Like many people, I spin a lot of plates and have a number of passionate interests. But for the one plate I spin in the moment, there are several that do not have my undivided attention. (If only I could tie reeds and practice long tones at the same time !!) However conscious or unconscious - I am making a sacrifice. Furthermore, I find that I can experience pressure or tension about the plates that I am not spinning - will they fall if I don’t spin them NOW!?! How can I get it all done? This stress isn’t beneficial to my health or quality of performance to the plate I spin in the here and now! How can I live organically, in the moment, be open to spontaneity and not fear dropping any plates? The stress of this takes away from quality practice or involvement in anything.
My answer to this right now is to reassess my priorities, set reasonable, achievable goals based on a loving, big picture way and make a cupboard of confidence for my plates I’m not spinning in the moment and get clear on sacrifice and order of importance! To factor in flexibility, prioritizing and having an A and B schedule routine which I can fall back on but not be a prisoner to, is really helpful. I like to take one month at a time and the older I get I’m learning one DAY at a time is essential for me to not be too rigid and more open to the spirit of guidance and free of any self imposed prisons. How can I have a sound structure/routine that is flexible enough to be spontaneous enough?
I think of my priorities: achieving my life’s purpose
1) Being a more loving person and teaching that via the arts is my primary goal. Therefor all other goals AND DECISIONS of how I spend my time and energy, must support - not detract from that.
2) Optimal health - in an integrated way - body/mind, emotional body/physical body connection etc.
Goal 2 supports priority #1 and therefore all decisions and goals must support this goal.
3) Present goals: overhauling my oboe playing for optimal technical elegance and artistic height.
Goal 3, supports my life purpose.
By being clear on my goals and priorities, I need fewer rules or complicated road maps. I can move forward knowing this is the destination and any new goal or decision I make is in support of this ultimate destination. As long as the goal is based on a priority - the integrity of the goal and purpose - can be honored when change of behavior or habit or form is required.
I’ve been doing a lot of gardening lately and as it is my habit and joy to think/learn in metaphors, I’ve been thinking about how I can apply garden knowledge to my current situation in goal setting to best achieve my purpose.
Now that I am 54 - and overhauling my oboe playing - the rules and habits and routines of the past don’t necessarily apply nor should I follow them as I need to distinguish which to keep, ditch, change…..etc….
If a routine is like having a set schedule to water the shade garden, being 54 and in my current situation is like realizing, the tree that once kept my shade garden shady, isn’t there anymore, it’s fallen, and now what was once a sunny garden, is in the shade by the tree that has grown in these past 45 years of playing the oboe. The teachings, rules of routines of watering, and sunning and pruning and blooming - are all subject to change with what the NEEDS are at the time to achieve the ultimate PURPOSE!
Politics, teaching methods, teachers, friends, partners - etc. are wise to bare this in mind and keep in the heart center. Further along requires adaptability and embracing the wisdom of hindsight and discernment. Adapting I find requires reassessment of priorities, level headed evaluation, asking new questions and trying new approaches.
This morning I started a new approach to my warm up practice and it’s liberating.
Morning OBOE practice June 1, 2010:
As it’s the first of the month I carefully dusted one of my oboes with a clean paint brush and oiled the mechanism.
Needing to be hyper vigilant of my physical well being - ideal posture and physical wellness, breathing, embouchure, as well as needing to move the fingers to help oil get into the mechanism of the oboe key-work, I:
* knelt with knees 6 inches apart and hips resting, situated evenly over feet with the front of the feet down on the mat
* relaxed the muscles in my face and around my belly button, elongated my neck up and chin slightly down breathed deeply in and played series of trills of varying lengths, speeds, dynamics - whole and half steps
all the while paying deep attention to the physical quality of focus, pressure, relaxation, of my muscles - as the oboe is an extension of my physical body as the oboe reed is my adopted vocal chords and extension of my windpipe
my priorities and interest today where in hyper vigilance and attention to keeping open and relaxed where necessary - avoiding undue tension in my jaw for example - keeping ideal posture and alignment and quality of overall form in the physical wind chamber with ideal diaphragmatic support.
Furthermore: focus on hand placement and facility of finger moment during the trilling.
Keeping ideal placement of reed in mouth and embouchure - checked by following up trilling with tonguing patterns of repeated rapid tonguing per note, moved to the next note same # of times and back in the trill pattern
Adjusting posture when tension set in - moving to a cushion under hips within same posture, the later moving to a half lotus, then later to a standing position
All of my playing in session # 1 of the day was all free of the page.
While I was trilling, I was remembering the gorgeous butterflies I had seen recently at the Butterfly Conservatory in Arizona earlier this month. I would imitate wing movement in my trilling - holding notes, trilling faster and slower. After a good while of this, I then began improvising to different note relationships in melodic like patterns here and there in small intervals - keeping the rhythmic flexibility - of the trilling.
The emotional experience was open and pleasant.
I focused my air stream to the other side of the galaxy. I thought about the butterfly theory of how the fluttering wings of a butterfly in one place can influence the weather far away in another place.
What a mysterious world.
June 1, 2019