Smart People Should Build Things: How to Restore Our Culture of Achievement, Build a Path for Entrepreneurs, and Create New Jobs in America. Andrew Yang. Trove: Find and get Australian resources. Books, images, historic newspapers, maps, archives and more. Free Play doesn’t deal directly with music practice, but it is nevertheless an important book for anyone interested in music (or other arts, or life).
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Stephen Nachmanovitch is an artist -violinist, poet, writer, composer, computer graphic designer- and a teacher. In his Improvisation workshops, Stephen Nachmanovitch invites us to the empowerment of our creative potentials through a particular attitude towards life and art: Do you play and improvise everyday?
How do you train in that? Yes, I play and improvise everyday, and so does every human being on the planet, because we are talking, we are not reading down our conversations before we have them and almost everything that everybody does all day long is unscripted, so we are all practicing. And you practice or prepare by improvising.
As I am sitting at the table talking to you now, I am feeling like a little pain in my left hip, so I am noticing that. This is just normal activity. Like when you are sitting in a chair and you feel a little discomfort and then you wiggle your body around a little bit. I felt something in my hip, I wiggled my body around and adjusted it and now I feel good. So you feel something, you adjust yourself, and now stepheen feel better. Someone says something to you, you listen to him, you respond.
We all adjust our body and respond to a pain or a tightness all the time. So, when you are pursuing it consciously you are becoming aware of it. Like when you asked about practice or preparation, it is the same sort of thing: In that way you discover an enormous variety of responses. So I happen to be sitting here with a camera. A camera can take pictures with the lens wide open or narrowed down, depending on how much light there is.
A good camera will have a big range of diameters of its iris, so that it can adjust to a wide variety of light conditions. So that if you have a lot of settings to the camera, then the camera can adjust to many light conditions. If you nachmankvitch a lot of things that you can do in movement, with respect to your instrument, or with your voice or whatever your art form is, then you can adjust. And pushing that range. So that if you are playing with a partner and you want to respond to that partner you now have a wide range, you are sort of going beyond yourself to more forms of activity.
Because, instantaneously, they can start to improvise together, naturally and freely, without any premise. Your actions are very simple and minimalist. Less is more in this sense? You discovered it for me! The interesting thing is that everybody does something. Everybody has something to contribute, and part of the reason why it works, of course, is nachnanovitch we have created a circle of people who feel safe and trust each other, even if they have nachamnovitch met before.
And there is always something to do, because what we do is very simple. For example, everybody can remember any square window when you see one, because it is a simple structure that everybody can remember. So, simple is really great. It is the atmosphere that you are trying to stephwn, then?
Right, it is creating the atmosphere of the safe space. Because also it is important to bring this into spaces that sfephen non-safe. A few days ago I was in Dachau. It was really interesting for me to go there, in particular because I used to know a man named Herbert Zipper who was born in When I knew him he was in his nineties.
He was a prisoner in Dachau and he started a clandestine orchestra in the concentration camp.
They found some musicians, who had previously been wonderful musicians and now they were slaves and prisoners, and they made some instruments out of junk pieces of wood with wire. He created songs and they sang together. Some of his songs jumped from one concentration camp to another. Which are the benefits to consciously practicing improvisation? Nachmanocitch course, for me in my life, it is the stephrn thing that I can practise.
Practising improvisation simply means being. Wether you are by yourself freee playing with other people, you just play naturally and allow things to come out. You regard things with some interest and you change them. You know, in terms of practicing traditional music, we think in terms of correcting mistakes. Practicing improvisation is just making little changes, to keep adjusting -as when you wiggle your back around and wiggle your head around and become balanced sitting in a chair or playing your instrument.
In terms of practicing music, you see the piece as a relative thing.
Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art – Wikipedia
You talked also about mistakes. And on our experience, nachmanovtch our musical education and training, sometimes we had teachers that they acted like they were hunting mistakes… Like they are looking for mistakes so to kill them! Yes, these attitudes have a lot of presence in musical education now and it had in the past. In our education we normally punish the mistake.
In your view, which is the power of mistakes in the learning process?
Free Play: The Power of Improvisation in Life and the Arts
Yes, punishing is terrible. What I was talking about was adjusting the way you are doing things. You just wiggle the wheel, you just adjust it… When playing music, you may want to have a beautiful frree, or you may want to find certain pitch, or whatever is what you are going for in that piece of music, but instead of thinking of mistakes as something to hunt and kill you just think in terms of natural adjustment. One day I was at Julliard in New York, and these were students that were incredible musicians.
They were much better musicians that I am. Many of them had never improvised before and they did some beautiful improvisations. And then, the third improvisations that they did was kind of off, they were not really listening to each other, and you could see the guilt on their faces, like they had made a mistake. He had the image of Mozart, like the young stepphen prodigy who was going around Europe playing for all the kings and queens, and bringing money in for the family.
Free he thought his son, Ludwig von Beethoven, would be the next one like that. Beethoven would practice all day, and the father had a big stick, and he would smack it on the fingers when he made a mistake. When you talk about hunting and killing mistakes, nacgmanovitch is that idea there. So I had the students do finger-kissing. You say that our most potent muse is our inner child. Why is it so important to recover our inner child, and the attitude of playing in our life situations?
Is it in your stomach or is it in your pancreas? Of course, that is ridiculous, you know? All this things are completely normal, there is nothing about it that is unusual or strange.
People have conversations, they laugh, their body start shaking and then, they become a slightly different person, so that is in a sense, recovering your inner child, ok? People get playful and people get less playful. Like when we talked about wiggling in terms of adjusting your body, or adjusting your sound as a musician, it is all the same thing.
Again we are wiggling around between nacchmanovitch more serious and the less serious. Though, of course, play is not the opposite of seriousness, because you see children or adults playing together and they are anchmanovitch very serious and very concentrated and doing something that seems very important at the time and that is also play…. It is sfephen important, yes. I often work with mixed groups of musicians and dancers, and we often have this preconceived idea that, if we have a performance or even a class with musicians and dancers, the musicians will sit in a corner here and make sound, and the dancers will take up the space and move.
And it is very important for musicians to know that they can move and that dancers can make noise. There is still what you call disciplinary -though this nouns are always a little bit troubling to me- but there is also the interconnection between all those different specialties. Westerners freak out when they hear that word, because they hear the word dree, and nachmanovjtch think you are talking about nihilism.
But what we are actually talking about is like: Ok, nachmaovitch is a wooden table, and we can see the grain of the wood, we can see that it came from a tree, and the tree came from billions of years of organic evolution, and organisms changing and nachmaonvitch and changing. Somebody cut the tree. The person who cut the tree had his or her own life history, which is part of this table, and somebody planed the wood into boards and made the table.
And those people have their own life history. The table nchmanovitch part of chemistry, is part of physics, is part of biology, is part of industrial design, is part of economics.
Eventually the table, beautiful as it is, will become junk or burned, or something will happen to it, and its molecules will go some place else. So nacgmanovitch is impermanent. So it is full of the whole universe. The only thing it is nachmamovitch of is an inherited existence: So, when you create a university, clearly the chemists who study the molecular composition of the wood, are going to have a particular perspective on it that nach,anovitch go deeper into their specialty than you and I go, and the physicists will, and the economists will.
And when the musicians and the dancers play together, the dancers will probably move with more flexibility, speed and beauty, in a way, than the musicians will, but, for the musicians freee participate in the movement is very important.
And the musicians may be able to play their instruments more extensively than the dancers can, nafhmanovitch still they ply participating together. So the disciplines are really great, really important, to the extent that you can go deeper into the chemistry, deeper into the dance, deeper into the economics, and explore each of those things with a level of detail. But then, we also need the improvisational sense, to realize that all of these things are impermanent and that they are all participating in a bigger reality that we share in.
Is there a link between plau work you do and a process of self-knowledge or introspection? Is it a target or is it something that just unfolds?