Friday, February 10, 2012

Mind the Gap: saxophone students stretch their minds

You know, the one that exists between that which you know and do not know. This has been a focus of our discussions lately in my saxophone studio at the University of Georgia. This gap produces discomfort of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of lack of productivity. It unglues the familiar, the foundation upon which past accomplishments have been achieved. The fear of releasing the familiar for the unfamiliar produces resistance, confusion and frustration. And questions. Lots of questions.

As a studio, we get together once a week for a voluntary discussion group called “Incubator.” This term is commonly used to describe a space where start-ups can live while in infancy, when resources are at a minimum. Incubators promote the sharing of resources amongst others at the same stage of development. “Incubator” is a perfect term for the gathering of young musicians committed to improving their craft and in need of zeroing in how to most effectively do that. We talk about shared frustrations, time management, what drove us to music, what keeps us in music, how to practice more effectively, networking, creating opportunities. I keep telling them with a smile that I have one job and it’s to expose the gap between that which they know and do not know, and then help them thrive in it. More confusion.

Vulnerabilities are a plenty! I have never enjoyed witnessing the stretching of minds as much as in the past two weeks. Honestly. Students with previous robotic technical accuracy are beginning to miss notes in scales they’ve known for years as they attempt to shift their thinking away from their fingers in favor of their sound and the discovery and communication of intent. Read more...

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