Thursday, November 20, 2014

Letting it go

When you play music, you're playing in the moment.  When you make a mistake in that moment, it's in the past before you know it.  The problem is when you linger on that mistake - now in the past - while you still have to play in the present!

To some degree, we all react to mistakes when we play.  The ones who are best at coping show it the least, but a facial reaction or a few extra seconds of recovery can still hit them.  What makes a person better at recovery is more than just "experience", it's being able to let things go.

In karate, I'm finding that I'm trying too hard to make things fit in a self-defense situation.  I want my opponent to react a certain way, be in a certain position.  When they don't contort in the way I expect, I try to force them into the "right" position instead of "letting it go" and reacting from what is, not what I was expecting.  I'm not truly in the moment, but unlike playing music it could put me in a dangerous place!

Back to taiko - I've seen people drop their bachi and instead of getting a spare that's closer to them, they step away from their spot and awkwardly attempt to retrieve it.  It's even worse when they miss and have to try again!  Eek.  That shows that they kept that moment for far too long instead of letting it go and moving on.  Even when there's no spare bachi to be had, it's about making the decision: will going after it will be more of a distraction than going without?  Sometimes it's a hard call, to be sure.

I've seen people mess up a solo or a passage of a song and scrunch up their face, then leave it scrunched - which forces them to remember that moment, which doesn't help anyone.  If you make a face, un-make it as soon as you can so that your body can forget it as well as your mind!

In some ways, the more of a zen-like approach you take to playing, even if you play at a very high level, the more you can react and adapt to what happens when you play.  It's like any other distraction; how much do you fixate on the person dancing badly in the front row or that you forgot to bring tabi for the show?  Does focusing on those things help the performance?  Nope.  Just as you have to let those go, so with mistakes you might make.  Sure, take steps afterwards to minimize making them again, but that happens later.

So it pretty much comes down to being flexible, and then from there sometimes you also need to be decisive.  The hardest part is to get over that desire to "fix" something that's only there because you're holding on to it.  Let it go!

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