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I guess in my life it’s always been the guitar player who gets the girl. When I’m feeling blue or stressed out and I want to drop my defenses and relax, there’s just nothing like good guitar music to take me there.
It all started when I was a kid. I grew up in a family of older boys who played folk and blues, strumming on guitars, duelling on banjos and later on graduating to lutes and other sophisticated instruments. But I always associated guitars with them, and later on, after the family harmonies started falling apart, it was the sound of music at family gatherings that kept bringing back that feeling of peace and belonging. Since our first loves are those we know in childhood, by association I’ve always fallen hardest for the man who could play the best.
Music has that magic quality to open the mind, to let you think less and know more. Guy Claxton, one of my heroes in education, calls it the “tortoise mind”, that slow thinking that sets in and gives the hectic, short-sighted “hare brain” a rest. Amazingly, as you listen to and play and even simply imagine music it makes your mind grow new connections to allow you to think in new ways. I don’t like didactic doses of alpha-brain-wave inducing baroque music, you know, those awful pan-flute Pachelbels you get on dime store CDs. I refuse to have something as precious as music pimped and reduced in that way. No, what gets my alpha waves going is majestic music, the type that grows from years of practicing and learning and experimenting and perfecting, until it’s a personal and unique moment to be shared.
My extended family has grown up with music and I’ve watched the children build their sense of self in a strong community. At our last family gathering two of my nieces were talking about voice, something they’re both into professionally now, and Rose said something that really struck me: To counter nerves at a performance, she makes like a Buddha, feeling round and centered and inside herself to let her voice ring out. Harmony and skill begin inside.
So imagine my delight, in the midst of my hare-brain workday, when I stumbled upon a Buddha guitarist in Andy McKee. Now, if you’ll just excuse me, I think I’ll go back to drifting on music.
- Read: Oliver Sachs, Musicophilia (and watch the interview with the author)
- Read: Daniel J. Levitin, This is Your Brain on Music
Learning the ropes -Schöne neue Vokabeln
to drift – sich treiben lassen
I guess – wird wohl so sein
blue – traurig
stressed out – gestresst
to drop your defences – Abwehr fallen lassen
it takes me there – es bringt es für mich
to strum – schrammeln
to duel – sich duellieren
to graduate to – die nächste Stufe erreichen
lute – Lautesophisticated – anspruchsvoll
gathering – Zusammenkunftbelonging – Zugehörigkeit
by association – indirekt
to fall for someone – sich in jemanden verknallen
tortoise – Schildkröte
to set in – einsetzen, beginnen
short-sighted – kurzsichtig
hare – Hase
alpha-brain-waves – Alpha Gehirnwellen
to induce – herbeiführen
baroque – Barock
dime store – Billigladen
precious – kostbar
to pimp – prostituieren, aufmotzen
niece – Nichte
to be into something – an etwas interessiert sein
it struck me – es machte mir Eindruck
to counter nerves – um die Nerven zu beruhigen
to make like a Buddha – einen auf Buddha machen
skill – das Können
imagine my delight – was für eine Freude
in the midst of – mitten im
stumble upon – wörtl: stolpern über, zufällig entdecken
I wrote “Amazingly, as you listen to and play and even simply imagine music it makes your mind grow new connections to allow you to think in new ways.” Sorry, part of that is hotly disputed:
Listening to music can expand your mind and relax you so you open up to new ideas, but it won’t amp up your brain power as such. It’s the active engagement in creating music that is truly beneficial – even going through a piece of music that you are practicing in your mind, silently, has great benefits. For more “Intelligence Myths Exposed” see Wired.