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Friday, December 19, 2008

Walking on Hot Coals

It's so easy to think "I can never do that." In fact I hear that all the time from beginner and expert musicians alike. "Not this lifetime," "I'll never be able to do that," "Not in a million years," that sort of thing. Here is my theory, don't ever believe the voice in your head. Even if you will never be able to play the Black Page or three different time signatures across four limbs, or a one handed roll, think to yourself "I can do that" or "If he can do it, I can do it." Firmly believe in practice and performance that you are the best in the world. Not being naive, but as a way to structure and allow for maximum possible growth.

I was watching Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez Videos on Youtube. Now this guy is just a complete master of Cuban and Latin rhythms, double kick wizardry, left foot tapping out claves in the midst of a total brilliant storm of four limb independence. Normally my reaction would be a mix of inspiration and depression. But tonight I said "I can do that" without a hint of lack or pain. It was thrilling even to think something so daring.

My good friend Charles once told me "If you can hear it, you can play it" Now I may never be able to play anything close to Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez but saying "I can play that" raises the energy from negative to positive, it makes me accountable for my desire to play with that level of mastery, and it's an exhilaration to not assume that I can't.

It's almost mischievous, a gamble, a risk, because all of sudden "what if I can't?" That voice in the head is making calculations from a false consciousness. I would never have thought I could be able to play how I can now when I was first starting out. With diligent practice and a UNWAVERING POSITIVE and CONQUERING attitude you will COMPLETELY SHOCK YOURSELF at what you can do. It is about being true to your bliss, to yourself, and your work.

This NO ASSUMPTIONS rule is absolutely crucial for a progressing musician because the more you progress the more the masters reveal themselves. If you fall victim to the comparison game you will actually find that everyone is better than you. It is completely imperative that you give yourself permission to be baptized by the fire of the masters not to discourage in any way, so that you are given a vision of the way to become a master in your own right, in your own way, and in your own time.

My brother who I consider an incipient master musician is obsessed with Yogananda who says in his book Living Fearlessly,

...I have sat and meditated all night long in icy water in bitterly cold weather. Similarly, I have sat from morning till evening on the burning hot sands in India. I gained great mental strength by doing so. When you have practiced such self-discipline, your mind becomes impervious to all disturbing circumstances. If you think you can't do something, your mind is a slave. Free yourself


I have walked on burning hot coals over 700 degrees. I have jogged on rocks barefoot. The attitude that you are invincible is absolutely real and must be cultivated in the art of living and in the art of practice and performance.

This is one of my favorite quotes by Henry Miller

Death is wonderful too-after life. Only one like myself who has opened his mouth and spoken, only one who has said Yes, Yes, Yes, and again Yes! can open wide his arms to death and know no fear. Death as a reward, yes! But not death from the roots, isolating men, making them bitter and fearful and lonely, giving them fruitless energy, filling them with a will which can only say No! The first word any man writes when he has found himself, his own rhythm, which is the life rhythm, is Yes! Everything he writes thereafter is Yes, Yes, Yes,-Yes in a thousand million ways. No dynamo, no matter how huge-not even a dynamo of a hundred million dead souls-can combat one man saying Yes!







1 comment:

  1. I had a very clear moment in a yoga class once, where we were holding a pose that many people dreaded each week (including me). Somehow, on that particular day, I GOT that it was a story in my head, that thought I couldn't hold that pose. And I sank into it, and held it, without strain or struggle, for the entire time we were supposed to.

    It's interesting to think that same experience could be applied to music, and I love the though that if you can hear it, you can play it. Thanks for this post!

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