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Saturday, February 11, 2012

Believing Is Halfway to Doing

This has been another good week. On the Mudarra Galliard, I’ve been hitting 80 pretty reliably. On Thursday I hit it cleanly at 92, something I’ve never done before. Whether I can hit it under pressure is debatable. I’ll try to get it on camera at 92 by the beginning of March. So 2012 is being good to me so far. Maybe even numbered years are my friends.

I wouldn’t say that 2011 was a total washout. If nothing else, it’s made me intimately familiar with the tension that inhibits my right hand speed. Indeed, on any given day I can pinpoint exactly where the cutoff is that delineates my relaxed hand from my tense hand. This week, for example, 80 was no problem for my right hand rest stroke alternation. I felt relaxed, and my playing was clean and accurate. At 84, I could still manage it, but I could feel the tension beginning to brew along my shoulders and creeping up my arm. At 88, the tension hit the tipping point to where I could no more reliably do alternation. On any given day, these numbers can vary. But this is now how precisely I can gauge what I can do.

Counter-intuitive as it may be, this is a good thing. I can’t change what I don’t know. If this tension went unnoticed, I’d be hard-pressed to work at eliminating it. But now I know it well. And knowing it, I’m well on the road to resolving it.

With a foothold on 80 well in hand, I’m now aiming for the 90’s. I’ve noticed that when I try alternation at 92, the 80’s seem easier, even if my try at 92 didn’t go well. It’s all part of my determination to expect success. Call it the Tinkerbell Theory: to fly, I must believe. Certainly there’s nothing gained by pessimism. If I don’t believe I can do something, then I’m already halfway to not doing it.

This week I got a telling demonstration of how attitude influences technique. While running the Galliard at 92, I had a brief lapse of concentration and botched the left hand fingering halfway through an extended scale passage. While the botch was brief, it triggered a flash of anger—with that anger my hand, which until then had felt reasonably relaxed, suddenly tensed up and butchered the rest of the passage. Stopping for a moment, I made a mental note to heed the lesson my body was trying to teach me. Overreacting to mistakes inhibits technique.

So grow up and stop pitching a fit whenever something goes wrong.

——[My next update will be February 19, 2012]——

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