I have been thinking about body-language, and in particular about how our posture influences our attitude. We have heard that forcing themselves to smile can actually make a person feel better. The other day I was struck by how the upright position on a Dutch bicycle made people smile and feel like they are cruising – instead of rushing.

My own experience shows me that when I get on my fixed gear bike and assume the position, shoulders down, head forward… it seems to add to wanting, even needing to go fast. Sure, some of that feeling comes from the bike itself, which is fast and seems to spur me on. This part would not be different from the nice people who climb into their sportscars and become road-raging menaces. But I sense that posture adds greatly to this.

It makes sense to me. Assuming the position determines where your head will be at. I have noticed that if something goes wrong during a performance, a string goes out of tune in the middle of a song, a photo-flash startles me or anything like that, assuming a strong body-positon with the guitar will make a huge difference, will calm me down and will help me project better.

I’ll have to borrow that Dutch bike some more!!

Two Years Ago: Practice-Space

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.