Jody Kruskal Posted July 22, 2022 Share Posted July 22, 2022 When I play the Anglo concertina, I feel as if I have two distinct ways of thinking going on. Let’s call them Reading Mode and Free Mode. Reading Mode requires me to think analytically in symbols off a page. I see a static idealized representation of the music and try to play what I see, all the while, my ears tell me if I am playing correctly. Even playing with my eyes closed, I might well be in this analytic mode and thinking... “Gotta get ready for that tricky fingering” or... “Let’s try an Em instead of a G here” or something like that. Something that gets me out of my head and into the mechanics of performance. Free play, on the other hand, leaves my mind able to only concentrate on listening and responding musically. I’m free to shut my eyes or look at wherever spot I want. I like to watch the dancers, my fellow musicians or the audience. Often though, my gaze is at some indistinct spot up there on the wall. It’s almost as if I were staring at moving pictures living inside the back of my head. Concertina players of all stripes share this “concertina gaze” and it’s a common condition. So what are we all looking at anyway? To illustrate the question, here are two limericks I wrote awhile back. They both failed to win honors at the NESI poetry contest. John Kirkpatrick’s sly banter is fun In concert he told everyone “While playing this hard tune My mind exits the room I’ll see you all soon when I’m done” While playing concertina we stare At nothing, blank walls or thin air When starting to play My mind slips away I’m sure it’s here somewhere, but where? In Reading Mode my goal is to play clearly and correctly. Good for a performance that will be lower risk with fewer possible mistakes. It feels like I’m playing a very nice bunch of notes. Free play takes risks and can end in failure or brilliance depending. It feels more like I’m singing. It’s useful to consider these two modes separately. Somehow it seems to feel as if they are each activating different physical sections of my brain. Of course, actual play requires both modes to be in operation at the same time but I believe that I have learned to shift focus from one mode to the other as the need arises. By practicing this focus shifting effort consciously and deliberately... it’s hardly a surprise that I’ve gotten better at it. At this point my Reading and Free modes talk to each other with ease while I perform. Comments? 3 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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