When you touch your instrument, are you truly aware of the significance of what you are touching? Or do you just approach it because you want something from it? Would you treat a person the way you treat your instrument? If not, here are some things you might want to keep in mind next time you approach your instrument.
- Your instrument is essentially and utterly beautiful. I don’t care how cheap it might be, scratched, or otherwise disfigured, your instrument is full of beauty. Can you see it with this depth every time you approach it?
- Do you honor the purpose of your instrument? Do you remember that it has a specific design, an integrity? Someone put an incredible amount of time, thought, energy, and love into the creation of your instrument, and it has a profound history. Do you honor its design and its maker?
- Even if it’s factory-made, at some point somebody created a design for your instrument. And even if that design was simply a copy of someone else’s, go back into time and think of the history of the design – are you honoring the creators of your instrument’s archetype?
- What do you see when you first approach your instrument? Do you take in the nuances of color, shape, and detail?
- Do you sense the unique personality of your instrument and greet it, or do you assume you already know everything about it?
- Do you remember that your instrument has vast untapped potential? No matter how great you are as a musician, and no matter how many years you’ve played it, there are endless combinations of notes and sounds that remain to be explored. Do you honor the infinite potential of your instrument, with awe and reverence?
- When you touch your instrument, do you touch it with the gentle tenderness it deserves, as if it were a newborn babe, or do you yank it around, whipping it out of the case without a thought, rushing to make it do what you want?
- Do you release tension and soften before you touch your instrument so that you can really feel it? What does it feel like when you touch it? Are you aware of the texture, hardness, curves, and other details?
Why not take a few moments to sit with your instrument the next time you’re about to play – and if it’s an instrument with a case, why not wait a bit before you take it out. Take a good long look…. I bet there’s something there that you’ve never seen or noticed before.
Now touch it…. if you are open, and you touch it with the honor, respect, and love that it deserves, I’m sure you will feel something you’ve never felt before. It might take some time until it comes to you, but I’m sure you will have a new experience. Let the instrument touch you back…and you will be touched.
Today, I honored my violin in a different way than ever before – because every single time I approach it, I am a little different and it is, too. All I need to do is remember that, and everything becomes fresh and interesting. Awareness is everything. Today, I played my violin after taking some extra time to meet it, and it sounded different. More open, fuller, richer. It responded to the extra-special attention I was giving it today, just as a human being would. Then, I played for awhile and I imagined that the sound was coming from the heart and the whole of my instrument. We played, heart-to-heart, my violin and I…
Was it moving? Yes. And I’m sure that if anyone had been there to witness our meeting, they would have been moved, too. If you’ve ever wondered how to move your audience, first make sure that you’re open to the mysterious wonders of your instrument, and commit to being open to letting yourself be moved.
This is one way to play. Enjoy.
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*Image courtesy of sixninepixels / FreeDigitalPhotos.net