“…mirrored on water’s skin.” – Linda Hogan

May 9, 2016

I have been thinking this week about finger stability [which has been discussed here before] because of a need to improve my playing for a concert on Saturday night. When moving our fingers quickly, we think about getting from one note to the next. It is hard to think of anything else, speed is one of those things that create many worries for even the advanced guitarist. To visualize either hand changing notes seven times a second, for example, is a formidable task. After this most recent set of practice sessions I think the fast stuff is sleight of hand because it is the stable fingers which create the best situation for movement.

It is important to focus on the fingers that don’t move because they stabilize the hand and dexterity is a mix of stillness and movement. I suppose there will be less wasted movement if the stable fingers remain as the change takes place. This anchoring allowed the movement to be easier and I noticed that the moving finger gained confidence as the work progressed.

This reminds me of watching a child grow for at every developmental milestone, such as learning how to walk, there is often an accompanying regression. The child will suddenly manifest behaviours from their past like holding a parent’s leg or pretending to be younger. The world looks different when you are perambulating on two legs and that new perspective is scary. Similarly an adolescent may learn to drive or get a later curfew but compensates by talking like a baby.

Stability and change were key words in many ethnological studies when I was at grad school in the late 80’s. Indigenous groups grappled with those issues and scholars observed and wrote about it. All cultures change as all people change but there isn’t really a well thought out method for grappling with it. Change and stability are perhaps different points on a continuum, which needs to maintain equilibrium. As we change, we need stabilizing factors, these “anchors” allow us to grow but not lose our way.

Nasrudin loaded a large bag of vegetables on his donkey and set out for the market. After about fifteen minutes, the donkey stopped, refusing to budge any further. Being in a hurry, Nasrudin did his best to get the donkey moving but to no avail. At first he stomped his foot but in frustration he began beating the animal.
When this happened, people gathered around and one man said, “Why are you beating that poor animal?” Another said: “You don’t deserve to have such a marvelous donkey.” A third said, “Let us notify the police and have this man arrested and flogged.”
Hearing these comments Nasrudin said to his donkey, “If I knew that you had so many relatives around, I would have never touched you. You have a very large family, I can see they are all with us now.”
The onlookers dispersed as they heard this while Nasrudin and his donkey continued on their way to the market.

https://soundcloud.com/william-beauvais/ecstatic-nasrudin

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LtjbxX4QmZk