Marvin Gaye on the Inner Work of Musical Mastery
As musicians, most of us dream of playing flowing, effortless, beautiful music.
Then, when we pick up the guitar to play, we find all sorts of tension, distraction and difficulty.
So how do we bridge these two? How to we go from where we are to where we want to be?
The transition can only happen within us. There is no magic scale or exercise that will bring us there. To play flowing and beautiful music, we need to know how it feels to “flow”. We need to understand “effortless”.
And not just intellectually, but viscerally. We need to know with our bodies, not just words.
But to get there, we can use words and exercises.
We can ask ourselves, “How would my hands feel right now if I were playing that way?” and “How much tension is in my shoulders if I play at the highest levels?”
Sitting on the couch, we can experiment with how we hold or release our muscles. We can practice touching things gracefully, with flowing movements.
Even brushing our teeth can become guitar practice. We can seek the perfect tension throughout our bodies and adjust moment to moment.
We can learn focus and calm, alert awareness. We can practice this anytime. The more mundane the task, the bigger the opportunity. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it puts us on the path.
Like Marvin said, if we want peace (or any other feeling), we have to learn to generate it ourselves, inside.
“If you cannot find peace within yourself, you will never find it anywhere else.”