Showing posts from May, 2016

Maintaining Your Mallets

Mallets, sticks, wands, strikers—these are your tools. Much like a wrench or hammer, to a plumber or carpenter, these are the tools we use to do our work. We can have all the best instruments, but if our mallets are in bad shape, we won't get the best sound or response. So taking care of them is a must. Besides, they are expensive. and if you are like me, you may have a lot of different mallets that you use, which is a large investment. I can't believe how many people I see who just throw their mallets in a case or bag with their stand. Of course the stands are hard, and they can easily damage your mallets. Care must especially be taken with Singing Bowl Wands. You want to avoid nicks and dings that will interfere with getting a good, clean sound as you move them around the bowls. Wrapped and covered mallets can become frayed or torn if thrown into a case with hardware/stands.  The mallets shafts can become kicked or damaged, which can make them uncomfortable to hold. If yo

Be Present, In The Present

It happens to all of us. It happens to me. You're playing your instruments and something catches your ear or eye. It may be a sound or movement, and suddenly you're thinking about something else other than your playing. Or maybe you just played something really interesting, so your mind stops and thinks about that for a while. Or maybe you are trying to figure out what to do next, looking into the future.  In all these cases you put your playing on cruise control while your mind wanders. And if you've played long enough, it's easy to do, because you've built up muscle memory and familiar patterns and ideas to play through. But playing while thinking of something else is a lot like driving while staring at something out the side window of your car–you lose sight of the road and who knows what will happen up ahead. And who knows what will happen to the people you are playing for. If you lose focus, will they follow and also lose focus?  Staying present is

Sound Is The Medicine Of Forever

“Sound is the medicine of the future,” is a quote once assigned to the legendary sleeping psychic, Edgar Cayce. You can find this all over the internet, especially on websites dealing with sound therapy/healing. Through the tireless research of Mitch Nur, who contacted the Cayce Foundation, this has been disproved to have come from Cayce, but the original source has yet to be discovered. Perhaps, like much on the internet, it is just a slogan invented by someone and assigned to Cayce in order to make it appear more legitimate . You know, if you write something and say it's a quote from a famous person, it must be true. Edgar Cayce: I never said that. But beyond the supposed Cayce connection, let us look at the idea behind the quote:  Sound/music/vibration, is the medicine of the future.  Sound, throughout recorded history, and perhaps since the beginning of humanity, has been used to change our mood/consciousness.  Think of how you put on  your favorite music to make y

Zen in the Art of Percussion

Zen (or Chán in Chinese) is a school of Mahayana Buddhism. It emphasizes meditation, especially observing both the breath and the mind.   This emphasis is important, as it helps us to focus, to move inward and understand ourselves. Observing our breath also helps us put aside monkey mind and the distractions of the outside world.  In. Out. In. Out. Think of the sand as ripples of sound moving out from the center  Our breath is always with us as long as we are living. In many ways, it's a connection to both the world and beyond.  By observing our breath, we can both sense and experience our connection to the world, to the nature around us. So to in observing the sounds we make. In many ways they are just like breathing. Breathing with sound. Out. In. Out. In.  Breath - listen. Listen - breath. The sounds rise and fall, just like our breath. But too often, we take them for granted and rarely give them anymore thought than we give our breath. But it's imp

The Way of the River

We can learn a lot about how to play our music by observing a river. In fact, this type of observation/modeling can help us create something that connects with others because it follows a natural rhythm and flow. Think of how a river moves along its banks: The water flows forward at an unhurried pace, carrying things along with it. It flows continuously. The river has twists and turns. Sometimes the water moves fast, sometimes it moves slowly. There are often pools where the motion stops. The river tends to broaden as is moves along. The way of the river… Do you rush through your own playing, just creating a loud, unfocused din? Are you always 1 or 2 steps ahead of yourself, instead of being in the moment ? Do you equate volume/loudness to power? If you can answer yes to any of the above questions, then perhaps you need to learn how to focus in the moment . Go find a creek, stream, river; then sit and watch it for an hour or so. Notice how it moves. Notice how