Are you listening?

The other day while I was reading and I came across a quotation from the famous American medical hypnotist Milton Erickson concerning the difference between ordinary waking states and trance states especially deep trance.

.. The subject in a deep trance functions in accordance with the unconscious understandings independently of the forces to which his conscious mind ordinarily responds; he behaves in accordance with the reality which exists in the given hypnotic situation for his unconscious mind. Conceptions memories and the ideas constitute his reality world; he is in a deep trance. The actual external environment reality with which he is surrounded is relevant only insofar as it is utilized in the hypnotic situation. (Erikson Deep Trance and its induction)

I thought that this perfectly summed up the state of mind that a musician in full flow of playing finds himself and this is why it is so difficult at times to truly intellectualise what makes a musician give a great performance because the performing musician will often not be able to tell you what it is that is happening.

I have often found that some pupils who are highly intellectual find learning music at very challenging. Many things that they aspire to seem to not make sense and they seem to get to this point after exploring all the chords and scales and techniques and still they find the holy grail of the great performance evades them.

Yet when you tell them that they need to get in touch with their feelings and to listen to the music inside them (because the unconscious processes many, many times more data than the intellect) they try to rationalise what I say and think about it when they really just need to listen.

I think that if you want to be like a great talent you need to travel a similar path to them. So if your heroes worked things out by ear so should you, if your hero became a great sight reader, so should you, because what is going on in the unconscious of the artist is what makes the difference and although we can discover where that person has travelled to by our intellect we cannot visit that land unless we walk their path. The reason for this is, as Erickson says, is that the reality of someone in a deep trance (which is where any performer is) is in the world of the unconscious.

Over the last few weeks Keith Richards has been on the radio and TV a number of times being interviewed. Now if there is someone who plays from the heart and not the head it is his ‘Keithness’ bless him!  Not only does he confound the medical profession that he is still with us physically but he will continue to confound the music intellectuals on how to play the perfect rock groove even with his extreme arthritis that he has in his hands.

I am sure that his answer is not to think about it just plug in and play.

Vic  three days of rock fun in a band