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application of practice

Discussion in 'Ask Anthony Wellington [archive]' started by flats, Jan 18, 2014.

  1. flats


    May 23, 2013
    Hey Ant,
    What are your thoughts on bridging the 'sphere' of practice to the 'sphere' of making music?

    Here is a metaphor- in my practice I cover a wide spectrum of musical elements just like a body builder covers a wide range of muscle groups. However, for the most part a bodybuilder does not actually apply the muscles he builds outside the 'sphere of bodybuilding' whereas a gymnast or freerunner (who both bodybuild) move beautifully and fluidly through space, i.e. actually use the muscles s/he has 'practiced' for.

    While I can nail arpeggio inversions, scale modes, new techniques, playing changes from memory etc. in the shed, on the gig I can't seem to apply any of it in a musical, tasteful way. Does it just take time for the unconscious mind to assimilate all this information, or is there a way to practice cohering these isolated exercises done in the shed to the stage? How does one practice application?

  2. Ant Wellington

    Ant Wellington

    Jan 4, 2011
    Hey Flats(and Sharps)!

    Making music or being musical doesn't have ANYthing to do with what you know, per se.

    Your knowledge base and dexterity is an aide to get the ideas out. But they don't create the ideas. Being great at grammar doesn't mean that you have anything interesting to say. Lawyers are generally great at grammar but most people don't want to hear what thy have to say. Having something interesting to say and knowing 'how' to say it are very different things.

    Dexterity and a knowledge base create 'pathways' for your ideas to come out.

    Every piece of music you've ever heard is made up of(diatonically) heptonic scales, pentatonic scales, chords and arpeggios, intervals and individual notes and the 5 remaining non-diatonic notes(which coincidentally for a perfect pentatonic scale a tritone away). That's all there is! You can think of it simply as the 7 notes in a key and the 5 notes that aren't in the key. You can even think of the scales like melodic minor, whole tone and diminished as scales the 'bridge' the gap between 'in' and 'out' notes, if you want.

    That is the stuff that we practice because it's what music is made of. We studied nouns, verbs, prepositions, adjectives, adverbs, etc,…because that's what English is made of. Studying the 'aspects' of grammar aid you in expressing the sentiments that you have.

    But they don't create the sentiments!!!!

    Creativity, Inspiration and Magic!!!!

    It's package deal! It's part of being alive. But being inspired is a choice!!! There are enough things happen everyday all around us to inspire us to write the best music, poetry, books, screenplays, etc,….

    But how much you pay attention to those things is the key.

    A sunrise is enough for some of us. And some people don't notice sunrises at all.

    If I took a group of people to the Louvre in France to see the Mona Lisa,….

    Some people will feel inspired to write a song, some will write a poetry, some people will have an idea for a book or film, some people will cry. But some people will say, "I was expecting more than that! It's so small!!!". And others will feel nothing at all.

    We all respond to stimuli differently.

    Do you get what I'm saying?

    If you drive pass a plot of land and see a pile of brick, lumber, pipe, wire and tools you wouldn't call that a house. Yes, they are the 'supplies' and 'tools' that will help that house come to fruition,…but let's not confuse that with the house. And it doesn't make a difference how elegant the supplies are or how shiny the tools are,….it's still not the house. They are things that will become the house with Creativity, Inspiration and Magic!!!


    Even when that nice house is built,….

    It's takes something else to turn that house into a home.

    And, with the risk of sounding cheesy,…

    It takes a lot of SENTIMENT to turn a house into a home!!!!

  3. flats


    May 23, 2013
    Damn! What an answer! Exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you Anthony. I appreciate your dedication to teaching and your generosity in making yourself so accessible. See you in May... ;)
  4. Ant Wellington

    Ant Wellington

    Jan 4, 2011
    You're welcome!

    Honestly, it's all very simple to me. I'm not saying I'm great at it. I'm far from that. But I DO understand the purpose of a language. And the purpose of ALL languages are the same. To express the sentiments that you have.

    You have to be good enough at the language that you speak to express the sentiments that you have. You never have to be any better than that. But if you're not good enough at the language to express what you feel you'll be frustrated.

    It's not about 'mimicking' people that we admire. I didn't learn English to mimic Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and I didn't learn music to mimic Marcus Miller. Only an immature person would do that! It's about expressing what I feel inside. Nothing more, nothing less!