What I learned from TaiChi for my playing my instrument.
Reading the title you might think you have to start doing TaiChi or QiGong. I can assure, you don’T have to! I just want to allude some things being important for me when playing music and practising the saxophone or the flute.
About 6 years ago I started learning TaiChi and QiGong. Don’t ask why I did. Running bored me more and more just as the gym did. But why TaiChi? This slowmotion martial arts form?
It’s just one of those things you can’t find a reason for. You could also ask me why I play the saxophone and not the guitar or cello or trombone. I don’t know why….you often hear musician responding:“The instrument wa chosing me not vice versa!“ I guess it waas the same with me with TaiChi.
From the first lesson with Ms Li on, I realised that there are a lot of parallels with martial arts and my work as an instrumentalist and how we as musicians will benefit from TaiChi.
Physically, psychologically and methodically these two disciplines have a lot in common. First of all I realised (once more) how important it is to proceed slowly!
Each movement, each melodic line, each note has to be played slowly. The movement of the melody has to be internalized. You have to listen to yourself closely. That is what takes you further! It’ll take you not only further but also in a faster way! Don’t try to play an exercise or a composition too fast too early. That’ll leave you in a musical mess.
By playing slowly and in a more focused way, you will learn what is really important for you to work on. By realising that you will use the time you have to practise and play your horn more efficiently. You are more focused and concetrated on the things that matter. You will reach your goal faster!
You can learn „How to practise“ here!
Flowing movements are most important in TaiChi. I tried to transfer this flow into my way practising and playing music.
It doesn’t matter if you play a song for the first time or if you played the tune for 20 years, try to play everything fluently. That means you have to force yourself to play slowly. Playing fast is just a matter of diligence!
Another positive aspect playing slowly from the very first tone on is, you hear the melody. Well you not only HEAR it but you GET it!
Most of the time when we play a difficult musical phrase for the first time, we kind of hack the melody. That means we just play the song note for note, with no rhythmn, phrasing, with no accents- So the melody sounds a little bit like playing without any accidentals.
When you just play that slowly not having to destroy the musical phrase, you get an idea of how the song has to sound in the end. Maybe it’s just half the tempo, but hey, we’re not at the Olympics!
So my mission for you is: practise slowly, play the songs in a way you are able to play them! Open your ears!
P.S.: At the La Gomera SaxWorkout in october 2018 we will also work on the above mentioned….amongst toehr important things!