means nothing but repeatedly delaying an alternate future to happen. What a pity.
[Bonus: Practice Guide for Improvisation for 2 voices on the Passion Chorale "O Sacred Head, Now Wounded"]
Finally, no one is looking, I can do whatever I want. Finally, this report is already submitted, my boss won't bother me for a week. Finally, I got an A for the homework, the teacher will turn her attention to other kids now. Finally, my recital is over, I can relax for a month. Finally, the spring break has come, I don't have to study anymore.
In exchange of deniability and safety of doing what we are told, we gave up the chance to stand up and say: "Here's what I'm making. Want to join in?"
I think we can be quite the opposite:
Hooked by the opportunity of making change happen.
Check, if you are the person who would rather mean "do what I say" instead of "figure it out", "this is the right way" instead of "use your best judgement", "because I said so" instead of "thank you for doing work that matters", "this better work" instead of "here is another opportunity to fail", "change is frightening - we should do as little of it as possible" instead of "learn where to put the uncomfortable so that you could reach your potential".
Thinking about it is the first step to get out of this circle.
Boring conferences in which people come together to fit in instead of to stand out, to collect the papers instead of to be inspired, to hide instead of to raise the hand, to nod agreeably instead of to ask difficult questions, to follow directions instead of to give directions, can become the most interesting thing in the world, if we just keep asking the question "why".
Ever tried to listen to a clavichord recital? At first it's unbearably soft, it seems that you can't hear anything. But after about 15 minutes the sound seems to grow, filling an entire concert hall.
The same is with speaking softly in class. The students don't listen to you but if you continue to resist the temptation to raise your voice, they have no choice but to adapt.
The stress is on resisting the temptation because we feel that there is no way they are going to pay attention. And so we panic and start yelling.
And yet it's quite logical - if we're brave enough to do the opposite of what they expect - to run at the dog, to lean into the problem, to smile at the opponent, to say "thank you" to the critic, to keep a bigger picture in mind when facing double syncopations in the left hand part - the challenge fades away.
When we silence the noise inside our heads (without the help of TV), we notice some tremendous opportunities around us.
Or write a poem when we face imminent danger. The deepest part of our brain takes over and shuts down everything that is generous to focus on survival.
However, most of the time the danger is not real. Most of the time we only believe they are going to fire us for having found out that we care. We only believe they are going to shame us for messing up that left hand part when we read it from the tenor clef. Most of the time we only believe in failure long before it ever happens.
All it takes is to believe the opposite and the grass will look greener, and we will forget that we didn't get much sleep last night, and we'll start to be eager not to miss an opportunity to change something for the better.
Dreams stolen. Goals shattered. Direction lost.
It's not possible to start rising again unless we have reached (our) total bottom, unless the feeling of being in this bucket of crabs becomes so unbearable that it's scarier to stay in it than to make a choice to face the unknown when we get out.
Before you decide that it's all over, that it's not worth it, think that a breakthrough might be around the corner. Because the darkest hour is always before the dawn (unless it's solar eclipse).
And when it's around the corner, we don't see it, we don't feel it's coming. And so we despair, panic, and quit.
But that's not what Bach would do, is it?
(I mean this Bach inside us)
PS Actually, he would quit many times before on the meaningless stuff focusing on what's really matter.
Sometimes we see people playing a piece which they adore so much that they don't dare to add a few elegant ornaments or passages. Perhaps because of this such music can sound like from the museum - it lacks spontaneity and vitality.
On the contrary, quite often it's OK to play something unpredictable which would show our own input and interpretation.
One way to do this is to treat music like code: first we have to deconstruct musical text and discover intervals and chords which fall on the beats of the measure. Then we can take out some of the composer's passages which fill in those intervals and chords and change into our own - the skeleton remains but musical texture is already different. It's very much like paraphrasing technique used in literature.
Treat composition like model which can be developed even further (most composers did the same with the pieces of other masters).
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