Friday, August 14, 2009

100 Days of Practice, Day 45: Zucchini move over, it's squash time.

Yesterday was all about squash. Giant, multiple and, as it turned out, delicious, squash. My friend Lori the Sax Queen came by for lunch and together we managed to put another huge dent in the Lindsays veggie overabundance.

(I didn't mention this: I recently joined a CSA -- Community Supported Agriculture -- at Plato's Harvest in Middleboro. You purchase shares ahead of time, and every Wednesday, you go the farm and collect a bunch of vegetables. Then, every Thursday you skip practice and obsess about zucchini. Thing was, last week was my first week. The next day, Steve, Denya and I played the Plymouth Farmer's Market, where a large portion of one's "pay" is a donation by each of the food vendors. That means they give you their choice of whatever they want... perhaps whatever they have in abundance, etc. Let's just say I had a LOT of veggies last week, and Wednesday's cooking obsession was in an effort to get rid of last week's veggies before the new onslaught...)

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Hold. We interrupt this broadcast to bring you: What is the definition of a true friend? A person who calls you at 8 am, says, "I've got a hankering for zucchini," and comes over a half hour later to pick it up. Yes, this just happened. I am truly blessed.

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Back to practice. Yesterday was a mental but not physical practice. The impulse here is to make up a fib... um... falling back on the "at least just play for five minutes"
and tell you "I did longtones." Well, I didn't. I worked. I sent out emails about upcoming gigs. I cooked more zucchini. But I didn't practice. At least, not physically.

But I did do something else. I taught a lesson, and in the process, taught myself one too. PD the Celtic Goddess was here working on some tunes that I decided I'd include in a concert on Saturday: Humors of Donnybrook/Rambling Pitchfork/Willie Colemans. Nice, well known tunes that Conal O'Grada makes into an art in a recording. I like them, and we've been working on them for a while.

Celtic Goddess and I worked on the ending to Willie's for quite some time, when I realized that her problem was that she was relying on memorizing note names, not actually "hearing" the tune. So I gave her an assignment. Her job for practice this week is to drive around and sing those tunes to herself, note for note. Then, take the dog for walks and sing the tunes to herself in time. That gets the tune into one's body.

Next step, to make it more complete, is to actually mentally (but not physically) make the fingers move with the tune -- to imagine playing the tune, in complete detail. Still training the brain to move as it needs to, in order to play without error.

So, that's what I did too. After all the working and the cooking and the teaching, it was time to drive to a childhood friend's house to help celebrate her 40th. Long drive, so I used the driving time to mentally practice the tunes I'll be playing on Saturday night -- tunes that I haven't performed before, and have never played solo.

Resulted in a good hour of practice. Training the brain. Should have done the long tones too, though, because those are muscles and they need it. But I didn't. I'm going to chalk this one up to experimenting with new technique--but not missing a day, still succeeding. Not rationalizing, but rather expanding the manifestation of focus.

Now, if I could only mentally cook that zucchini...

3 comments:

Debra Murphy, Professor said...

I have been struggling with some allergy-induced bronchitis the past few days, trying to figure out how to practice without going into coughing spasms. I downloaded a bunch of tunes from the BBC Virtual Session, at first, the ones I sort of knew, and played them on the whistle, because that is much easier to blow than the flute. But later I found a new (to me)set I had heard dozens of times at sessions but never played (Lark in the Morning set), and when I can't play it anymore, I listen over and over, and then I have been singing the tunes in my head every where I go, and it's been a worthwhile experience. It feels like practice and progress. Where there's a will...

Peig said...

day 45

I did play a bit this am ,BUT only after walking the demented spaniel last night as well as this am singing. Embarassed to admit, the birds did stop singing and NOT in admiration!!!! However when I got home tonight I was relieved to see none of the luscious landscaping was dead, so sing out loud and proud!!!!!!!

So if you do not know or do not care to know your neighbors SING your tunes!!!!!!

kerry dexter said...

Susan,
you've got me thinking about the connections between mental practicing of music and writing prose, poetry, lyrics mentally. form of practice, in a way, but different...