January 26, 2005
Vol. V, No. 2
"How Does Your Garden Grow?"
I was rehearsing the G Minor Fugue (BWV 578) the other night and noticed how much better it was sounding since I've been able to spend a little more time on it lately. I was downright happy to witness it coming back to life. The image of a garden came to mind, the way it responds when a gardener spends time taking care of it. But then I asked myself, when I put work into a piece and then it sounds better, is it really the piece itself that's getting better? I mean, what is the piece anyway except some ink on a few pieces of paper and that doesn't change. No, what's actually improving in response to the work I put into a piece is me, or more specifically, my ability to execute the piece, to shape it. When I don't practice, it's not the piece that deteriorates; it's me.
That train of thought made me think of one of my favorite books: "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" by Robert Pirsig. A line frequently quoted from the novel is "The real cycle you're really working on is a cycle called yourself." The main character's idea is that the better care you take of your motorcycle, the better you are as a person, more organized, more disciplined, more responsible. There's a direct correlation between the motorcycle owner and the motorcycle, a circular relationship, a "one-ness." That's why it's ZEN and the Art of.... With Zen you become one with the activity you're engaged in whether it's shooting arrows, arranging flowers, maintaining a motorcycle, gardening, or playing organ music. The goal is to become ONE with what you do.
So when a gardener lets his garden go, he's most likely letting himself go. As a result the appearance of the garden suffers however the IDEA of the garden survives. It's only a matter of tending to the garden to realize that idea once again. But it's not up to the garden, it's up to the gardener.
Likewise, a piece of music doesn't really exist without you to perform it. It's simply an idea represented by ink on paper. So the next time you play a piece and it's sounding better, remember that the piece you're really playing is yourself.
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
Zen in the Art of Archery
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"Sunday Sunday Sunday - January 23, 2005" - Today, as always, and as most of us probably do, I went out to work to play the Sunday service. The best singer in the choir and congregation is out for two weeks since her daughter is having a baby, and already has four young kids, so she was needed to help...
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"Snow" - I'm not sure the amount of snow we received over the weekend measured up to the hype we received beforehand from the local news stations but they were both substantial. On Sunday morning, I arrived at the church to see just one set of footprints going up the...
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