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Queen Guitar Rhapsodies

Put that Guitar Down, and Practise in Your Head

The mind matters more than you think

Imagine that you are scheduled to perform a difficult work which you have never played before, let's say it is the Aranjuez Concerto. Now imagine that a month before the performance you fall ill and cannot get out of bed to practise, but have to lie still. The diagnosis is that you will recover and be OK a few days before the performance but must not practise until then.

This is precisely what happened to the great German tenor Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. He was scheduled to perform a major role for the first time, fell ill and could not sing until almost the day of the performance. No one would have objected if he had cancelled his appearance. It would have been quite reasonable; but he didn't, he went through with it. How did he do it? And what can we learn from this?

The singer lay in bed for several weeks reading through the music, singing it in his head and memorising it. I do not suggest this is something we should all be able to do, but rather something to which we could aspire.

Consider the skills required to accomplish this as a guitar player or instrumentalist:
- reading and aural skills which include hearing the music in your mind without playing. Simultaneously listening to recording will assist this process.
- visualisation skills which include fingering the music and imagining yourself in full flight playing it.
- taking note of the difficulties and repeating until completely smooth, all in your mind of course.
- memorising skills based on aural recollection, visualisation and analysis.

This singer was not alone. I have known players who prefer to memorise by just looking at the music, rather than the more frequent method of repetition and tactile memory. They may have a pre-disposition for this, but they have also worked at developing it.

Maybe it would be a good idea to explore these less usual avenues of learning, and how more unusual can you get than not picking up the guitar to learn and memorise a piece!? But then you would be using the best part of you - your brain, 85% of which lies there unused and undeveloped. This might just be your chance to discover unknown talents within you - and become brainier into the bargain.

Olden, Norway, 2 June 2012

Printed from: http://www.carlosbonell.com/blog/?p=1249 .
© 2017.

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