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Showing posts from April, 2018

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…