David Whyte – Beauty is the Harvest of Presence
Tuesday Quotes are short explorations of music, life, and the daily endeavor of practicing classical guitar. Enjoy!
“Beauty is the harvest of presence.”
Why do we learn guitar? Why do we toil with small details and coordination? What are we doing?
When we set ourselves to a demanding task, it takes all our attention. If the challenge is well-chosen, it’s hard, but not too hard.
The perfect challenge takes all our focus. It is achievable, but not easy. It takes our whole self.
Meeting these carefully-crafted demands, we are in the moment. We hear each vibration. We feel our fingers on the strings. We see the perfect movements, in our minds and, if all goes well, with our eyes.
This is presence – full engagement with the moment. And this is where we find beauty.
To appreciate music we must actually hear it. We must actively listen. Suspending judgement, disconnecting narrative. Just listening.
We can do this while we play. We can embrace each moment and let all other thoughts wait. We can release our opinions. We can pause our stories. We can set aside all other ideas and beliefs.
All that exists in a moment is found within that moment. There is no past or future.
Playing, we have only the current movement, the current sound. We focus on the current challenge and meet each second as it comes.
And in this, we find beauty. Not the culturally accepted version of beauty, veneered and polished. But a real beauty, born of awareness and appreciation. The content matters less than the quality of engagement.
In this way, we enjoy just as much beauty practicing at a beginning level as one more advanced.
At any level, beauty happens in the present moment – meeting challenge, hearing, feeling, seeing in earnest.
Hi, I’m Allen Mathews.
I started as a folk guitarist, then fell in love with classical guitar in my 20’s. Despite a lot of practice and schooling, I still couldn’t get my music to flow well. I struggled with excess tension. My music sounded forced. And my hands and body were often sore. I got frustrated, and couldn’t see the way forward. Then, over the next decade, I studied with two other stellar teachers – one focused on the technical movements, and one on the musical (he was a concert pianist). In time, I came to discover a new set of formulas and movements. These brought new life and vitality to my practice. Now I help guitarists find more comfort and flow in their music, so they play more beautifully.
Click here for a sample formula.
I practised your system for three days, and it solved the I-M alternation problem I had been struggling with since I undertook classical guitar three years ago. Many thanks!
Great advise here. I find I am taking more time with the pieces than I would have in the past as I am focusing on the technique you have taught me. It is slower going at first but has fewer frustrations, is easier and sounds better in the end.
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