Friday, March 12, 2010

Beginner's Mind

Over on the Facebook group for "The Midlife Horn Player", one of the members recently talked about dialing back his practice time from over an hour a day, every day, for five years - to just once a week, and he says his tone has improved nicely. 

This reminded me of a phenomenon I've repeatedly experienced playing various instruments. Because I can't keep up with them all at all times, sometimes there'll be months of inactivity on one before picking it up again. It's often the case that that first playing after a break makes me wonder how I ever gave it up, as the music flows easily and with good tone, sort of a "first, fine careless rapture". Then subsequently all the technique issues creep on back.

Shoshin is a concept in Zen Buddhism that means "beginner's mind". In Wikipedia there's this quote from a master:

"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, in the expert's mind there are few."

Wikipedia also says this concept ties into authenticity:

The term can be used for any thing or person who is perfectly genuine.

Routine can be immensely helpful in your practice of music making, but falling into mindless ruts is the dark side of that.

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