Sunday night while I was recording the Bach-Petri version of “Sheep May Safely Graze” I realized one side-benefit of this weekly recording project is that I am forced to practice with heightened awareness. Pianist Jocelyn Swigger is learning all of the Chopin Etudes and shares her experience through a series of wonderful podcasts on her blog, Play It Again Swig. Here she talks about the element of consciousness that occurs when you practice in settings where there are people listening. She compares it to the aliveness that you feel when you’re performing on stage and talks about recreating that feeling in the practice room.
For me that “heightened awareness” comes as soon as I turn on my handy little ZoomH2 recorder. Suddenly I’m listening to inner lines, aware of every hesitation, and feeling the same adrenalin rush that comes with a live performance without the self-consciousness were there an actual live audience listening. Once I’m able to stop the mental chatter (where I question my sanity for giving up yet another Sunday evening to record a piece that’s still a work-in-progress and post it online for the whole world to listen to), I’ve actually experienced moments where my attention is fully on the present. This feeling of total awareness is what some call “mindfulness.” This is when time passes in a blink of an eye. For me, it is these moments that will keep me coming back to these Sunday night recording sessions.