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Beth Blackerby
This discussion includes members-only video content


Beth Blackerby
21 Responses
Posted: November 6, 2019
Last Comment: November 12, 2019
Replies

Melodia
Posted: November 12, 2019
I like your revelation videos and hope you'll continue to post them, Beth.  I also like Elke's idea of having the link open to a new tab.

Elke Meier
Posted: November 11, 2019
Color works :) - now the only thing that would be good to have the links open in a new tab automatically instead of the same window...

Beth Blackerby
Posted: November 11, 2019
Trying to get link color to work

Deanna Kemler
Posted: November 10, 2019
I've been taking a course in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (meditation) for the past 6 weeks.  What you're talking about, Beth, is a mindfulness practice called a body scan, only it's not usually done with an instrument in your hands.  I recommend meditation highly as a way to train the focus muscle.  I didn't take the class because of playing music, but after a few weeks of daily meditation, I really began to notice a difference in my ability to pay attention while practicing.  When I'm practicing violin, my mind tends to be wherever I'm looking, but after regular meditation, I find that my attention is not just where I'm looking, but can also scan for whatever needs attention.  Is my right hand relaxed?  Am I getting clean note changes?  Are the notes in tune? It's like I'm more awake to the process and so more likely to do a better job of it in the first place or to slow down and work on parts that need it.  Not that this happens all of the time I practice violin every day, but it does happen more often, and as I continue my meditation practice, I expect it will happen more and more.

Arunaditya Deshmukh
Posted: November 10, 2019
Focus Tips
Pretty Useful tip Beth. 

Sarah Bondi
Posted: November 9, 2019
I love these conversations.  Every time my mind wanders....which is a lot.. I  try to feel gratitude when I  notice it and bring myself back.   It is strengthening my focus muscle.  Yesterday I really felt the strings under my fingers.  I loved the feeling of total presence.   Thank you for these ideas!

Beth Blackerby
Posted: November 8, 2019
Mary, you're right. it is Zen in the sense of staying very present. What surprises me is how present I've always perceived my practicing was. And, many times I have been completely present and focused. But it's the deeper layers of focus: more precise and localized that I'm discovering. 

And, how often my mind wanders.

Mary Freeman
Posted: November 8, 2019
Timothy
It was a complement when I said Zen 
I am stoked that Beth is talking about awareness in this way 

Barb Wimmer
Posted: November 8, 2019
I like this  Beth, I think I try to focus on everything. I hope you continue to do videos like this very helpful.  I do feel I sometimes play better when I close my eyes. That does work. And focusing on one thing. I get frustrated because I start thinking wow I got those fingers to work and the sound is great but I wasn't paying attention to rhythm. Maybe if I focus on just a little at the time like completely focus on that fingers and nothing else is I think what you are saying then maybe I can improve faster. I try to do the big picture try to fix everything. Maybe it is one thing at a time to fix. Teachers are always telling me to focus. I have responded that I am focusing on everything but seems focus needs to be maybe in little bits to get better at big picture? Thanks for these thoughts

Timothy Smith
Posted: November 8, 2019
Great thoughts here Beth. I seem to be picking up on a central theme which is training our minds to gain better control over our bodies. Sorry if that seems a bit too "zen". I believe mind over matter can work wonders as can general attitude at the time.

I've heard advice such as back off of the caffeine. I have a morning cup of coffee which I've grown accustomed to. Some people are in a better position to "chill out". I'm still in the daily grind. I don't always have the time to wake slowly and look at the sunrise. I think this would help my zen a lot. I did buy a lottery ticket recently. Who knows? Unless I get a  miracle I'll be working for awhile yet. 

One thing  that really helped me focus was when I didn't eat for three days. The first few days my belly growled all day long. I would have eaten one of my shoes at that point.Then on day 3 something odd happened. I wasn't as hungry any more and I had this really heightened sense of focus. Almost as if someone had uncluttered my mind. It was weird because I didn't know if I should eat again. Obviously I couldn't keep that up indefinitely.
The feeling though was like no other in terms of focus. I felt as if the whole world was organized and I was at liberty to pick any book off of the shelf.

Mary Freeman
Posted: November 8, 2019
You are gettin so Zen Beth;-)
I totally admit that my mind is too comfortable (lazy lol) to be that present with my playing many times. I become so busy trying to live up to my ideal of playing that I don't deal with the bare bones of what my body and my playin are communicating in that moment.
I notice when I watch masters play that that level of focus makes it look like the violin is an extension of the players body.


Beth Blackerby
Posted: November 7, 2019
This discussion includes members-only video content

Sarah, thank you for that! Yes, that was the most interesting part of the interview. It reminded me a little of a video I made for the practice course. It's sort of a simple mental exercise to help with phrasing. I think it's so effective and something I do a lot.

Sarah Bondi
Posted: November 7, 2019
1:22.29....this is a wonderful place to watch....if you wish to avoid some chewing.

Sarah Bondi
Posted: November 7, 2019
Beth  this is a wonderful example of good that comes from bad.  Your 2 day rush revealed some profound ideas.  I feel music is so closely related to meditation.   Your ideas connect  the very essence of what we all strive to feel.   I feel overwhelmingly grateful to have found you as my teacher.  One day I will hope I can meet you in person.  I will strive to flex my focus muscle.

Gregory Gillis
Posted: November 6, 2019
Hillary Practice
Beth I recommend skipping to very end in this Two Set Hahn interview, at about122 minutes. I think there was interesting conversation around 18 minutes into video.  

Beth Blackerby
Posted: November 6, 2019
Alan, one of my favorite movies : About Time has an opaque dining scene. You're right about the visual cortex noggin all the brain space. 

I feel like kicking myself for all the years of what I thought was focused practicing, but really wasn't.

Ray
Posted: November 6, 2019
While watching the attached video, I paused the video and tried just to focus on my left hand finger tips and what exactly they were touching.  And I discovered that my finger tips were actually touching two strings.  And if I just raised my knuckles I was then only touching the string I would have been playing on.  Don't know if this makes any sense.  I guess you could say I was sloppy with my left hand finger frame.  

Dianne
Posted: November 6, 2019
Really like this one. Learned about it in dressage riding.

Like this example:
http://www.meredithmanor.edu/features/articles/nancy/focused-riding.asp

I would never have thought to apply it to violin playing!


Alan Barnicoat
Posted: November 6, 2019
More please!
Please do continue with your revelations.  I have come to appreciate more than ever my various teachers' pearls of wisdom bestowed upon me and others that were the result of sharing their personal anecdotes specific to whatever discipline I may have been  attempting.  In one of your responses to my fears of playing without tapes, you suggested that I close my eyes.  It worked remarkably well!  Since then, I have often wondered  why this works.  My own conclusion is just that our ability to see takes up a lot of brain power and can be extremely distracting. Shutting one's eyes allows us to be more sensitive to touching and hearing.  Have you ever experienced Opaque Dining? Several years ago I was invited to dine at a well-know hotel restaurant where we we ushered into a totally blackened room by a blind waiter who helped guide us through our sightless meal. It heightened everyones sense of touch,smell taste, hearing and also attention span to a remarkable degree. It also demanded trust in oneself - all of which came easily in about 15 minutes.

Ray
Posted: November 6, 2019
I will give this a try with Minuet No.1.  I've got the rhythm down to a point where I can now focus on another layer of the onion.  Thank you for posting and I will watch the attached video as well.  :)))

Beth Blackerby
Posted: November 6, 2019
This discussion includes members-only video content

This is the video my student told me about. I started watching to find the part where she talks about what she's thinking about when playing, but I couldn't stand to listen to Two Step chew throughout this interview so I bailed.  So if anyone happens to watch or has watched the video and wants to reference the time stamp for this particular topic of the interview, I'm sure we'll all be grateful.