The Power of Embarrassment, or One Good Reason to Teach Harmonica….
Last week I taught classes at an event called the “Harmonica Collective” in Indianapolis.
I wanted to focus on a few things that I have found very useful in my own life and as a harmonica player. I spent a lot of time talking about how we can easily double our available lung capacity with some simple changes in our posture, and the most direct ways to begin training yourself to start using this new stance to improve all aspects of playing. For Three days I went into locating specific muscles, how to “selectively relax” and how to avoid the dreaded “harp players slouch”.
i got a lot of enthusiastic feedback from people who took the classes.
On Saturday night the instructors / coaches got to play for everyone at a club nearby called the Main Event. Winslow Yerxa and Michael Peloquin asked me to back them up on guitar and I said “sure thing”.
I also did some other quick plans for my short set and a tune to do with James Conway. It all happened so fast there was no time to get in your head over it.
That is, until just before you go out in front of everyone. I knew I was a little over my head on the guitar parts, but i hoped for the best. I got the usual case of stage fright and then I went out and got some things really right, and screwed up some things as well. It was a really weird combination of exhilaration and sharp pangs of “ouch, I just blew that – did anyone notice?”
Your basic blur – there is nothing like live music. When you have a crowd that is into what you are doing, it is an incredibly great feeling.
When I walked off the stage, buzzing, my friend “Buzz” Krantz said to me: “Three of your students said to me -YOU WERE SLOUCHING” He laughed. So did I. But I also felt like a total jerk.
The next morning when I did my ritual 7 minute practice, I put out my metronome, my timer, and my book with tab. I started playing. That is when I got hit with this major smack my forehead with my hand “you idiot” moment. When I was starting my practice, I had everything on a table, just like at home. I had to look down to see the tab. i realized that I had been practicing bad posture at least half the time for months, well, years.
No wonder I couldn’t get it together on stage. Somewhere i heard recently that when we are under stress, we don’t rise to the level of our expectations, we sink to the level of our training.
That’s me all over.
So, this morning I found a way to put the book with the tab high enough that I had to look up at it.
Now I know how to practice what I have been preaching.
i also have more motivation to practice. Not just to get better, but to avoid embarrassing myself.
I’ll take the motivation any way I can.
I hope you find someone to teach. it is a great way to learn.