HAVE A VISION
My student is coming. His delay made him hurry, he's coming in accelerando ! Once the door is passed, the rhythms come together, between the calm of here and the agitation of over there, between his allegretto vivace and my andante ma non troppo. He's coming to play Brahms for me. After a glass of water he starts. In a few minutes I can see where he can evolve. But how long before I know how he can evolve ? What will be the fairest route for him, what path will we take if I take him in my imaginary taxi ? He knows where he wants to go, I can intuitively perceive it, but he sometimes lingers in certain places, a little lost, or he runs headlong into a wall.
There is nothing pretentious about saying that you can feel in a few minutes what is being played in an interpreter. Yesterday I met a specialist in hand shafts. This very serious and passionate man, with a gentle look and a feverish voice, has become an expert through his forty years of research in this field, tirelessly continuing to decipher nature through human footprints, from the contour to the shape of the hands and their consistencies and temperatures. How I love these people who enrich the world by allowing us to know ourselves better ! And which open up and open us to a field of unimaginable possibilities, if only that of spending a lifetime studying the hand. Others will study the leaves, the trees, the birds singing, the stars, the Fibonacci spiral... So I think that being interested in notes, dedicating your life to sounds and resonances from outside and inside, in short being a musician, is normal.
Nothing mediumistic in this gentleman's proposal and yet in 3 seconds, he says, he knows more than you after doing 30 years of analysis with Mr. Freud ! It is not your future he is reading, it is your present, that is, your innate qualities. They will not prevent you from developing others, but they are there, well written in your body. So it's not about your behavior, what you decide to do, but what's natural for you. He also admits that, if he immediately knows the characteristics of a hand, it will take him a good hour to transmit this information to the owner of the hand.
As I listen to this student, after the first few minutes, I think about this. How will I proceed, how will I guide him ? As when I accompany a client in a hypnosis session, as when I write, it is by doing what I do, by pulling string after string that what must appear appears. We learn by learning, we play by playing, we discover by discovering ourselves. Does trust come from trusting myself ?
In reality, two options are available to me at this moment : either I take it back note by note to dissect what is missing : its phrasing, its line, the legato. Either I go to the root of the problem. Or rather questioning. I choose the second option. The first one is like a mother who would cut the meat from her pubescent son's plate into small pieces.
I also choose to see all the tools that this pianist already has, all the tools that are at his disposal and that will allow him to create others. Even if he is the student here, he is his own teacher and I am a glance, an external ear from which he can choose to take or not what will correspond to him to add to his workbench and allow him to achieve what he wants. He is sensitive, open, attentive, his technique is rather correct and he seems motivated. No bad habits with his hand position but nothing is really connected together, which makes him alternate false accents with phrases breaks without offering his musicality to the work.
Once he's finished playing, I observe a silence. Just what it takes to take him somewhere else ! To also give him time to judge himself (we are never worse judges than ourselves, so let's let the pros do it), where he will know very well how bad it was, then that it wasn't so bad at the end, then that this piano doesn't help anyway here, then that it always gets stuck at the same passages... End of the silence. I then address him: "It's all about intention, Raphael." Silence again. Apparently that one sentence won't be enough ! My provocation to extreme simplicity has its limits. I, who like to be stripped down, will have to develop. Boy, I had had the exquisite temptation to make the fastest course in the history of piano lessons. Awareness sometimes takes a few seconds, so why do you want to make it last ?
THE MUSICIAN'S SIGNATURE
In short, I choose another course of action and walk to him from the end of the room where I had taken refuge, looking nonchalant, doubting and doubtful. My hand speaks to him softly like a dog shows its paw. He doesn't really know what's going on, if he has to take the hand, if he has to consider me definitely crazy or if he has to agree to go on. His eyes are more interrogating than ever. All right. I go back and this time I go back to him again with aplomb, reaching out my hand as if to greet him. We shake hands. Good morning, Raphael, good morning, Hélène. Very well. He doesn't understand why I waited until this moment of the lesson to greet him, he thought he already said hello to me. "That's it ! "And I add : "You have understood everything !"
His state of consciousness is beginning to shift...
I'm go on :
- When I first reached out my hand to you, my intention was not clear. So you didn't know what to do. The second time, and although the context is not a priori connected, my intention to shake your hand was so clear that you reacted accordingly and we shook hands without questioning any further.
- Ah, he said....
His eyes are starting to grab, I can feel it. It is often the eyes that grab first, before the head. I continue.
- A conductor who is not clear in his intention in giving the musicians the start is not likely to have a very satisfying result. Are they going ? Aren't they going ? And in what way ? How long ? How far ? On the other hand, the clearer is his intention inside him, the more others will follow him to the end. In a phrase, it's the same. I could tell you to slow down a little more there, to play that note down a little bit, to bring out that modulation, to accentuate the left hand on that measure, to breathe in that passage... But that wouldn't really help your interpretation. Worse still, it could create even more tension and misunderstanding. It is not me you have to follow but a movement that belongs to you, born of this music. And this movement, this momentum, you must communicate it to us as pertinently as we can vibrate in this way, feel our cells at this rhythm, hear the resonance in us with evidence. The gesture is this initial intention. The technique comes from the playing, not the other way around. Play in every sense of the word, that of the child who does not ask himself the mental question when he wants to achieve a game and that of the musician in his play, that is, his gesture as a musician. You can then repeat and refine each detail at will, but for the moment your direction is missing, where you decide to put the helm of your sailboat, where you dare to take a first step, even if it is wrong and then readjust it.
- Well, yes, but if I had the technique, I'd do it better !
- If you think like that, it is indeed the snake that bites its tail, Raphael and it will be difficult to really evolve...
- Maybe I'm not good enough for that ?
Stupidly smile from me to him. If you think you're gonna drag me into the story you're telling yourself, not even in your dreams ! My body realigns itself to put meaningful words.
- When you sign your signature with your writing hand, you don't ask yourself if the curve is correct, if the "r" is right, do you ? This is what the sports coach, Jean-Philippe Vaillant, calls being unconsciously competent. This state is what is called the flow, the one where the gesture comes from the playing. This place where the ability to write quickly was born not from the automatism created by repetition but from the origin of the path taken, where we know that it makes such a rhythm, such a jerk, such a melody, such a vibration when we sign in this way. You may not sign for months and then suddenly know how to redo the signature perfectly. Unconsciously we have already finished signing when we start putting our pencil on the sheet. It has already made its way into us, into our belly, into our heart and into our head. Have you ever tried to imitate your parents' signature ?
- Yeah ! school memories...
- Exactly, you often make fast gestures by training yourself to do the gestures rather than the precision of the line before you start. Unconsciously competent is the most difficult level to find. Because it precisely does not pass consciousness. Most of the time we try to be consciously competent and we stay at that level too long, to reassure ourselves. This is what the school teaches us to develop. The head as a control tower, the square that you must pass through before going to the slightest place. It is necessary but it must be in harmony with your feelings and musical momentum. Sometimes it is by starting with this gesture before the signature that you will find the right movement, the right writing, the direction of the line.
He's trying it again, but it's not that yet. "Look," I say, "it's before the note that you have to feel what's going to happen. The sound is already in the breath that precedes it. Think back to the time I came to shake your hand. You didn't ask yourself any questions... That's because I knew before what was going to happen. Imagine if you wanted to take an entire room on board, say hello to an entire orchestra ! What is the movement of this phrase ? Where will it take us ? What does it evoke for you as an emotion, as a color, as an intensity ? You're the one who's telling us the story, so why did you choose this one in particular ? That's when you'll find it out that you will bring us from the first second."
He lets it infuse for a few moments, puts his hands on the keyboard then puts them back on his knees. The idea is starting to circulate but all this internal engineering, which seeks how to transcribe into itself what resonates, to connect or to solicit new mechanisms, needs time. Because he feels that we are not talking about an idea here but about boldness. Jumping into the water before the first note, that place that made it necessary for the composer to have these notes. He hesitates... Then he breathes and finally launches out, this time full of energy, evidence and music. If I were a violinist or a singer, I would have taken the phrase from the movement and followed it. The direction takes its course, the sailboat spreads its wings, it twirls, it sings, we no longer know if he is following the music or the music is following him. The story is told. That's magical !
Of course it is a first step, a starting point. From then on, he will be able to repeat as the child tries to walk back down a thousand times but still clinging to the gesture, the origin and the goal, where it tells him to go. It is from there that his technique on such and such a bend, on such and such a passage, taking such and such a road, can be refined by learning to know like the back of his hand to the bottom of his heart the path of this score.
THE SONG OF THE WORLD
Is it really his intention that he just reconnected ? Or a form of intuition ?
Between the two, only two small letters are exchanged...
Intuition precedes thought. The intention sets the project of the action, like an archer finds the right position of his bow and arrow, anticipating the target without having to stick to it.
But there is a place where the two meet, it is this moment when the musician launches out, between intuition and intention. This place where the body precedes the action and the feeling attracts the realization. The conductor's gesture, the musician's first notes, is as much a direction as an unknown. We know where we're going but we don't always know how. As irrational as it is, the body precedes the emotion that precedes thought.
Only the unexpected is predictable, I learned as I trained myself in Ericksonian hypnosis.
While walking in the streets of Paris, I observe a woman holding her dog on a leash. It gives me an image of what our unconscious, and therefore our intuition, looks like ! This future always in our extension and within reach, leads its life while being at our disposal when we listen to it... Not to mention the dog's head !
Intuition makes us react and takes us as much as we think we take it. Scientifically it has been proven that our unconscious perceives before the conscious, that our feeling precedes our thinking at every moment. As bipedal sensors that we are, our mental intelligence is constantly lagging by micro seconds behind ourselves and the world ! When we consciously look at an object in a room, our unconscious mind had already perceived it.
To be intuitive is to listen to the vibrations of your being.
A musician, like a racing car driver, no longer knows at some point whether it is intuition that makes him anticipate or intention that has already taken him further when time has remained behind.
At the end of the line, the dog takes us through the streets giving us the impression that we hold him as much as we guide him.
The musician's soul listens. The music, the rhythm, the dissonances, the harmonies, the world. The song of souls. In the most intimate part of yourself. Basically, he is aware of this unconsciousness that passes through us with delight or sometimes with anxiety when it seems to escape from us, creating a new, unusual, destabilizing dimension from inside and outside, from before and after.
As in love, this letting go is the beginning of a story about which we only know what the heart tells us. If we learn to listen to it.
As in love, between music and the musician, I don't know which one leads the other but if I knew, I probably wouldn't be a musician anymore !
Wishing you a wonderful month of December !
Be happy with yourself and fly to the New Year to the sound of your soul !