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Queen Guitar Rhapsodies

Once You've Got It, Let It Flow

Photo courtesy of "The Spirit of '43 - Donald Duck"

Photo courtesy of "The Spirit of '43 - Donald Duck"

According to The Inner Game, the path to great playing is all about letting it happen by itself without trying so hard

One of the most frequent and amusing images from Walt Disney cartoons is the one where Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck or whoever flies through the air. That by itself is not funny. But what is funny is that they don't know they are flying, they think they are are running. Only when they look down and see they are a mile above the ground do they shriek with horror and fall to earth in a heap. Naturally, they arise from their fall unharmed. But then, that's the make believe world of film and fantasy. What about the real world of playing the guitar? What happens when you suddenly realise you are flying rather than running?

What does Donald Duck's crash have to do with playing a musical instrument? This is how Tim Gallwey describes it in his land-mark book The Inner Game of Tennis:
“There is always an inner game being played in your mind no matter what outer game you are playing. How you play this game usually makes the difference between success and failure.”

The inner game should be all to do with supervision, serenity and expression. The outer game is all too often about trying too hard to achieve it. This is best expressed by Tim Gallwey as:
"I found there was a lot going on in the mind of my tennis students that was preventing true focus of attention...many of my instructions were being incorporated in the student’s mind as a kind of 'command and control' self-dialogue that was significantly interfering with both learning and performance".

While Donald Duck was unawares that he was flying, all was good. It was better than good, it was great! But it all ended when he looked down and realised that he wasn't flying. Here is the crux: while he tried not, he could fly. And when he did try, he could not!

The same applies to playing an instrument. Once a technique or style or piece has been tackled with some success, that is when the danger can begin, not before. It is then that the player becomes too self-aware, and tenses up in the process. It is as if, having touched Mount Olympus, he or she were afraid of never reaching it again. Hence, the inner tension that ensues from trying too hard to find it.

The lesson from this extraordinary insight by Tim Gallwey is to let it flow unhindered by too much conscious thought. If this is a novel concept I advise you to read the book. If it is not but haven't read it yet, do so anyway.
It really is a mind-changer.

5th April, 2014, Mexico

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Printed from: http://www.carlosbonell.com/blog/?p=3123 .
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