Today I had a violin class. I love how life here, and my Guruji, never allows me to stay in comfortable realms and challenges me. I feel so scared sometimes with improvisation in rhythm, I want to always just copy him while he plays. This is easy because I don't need the guts to improvise; I know what to play and he's so good at improvisation that all we play is nice and it feels like i am a great violinist. I can play violin well. The challenge is to know what to play. In western music you don't have to worry about what to play; you can read it from a music sheet and play amazing stuff composed by amazing people. It's emotionally easy, because you don't have to open yourself up. I'd happily just play what I'm told to play. Because improvisation feels like someone is pulling the guts out of me; it is so emotional to pour myself out like that, it makes me feel naked. And often I don't like what comes out of me, I judge myself and then I stop. but my teacher kicks my arse and just say "play". "Just play anything but play." That's when I just feel like "Aaaaargh!"
Actually, improvisation is getting better. With time it does flow out more and more, I do hear it. Iin india I'm more in the mood. What is difficult as hell is to improvise and follow the 16 beats at the same time. Improvise while I listen to the rhythm and come back to the right beat. It take a lot of listening to integrate that rhythm; it is very slow. Two years ago I could just feel the general beat, but it was impossible for me which beat I was hearing. It seemed hard like a block of concrete. Today a rhythmic melody is magically shining through; it has become softer and more translucid. For the first time I hear the texture of the beat, different subtleties. But I can hear the beat if I don't play. At soon as I play I focus on playing and I stop paying attention to the beat. Doing both at the same time is massively difficult. But like everything it takes practice and patience and life does the rest for you. One day I will feel the rhythm completely; whatever i play, therewill be a constant rhythmic background in my mind and heart. For now I try hard, although I don't have to try hard. I just have to keep on doing it like a meditation. Still sometimes I close my eyes and concentrate enormously and I do hear the beat more, but the effort hurts my mind more. And that's just a tabla machine; it sounds very artificial and it gives you the beat number too; so that's easy. In real life the tabla player is a real person and s/he can improvise, too!
Today I came to class as usual. We started the warm-up exercises as usual, when three friends of my teachers arrived. The woman was a tabla player. They seemed to catch up after a long time. Guruji suggested she take the tablas out and we play together. Gulp. A hint of anxiety filled me. The unexpected always happens in India, and Guruji knows I would have a tendency to keep with the easy stuff, and he doesn't allow me to me reposer sur mes lauriers. He always kicks me and pushes me to challenge my fears. It hurts inside my tummy, but I know I need that kick to just observe the fear inside me and go beyond. At the same time he offers so much support, always tells me when it's good. And he'll always think it is better than i would allow myself to feel. Today we went through all the steps there are to a piece of indian classcal music. From slow to fast, from beginning to end. It was scary but wow, it was good to feel the real thing a bit more...
A note on my three blogs
A note on my blogs
(1) vio; in love with india - this one is the main blog about my Indian adventures, which started in 2005. I don't write much on this blog these days because I prefer to write privately in the confidential blog. But check out the categories and the index to figure out your way. I have kept some older posts not about India but which I still find interesting or relevant in Old words. Also check out my new, fun category Only in India in which I post photos of funny, unique, Indian situations...
(2) vio; sounds of india - this is my blog of sounds, because India wouldn't be as incredible if it was not so vibrant and just so full of incredible sounds!
(3) vio; confidential - this an extension of my main blog in which I post entries I do not want to reveal to the entire webspace for privacy or sensitivity reasons. You must receive an invitation from me and then accept the invitation to be able to read it. You may email me if you are interested in receiving an invitation.