The Banjo Dojo offers a unique look at learning to make music with the five-string banjo. No tab, no styles and no excuses.
Takuan Sōhō had a unique insight into how people learn.
A beginner knows nothing about posture or position of the sword, so there is no dwelling on body or mind; if someone attacks him, he scrambles to deal with it mindlessly. As he learns various things, however —physical posture, how to wield the sword, where to place the mind —his mind dwells on various points; if he tries to strike someone, what with one thing and another, he is exceptionally handicapped.
When he has practiced daily for months and years, finally his posture and way of wielding the sword become mindless, like he was at first when he didn’t know anything and there was nothing to it. This is the frame of mind in which the beginning and the end are the same. If you count from one to ten and over again, then one and ten are next to one another. In the musical scale too, when you go from A to G from one octave to the next, then A and G are next to one another; the lowest and the highest come to resemble each other.Takuan Sōhō
While this is a long quote at first glance, Takuan manages to boil down a process that takes a lifetime into two paragraphs. According to Zen in the Martial Arts, Bruce Lee was a huge fan of this quote, and used it with his students.
A centipede was happy – quite!Katherine Craster
Until a toad in fun
Said, “Pray, which leg moves after which?”
This raised her doubts to such a pitch,
She fell exhausted in the ditch
Not knowing how to run.
Each and every master, regardless of the era or the place, heard the call and attained harmony with heaven and earth. There are many paths leading to the top of Mount Fuji, but there is only one summit — love.Morihei Ueshiba
Without love, no amount of hard work will do. It’s love of the craft that makes you practice longer, study harder and continuously move forward.
Today we have a quote from Shunryu Suzuki. I have been reading and carrying a tattered copy of his book, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind for close to forever..
Nothing we see or hear is perfect. But right there in the imperfection is perfect reality.Shunryu Suzuki
When it comes to learning music, perfection is often overplayed or underplayed. We either get tense about being perfect and make ourselves too stiff to be effective, or get so mellow that we skip practice over and over again.
I think the trick to being able to recognize those small moments when everything clicks – and when that moment passes have the strength of character to continue practicing, learning and growing until the next moment happens along.
Since it is Dear old Dad’s birthday, I decided to use a quote I once blurted out in a long-forgotten argument that to this day makes my dad laugh.
Once you pull the handle you don’t get your goldfish back.Patrick Costello
In music and in life, we often find ourselves flushing some opportunity or challenge away. Skip playing in a jam, put off practice, blow off the wrong person and . . . well, you get the idea.
When this happens, when we flush the proverbial goldfish, it does no good to stage a rescue attempt or ponder on how badly you messed up. Just learn from your mistakes, move on and get yourself a new goldfish.
Today we have words of wisdom from my father. Advice I never really took, but I should . . . I really should.
Even a fish would stay out of trouble if it kept its mouth shut.Dear Old Dad
Today we have a Quote from Saint Anthony of Padua that sounds like it could have come from Buddhist or Taoist teachers;
The prayer of the monk is not perfect until he no longer recognizes himself or the fact that he is praying.
Saint Anthony of Padua
Why do you think I use this line so often when I am teaching music? What Is
Saint Anthony of Padua saying here?
I am going on a picnic. I’ll be back on Thursday.
In the meantime, be sure to watch and work through the first four episodes of The Banjo Dojo. Remember: practice makes familiar.
When I get back, we will be making announcements about Banjo Dojo weekends and other exciting news. Lots of good stuff is in the works.
Alan Watts quotes are easy to come by. They practically fall out of his books and lectures ready to share out of context.
This quote is different;
This is the real secret of life — to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play.Alan Watts
Many Buddhist and Taoist teachers have uttered similar lines. Watts makes it nice and easy to understand. Westernized. Sans mysticism.
To work until the task takes on the nature of play. A simple thing at first glance . . .