Tuesday, August 10, 2010

13 Years Ago...

I have been following saxophone player Christopher Braig's blog over the past week and it has me feeling very reflective and nostalgic. Chris just returned from attending David Liebman's Saxophone Masterclass. I was a student at this class in 1997 and reading about his experience has had me thinking.

To say that it was a profound experience would be an understatement. People throw the phrase "life-changing" around a lot these days but for me, Lieb's masterclass was exactly that. I had never before been in such close every-day contact with a master of the art. Coupled with the very no-nonsense, methodical, and logical pedagogy he preaches and practices, I came away with a very clear blueprint of what to deal with and how.

But here's the rub...

To date, I have done very little of it! Let me be clear, the processes and pedagogy I took away from Lieb still informs everything I practice, but there is so much more I feel like I should have done by now (more about that word should in a moment). As with any intense experience, it can be a bit of a crash-landing back into reality afterwards. The flame burns for a few weeks, a couple of precious months, and then the mundane-ness of life creeps back into your artistic space. I catch myself every now and then and try to re-energize by listening. It always works and I vow to start over and get it right.

This bit, the starting over, is the problem. I always feel that when I fall off the path, I must go back to square one. Often this is right, but I find myself practicing things that, for the most part I am quite comfortable with in the guise of "rebuilding the foundation".

I have been thinking about incorporating the Zen idea of "the beginner's mind" into my practice. Maybe not going to square one, but dealing with where I am in the open and accepting mind of the absolute beginner. Not as "something to get through..."

Now, about that word should...the conditional tense causes lots of problems for artists. It makes us question our work and doubt the moment. Lieb even speaks about it when he talks about practicing, here is an example.

Be honest, be open, be objective...figure out what is missing AND GO RIGHT THERE.

That is the last line of my notes from my week with Lieb 13 years ago. I have some thinking to do...

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