Practice as Meditation
(by Mark Nauseef)
practice as a form of meditation is not a new idea and much has been written
about cultures relating to music in this way, such as India with its raga /
meditation connection. Any musician, regardless of degree of ability or
experience, can use music practice as meditation and meditation as a means of
deepening music practice. The key is concentration. Focused concentration with
complete (laser type but relaxed) attention to the situation whether it is with
composed (notated, graphic, verbal, etc.) or completely free improvised music.
This is not meditation in the sense of a transcendent state of “no mind” but
a meditation of completely absorbed concentration. This intense but relaxed
concentration should have the music you are practicing as the single object of
the awareness. As well as increasing your ability on your instrument through the
benefits of focused / concentrated practice, you are also designing a sanctuary
within yourself were you can go which is away from or outside your normal state
of active mind. Over time the periods of concentration should become longer and
deeper and easier to access. Of course, access to a state of deep, concentrated
awareness is also very valuable in live performance situations as well as
practice not only to reap the riches deep within the sound but also to cut-off /
exclude the many other distractions which go along with live performance. These
distractions could include certain acoustics, sound systems, lights, air (or
lack of), audience (or lack of), etc. It does not matter if it's in your
practice studio or in concert, the key is to develop a way of easy access into
this sharp, clear, relaxed, awake, peaceful and concentrated state of mind.
are a few ideas that may help.
Making sure there are no obstacles affecting the flow of energy such as
having the shoulders raised unnecessarily, a bent neck or any other forms of
practice before you actually begin to play by being clear and focused on
what you are about do. Know exactly what material you are about to work on.
Of course the exception to this would be free / spontaneous improvising,
although any form of improvising also requires an alert state of mind.
the area where you are to practice or perform so that you are comfortably
situated for clear and focused work.
moment before beginning to play to do some deep breathing and release any
tension in the body and also release the mind from any thoughts not
pertaining to the work you are about to do.
When learning new
material, start at a slow tempo so that the material can be well understood
through clear execution and repeat the idea enough times so that the
brain-muscle connection can be well trained and the idea / material can be
burned into your being.
Have respect for your instrument as it is not just a pile of wood, metal, strings, skin, etc., but is a vehicle that can bring you to an exceptional state of awareness and peace.
It's yoga with music as the object / point of awareness.