Practice : Space

02007-09-04 | Guitar, Music, Musings, Performance | 12 comments

We practice to create space. This is true for playing a musical instrument, but applies to everything else as well, I think. Practicing creates familiarity. Familiarity creates intimacy.

When we practice playing a piece of music or a scale, we train our brain by using our body. We scrub those neural pathways by moving our fingers. And that creates space. If moving from this note to that note has been trained and ingrained, we no longer have to think about that move and are free to consider other or additional moves. If moving from point A to point B has become utterly natural, then I have established space between those two points in which I can make additional moves. Or, imagine jumping from a rock to another rock. Once that jump has become easy, we might add a turn, a twist or a salto. In music, we might add a new note, a trill, a tremolo, a vibrato… We have created space (or time) in which to make additional moves – or choose not to! The more natural that jump or that piece of music becomes, the more space we have created. Then we have more time and more choice.

I find it important that the space we have thus created should not necessarily be filled with additional notes as we can use that space to embue the sound with more intent or emotion instead. When we no longer have to work at getting to the next note or musical sound, we can enjoy playing the current note with complete conviction.


  1. mario

    This perfectly describes the feel I have when listening to your music….or when I write something. lovely interludes transcending time and space

  2. Jacqueline

    This amazing, in an odd sort of way, just conveyed the same message , to a friend!



  3. Adam Solomon

    Important point not to fill the space one creates for the sake of filling it. An old mentor, who actually got me started on flamenco guitar and your music, once told me that music is not made by the notes, but rather the spaces in between them…

  4. ed

    Adam your mentor was right, but that bit of wisdom came from composer Claude Debussy, it is rather appropriate for ottmars music though, if you look at ‘kora/river of stars’ you will see how much he uses space in his music…thats what i love about his music…he is not trying to crunch as many rasquedos, ricado, tremelo strumming all into a few bars of music…

  5. ed

  6. Victor

    I love your words music and how you communicate. This is such a true concept to just live by as well. I really like what Adam above said as well. I think when I first started to play music and play shred metal you I was at a loss for beauty. When I was introduced to your music it taught me to slow down relax and hear beauty. I have always liked you blog and how you share the thoughts behind the creative genius. Thanks.

  7. catherinem.

    excellent, excellent post…just what I needed to help me get off my bum and practicing again…


  8. Curt

    This instruction has more meaning to it to me than ALL of the guitar lessons I received as a child – where I feel the focus was all about playing the proper notes and not at all about “playing the spaces”.

    Thank you Ottmar! Where should I send the check? :)

  9. laurie

    this is so beautiful and applies to so many things… perhaps many people are afraid of or uncomfortable with the “spaces”, so instead fill everything up for ego’s sake or to hide from the possibilities that space invites.

    “to practice” can also imply that there is an event or time out there in the future that one is working towards, and end goal or performance. This is not wholly a bad thing, for one will not attain what one seeks without practice… but perhaps it is in the time of practice itself that lies the magic moment.

  10. yumiko

    Beautiful post. Everything is in that first paragraph.

  11. llindaskaye*******

    ottmar, when i practice i do try to learn what my teacher sayes and then i “rest” and allow myself to make mistakes while i am practicinge…sort of like learninge how to “fall and catch”and see where that takes me…alwayes amore, llindaskaye e.p.*******


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