Sir Freddie Laker on Changing Your Musical Mind
Tuesday Quotes are short explorations of music, life, and the daily endeavor of practicing classical guitar. Enjoy!
“Remember that only a fool never changes his mind.”
Sir Freddie Laker
Playing music beautifully is all about making decisions.
We have to choose when to swell in volume and when to fade back down. We decide which notes pop out and which stay in the background. We decide fingerings, speeds, tone quality, and a hundred other small details.
And once we’ve made these decisions, we have to choose them again every time we play the piece. We have to demonstrate our decisions with conviction and confidence.
But what if we’re not sure we’re making the right decisions? What if we don’t know how to choose? What if we’re guessing?
Answer: We decide anyway.
With musical maturity we’ll naturally make different and better decisions. As time goes on we’ll discover rules and tricks and devices to make decisions easier.
Even then, we will want to make changes. And that’s fine.
We can change our minds as many times as we need to. And we will, as we live with our pieces. We’ll come to understand the music in new ways. And with each new insight, we will want to adjust our decisions.
As our technique develops, we’ll discover new possibilities for expression. We grow, and so does our music.
The important part is that we make decisions. Right from the start, from our very first pieces, we can choose to play some notes loud and other notes quiet. It doesn’t have to be “right”, but it does need to happen. Otherwise our playing is bland.
Pianist Mark Westcott liked to say when faced with a contradiction of an earlier statement, “Well, those of us with minds are apt to change them.” and, “Of course: I’ve evolved.”
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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 stellar teachers – one focused on the technical, 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.
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