Posts

The Difficulty of Walking Your Own Path

It's not always easy to walk your own path, especially if it goes against current trends and fashion. But what else are you to do? 

Well meaning friends might make suggestions like, “You should be more like X,” or, “X does it this way.” And then there's our own, insecure inner monologue saying, “Why can't I be more like Z,” or, “Maybe I could do better if I copied Z.” 

But we quickly find that when we step into someone else's world, we step out of our own. And the main problem is, that when we try to be like someone else, we are always just a copy. We can never be the original, and this is why we are always a step or two behind, because we're following, not leading.

When we first start out in something, we often copy others, but that's a part of the learning process. As we continue, we should eventually grow out of copying and move into doing our own thing. Too often I see people who never get beyond the copying stage. Maybe that's all they aspire to, or maybe…

The Ongoing 'Learning How To Play The Gong' Debate

One problem with gongs, singing bowls and bells is that, it's all too easy to just strike them and get a pleasing sound. There is no training or long term study needed just to make a pleasant sound. Try this on most any other instruments, and you would not be as successful. Pick up a guitar, a trumpet, or a cello, and try to play some music without ever having played it before. For most of us, we wouldn't even know where to start. And when we finally did attempt something, it would most likely be some sort of noise and not a pleasing note.
This leads to a recent Facebook question and the ensuing responses: “A respected gong person said you should never hit a symphonic or planet or tuned gong with a clear centre ring, in that ring too often or gong will go out of tune. Any comments??”
The question is a legitimate question. In answer to the above question, there is nothing wrong with striking the gong in the center, or anywhere else. This is an ongoing myth, most likely propagated…

Can You Hear Me Now?

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From the mailbag: Someone asked me to talk about tinnitus

The official definition from the Mayo Clinic:

Tinnitus (TIN-ih-tus) is the perception of noise or ringing in the ears. A common problem, tinnitus affects about 1 in 5 people. Tinnitus isn't a condition itself — it's a symptom of an underlying condition, such as age-related hearing loss, ear injury or a circulatory system disorder.Can I Hear You?

First, if you think you might have tinnitus or some sort of hearing loss, seek professional help with your doctor or an audiologist. There can be various causes, including certain diseases and medical conditions.

It just so happens that I had my hearing checked at an audiologist a few weeks ago. Besides having tinnitus, I was concerned that I might have a sharp dip/notch in the mid frequencies. Besides performing, I do a lot of recording/mixing/mastering, so my ears are extremely important. I also wanted to get a snapshot of my hearing today, in order to compare how it has changed…

Time Being - Being Time

TIME IS INSIDE OF US, Dogen Zeni says in his essay “Uji’ (“Being-Time”) from the Shobogenzo. It is our essential nature. What does this mean, and what is time according to Dogen? He writes, “Time is not separate from you, and as you are present, time does not go away.... People only see time's coming and going, and do not thoroughly understand that the time-being abides in each moment.”  - Katherine Thanas, from The Truth of This Life

What is the nature of time in our work? It's easy to see time in a linear fashion: past to present to future, but it is an illusion. 

We can't live in the past. 
We can't live in the future. 
We can only live in the present.

Working with Gongs, Bowls, and Bells is perfect for bringing your sense of time to the present. Each strike and the resulting sound is a reminder of the here, the now. The sound has a way of snapping our minds to attention. There is no thinking about the past, no thinking about the future. We are confronted with the now, wh…

Evolution Revolution Convolution

We live in a dynamic Universe wherechange is a constant. Even if you somehow manage to stay unvarying, the world around you will change and eventually move away from you. I'm sure most, if not all of us, should be able to look back on the last 5, 10, 20, or more years and see a continual change in our work. Sometimes it may be big leaps that move into new territories. Other times it may be a more subtle refinement of what we are doing. But there is change none the less.

I look back upon my own career and see a steady evolution built upon both exploring new ideas, and refining old ones. I recall in the past when my idea was one of creating a large shifting fabric of vibrations. There was an intense amount of energy released, in a sometimes almost cataclysmic way. It was forceful. It was intense. It was too much at times.

But as I went on, I learned to trust silence and invite it in. I found that without it, how could you appreciate all the intense sound? 

Silence lets us know sound. 
S…

The Art of Not Teaching

I've taught drums and percussion since the mid 1970s. In all that time, I've learned to get out of the way and not teach. I try to be more of a coach, guide, cheer leader than anything. I don't have a set system that I use with everyone. Yes, I often use the same materials, but I might use a different approach with different students. I really don't like that cookie cutter approach to learning.

I assess the needs of each student and show them ideas that may help them along their own path. Sometimes I just play albums and talk, getting them to listen to things that demonstrate ways they can create music. Other than beginning students, I dispense with the rudiments very quickly. I see no use to spend your time with me, playing paradiddles, when you can do that at home all week long. I'd much rather give you something to think about and work on, perhaps in a more conceptual way.

And it's that way in all my lessons, “Here's the basics. Grasp them. Now let's m…

The Selling of Gongs As Snake Oil

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There's a sucker born every minute” is a phrase that was popular among gamblers and confidence men in the past. They often used sleight of hand, or double talk, in order to bilk ordinary people out of their money and property.

And things haven't changed much today. With the amazing growth and popularity of using Gongs for personal or group therapy/healing/meditation, there has also been a rise in people hoping to find a sucker to sell their snake oil to.

Today's subject has pinned the BullShit Meter totally into the red…




This advertisement for a 4-day Gong Masters Training Workshop, came across my radar recently. Please check it out here.




They make some interesting claims, throw in some flowery new age language filled with buzz words (Gong master, cosmic, life transforming, ancient, powerful, activation), and make some amazing promises. I have to say that I'm impressed. But what really gets me is the very last sentence at the bottom, after the list of What You Learn:
“This…