Home > interdisciplinary, Zen-like stuff > A Jedi mind trick

A Jedi mind trick

When I was with the 48th Highlanders of Canada Military Band, I was occasionally called upon to perform the Act of Remembrance on trumpet. The Act consists of playing The Last Post, observing silence (or listening to a piper play a lament), then playing Reveille, or Rouse.

(here’s the sheet music, for those interested)

It can be a high-pressure gig, since a) it’s a solo, b) everybody in the crowd knows it, c) all around you is silent, and d) it’s only played at solemn occasions. So naturally, I had to get it right.

Once I didn’t get it right and oh, I got such a dirty look from an elderly woman. To whom I apologize. Sure, on that occasion, I had the chops, I could play the right notes in the right order, but my mind got the better of me. After that, I suppose I got it right just through practice and sheer concentration — which doesn’t make for a very artistic performance, but a technically accurate one.

However, near the end of my tenure with the band (of course), after some more practice and refinement, I finally hit upon a way to make sure I got the notes right every time:

Focus on a playing with beautiful tone.

Yep, once I focused on making the horn sound smooth, clear and pretty, the notes were right there. It wasn’t an issue any more.

Now for this to work, I had to have the chops, the foundation, and the practice before this little Jedi mind trick would work. But it did, and still does when I pick up the horn for less-solemn occasions.

How can this apply to Tai Chi and such things? It seems as if this trick releases the mind in some way and allows it to focus on something simpler, more … “heartful” seems to be the word that comes to mind. “Spiritual” or “engaging” might do. There’s more to it than just that, since practice is a spiral path, where the student needs to go back and forth between technique and “heart”. That would mean refining Tai Chi technique, then simply relaxing and enjoying the ride, then refining technique, and so on. In other words, it’s good to just enjoy it every now and then.

More practice?
More practice.

P.S. Apparently, The Last Post has words. I did not know that. Here they are, arranged in the cadence of the tune. The words are rather poignant, when you sing them with the melody:

Come home!
Come home!
The last post is sounding for you to hear.
All good soldiers know very well there is nothing to fear …
… while they do what is right, and forget all the worries they have met
in their duties through the year.
A soldier cannot always be great,
but he can be a gentleman and he can be a right good pal to his comrades in his squad.
So all you soldiers listen to this:
Deal fair by all and you’ll never be amiss.
Be Brave!
Be Just!
Be Honest and True … Men!

Categories: interdisciplinary, Zen-like stuff Tags:
  1. March 27th, 2009 at 15:03 | #1

    And more practice.

  1. No trackbacks yet.