Friday, October 21, 2005

Light gigs, and thoughts on practicing

Hello Again,

Well it is good to write again. October has been a very eventful month. I am getting excited about the traffic on the website! Last I checked there were over 3000 hits so far this month. I have just a few more things to figure out before I consider it a complete package, including a passsword protected section, easier listening choices, and some more content. I knew it would be a lot of work, but I never expected so many hours at the laptop in wi-fi coffee houses in Ann Arbor between lessons, gigs, and classes. I always keep my bike in my truck in case I get too cross eyed, but I think, for the most part that it will be worth it.

So let's see, last weekend I did not have one single gig. It felt like the first time in a long time. I was a happy guy just sitting at home resting, practicing, and resting some more. I did play a gig with Lamar and Anthony of Gratitude at some corporate office party. It was a bit strange though. The party was on the second floor and they had us playing on the third floor on a balcony type thing. We were about as ambient as you can get. We didn't even have to change into our signature matching tropical shirts because no one could see us. Oh well, it was fun to play with those two guys. They are awesome musicians and we always have fun. Tonight I play with Deep Blue again in Ann Arbor. I am looking forward to it after a very busy week. On Saturday I bought a plane ticket to INDIA!! I will be going in December for a tabla solo festival showcasing all the great musicians of Calcutta. I was invited by my Guruji Samar Saha. I will write more on this later. In the meantime, I need to start practicing!

I actually have really been missing practicing lately. I have been talking to students a lot about this. For many years I had a notion of practice in my head that made it difficult to want to go sit at my instrument. I thought of it as a daunting task that absolutely had to be done, reguarless of what I felt like. If I didn't feel like practicing, it was easy to ignore because it is easy to ignore things that hang over us in demand. Now I think of my time to practice as time to sit and reflect on what I really want and love to do. If I sit at an instrument and feel tention and resistence, then, when it comes time to perform, and I want to showcase my work, tention and resistance would be all I can produce, unless I just let my body lead the way and play completly without abandon, (or thought). I have done this many times, once I played so crazy that I cut my finger on a cymbal and didn't realize it until I saw blood on all my drumheads. I was playing with the host band at an open mic in my hometown of Marquette. I had to get up in the middle of the song and go to the hospital ASAP. 7 stiches on my left middle finger. For the next 2 weeks I was constantly flipping my emergency room bird, (and not playing the drums). To play like this is fun and the kind of crazy that can get people excited, but it doesn't bode well for the long term. Practice is how we perform when there is no gig. It is the sacred time a musician has with their instrument to build a relationship that lasts till the next performance. It is not always about building the skills, which is definitely important, it is also about the ease to which you play with the skills you are trying to attain. Practice is easy, nice, stimulating, and important, and if you approach it with a truly open and focused mind, it can be as nourishing to your mind as food is too your stomach.

thanks for reading,

John

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