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Beginning To Play

Beginning to Play

First steps into play with a Sounding Bowl focus on listening. Listen to each note, each string in turn and decide, for today which note or string best pleases you. Nothing hangs on which one you choose, this is play, pure and simple play.

Having chosen a string next try plucking it at different points, centre, edge and part way between. Pluck in different ways as well, try using your nail, try different movements of your finger, plucking up or downwards. Again decide which position and pluck technique, for now please you most.

Now set up a little rhythm. Such as: short- short- long pause, repeat. Or long long short short long long long long pause repeat or whatever little pattern you can find, all on the same one string. Listen in to this, Feel how different rhythms change the mood.

Next find or choose which other note/string goes well with the one you have been playing. One other note whose sound complements or offsets the sound you are playing with. Spend as long as you like listening to each note and comparing it with the one you have got. When you have found the one that suits you best for this play session pluck your first note in your chosen rhythm (or a new one) and alternate it with occasional plucks on the second note. Sort of: da da di, da da di, da da di, di, di. Play and experiment as before creating a variety of rhythms and feelings from these two notes. Throughout, use your first note with a feeling of home, jumping off and returning to it as primary

Now select a third note and begin a little journey on three notes using rhythm. Remembering your sense of home and venturing out onto the other notes as you did for two. You may notice that what is happening clearly has a sense of music in it, even with just two or three notes.

Only expand into a fourth or fifth note once you feel at ease in the three notes. This method will lead you gently and steadily into making simple, beautiful (and sometimes simply beautiful!) music with your Sounding Bowl. If you can express the simple dramatic masks of joy and sorrow in any measure at all on three notes, you are creating music.   It is often what a piece of music leaves out that gives strength. For example, the hymn ‘Morning Has Broken’ derives much of its soft lightness from avoiding the 4th. By using only a few notes, you are building strength in your musical skills and can learn a powerful simplicity of composition that touches the soul with power.

You will also find that this very process is a gentle meditation. Each of these steps contain both the in-breath and the out-breath. Listening is a taking in, and plucking a note is giving out. This process of listening in a heartfelt-selective way for which note most pleases you now and which sound or which rhythm fulfil the moment, followed by heartfelt tenderness to accompany the way you pluck, becomes a breathing process of giving out and taking in. Doing this cannot fail to calm the soul and reconnect you with your deeper self, strengthening your ability to relate to the world in a harmonious, constructive and creative way.

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