All the artists' I love are gearing up for San Diego Comic Con which starts this weekend. I have never been and from what I hear it has little to do with actual comics and more to do with movies! video games! Hollywood! selling books! and storm troopers! and some people draw there too.
This means, among other things, that the websites I frequent won't be updating which leaves me no choice but to dedicate some time to this here blog.
During my excellent piano lesson yesterday I learned that, in addition to having remembered how to play the right notes (it's been three weeks since my last lesson), there is a similarity between the art of drawing and the art of music. I am learning to speak in the language of emotions, as music is universal and the person playing can express their deepest feelings in a way that is understandable to everybody. When we're happy we say we are "upbeat" right? (get it?).
In my attempt to unlock my own understanding of music I recognized a connection. While engaged in the act of drawing one's mind sort of goes on autopilot. Yes, you are engaged with the subject matter and the process by which you lay line on paper but while all this is happening your conscious mind slips away. You do without doing.
While I am drawing I am deeply involved with what I am drawing and but at the same time, on a separate level, I am aware of my surroundings. I can sense how close to me Bailey is sleeping, I can hear the cars sloshing by, the music I am listening to (I can even hum the song) and I know the clank and clatter of mechanic's garage I am drawing in. I can paying attention to both things at once. Not just to listen, but hear both things. I can tell you what model car Matthew just brought in based on the sound of the engine and exhaust, whether or not it's on the lift, what tools he might be using, all while I am writing this to you. I am penetrating both experiences at the same time.
We all do this all the time. We do it while reading in a waiting room, making dinner for our girlfriend, watching the babies and the Red Sox at the same time it's called multi-tasking and we are experts at it.
I am absolutely incapable of doing this while playing piano. When I sit to play I have a very limited understanding of the notes, what they should sound like, which ones they are, and so my focus on the music is heightened. I am actively deciphering (often stumbling) my way through a piece, blocking out the white noise. I am like a child learning to read. There is no flow. The. Dog. Went. To. The. House. And. Sat. On. The. Floor.
It's not music yet.
So what if I attempt to learn music faster by unpacking my brain? By actively attempting to split my consciousness to include the noises around me. My music would become only part of the whole. Maybe if I can loosen my focus a little the notes will begin to come together in strings and phrases, whole pieces of music instead of staccato bits and pieces.
In Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya sisterhood Caro says "I find when I sort of blur my focus the pieces fit together better."
The biggest problem I can see with that is that my hands are learning to do two things at once. Which feels very much like I have to split my brain in half already. Imagine typing on two separate keyboards. Now, imagine you are writing two separate but related pieces, one from each hand. The left hands write:
"To whom it may concern. Please excuse Tana from class today as she has been up all night with the babies and may have to take them to the Doctor's office today as we feel it is entirely likely they are coming down with something."
while the right hand writes
"My head is ringing, I can't see straight and when I exhausted like this the whole day seems to go slower. If I don't get more coffee soon I'm going to fall down. Now if only these cramps would go away I stand a chance of not passing out right here at my desk."
You are writing them both at the same time.
Only now the left hand is playing the melody...
While the right hand plays the tune.
It's a start anyway.