Anthony De Mello on Accurate and Clear Perception
Tuesday Quotes are short explorations of music, life, and the daily endeavor of practicing classical guitar. Find more here. Enjoy!
“You’re more likely to respond accurately when you perceive clearly.”
Akio Morita was born into a Tokyo family that had been in the soy sauce industry since the 1600s. Together with Masaru Ibuka he founded Sony (under a different name). This was just after the Second World War, and they focused on magnetic tape recorders. Later, they made the first fully transistorized pocket radio (which only fit in very large pockets).
But the real hit came in the ’80s with the Sony Walkman. As the story goes, Ibuka wanted to listen to full-length operas on long flights. So Morita gave the problem to his engineers.
These engineers took ideas from a small dictation machine Sony produced. When they came to Morita with a prototype, they were proud – they had managed to also add a record function.
Morita immediately told them to remove it. He thought that having more than one function would confuse people. The purpose of the Walkman was to listen to music.
And he was right. People immediately knew exactly what to do with it. Later, the record function was added, but only after the device was in wide use.
This is an example of keeping things simple to increase clarity. And we can use the same thinking in our guitar-playing.
There are infinite exercises, scales, and chords. We can use our hands in a myriad ways. And this can be wonderful.
But first, we need to master foundational skills. Otherwise, all the variation can lead us to miss the root causes of problems. Bells and whistles can be the noise that obscures the signal. We may make mistakes and hit limitations while not understanding why.
When we focus on the basics, solutions become more clear. If we seek proficiency first with a few core movements and skills, we avoid many confusions and setbacks later.
Absolute clarity of perception may still be difficult at times. Some could argue it is impossible. But we are more able to respond to the needs of the moment when we understand the basic elements at play.
In guitar practice, ‘how’ is often more important than ‘what.’ Yes, we want to play the correct notes of a piece. But beyond this, and in technique practice (exercises, etc.), what matters most is how we use our hands and ears.
Hi, I’m Allen Mathews.
I started as a folk guitarist, then fell in love with classical guitar in my 20’s. Despite a lot of practice and schooling, I still couldn’t get my music to flow well. I struggled with excess tension. My music sounded forced. And my hands and body were often sore. I got frustrated, and couldn’t see the way forward. Then, over the next decade, I studied with two other stellar teachers – one focused on the technical movements, and one on the musical (he was a concert pianist). In time, I came to discover a new set of formulas and movements. These brought new life and vitality to my practice. Now I help guitarists find more comfort and flow in their music, so they play more beautifully.
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For the first time ever, I have achieved great tone on my acoustic guitars. I've been studying fingerstyle guitar and music theory for about one year now. Tonight is the first time, I feel quite satisfied with my ability to produce a nice clear tone when striking the strings with my right hand fingers. By following your training videos in the program, I'm gradually developing my fingerstyle playing ability. KUDOS to you, Allen Mathews.
~ Joaquin Kenyon
I just started level 1C...I was able to look at a Carulli piece, albeit a simple one, and understand it. And that understanding allowed me to play it much more easily on the first run through, and I expect it will allow me to make it fully musical at tempo quite soon. That's a huge personal victory for me. Until very recently my mindset was: "Notes on a page. Jimi didn't need them and I don't either." But I ain't Jimi, and now I want those notes on a page.My work in CGS, even at these early levels, got me to that personal breakthrough. And that's given me more confidence that continued work will get me to greater places in due time. So to answer your question: yes, I absolutely feel like I'm making headway and moving forward in my playing. Thank you for that.~ Matthew Ecker
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