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Is It A Mood Thing?


Peter Clark
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Today I came down from my statutory hour's practice feeling decidedly depressed. Not only did my right hand not know what my left hand was doing, neither foot knew what the other was doing and certainly any communication between hands and feet was at best muffled, and at worst completely absent. Any yet yesterday went fine, as did Tuesday and Monday. Am I alone in undergoing this infrequent but disturbing experience? After all, I am not more hung over today than any other day, I breakfasted adequately and had a refreshing early night. Two weeks ago I was in London and I did not play an organ for 3 days; upon my return I was right back there as if I had never been away. The pieces I am playing are familiar ie there is nothing newer than about 3 months. OK I did alter the fingering of one of the pieces but that shouldn't cause too many problems surely?

 

Yours puzzledly

 

Peter

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I go up and down with practice too. This week has been especially poor - I am going backwards! Yesterday the church was 9 C and my fingers basically stopped working - lots of split notes. After a while I couldn't be bothered to try and hit the right notes, then it became a slippery slope downwards. I gave up early and got into a warm car.

 

This morning was slightly better, in that the church was a little warmer so I couldn't blame my fingers. However, I arrived with a bit of a headache and a lot of indigestion, which ended up rather distracting me. Net result? I end up in a foul temper and decide to leave practice early and not bother working on refining any pieces further (there was no point feeling as I did) - I just warmed up, practiced my usual skills, realised that today was not a good day for playing the organ, reminded myself of the wedge fugue, sight-read the last 2 movements of Mendelssohn 1 (not particularly well), play through a couple of new pieces I have to play for a wedding on Saturday before I decided there was no point practising any further in my rather distracted and irascable temper and that I really wanted to go home to have a few swigs of Gaviscon and work from home for the morning.

 

Such practice sessions hardly make me proud of myself and don't really set me up to be focussed and lively for the rest of the day. On the bad days, I've found it helps just to slow down the tempos and set less high expectations and wait for a better day to turn up.

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Today I came down from my statutory hour's practice feeling decidedly depressed. Not only did my right hand not know what my left hand was doing, neither foot knew what the other was doing and certainly any communication between hands and feet was at best muffled, and at worst completely absent. Any yet yesterday went fine, as did Tuesday and Monday. Am I alone in undergoing this infrequent but disturbing experience? After all, I am not more hung over today than any other day, I breakfasted adequately and had a refreshing early night. Two weeks ago I was in London and I did not play an organ for 3 days; upon my return I was right back there as if I had never been away. The pieces I am playing are familiar ie there is nothing newer than about 3 months. OK I did alter the fingering of one of the pieces but that shouldn't cause too many problems surely?

 

Yours puzzledly

 

Peter

 

 

==================================

 

 

This may look as if I am being frivolous, but playing a musical-instrument as physical as the organ is not far removed from top sports-people who have to deliver perfect co-ordination.

 

My own experience is in motor-racing, and at the top of the human food-chain, there are those who endure considerable physical stress, requiring extraordinary physical stamina. The co-ordination and judgement required is on a par with top flight musicians; with the added problem of personal safety or even survival. Furthermore, this has to be maintained to a high standard of consistency, just as a concert-pianist must deliver the same degree of musical consistency.

 

Apart from being obviously quite young, racing-drivers seldom seem to suffer from headaches, horrible gut feelings and the sort of aches and pains associated with sitting around for too long. They may have other stress related aches and pains, and may have suffered injuries, but assuming that this is not the case, they seem always to be "on the ball," alert, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

 

I recall reading something which Dame Gillian Weir said about organ-playing, when she suggested that the fingers must respond perfectly, and that long hours of practice were necessary to achieve this. I am quite sure that she was absolutely right, but I would go a stage further than this.

 

The old saying "healthy mind and healthy body" has relevance, because one of the reasons for a "fuzzy head", "migraines" and bloatedness, is a lack of physical fitness. I am by no means a health-freak, but until about the age of 50, I was lean and mean and weighed exactly the same as I did at age 18. Now somewhat older, I am less fit, but what I have noticed in the first 2 months of the year, due to work patterns, is that I suffer lethargy, frequent ill-feelings, negative thoughts, poor co-ordination and most other things which eventually lead to suicide.

 

When work picks up again, it can be quite physical, and within a fortnight, I am feeling happier, more positive, in better shape and I can play a musical instrument better.

 

Herin lies the clue I suspect, for it is very easy to sit at a desk, sit reading books, sit writing, sit watchiung TV, sit eating a meal and sit playing the organ. Slowly but surely, the whole body slides into general malais, fills up with all sorts of toxins and generally doesn't present a pretty picture.

 

Now compare this to racing-driver again, who maintain fantastic levels of physical-fitness, with daily gym schedules which really hurt. It is the only way by which their bodies can endure the g-forces and the almost incredible heat, and still be able to make split-second decisions with a fully alert mind.

 

So instead of griping about how everything goes wrong and how depressed you feel as a result, just change tac completely and go for a brisk walk now and again, or do something else which is physical rather than non-physical.

 

MM

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Herein lies the clue I suspect, for it is very easy to sit at a desk, sit reading books, sit writing, sit watchiung TV, sit eating a meal and sit playing the organ. Slowly but surely, the whole body slides into general malais, fills up with all sorts of toxins and generally doesn't present a pretty picture.

 

So instead of griping about how everything goes wrong and how depressed you feel as a result, just change tac completely and go for a brisk walk now and again, or do something else which is physical rather than non-physical.

 

Yes, I can agree with this. I'm presently recovering from surgery and having to sit down most of the time doing very little and find that when I have a brief attempt at playing the organ, co-ordination isn't quite as it normally is at present.

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Guest Patrick Coleman
==================================

 

So instead of griping about how everything goes wrong and how depressed you feel as a result, just change tac completely and go for a brisk walk now and again, or do something else which is physical rather than non-physical.

 

MM

 

You are absolutely right.

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"what I have noticed in the first 2 months of the year, due to work patterns, is that I suffer lethargy, frequent ill-feelings, negative thoughts, poor co-ordination..."

 

Could this be seasonal affective disorder?

 

 

"fills up with all sorts of toxins and generally doesn't present a pretty picture."

 

Hmm, this sounds a bit like pseudoscience to me.

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Guest Barry Williams
"what I have noticed in the first 2 months of the year, due to work patterns, is that I suffer lethargy, frequent ill-feelings, negative thoughts, poor co-ordination..."

 

Could this be seasonal affective disorder?

"fills up with all sorts of toxins and generally doesn't present a pretty picture."

 

Hmm, this sounds a bit like pseudoscience to me.

 

 

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a well known alteration in the body's chemistry. It is caused by an alteration in the way in which light falling on the back of the eye is processed, chemically. It is treatable by drugs or, more easily, by the purchase, for about £2, of a daylight bulb. The light is a rather harsh blue glare, but the effect is dramatic.

 

Barry Williams

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Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a well known alteration in the body's chemistry. It is caused by an alteration in the way in which light falling on the back of the eye is processed, chemically. It is treatable by drugs or, more easily, by the purchase, for about £2, of a daylight bulb. The light is a rather harsh blue glare, but the effect is dramatic.

 

Barry Williams

 

Indeed, although the underlying pathophysiology is unclear; levels of melatonin, serotonin and even prolactin have been proposed as being disturbed, but no consistent evidence for any of these has been gathered. Anyway, MM, consider trying the lightbulb - we don't want you feeling depressed.

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Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a well known alteration in the body's chemistry. It is caused by an alteration in the way in which light falling on the back of the eye is processed, chemically. It is treatable by drugs or, more easily, by the purchase, for about £2, of a daylight bulb. The light is a rather harsh blue glare, but the effect is dramatic.

 

Barry Williams

 

Where can one purchase such light bulbs, please, Barry? The only devices I've come across are much more expensive, and I had believed that such light bulbs aren't able to be run on a normal domestic light socket.

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I agree absolutely with MM's views on exercise being the means to a clear mind and healthy body.

 

I retired 2 years ago at 51. These days, I swim non-stop front crawl for 45 minutes each morning and walk briskly for between 1 and 2 hours each day and feel in the peak of mental and physical health. I also suffer far fewer aches and pains than when I was bound to a desk.

 

Of more concern, I am also considering taking up the organ bench again...maybe I wasn't as bad as I thought. OK, I probably was, but as long as there's no-one there to hear, and if I get something from it...

 

PS Re daylight bulbs...my wife bought one from a craft shop, intended for use by knitters or those who practice embroidery.

 

P

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PS Re daylight bulbs...my wife bought one from a craft shop, intended for use by knitters or those who practice embroidery.

 

P

It isn't just a daylight bulb that's required, it is a very bright wide spectrum light source. John Lewis have them for domestic use - as do major chemists such as John Bell and Croyden.

JC

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Of more concern, I am also considering taking up the organ bench again...maybe I wasn't as bad as I thought. OK, I probably was, but as long as there's no-one there to hear, and if I get something from it...

Absolutely. Why else do any of us play? Go for it!

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Guest Barry Williams
It isn't just a daylight bulb that's required, it is a very bright wide spectrum light source. John Lewis have them for domestic use - as do major chemists such as John Bell and Croyden.

JC

 

Thank you for pointing this out These are just as effective as the expensive lights costing several hundred pounds. About fifteen years ago John Lewis used to describe all their broad spectrum lights as 'daylight' bulbs. I did not realise that there is another product with a narrower spectrum.

 

A colleague of mine suffered from SAD and used a light on his desk. The reflection on the desk was quite harsh but it cured the problem very quickly.

 

I wonder if SAD is really caused by working for the church.

 

Barry Williams

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Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a well known alteration in the body's chemistry. It is caused by an alteration in the way in which light falling on the back of the eye is processed, chemically. It is treatable by drugs or, more easily, by the purchase, for about £2, of a daylight bulb. The light is a rather harsh blue glare, but the effect is dramatic.

 

Barry Williams

 

 

=================================

 

 

I hate to shattering your illusions, (Re:SAD) but I prefer winter to summer and I work nights!

 

I really suffer in bright light, so I don't think I'll be ordering light-bulbs.

 

On the bonus side of things, so good is my night vision, I have been known to practice in an unlit church with the console lights switched off, and I can usually still see the music from the bit of light which filters through from the street-lamps outside.

 

I find that unlit practice is a very good way of memorising music.

 

MM

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=================================

 

 

... I prefer winter to summer and I work nights!

 

Ah, at last - there's someone who shares my preference, though I don't work in the night time! (I do, however, prefer incandescent, not fluorescent, artificial light to daylight.)

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And ruining your eyesight! :lol:

 

 

======================

 

 

Nah! That's just an old wive's tale. If it's too dark you just don't see anything.

 

The closest I ever got to ruining anything, was my underwear, when I took part in a night-time car-rally, went over a jump at 80mph and promptly lost all power to the lights when I landed very heavily. :lol:

 

It's at moments like that you discover whether you have a good memory or not! :lol:

 

Organ-playing is never THAT exciting.

 

MM

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