodily and mental functions are a result of a survival reaction or instinct which is still in the very slow evolution stage. That is always very interesting.
You had also mentioned in one of your videos that when we think we dicide something, it is our subconscious that has already decided for us, and we just think we made the decision. I think I sense this sometimes. For instance, when deciding which shirt to wear in the moring: by the time I have articulated the decision in my mind it is as if I already knew which one I was going to choose.
This is a very interesting topic that takes a lifetime to understand partly.
I will try to remember this when my teacher tells me to let myself go and make music.
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