wilbeau picture
by wilbeau
on June 15, 2016

A mother was stroking her youngest daughter and told her family, “ She is just like S---. The down on her skin is the same and so is the length of her muscles. When I press my fingers into her skin it bounces back exactly the same way.” Hands observe these nuances, these fine details, taking in all this information from the realm of touch. It is a way of knowing very different from the world of sight and sound.

wilbeau picture
by wilbeau
on June 15, 2016

“…Can you bring me to the place
where the pollen is now the light…” Linda Hogan

At its best, art can be transformative: a painting can make us look at the world in a new way; a poem can capture thoughts that rattled around in our heads without coherence. Music is sometimes at its best when it is hardly noticed like in a great film. One of my colleagues referred to Lawrence Of Arabia, a film that opens with seven minutes of landscape panoramas. The music captures our minds, and lets us float through the scenes.

wilbeau picture
by wilbeau
on May 9, 2016

I have been thinking this week about finger stability [which has been discussed here before] because of a need to improve my playing for a concert on Saturday night. When moving our fingers quickly, we think about getting from one note to the next. It is hard to think of anything else, speed is one of those things that create many worries for even the advanced guitarist. To visualize either hand changing notes seven times a second, for example, is a formidable task.

wilbeau picture
by wilbeau
on April 28, 2016

“with nothing but a story, and time” – Linda Hogan

As you learn and work on a piece of music the narrative flow becomes the driving force for an interpretation. Sometimes it takes a very long time to find the best way to deliver a passage. Yesterday I was playing one of my own pieces, a fairly easy one, and realized I was rushing into a section, that it needed to start more like coming into a turn while driving before speeding up. It seemed so obvious as this registered and now I have to figure out why it took so long to discover that basic notion.

wilbeau picture
by wilbeau
on February 20, 2016

When I think about fast playing one of the neglected factors is the release of muscle tension after the action. Muscles move the finger but immediately release so that the finger can return to a ready position. Holding a finger with muscle tension inhibits most of the future potential movements. There is lots of room for confusion here because the commands for the movements take place almost simultaneously with the release command happening as the finger goes down. This much easier to do at
a slower rate of speed, one can see tangible results.

wilbeau picture
by wilbeau
on February 8, 2016

I am getting ready for a concert, practicing daily and have performed all the music for audiences at least twice. A couple of passages have often caused trouble, which was irritating given the amount of time and effort went into learning them. During one piece* it finally occurred to me today that I could breathe a little bit before beginning one the next phrase. Just a little bit. It was in a section that was quite boisterous, my favourite part in fact that features a ragtime, syncopated phrase that has the drive of the Glenn Miller horn section.