Tuesday, October 11, 2005
All That Jazz, All That Muscle
I am very excited 1) that I am awake at 5:15am and 2) that I've been working on my goals faithfully and with diligence.
Last night and most of yesterday, I spent considerable time practicing on my new piano. I was learning how to play in the style of Jazz -- I was learning the rules and the chord progressions, including sevenths, minor chords, diminished chords, and the such. The Jazz book I am learning from is teaching me to learn the techniques it teaches in EVERY KEY -- it is now clear to me where I went wrong when learning to play the blues and New Orleans style piano -- I learned to play in only one or two keys, and then I developed my abilities on those keys for many years without learning the other keys. Now, being very skilled in those keys, as I am now returning to learn the other keys, I feel that I am starting all over both in skill and in style. Had I learned to play in all the keys like I am doing now with Jazz piano, I would be a master at the piano!
The exciting part with what I am doing now is -- now that I am playing Jazz in the different keys, I am hearing the subtleties between the chord inversions and the same chord progressions in the various keys. A few months ago I met with a person who was a composer of music. We spoke about the subtle reasons why someone would choose to play a specific note over another, versus why someone would augment a chord versus choosing to play a diminishing a chord -- all these minor and subtle changes not only change the sound of the music and its mood, but they elicit a specific feeling within the player and within the listener. This is so subtle that one would need to be attuned to the music to pick it up. But, when one develops this subtle ability, the pleasure one can get from something as simple as using one chord over another is so intense that it can excite the heart and paint a smile deep in the cheeks of all of those who come into contact with these musical pieces. I've wanted to play Jazz my whole life. I am happy I am getting to this now. This is a big achievement.
On another note, I went to the gym last night after learning a technique by Pavel Tsatsoline in his book for developing strength and muscle without bulking up. I am a man with gladiator proportions -- bulking up is not something I need to do. Rather, I could use some tone and cuts in the muscles I already have.
So in the gym, I did something called a deadlift, where one simply lifts an enormous amount of weight and then releases it quickly to the ground. Doing this kind of exercise is dangerous for the back and the other muscles unless one has learned the techniques, which I have by reading Pavel's books. On my first try, lifting 100 lbs of dead weight seemed too easy, so I upped the weight to 180 lbs. Add the weight of the bar (another 20 lbs.) and you'll find that I lifted 200 pounds, close to my own weight. This is a big deal. I am very excited about this, especially because I'm learning how strong I really am. This may seem silly to some, but coming from the point of view of being a scrawny kid in high school and college with slim shoulders and experiencing my growth spurts late in my college years, I still often see myself as the tiny 170 lb. kid rather than the developed 220 lb. man. That's a 50 lb. difference, and I am the same height I was back in college (over 6' tall). So lifting this amount of weight has been an exciting experience for me. Even more exciting is now, the next day -- I feel no pain and no strain, which means that I have lifted within my means.