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Old 09-10-2010, 10:55 PM   #1
tehREALcaptain
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effortless mastery

Has anyone ever read the book effortless mastery (by Kenny Werner) and if so, how has it effected you? I took it out from the library today and have since read it cover to cover and I've found kennys mediation techniques helpful (i tried some of them today after reading it) and I can see how his ideas (essentially; completely mastering ANYTHING you work on to the point where it is near subconcious and, when performing quieting your concious mind and transcending your regular existance to the point of letting the music play itself). Alot of it sounds kind of new agey self helpy to me, but I can see how it works for him and has worked (though without being extensively written about or analyzed) for many other great musicians (he mentions Miles, Keith Jarrett, himself and various concert pianists).
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Old 09-10-2010, 11:24 PM   #2
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It has nothing to do with quieting your mind and transcending who knows what. It's called muscle memory, and it comes with practice whether you're thinking about that girl in your English class naked or spaghettio's.

Granted, I haven't read the book.
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Old 09-11-2010, 12:18 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RU Experienced?
It has nothing to do with quieting your mind and transcending who knows what. It's called muscle memory, and it comes with practice whether you're thinking about that girl in your English class naked or spaghettio's.

Granted, I haven't read the book.


then why post?
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Old 09-11-2010, 12:31 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Tominator_1991
then why post?

Because he posted a summation of the book.
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Old 09-11-2010, 01:11 AM   #5
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It's a bunch of bogus BS in my opinion. Even if it has some nice words to think about, it doesn't replace hard work. Kenny Werner is an amazing pianist but I can guarantee you that he didn't get there through wanky philosophy, religion and new age self help methodology. He might have transcended his playing with it, but he first had to get there through hard work just like everyone in every sport, skill, profession or instrument.

Like any book, take what you best can out of it. But don't expect the methods to be a substitute for hard work and practice.

It's just like The Secret, I used to know a group of girls who used to rave about it; turned out to be a croquette of BS.
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Old 09-11-2010, 01:40 AM   #6
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effortless mastery is the biggest oxymoron I've ever heard.
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Old 09-11-2010, 11:02 AM   #7
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This.... ^ ^

There are certain truths that you'l never escape. Eventually you'll have to do them or not.

Practice to a metronome

Start slowly and let speed come as a byproduct of it

If it says transpose an idea to all 12 keys, do it

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Old 09-11-2010, 12:43 PM   #8
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I completely agree that there is no replacement for hard work, and speed is not the same thing as good playing. However it goes over that anything practiced needs to be practiced to a point of mastery, so that it can be done subciounsly and the conciouss mind becomes unneccesary to your playing.

And I sincerely doubt anyone who played just from muscle memory has ever done anything worth listening to. You need muscle memory, but if you do not pay attention when you practice, your not really going to get much done (aside from building physical ability) and even if you do, you won't develop the musical sensitivity that someone who listens actively when they practice does (this is fairly established). Practicing for six hours is great, but if your zoning out its near-worthless. If you can be mentally and aurally attentive for all six hours, you will be able to make huge strides, if not, its probably a bad idea for you to practice in excess of where you can be mentally attentive (otherwise your getting less out of your practice, making mistakes more likely--meaning your practicing your mistakes more--and overusing the muscles, joints and tendons neccesary to play without reaping the full reward of a long practice session).

Last edited by tehREALcaptain : 09-11-2010 at 12:46 PM.
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Old 09-11-2010, 04:27 PM   #9
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Yeah, thats common sense, anyone can tell you that though. You have to split your practice sessions up for that reason. And yeah you really should focus on it even if they are simple scales and arpeggio runs. But Coltrane, Charlie Parker and anyone who's been great didn't waste their time with new age stuff. It was all hard work all day every day.

Remember this though, just because they did it though doesn't mean you can safely. Forcing yourself to do something is what hurts you. They could do it because they couldn't help it.
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Old 09-11-2010, 04:37 PM   #10
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I think there is some serious confusion in this thread.

This Effortless Mastery idea isn't new and it isn't new agey. The author is just putting words to a phenomenon that is wide-spread and well documented. It occurs in every field of the human experience, not just music, but sports, medicine and surgery, warfare, etc. He certainly isn't advocating replacing hard work and practice with meditation and shit. In the OP, TS mentions the following:

Quote:
Originally Posted by tehREALcaptain
essentially; completely mastering ANYTHING you work on to the point where it is near subconcious and, when performing quieting your concious mind and transcending your regular existance to the point of letting the music play itself).



Completely mastering something to that point is not something that can be accomplished without hard-work, practice and dedication.

Victor Wooten talks about many similar things in his book The Music Lesson. In all honesty, TS, I've taken many of these lessons to heart and I strive to play in this fashion. When you get your consciousness out of the way and let your subconscious take over your playing, in other words, when you really get in the groove, your playing goes to a completely different level. In my experiene, that feeling is extremely comparable to meditation.
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Old 09-11-2010, 06:12 PM   #11
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Yeah, ive been working on getting into what he describes as "the state", basically a meditative state of one mind and playing a single note without thinking about anything (part of the method he suggests to letting yourself play and practice without mental interruption), as well as breaking my practice up into highly concentrated 10 minute segments (which adds up to about two hours due to tendonitis) and spending a fair deal of time meditating and then listening to tracks of scales and chords and visualizing them (as I'm not going to spend the precious little time my body lets me spend on guitar playing excersizes instead of music).
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Old 09-11-2010, 07:48 PM   #12
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You need muscle memory, but if you do not pay attention when you practice, your not really going to get much done (aside from building physical ability) and even if you do, you won't develop the musical sensitivity that someone who listens actively when they practice does (this is fairly established).

Woah there.

'Musical sensitivity'? Extremely subjective. Steven Wilson has said in interview that he never practices guitar.
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Old 09-11-2010, 07:48 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tehREALcaptain
Yeah, ive been working on getting into what he describes as "the state", basically a meditative state of one mind and playing a single note without thinking about anything (part of the method he suggests to letting yourself play and practice without mental interruption), as well as breaking my practice up into highly concentrated 10 minute segments (which adds up to about two hours due to tendonitis) and spending a fair deal of time meditating and then listening to tracks of scales and chords and visualizing them (as I'm not going to spend the precious little time my body lets me spend on guitar playing excersizes instead of music).


Meditating on what?

And you might as well be transcribing and listening to music instead of listening to scales and chords over and over.






EDIT:

Quote:
'Musical sensitivity'? Extremely subjective. Steven Wilson has said in interview that he never practices guitar.


Even though I agree with the subjectiveness of it, I'm pretty sure Steven Wilson wasn't born with the ability to play Porcupine Tree songs innately. He might not practice now, but whether by constant playing in studios and gigs he maintains himself and improves.

It's the same thing with Jaco, he never really practiced either but he'd be gigging 10 hours a day every day.

It's all hard work, no matter what way you define it.

Last edited by Pillo114 : 09-11-2010 at 07:54 PM.
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Old 09-12-2010, 05:27 PM   #14
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Quote:
Meditating on what?

And you might as well be transcribing and listening to music instead of listening to scales and chords over and over.


meditating as in opening your mind, sitting and not thinking so that I can get to a point where I can visualize myself doing what I'm hearing. And I do listen and transcribe, but I need to learn these scales and chords (both for an end of semester jury and in general) and studies have shown that visualization can build a habit (in this case, performing a scale or group of scales and chords in different ways).

Quote:
'Musical sensitivity'? Extremely subjective. Steven Wilson has said in interview that he never practices guitar.

It is and it isn't I mean paying attention to dynamics, phrasing, bringing out some notes and not others when playing a phrase, playing with a strong tone, correct time and intonation and things along those lines.
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Old 09-12-2010, 06:57 PM   #15
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Man, so many people in this thread who I wonder if they've ever actually read the book. Sounds like the only ones who have are myself, Seryaph and tehREALcaptain
I think where part of the confusion is comming from here, is that you don't have to put in any hard work. Kenny does not get rid of hard work, but rather, provides a number of ways for the "hard work" to become fun and indeed, effortless.

Through a number of "mantras"

- Music is easy
- There are no wrong notes/Every note I play is the most beautiful sound I've ever heard

And his tackling which I found to be the biggest subject, not letting your skill as a musician determine your value as a person, which I found to be an amazing relevation for myself.

This all seems to stop music being hard work, I have no burning desire to improve because I (as a person) am already perfect. I have a detachement from music, music is no longer daunting for me because it is easy. Even If I don't end up becoming a musician, it doesn't really matter, because, a: as already stated, I don't get my self esteem from music, it comes from inside, and because all these other things like music, If I get my assignment in on time, all these other things don't really matter, the only things that really matters is my next breath, which allows me to love life, love studying music, and in that, it does become truly effortless

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Old 09-13-2010, 07:02 AM   #16
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Sounds very zen.
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Old 09-13-2010, 08:06 AM   #17
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It has been compared to Zen, but I don't think its religion (or whatever you would call Zen) specific. I myself am a christian, and I find all the points still apply and are very usefull. The book really lets you get back to just enjoying music
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Old 09-13-2010, 10:29 AM   #18
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I've read the book. I'll admit that I'm not really into meditation and the things being called "new age" etc. And I'll also say that I probably only got something out of about 20% of the book, but it was still worth reading. For me, the interesting parts of the book deal with how you let your ego and fear get in the way of your playing. How people, and I'm guilty of it, try to take on too many aspects of their playing at once instead of working on a small number until you get them down. How people let fear prevent them from composing and writing music. How you should strive for a relaxed, effortless execution while playing instead of letting tension get in while striving to play at faster BPMs and how you cheat yourself when you let your ego get in the way of how fast you play, etc. All of these things are common sense, but he does a good job of making you think about them. Like I said, I'm not really into the meditation and mantras, but I do think there is enough in the book to make it worth reading.
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Old 09-13-2010, 12:18 PM   #19
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Nice reply. Im not overly into meditation either. Mantra's seems an incredibly new-agey name, I just think of them as phrases repeated to yourself to enforce a certian view point. As you mentioned the parts about the ego, that is endeed something that I know I've had issues with, and its definatley connected to not taking your self esteem from your playing.

I can take or leave his occasional airy-fairy talk, but 90% of the book, is filled with great advice (for me at least)
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Old 09-13-2010, 12:26 PM   #20
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Quote:
I've read the book. I'll admit that I'm not really into meditation and the things being called "new age" etc. And I'll also say that I probably only got something out of about 20% of the book, but it was still worth reading. For me, the interesting parts of the book deal with how you let your ego and fear get in the way of your playing. How people, and I'm guilty of it, try to take on too many aspects of their playing at once instead of working on a small number until you get them down. How people let fear prevent them from composing and writing music. How you should strive for a relaxed, effortless execution while playing instead of letting tension get in while striving to play at faster BPMs and how you cheat yourself when you let your ego get in the way of how fast you play, etc. All of these things are common sense, but he does a good job of making you think about them. Like I said, I'm not really into the meditation and mantras, but I do think there is enough in the book to make it worth reading.


I completely agree. i listened to some of the meditations on the CD and literally laughed out loud. The point is not to let your ego get in the way of your playing, and thats achieved by telling yourself your a master when you really are not (I understand the point is that some musicians have terrible self image problems, but I do not; I beleive I have a healthy self-image, I know what I'm capable of and I know what I'm not, I don't think Im a musical god but I also don't think everything I play is awful). What I really did love was the idea of "i'll only practice for five minutes" as an effective tool for not overwhelming yourself practice-wise and the four steps he laid out to attain 'the state', as well as the idea of loving every sound you make purely because of the joy of making it (which is something I realized I lost over the last few years, even if it is somewhat mantra-esque).
Have any of you guys ever heard of Rakalam Bob Moses (a drummer whose played with basically everybody in modern jazz, including on Metheny's Bright Size Life)? I saw a clinic with him a while ago where he expoused similar ideas, but in a seemingly more monk-like and less new-agey way. I'm still waiting on his book to be written.
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