Letters to Tuvia Y2:Slow Practice for Guitar,for Life, #sol17 (6-6-17)


Morning T and Slicers,

Rain and chill continue to begin another day. It’s a gloomy  June  as we continue to  live in and outside this world of Trump with fingers crossed that when James Comey testifies on Thursday to Congress that we can move closer to the end of Trump’s regime.  Yes, I am trying to remain optimistic.  How would you maintain your sanity?

I live now to grab up my guitar and play my 5 pieces that I’m preparing for my mini-concert for this Friday.  I’ve come a long way from last Monday when Jon arrived for my lesson and I dropped news on him that I might cancel. As much as I practiced I couldn’t control my hands when I started feeling anxious.  At night before I ended my day, it was I could play with heart but during the day, my playing was unpredictable.If I began visualizing an audience I started sharing.

He moved out of his seat next to me and moved  into my comfy chair and calmly shared some of  his time-tested strategies for playing through the nerves.

“You can cancel.  You can keep  your plan and decide in the moment to play all 5 pieces. You can play one, two… as many as you like, but know you are not alone. Think about  how your theater kids felt as they performed on stage. Guitar players always deal with nerves. It’s hard to play when your hands are shaking. Some use  beta blockers and other drugs but there are healthier options. There’s deep breathing, meditation and let’s try slow practice right now.”

Slow Practice… hmmm…. okay…

“Don’t worry about timing.  You can’t move from one chord to the next until you know just where you have to go, where you have to land before you can play those notes.  Okay?


Magic… Afro-Cuban Lullaby first. The piece is in constant movement as you try to create the illusion that two people are playing- one the melody, the other harmony… Slow practice… focus… time for breathing…. and it worked.   I was creating the movement that worked best for my fingers. I was in control, focused.


Slow practice, just what I needed last week.

Yesterday Jon took the comfy chair from the start of our lesson and I played the full set of pieces for him and as I finished each one with my version of slow practice to maintain my control and focus, Jon smiled.

“Beautiful. Yes, you are playing with passion, ready to share music that you love with friends.  You have gifts to share.”

As I finished Jon retuned to his seat next to me and with my guitar in his hands he selected spots where I could make my guitar sing even more beautifully.  That’s where I’m going beyond my Friday performance.

I wondered last Monday if I had to put myself through this torture.  Wasn’t it enough to just play for myself, for Jon at our lessons.  In the past there was you to play for most of the time.  But what has taken me to a new level of  play is the mental image of this living room with friends listening to me.  Performance for the practice, creating the repertoire that Tuvia asked for.  Yes, audience is necessary to advance.

But slow practice is a great tool for self-control. Slow practice… chord to chord…Slow Practice could be the metaphor for my life this year… moving step by step through the familiar/unfamiliar life I’ve been living after our whirlwind of a life 20 year life together.

Slow practice.

As promised, I took my guitar with me yesterday afternoon to my therapy session with Sandie.  In its case it rested against her comfy couch as we began with conversation but there was no way I was leaving without taking it out, holding it and yes, playing.  I began with my oldest “friend” Cancion… The couch was too comfy to position my guitar, but I got through it, Sandie was positive but it sounded a bit tinny. My chords were not luxurious.  Sandie realized that she had a bridge chair in her office and I continued with Catalonian Suite and even with a mess up in the middle I continued… still not with luxurious chords but I was in control and Sandie “enjoyed” it.

I am in a slow practice life style and it suits my guitar preparation as well so, I am ready for Friday and beyond, I am charged up to create beauty… step by step…

Wish you were here,

Bonnie S.


13 thoughts

  1. Step-by-step keeps us moving in all aspects. You will be great on Friday, surrounded by friends who love and support you. I know I would be in awe at the music you can create with a guitar.

    • I thought about posting something this week on iA. Didn’t get to it on Sunday but this slow practicing is inspiring. I thought about you as I torture myself to get to performing to move my practice to the next level.

  2. Thanks to you (and John) for sharing the notion of slow practice. The analogy between playing and living sounds like an epiphany. On Friday, enjoy your moments with a live audience!

  3. That ‘slow practice’ idea fits in many ways. I’m grateful that you shared about the help it’s given you, Bonnie. I know you’ll be great on Friday. I wish I could be there! Remember to revel in the “joy” you will be giving to your friends.

  4. Your post taught me so much about playing the guitar and about you.
    Other random thoughts: This phrase “performance for the practice” made me think how our practices are enhanced by the audience. How often do we allow this?
    Another thought, approaching practice slowly allows us to find our own rhythm. A Beautiful analogy for life.

  5. I have not heard of “slow practice” before, but what a great way to approach so many situations in life. Thanks for sharing, Bonnie. You will be fine on Friday.

  6. I worry when I watch the news and I worry when I don’t watch it (for fear I won’t know what’s happening in the world). So I watch. We’re living in such a stressful time. Good to have things like guitar practice to distract you.

  7. First, I can’t believe he is STILL in office. Soon, Bonnie, Soon! Second, slow is how I always have to take it when I am going to play the organ or piano in front of people. I have to play lots of prelude music to calm my nerves if I am to accompany the congregation for Sunday hymns. Otherwise I get too shaky and mess up. “Slow down” is a good advice all around.

  8. Wow, slow practice is intriguing. I would like to know more. What specifically happens. Is it just a slowing of the heat breath? I so appreciate your teacher and how he att need o the major issues prior to the specific modeling.

    Hope the concert is all you need it to be!

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