Michael D'Agostino

Drummer, vocalist and Songwriter

Thoughts on developing one’s musicality and A letter by Albert Einstein to his son about music.

Posted on Jul 12, 2015

When you love what you are doing in the moment, clock time often dissolves.  Albert Einstein was able to distill so many areas of life to their essential core.  In an eloquent letter he penned to his son, he hit’s it right on the mark.  I always loved that he had a great sense of humor and his humanity shined through, never pigeon holing him into some cold intellectual buried in academia. His observations about playing what you love as opposed to what someone may want you to play is key to developing owns individuality.  Exploring ones instrument with the freedom of a child through many paths (technique building, phrase developing, improvisation, form study etc.) Whatever way suits the day to pursue musically, doing so with peace, love and pure wide eyed abandin will fastrack your development in all those areas of your playing.   

Technique as an end conveys nothing, a monkey in repetition. Technique shouldn’ be thought about while performing, but available to effortlessly exeute what is needed with all the emotion and feel. Similarly, your body knows how much oxygen is needed automatically.  Resting compared to running, you will increase or decrease your breath rate organically, no thinking rquired.

You’ll be playing much more than notes, this is were the magic resides. And you’ll be able to do it with ease.  There are no short cuts.  Some days it’s easier to tap into, others times you have to dig deeper for it.  There is a natural power when it is right. No undo effort.  Balanced.  Over years, this kind of “work with love” can lead to mastery of ones instrument. What you play and how you play evolving like the outward growth of a seashell.  Nautilusshell

Unlimited are the creative and challenging paths of working on one’s playing.  Leaving behind the old model of playing scales or rudiments, incessantly non-stop.  A dichotomy arises, because there is value in playing and holding steady a technical exercise. As a drummer, holding a groove is paramount and a student can gain much by playing a specific exercise along with a metronome.  In my practicing( It becomes less practicing and more playing) I like to bring an improvisational exploratory layer to any specific study, once one is capable of playing it well. Endless possibilities of morphing and developing arise.  Spontaneous composition.  But one has to find it for oneself.  Even with the aid of a good teacher. That is the key to so much in life. The map points but the experience is the experience that can never be quite understood mentally. Many great songs the seeds of which emerged not by saying ” I am going to write a song now” but by free association, by impromptu improvisation on some idea, following a huntch, that may lead to a musical gem worthy of further development.

                     

 

My dear Albert,

Yesterday I received your dear letter and was very happy with it. I was already afraid you wouldn’t write to me at all any more. You told me when I was in Zurich, that it is awkward for you when I come to Zurich. Therefore I think it is better if we get together in a different place, where nobody will interfere with our comfort. I will in any case urge that each year we spend a whole month together, so that you see that you have a father who is fond of you and who loves you. You can also learn many good and beautiful things from me, something another cannot as easily offer you. What I have achieved through such a lot of strenuous work shall not only be there for strangers but especially for my own boys. These days I have completed one of the most beautiful works of my life, when you are bigger, I will tell you about it.

I am very pleased that you find joy with the piano. This and carpentry are in my opinion for your age the best pursuits, better even than school. Because those are things which fit a young person such as you very well. Mainly play the things on the piano which please you, even if the teacher does not assign those. That is the way to learn the most, that when you are doing something with such enjoyment that you don’t notice that the time passes. I am sometimes so wrapped up in my work that I forget about the noon meal. . . .

Be with Tete kissed by your

Papa.

Regards to Mama.

 

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