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Can You Hear Me Now?

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From the mailbag: Someone asked me to talk about tinnitus

The official definition from the Mayo Clinic:

Tinnitus (TIN-ih-tus) is the perception of noise or ringing in the ears. A common problem, tinnitus affects about 1 in 5 people. Tinnitus isn't a condition itself — it's a symptom of an underlying condition, such as age-related hearing loss, ear injury or a circulatory system disorder.Can I Hear You?

First, if you think you might have tinnitus or some sort of hearing loss, seek professional help with your doctor or an audiologist. There can be various causes, including certain diseases and medical conditions.

It just so happens that I had my hearing checked at an audiologist a few weeks ago. Besides having tinnitus, I was concerned that I might have a sharp dip/notch in the mid frequencies. Besides performing, I do a lot of recording/mixing/mastering, so my ears are extremely important. I also wanted to get a snapshot of my hearing today, in order to compare how it has changed…

Time Being - Being Time

TIME IS INSIDE OF US, Dogen Zeni says in his essay “Uji’ (“Being-Time”) from the Shobogenzo. It is our essential nature. What does this mean, and what is time according to Dogen? He writes, “Time is not separate from you, and as you are present, time does not go away.... People only see time's coming and going, and do not thoroughly understand that the time-being abides in each moment.”  - Katherine Thanas, from The Truth of This Life

What is the nature of time in our work? It's easy to see time in a linear fashion: past to present to future, but it is an illusion. 

We can't live in the past. 
We can't live in the future. 
We can only live in the present.

Working with Gongs, Bowls, and Bells is perfect for bringing your sense of time to the present. Each strike and the resulting sound is a reminder of the here, the now. The sound has a way of snapping our minds to attention. There is no thinking about the past, no thinking about the future. We are confronted with the now, wh…

Evolution Revolution Convolution

We live in a dynamic Universe wherechange is a constant. Even if you somehow manage to stay unvarying, the world around you will change and eventually move away from you. I'm sure most, if not all of us, should be able to look back on the last 5, 10, 20, or more years and see a continual change in our work. Sometimes it may be big leaps that move into new territories. Other times it may be a more subtle refinement of what we are doing. But there is change none the less.

I look back upon my own career and see a steady evolution built upon both exploring new ideas, and refining old ones. I recall in the past when my idea was one of creating a large shifting fabric of vibrations. There was an intense amount of energy released, in a sometimes almost cataclysmic way. It was forceful. It was intense. It was too much at times.

But as I went on, I learned to trust silence and invite it in. I found that without it, how could you appreciate all the intense sound? 

Silence lets us know sound. 
S…

The Art of Not Teaching

I've taught drums and percussion since the mid 1970s. In all that time, I've learned to get out of the way and not teach. I try to be more of a coach, guide, cheer leader than anything. I don't have a set system that I use with everyone. Yes, I often use the same materials, but I might use a different approach with different students. I really don't like that cookie cutter approach to learning.

I assess the needs of each student and show them ideas that may help them along their own path. Sometimes I just play albums and talk, getting them to listen to things that demonstrate ways they can create music. Other than beginning students, I dispense with the rudiments very quickly. I see no use to spend your time with me, playing paradiddles, when you can do that at home all week long. I'd much rather give you something to think about and work on, perhaps in a more conceptual way.

And it's that way in all my lessons, “Here's the basics. Grasp them. Now let's m…

The Selling of Gongs As Snake Oil

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There's a sucker born every minute” is a phrase that was popular among gamblers and confidence men in the past. They often used sleight of hand, or double talk, in order to bilk ordinary people out of their money and property.

And things haven't changed much today. With the amazing growth and popularity of using Gongs for personal or group therapy/healing/meditation, there has also been a rise in people hoping to find a sucker to sell their snake oil to.

Today's subject has pinned the BullShit Meter totally into the red…




This advertisement for a 4-day Gong Masters Training Workshop, came across my radar recently. Please check it out here.




They make some interesting claims, throw in some flowery new age language filled with buzz words (Gong master, cosmic, life transforming, ancient, powerful, activation), and make some amazing promises. I have to say that I'm impressed. But what really gets me is the very last sentence at the bottom, after the list of What You Learn:
“This…

It's All About The Rhythm

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Rhythm, it's all around us, we can't really escape it, but some Gong players seem to. I watch a lot of Gong videos and am amazed at how many I see where the player seems to be just haphazardly hitting the Gong! A stroke here, a hit there, maybe another just for good measure.

As a trained percussionist, maybe I can't help but think in rhythm. It comes to me as natural as breathing. But apparently, others don't think that way at all.

Here's a question I recently came across on Facebook:


I am currently working with Neptune Paiste planet gong and I find that whilst I work through intuition I seem to always end up playing rhythmically. The rhythms change but it is still rhythmical. I enjoy, and so far, those I have played for also enjoy but I often watch other players, normally with much larger gongs striking / stroking with much less rhythm. Am I going to have to wait for a bigger gong before I can start to just allow the wave of sound to fully rise and fall without the n…

A Look Back - Happy Blog Anniversaries!

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On March 15, 2014, my hand pushed send on the 1st post of this blog, Mindful Listening. A lot has happened since then, including 145 more blog posts. Like my other blogs, this started out as some thoughts and ideas that I needed to get out of my brain. There was never an objective, or a goal to reach for. There was never a timeline or overall theme or plot. Most of the time I don't look beyond the next post I'm writing. Most of the time I have absolutely no idea what I'm going to write for my next post. But ideas kept presenting themselves, and before I knew it, it's 4 years later.




A Writer's Life
It helps that besides being a musician, I'm also a writer by trade. I've been writing as long as I can remember. When I was a little kid, I used a typewriter we had at home to put out a little newspaper where I would make up news stories and show it to my family. I was always writing stories. In high school, I got involved in the school paper. And I just kept writin…