Improving Your Inspiration

Playing is not housekeeping.
Generally students try to improve their playing by mastering timing, phrasing, and tone quality. This is a working approach. It allows you to concentrate on specific aspects that participate in making the whole thing sounds as it should. Although necessary, it's certainly not the definitive approach, it's not enough. 

We play rhythm to express our feelings, right? So we should not restrict our involvement in music by keeping things in place. This is a step, not the final objective. Playing is not housekeeping. 

How to make a link between rhythms that need to be played correctly to work and your feelings? It may sound obvious but sometimes it's not and this is something we can work on too, using some simple mental strategies. Comparison is a good one. 

Relate your playing to actions that inspire you precise emotions in other activities. It can be as different as cooking, horse riding, dancing, poetry and so on. The emotion can come from a memory of yourself being either actor (playing football) or spectator (watching football).

Football (soccer)? Yes. Let me share with you how a pattern played by Koungbanan CONDE makes me think of some aspects of football playing.
Pattern 1
The first beat reminds me of the kind of smart dribble a player can do when he wants to get rid of an opponent. It looks like you are giving him the ball, like in this beat-oriented pattern:
Even if enjoyable, this one can be qualified as predictable, certainly not captivating. If you did the equivalent in football - throwing the ball into your opponent's feet - you would certainly lose it.
The pattern played by Koungbanan CONDE is the same as the previous one with the exception that it's played an eight-note later. This is why it's more difficult to play with good timing while keeping a firm sound. Doing the equivalent in football for me would be to throw the ball between the legs of the opponent. If you don't do it firmly, the opponent will anticipate your trick and it will probably not work - like in rhythm. This football trick is called a nutmeg. It makes everybody laugh when it works, the victim excepted. The same kind of move (with foot or hand) is used by some Hip-Hop dancers - like my son Nelson - and means "I got you". This is the kind of feeling I have when I play that type of shifted pattern.
Sergio BUSQUETS - Nutmeg
Nelson EWANDE - Hip-Hop Nutmeg
Pattern 2
After an elegant move/rest at the beginning of the pattern he lands a bunch of powerful sextuplets which end firmly on the beat with a flam. For me it looks really like a side body move before shooting. Some would play this :
Koungbanan CONDE played this :
Zlatan IBRAHIMOVIC - Shooting
Pattern 3
Finally he ends the signal with this pattern :
I feel that with this ending he shows us that everything is quiet, under control, he is not led by excitement. Like a football player who stops the ball with such a quality of control that you think at that exact moment he is ruling time itself.
Christiano RONALDO - Chest control
So we can be inspired by different feelings to make the complete pattern sound as it should: Humor, power and control (those are my words, try yours). Relating your music playing to non-musical references instead of staying stuck with musician's technical preoccupations will positively affect your rhythmic and tone accuracies. This idea is not really new but too many people, including teachers, believe this is an advanced skill. They are wrong. Improve your timing, improve your tone, but don't forget to improve the connection with your own fantasy to improve them even more.

If the football comparison doesn't suit your taste just find an equivalent in a field that fits your personality.

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