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Martin Taylor: The Secret of Internalizing Music

"I never write with the guitar, I just imagine it in my mind." - Martin Taylor

"When it comes down to it, this [guitar] is just a piece of wood - the music doesn't come from there, the music comes from within us. I often think of the guitar as the loudspeaker of my mind. The reason I play guitar… is because it's the nearest way I can get everyone to hear the music that's going on in my mind. It's the best way I can really express that. But when it comes down to it, it's a piece of wood - the music doesn't come from there, the music comes from within.

"I encourage all of my students to learn how to internalize music. It's something I still do all the time with practicing. Because a lot of the time I practice without the guitar, I just imagine playing the guitar away from it. I spend so much time traveling, and I can't get to play the guitar a lot of the time. But if I'm on my way to a gig somewhere - I can sit there and imagine that I'm playing that gig and come up with ideas as I'm sitting there on a plane, visualizing it and going through it in my mind.

"This all came about when I was a kid. I first started playing the guitar when I was about 4 or 5 years old. I didn't like school. I would sit there and look out the window. That was the thing on all my school reports, I was a day dreamer and used to get in a lot of trouble. But what I was doing - I would sit there and I would imagine in my mind that I was playing the guitar. I would come up with an idea or a tune and I would imagine myself playing it. I would go through it without the guitar in my mind, internalizing the music. And because I had internalized the music, I could go through it over and over again.

"When the school bell went, I would run home and pick my guitar up and play the thing that I'd been thinking about. My mom would say, 'That's good, how long have you been playing that for?'. I'd say, 'I've just played it.' She thought that was just fantastic, 'My boy's a genius!'. What she didn't realize is that I'd played it over and over again in my mind a couple of thousand times during the course of the day. So when I actually went to pick up the guitar, I could already play it.

"I do the same thing when I compose music. I never write with the guitar, I just imagine it in my mind. A problem a lot of guitar players get into is this thing about where our fingers go. That's a very mechanical way of playing. It's still very useful to do that, obviously, but I encourage guitar players rather than think about where your fingers go, just think of the notes. You can visualize those notes while playing, imagine a light popping on that fret when you're playing. There's a number of things you can do, visualization is very good. When we learn chords, we visualize the shape our hand is in. Even when we play scales we visualize the shape and the pattern.

"Visualization and internalization helps with our flow of the music. Instead of the music coming from the guitar and the guitar playing us, the music comes from us and then the guitar is just the loudspeaker of our mind. That's how we're expressing our musical ideas for everyone else to listen to. That's really something very important that we should all develop: internalizing music."

 -  Martin Taylor 

 martin taylor - internalizing music

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