speech: playing with my eyes closed

SPEECH: Playing With My Eyes Closed

How many of you have played games such as “pin the tail on the donkey” or perhaps have been blindfolded to hit a pinata?

“I can play with my eyes closed.”

It’s a simple and profound game which my students initiate. They close their eyes and they play something on the piano with their eyes closed and their head held up high. I watch them as they perform proudly.

But is this all child’s play, playing pin the tail on the donkey, hitting down a pinata, playing the piano with your eyes closed? How many of you play with life and do things with your eyes shut?

Good evening fellow toastmasters, honored guests, and music students. My name is JNET and this evening I am presenting my 8th speech titled, “Mastery Within the Darkness: A Music Lesson in Seven Minutes. I will be demonstrating my comfort with using visual aids. But before I begin, I put before you a quote to consider as I speak and give you a visual journey,

“It is only with the heart that one sees rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye.”

So how many of you “play” with your eyes closed? What is it to play in that dark space called your mind? Is it really fun? Or is it scary?

Like the deep end of the pool, so is learning to play and stretch your mind. You are beyond notes and staring at black and white. You are in your head and you are looking for the music in the dark.

What is it like? Well, you have no where to hide your mistakes while on a piano bench. I suppose you can pretend to yourself that you didn’t hear that string of terribly wrong notes but most likely you’ll press forward and play. And like those other childhood games, press on to get it right. Pin that tail, hit that pinata, make music and get the candy.

Mastery within that darkness in your mind is about playing a game with fear.

When I say fear I do not mean that emotional response to a threat. Come back to me, my student, we are simply on a piano bench. There is no need for your survival mechanisms to rev up. There is no threat of pain or danger.

And yet the fear of making a mistake may inspire one to not play at all or to play stilted.

You can’t make music this way and playing Life in this matter will undermine your expression of yourself. Therefore, you practice, you know your material. You don’t need to see everything but you need vision in your head and you master the darkness in there.

Playing does get easier with practice and you get move on to more advanced pieces where you still practice in the darkness of your mind.

It’s an interesting place to play. How many of you cannot play a sonata? Cannot?

This is my recent sonata that I practiced in Hawaii.

I do not know how to swim but I played out anyway because I wanted to do some underwater photography. I hit a lot of wrong notes and got a lot of blurry pictures as well as bruises from the cage. But I eventually got these shark photos.

My conducting professor, Dr. Cokkinias always postulated..

“Life is about practicing; preparing.”

And success follows when opportunity meets with your practice.

“It is only with the heart that the one sees rightly.”

You don’t need to see everything but you need a vision and start playing. Your heart will not be memorizing your mistakes; it’ll keep your vision in sight as you plonk your way through the darkness.

“I’m going to play this amazing piece.”

And you have a tiny keyboard at home to practice on. And you only have 10 fingers. That’s where Beethoven is gonna come out??? Yes!

Well this is my camera; a humble though cute digital camera. What can I take with this thing?

With practice and this instrument, I’ve taken these recently at a photo shoot. I am surrounded by talented players. Who are believing in me despite my own personal darkness.

I do not know what an F-stop is. I do not know how to control everything perfectly. I play lots of wrong “notes”. But like friends at a party, they smile and laugh, put the bat back in my hand and cheer me on to play.

Do you understand how playing with your eyes closed can be fun? And yes scary but worth every bit of practice.

Will you go now and practice with your eyes closed sometimes? Hold on to the vision in your mind as you practice.

And always, have fun.

Thank you fellow toastmasters and honored guests. Your music lesson is over. Go home now and practice and see you next week.

JNET

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~ by jnetsworld on September 1, 2009.

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