THE WISDOM AND EFFICACY OF NOT KNOWING THE PHYSICAL CAUSE
March 1, 2017
Originally posted on Facebook on 2/4/16
We are playing one day a passage which has given us a lot of trouble, and it suddenly goes effortlessly. We have integrated all the hundreds of body muscles involved, in a way that worked satisfied a common purpose. Every muscle is doing the right amount of contracting or relaxing. Every muscle is causing just the right measurable amount of motion to occur in the part of the body that it activates.
What do we do next? We try to repeat the experience. And this is where we go off course.
What we have done is to ask ourselves: what did I do this last time that was different from all the times before it? What was I aware of, that I hadn’t considered before? We identify something. All we have done though is to highlight one component of a complex physical experience, and thrown it thereby out of proportion with all the other components in the complex whole.
Instead of trying to repeat it and repeat it, which usually ends in a downward spiral in which we fall back into the old way of doing it, first pause. . . . Don’t immediately try it again. That will actually increase the odds that when you come back to it, in a minute, or an hour or a day, it will occur again as before, newly minted, as if just discovered.
All awareness has the unintended drawback of exaggerating the item of which one is aware out of proportion to all the other parts in the total complex. Whatever works on Monday, that we attribute to a certain muscular feeling, a certain attitude, a certain revision in our technique, will probably not work on Tuesday, unless all the parts happen to coordinate in just the same way.
What we aim for is an integration of many factors and parts, which we do naturally, thousands of times a day in other equally complicated tasks, unrelated to the piano. This is the naturalness that we want to occur in our in our playing mechanism. Think of the absence of conscious intent in most of our moment to moment gestures during the day.