Friday, August 01, 2008

Back from Summer Travels

I'm back from my second and final summer trip -- to Boxwood again. It was a really great experience.

I took the train and really appreciated the reflection time if offered me. On the way there, I read parts of Barry Green's The Mastery of Music, as well as parts of William Ury's The Power of a Positive No. On the way back, I mostly slept and edited my mini-discs. I was really exhausted after a week of little sleep in order to fit everything in: full days of classes and full evenings of concerts and late-night sessions!

I was in a pretty good place musically and psychologically for this. I was able to just focus and learn without the distraction and interference of my usual confidence issues with music. Is it that I'm feeling confident at last? It is more that I've come into acceptance that music is a necessary part of my life. I no longer feel apologetic about this. I no longer have a guilty sense of being a "pretender." It doesn't matter whether I'm "good enough" or not. Of course I'd like to get really good. But issues of being good or not being good do not matter to me any more. What interests me more now is authenticity of engagement in the journey itself.

Engaging with music is a lifelong journey, and I perceive my own playing and the playing of others in a totally new way now. Of course I still love brilliant expressive playing, but I've come to appreciate that that is not all that there is to hear in music. A skilled listener can listen to music that does not always reach the heights of brilliance, and still find much of value in that music.

Somewhat related, this year at Boxwood, David McGuinness led a series of classes on "Listening." (By the way, he has a fun blog.) We were guided through various exercises that helped us to sharpen our listening skills and respond more quickly, intentionally, and accurately to what we were hearing. David opened these classes with eloquent words on the importance to musicians of good listening. All week, those of us in this group were hearing the birds, traffic, and fog horns in new ways!

There is lots more to say, about Boxwood and about my work this summer, but I also have a lot to catch up on now as the summer begins to draw to a close, so I will close for now but will continue to write as I can.

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