The Discovery Approach to Music Practice (part 1)

I’m glad to share a simple approach to practicing music with you that arose while working with some of my Carnatic saxophone students. It is nothing new, but rather a subtle shift in the perspective of the approach that allows for a fresh, relaxed and clear way of practicing whatever it might be that you are working on in your  musical journey. It also may incidentally lead to spiritual insights and/or deeper peace.

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The Discovery Approach to practice essentially comes from the realization that what IS is inherently complete and perfect. That perfection can grow and change, but it is inherently full as it is. The practice is then to discover that. This can be successfully utilized in music…or anything.

The most common approach most people take is the “try, try again” approach. There is nothing wrong with it, and can be quite useful. You will basically have a line or phrase you want to play and you continuously do it over and over. Each time there are various mistakes that need to be ironed out. With a grunt or worse, you try again and again. Sometimes there will be more mistakes with each repeat. With much hard work, eventually the line is played as desired. However, there is the danger that without rigorous review and weeding out of the undesired aspects, these mistake can show up as a surprise later during another practice or a performance. Sometimes, the mistakes will go unnoticed and actually multiply, leaving you baffled.

With much practice, eventually everything is ironed out and you are happy. It is something like putting rough stones in a tumbler where they are turned around, crashing into each other until they finally come out as precious gems. Or punching repeatedly through a wall until you break through. It works eventually, but it may be frustrating and tiring.

The main missing ingredient in the previous method is usually awareness. In the Discovery method, we focus on cultivating the necessary awareness to listen and really FEEL what is happening. When awareness is turned on at full power, practice is really a completely different ball game. It feels more like you are simply discovering the fully perfect line or phrase with the practice rather then forcefully executing it.

The next ingredient, though it may seem obvious, is to go through the music very very SLOWLY. Many are familiar with the slow aspect. But usually slow playing is used on its own with the side effect that eventually the person playing becomes more aware. Here, we start with vivid awareness and attention and then begin the practice at slower tempos.

How do we get “into” this vivid awareness? Well, your natural state that you are in already  has it. It has the characteristics of both wakefulness and deep rest. But most of us are heavily distracted constantly and find it difficult to see it. What arose to assist here is a set of simple visualizations or extremely brief (just about 10 seconds to a minute or two) meditations with some simple instructions. You can walk yourself through them to awaken the clarity and set the right atmosphere for the practice.

Many of my students have found this approach illuminating and felt their practice was much easier, more relaxing. They felt more absorbed in the music and where able to taste the enjoyment of music itself. This is fundamentally important to playing or practicing music in a time when there are a million different ways to spend your time just on your phone.

In sharing this approach, I am not saying that one approach is better than another. All are useful and good. I see the Discovery Approach and the “try, try again” approach as two ends of a spectrum. But I did feel that this approach I am describing has not been explored enough and could greatly help balance things out. If awareness is cultivated enough through practicing Discovery method, then the “keep trying” method will automatically become the discovery method. They no longer will appear separate.

I will share the pointers and simple visualizations for the Discovery Approach in the coming posts in this series. Feel free to try them with your own practice or with your own students.

For an approach to spiritual liberation (enlightenment, Self Realization etc.) through music, please see the series: Naada Yoga For Total Liberation.

 

New video: Exploration of Sound (Naada Yoga for Total Liberation)

As a supplement to Prasant’s new series of videos on discovering your real nature through music, here is a video of Prasant (saxophone) and his student and friend, Venkat (trumpet). In this video, Prasant and Venkat explore sound together through spontaneous sustained notes. You are encouraged to go through the simple approach to enjoy the sound, dissolve into the sound and finally discover the source of sound, the Silence itself. This is essentially a form of self inquiry using sound as an aid to dissolve the I-thought, the ego, and recognize the already perfect, ever present Being.

As you meet and enjoy the sound, please note that this does not have to do with musical correctness of pitch or tuning or any concept of musical perfection, but with investigating, feeling and riding the sound itself back to your real nature, that is ever free of all concepts and suffering.

Please also note that this is not an intellectual exercise of observing sound or anything like that. This is a visceral experience of the actual feeling of completely dissolving everything that has ever limited you and awakening to your real nature.

For more detail on this approach, here are some of the other videos:
1. Naada Yoga for Total Liberation: An Introduction https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yBCG-OOQgBE
2. Enjoy the Sound https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vbJnekQLsw8

The next few videos will go into more detail on the dissolving step and the recognition of silent awareness or Being. This video is a brief overview. You can use these guidelines while practicing or listening to music. You may find it helpful to do this with Prasant’s other meditation videos here on YouTube. Here is the playlist.

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Visit http://www.prasantmusic.com for his recordings, blog posts etc.http://www.prasantmusic.com/satsang
Download Prasant’s music: http://bit.ly/ZhlFlt
You can also sign up for his email list here: http://eepurl.com/c1LqY

New video: Naada Yoga for Total Liberation: An Introduction

I’m glad to share something new for you today. Naada Yoga for Total Liberation is a fresh approach to spiritual freedom, peace and happiness through music. This is especially suitable for those who are music practitioners, or anyone who simply enjoys music or sound. As I have emphasized in the various videos I have posted in the last several months, it is possible to rediscover and realize your real nature through the ever subtle medium of sound and music.

Many people are aware that Om, the primordial sound, arises from the Self. All sounds are of the nature of Om. Seeing this, it makes perfect sense that if you trace the experience of any sound back to its source and abide there, the Self is revealed. I feel it helps that music usually has deep enjoyment as part of its nature. This approach fully embraces the effortless purity of Being here and now, the Heart. The emphasis is on discovery and abidance in Beingness as there nothing to strive for that is away from your Being.

In future videos, I will go into more detail regarding the various steps in this approach. If you have seen my previous blog posts and videos, I have already given the steps. They are incredibly simple. So, I will give more context and details on this. I feel strongly that this approach is available to all.

Enjoy…

New video: Saxophone Raga Transmission For Total Peace And Freedom (4K UHD)

This video is part of my new Musical Greeting series. Similar to the previous videos, you can listen and meditate with the video to support your awakening and finally Self Realization. Set aside all doubts and just relax.

Prasant shares the Self through music and silence in this video.

Relax relax relax,
Receive receive receive with your Heart,
Just be just be just be.

Wishing you total peace and freedom…
That which you are can never be lost.

You can contact Prasant through his website and access his recordings and mailing list, etc.

www.prasantmusic.com

https://prasantmusic.com/satsang

New Video: Panchabuta is the Self (raga Shuddha Dhanyasi)

Panchabuta (five elements) and all It creates and destroys is the Self (raga Shuddha Dhanyasi). Indian classical saxophone contemplation for awakening…

Dissolve into this transmission of raga Shuddha Dhanyasi. Dive deep into contemplation of the innate, liberated Self nature of all that Is and emerge totally free. When you return from this seeing you will not be the same and yet you will be, as always. You are free from all limitation and concepts.

This raga has five notes representing each element. Its simplicity is also its power. All the notes come from the first note (Sa) and return to it. All elements of the panchabuta arise from the Self (You), dance as the Self (You) and dissolve in the Self (also You). This happens in every instant. Just notice. If you don’t seem to feel That in this moment, then notice that feeling. That feeling of division. Melt into the sound and imagery (if your eyes are open). Watch that feeling arise. It feels like a subtle disturbance or restriction. It distorts your real nature, creating a sense of separation, however subtle or dense. When this is seen then nothing more is needed but to just be. Since even the false sense of separation, the cause of ignorance, arises from Being, it will automatically return to its Home in Being.

Return again and again to Being and you are free.
—-

Some of the subjects and locations in the video include:
Arunachala in Thiruvannamalai, India
Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi
Alameda Trail, California and other locations in Fremont, CA
Sulphur Creek Nature Center, Hayward, CA
Reed Cave, Guilin, China
Santa Cruz Beach, Santa Cruz, CA
Jacksonville Pier, Jacksonville, FL
The photo of Prasant was taken by Eric Vogler.

If you found this video useful, please like and subscribe for regular updates.

You can stream/download the audio freely here as well as support Prasant’s work by entering a number above 0 when you download.

You can contact Prasant here.

http://www.prasantmusic.com

Satsang

New Video: Being Resolves Longing (raga Shubapantuvarali)

Enjoy this transmission of Shubapantuvarali raga on saxophone for peace, happiness and deep release of suffering.

What is the reason the appearance of suffering continues even for someone who has all basic needs? There is some movement within…something that says “something else is needed. This is not enough. I must look elsewhere to get something more. What is happening now should not be happening. I must regain what I lost.” A deep longing. This can be painful. But actually this longing is not what it might seem, not for a possession or companion or a fantastic experience, but really a longing to remember your real nature.

Simply look! Feel the source of the sound that is now arising in you. At that moment True Being emerges again with total clarity. This beingness dissolves all longing, confusion, past pain and suffering with no effort. It may be gradual, it may be instant. No longer is there is anything else to find, because you have already found. Finally, all is eternally well. Only Being just as you are can resolve the longing.

Now you are free.

—-

You can download this track and other similar tracks free here.

I’m also happy to note that you can view this video in 4K UHD resolution.

New solo Carnatic saxophone meditation video: An exploration in raga Dhatuvardhini

I’m glad to share this new video with you. This is part of a larger series where I play solo. The raga that emerged in this video is an unusual Carnatic Indian Classical raga called Dhatuvardini.

If you enjoy this style of music, you can also download the audio free (with contributions appreciated) on my website below. This album will have new tracks added to it regularly. I just uploaded the first track of the new Meditations Vol. 2 a few days ago and I am very touched by the immediate response from listeners. Thank you!

http://music.prasantmusic.com/album/meditations-ragas-on-saxophone-vol-2

http://music.prasantmusic.com/album/meditations-ragas-on-saxophone-vol-1