I’m hoping our experiment has gotten you in the mood and the mind-space to explore the balloon game in other activities, including the way you approach your instrument. Most of us have pretty strong beliefs and feelings about how to practice and perform in order to achieve our musical goals. But is it possible that these expectations are preventing us from discovering our true artistic potential? Let’s find out if the balloon game offers any insight.
Start with something simple – as simple as bringing your instrument into playing position. Do you find that something changes in you as soon as you feel that contact? As soon as you think of it? Often it’s not just our fingers, arms and shoulders that prepare with unnecessary tension but also our neck, head, back and legs – even our brain! Hold your instrument in a comfortable resting position and allow any excess tension to flow out of you. Return to the steps of the balloon game. Does anything change if you take your time and allow your imaginary balloons to guide your movements? Maybe it seems like you can’t do it, that you’ll never reach the expected conclusion. That doubtful feeling is an indicator of a critical learning moment, a fork in the road. Pause here, suspend yourself and wait for your inner guide to take the lead down this unknown path.
Try 3 or 4 long tones. How do your imaginary balloons fair once you start making sound? How about your inner guide? Adding sound throws a whole new set of expectations into the mix. If you’re like me, you can quickly revert to a lot of analyzing and attempting to correct mid-stream. For these 3-4 notes, throw caution to the wind! Take your time, let your balloons suspend your arms and allow your inner guide to take care of the sound. Try this a little bit every day at the start of your practicing – find out if you can surprise yourself!
This is just the beginning of the journey and the tip of the iceberg regarding games you can explore to improve your playing and your general well-being. Start with little steps and small doses and see what it adds up to. Break out of your routine, try something new and have fun! I’d love to hear about what you discover – stay tuned for more Kinomichi-inspired musings!