DIs 6.7-6.12.18

I have been keeping up my Daily Improv traditional! Just got away from posting them. Here’s a collection of what I’ve done since June 6.

(I missed 6.9 because of a stomach bug- no trombone playing was happening that day!)

Working on taking a small idea and making it bigger- in this case, adding in all the notes of an Eb major scale. 

Thinking about the fabulous, intelligent, rough-edged and wonderful Anthony Boudain, and all the places travel has taken me too, as well. Let’s all go out and be bold, kind, curious travelers in his memory. 

 

I was trying to record a straight take of “Scotland the Brave” but kept messing up. This is just a little bit of my frustration, vented. 

The way my bass trombone’s valves are tuned, when I play straight down into the trigger register I get a sus4 chord instead of a major triad, like modern basses do. I like the sound and did a little funky improv on that. 

To celebrate having a Brass Lassie gig this weekend (if you’re in the area we hope to see you there!), I learned the tune to my favorite song in our book, Fause Fause, and then turned on a live recording and soloed over the instrumental sections. It’s a little goofy on the timing- I’ll work on a different set up next time I want to do something similar. 

June: Daily Improvisations

Each day in June I’m going to try to do a little morning improv, just something simple to get my creative brain ready for the day. Here’s the first one! Follow my Soundcloud profile for more as I add them.

#MusicAndMentalHealth Wisdom Wednesday: Alexander Technician Tully Hall

Wednesdays this month, I’m aiming to feature the writing of a colleague who’s doing good work helping musicians find ways to balance work, life, and play. Whether they’re finding paths for themselves and sharing their journey, or actively guiding people through the process of gaining a good groundwork, these folks are truly thinking outside the box of our traditional grindstone mentality. The result is careers and people that are happier, more productive in the long run, and ultimately, more successful (and it all depends on how you define ‘success’).

This week I want to feature the insightful writing and mentorship of my Alexander Technique teacher, Tully Hall. Tully is as kind-hearted and wise a person as I have ever met, and we’ve really bonded over our mutual ideas about brass playing, movement, pedagogy, and life.

After many years of being intrigued by Alexander and thinking “I should try that”, last July I finally got a recommendation to contact Tully, and I am so glad I did. I’ve done just about every little bit of bodily self-care you can think of in order to manage chronic back, neck, and shoulder pain: acupuncture, yoga, physical therapy, cupping, massage, flotation tanks… Every one of them was great, and combining them helped a little, but nothing has made quite the difference that AT has, and in as short an amount of time. I stopped fighting my body’s tension spots and started reorganizing how I stood, sat, moved, and flowed through my day.  Talking with Tully about intention and external focus of attention has reminded me that the pedagogy I teach doesn’t just have to apply to brass playing. We can move through the world without grasping, without working so hard. We can be open and curious.

Here are some of my favorite posts by Tully on the topic of intention and curiosity, but I highly recommend her entire blog.

Where Intention Goes, Energy Flows

Descriptions of Alexander Technique can often include the dreaded p-word (Posture!), which can bring up a maelstrom of ‘shoulds’ and ‘shouldn’ts’ for many of us. But what is posture really? A few weeks ago I listened to ‘On Being’ host Krista Tippett talking with physicist Carlo Rovelli. The episode is titled: All Reality is Interaction. One of his phrases really stuck with me: “the huge wave of happenings which is a human self.”  One aspect of that wave is our interaction with gravity. We are made for gravity: we meet its presence with our own wave of anti-gravity. We’re so elegantly designed that we don’t have to exert direct muscular force to do it.

Get Ready, Get Curious…Engage!

My great niece has this uncluttered freedom that I admire very much. (It’s wonderfully common in the 1.5 year old demographic.) Using my Alexander Technique know-how lets me get some of that freedom for myself:

  • I can enter a listening, curious state rather than a “just let me get through this so I can get to the next thing” state.
  • If I don’t rush, I don’t tighten.
  • I don’t have to hold myself up, I can rest on whatever’s supporting me.
  • I can orient my attention outward into the environment surrounding me.
  • I can find a state of flow that makes me available to move.
  • If I’m holding or moving something, I can ask it, “how would you like to move?”

Have you experimented with Alexander Technique? How has it affected you, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally? Do you find, like I do, that after a lesson you feel like you could take on anything in your day with poise and grace?