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To demonstrate the different sound qualities, from the hard tone of the plastic flute to the more expressive, responsive diversity of tones of the different wooden flutes, E.J. played the plastic Yamaha alto flute, the pearwood, the boxwood, the tulipwood, the grenadilla alto and Von Huene soprano wooden flute.
To learn to coax the sound out of the Zen Flute you need to know what's possible, then experiment. No amount of study or theory takes the place of experience personally experienced. As you start to coax sounds out of the instrument, you are only as good as your ability to put your attention on what you are doing.
As you work with a Zen Flute that's so responsive to you, very much in tune with you - this intunement is called rapport - you become attuned to your instrument. If you're in rapport with your instrument, it's potentially possible to become in rapport with the instrument you're wearing, the thing you wear around town - your organic body.
Learning to be in rapport, to be in tune in general, is very important.
It's not just about the Zen Flute. As you start learning to coax great interesting wondrous sounds out of your Zen Flute, you might also be able to coax wonderful, exhilarating emotional states out of your machine and possibly great thoughts, great wonderments and great expansive explorations of the Universe in which you find yourself.
It begins with the Zen Flute, but there is no actual end to the explorations.
E.J. Gold opened the class holding a wooden flute in his armpit, to warm it up and explained how critical this warm-up is in order to play a Zen Flute. He re-fits the foot of the flute to micro-adjust the alignment of the holes. After the wooden flute is brought up to body temperature, E.J. continues to warm it up as he plays not changing to high register for at least 5 minutes. He can actually feel when the Zen Flute is warmed up; it's softer, warmer, more responsive. As you progress, you will start to feel the air column in your fingertips and notice when the Zen Flute can accept very subtle changes in the breath.
E.J. played the pearwood, the boxwood, the tulipwood and the grenadilla alto flutes demonstrating and explaining how to produce many different types of effects and gradations of tones - warble, quaver, a finger trill, a tongue trill in combination with pianissimo, forte, staccoto, crescendo or vibrato.
Your breathing technique will evolve naturally as you continue to play the Zen Flute. Your breathing is self-regulating, the instrument forces you to breathe properly. What you don't know how to do automatically from birth is how to separate the finer substances. Your breathing will be automatically adjusted for processing higher levels of gradations of spiritualized matter which we call air. E.J. continued discussing the sources of food and the transformation of substances for the alchemical factory that is within your human biological machine, often called the organic body, for the development of higher, finer bodies.
It's all about feeding your spirit and part of that comes from playing the Zen Flute. E.J. demonstrates and reveals that you can get completely out of the way so that the Breath of God plays the Zen Flute. When you can reach the goal of allowing the Breath of God to play the Zen Flute, the audience will be transformed by the experience.
E.J. Gold examined the process of creativity. As you play the Zen Flute, you repeat the cycle of discovery and repetition of musical phrases and come to the question - where do I find creativity and invention? Creativity doesn't lie in invention. Creativity is not in the notes or between the notes, not in the breath or between breaths. Creativity can be found in the expression. You can't avoid repetition of notes. Your creative avenue lies in a different direction than the notes themselves. But you have to do something well enough first before your creativity can show through.
The real intention in playing the Zen Flute is to learn to breathe properly and to separate alchemical substances from the air to be used by your Human Biological Machine. You are not concerned with what you play or even your fingers, but how you are playing - what is going on with your breathing? The instrument is a biofeedback device to show you your breathing - whether the sound is clear, whether a quaver or no quaver, a swell or diminish. The instrument will tell you what's happening.
As you search for the creative process, for exploration, for "out of the boxness," you'll notice that eventually the Zen Flute will start singing for you. You will start to hear the Zen Flute wanting to sing. Your creative process becomes less important that getting out of the way and letting the Zen Flute sing - serving the Zen Flute. At first the ego wants to be the master. I am a human being; this is a mere object; I bought it; I thought of playing it; I am great; I am master of the flute! . . . . Eventually E.J. can teach you how to be a servant to the Zen Flute and your Zen Flute will become your teacher. Don't fight the Zen Flute. The Zen Flute is a kind and gentle master if you let it be.
The six elements of the wooden Zen Flute are shown as E.J. Gold opens the class. Learning to play the Zen Flute is a program that calls forth certain breath dynamics to learn to self-regulate the breath. You create the environment where self-regulation occurs rather than external or mental regulation. Ninety percent of self-regulation comes from head set, attitude, ability to relax your mind, to relax your brain. You need to relax your body as a whole thing. The brain is like a Gordian Knot. You can't unravel the brain, but you need to, in order to regularize your breath naturally. Playing the Zen Flute will work with the Beacon technology. Sit down with the Beacon. You are playing the Zen Flute in order to separate out higher substances from the air. When you do that you will start to automatically do that with food and water. Air is the first line of attack in the alchemical process taking place in your biological apparatus.
There is a mind set you want to achieve to bring you into a state of relaxation physically and mentally so the filtration of finer materials can occur. As E.J. demonstrates he describes the state -- the Beta is suppressed; the Alpha-Theta are at peak; let the breath regularize. It's not something you can think yourself through or wrap your Beta-Brain around.
E.J. played a simple progression of notes. Just learning the notes doesn't guarantee success. It's the quality of the sound, the clarity of tone, the head set, the relaxation of the human biological machine. Approach the Zen Flute as a meditation posture by which the breathing is regulated by the song.
The class began with E.J. applying cork grease to the Boxwood Zen Flute. He played a simple flute passage several times and students responded by repeating the passage. Part of the Zen Flute training is to overcome nervousness when you are in the spotlight. This device is not only a breath regulator, but an attentiasizer. You learn to use your attention to duplicate precisely what you heard and how you heard it.
E.J. demonstrated how he warmed up the Zen Flute, explaining that he listens for subtleties when the flute becomes more responsive. He continues to test it as he plays. The wooden flute starts to "melt" a little in terms of softening -- you can feel it on the pads of your fingertips. When the flute is warmed up it comes alive. You can see how the high register and low register tie into each other.
Playing the Zen Flute is a practice, a discipline. Find at least 5 minutes a day to practice.
The alto Zen Flute is the flute of choice for breathing technique, patterns for an automatic regulation of the breath. With the alto it is automatic -- it happens by itself. We have discussed fingering and many technical aspects. You should know how to get most of the notes out of the Zen Flute.
It's not about the notes, not about the technical; it's about the soul of the Zen Flute. The Zen Flute -- the flute is telling a story.
To understand the nature of Zen is to understand the nature of the Zen Flute. The real nature of Zen is to understand what Nothingness is all about. You ask, "What does this mean?" When you have completely grasped Nothingness, you have the essence of Zen. When my hand grasps Nothingness, my hand itself is Nothingness. When my essential hand, my Nothingness hand touches the Nothingness of Zen, there is no other hand. With those hands, grasp the flute. The essence of the Zen Flute is 90% Zen and 10% the flute.
While you have the Zen Flute in your hands, you need to let go of your life, ambitions, hopes, fears, considerations, your precious thoughts.