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Can Less really be more?

We have all probably heard and maybe even used the expression ‘less is more’. But is it true? In my experience it seems to all depend on whether you are willing to change the way you think.

I have played saxophone for more years than I care to admit. I might be slightly biased but I like to think I’m a half decent musician! A few years ago though I felt that my musical ability was on a downward spiral. No matter what I tried the only progress I seemed to be making was in a backwards direction. This caused frustration which then added to the feeling that I wasn’t progressing musically anymore. This was something I hadn’t experienced before because as a musician you never stop learning or trying to improve. Music has always been very important to me and yet I was on the verge of stopping playing altogether as the frustration of not improving (or not even maintaining my previous level of musicianship) became all encompassing.

The choices were stark - stop doing something I love or try to find a solution. With music being such a big part of my life not surprisingly the latter was my preference.

To cut a long story short, I discussed the difficulties I was experiencing with someone who just happened to be a hypnotherapist! She asked me to explain how I remembered which notes were which on a sheet of music and how I remembered how to play them on saxophone.

When I told her she questioned whether I was over complicating my thinking by including things in my thought processes that I subconsciously already knew. As it turned out this was something I was already doing for the ‘beat value’ of each note on a sheet of music without realising. It was just a case of broadening this way of thinking.

Let me try and explain…

Below is a how the note ‘B’ is shown on sheet music and how this note is played on a saxophone - by pressing the key shown with a red dot in the second picture with index finger on your left hand.










Middle line = the note ‘B’ = press key with the index finger of my left hand

This way of thinking included too many steps because I already knew that ‘B’ is represented by the middle line. I could have chosen any note by the way as the principle remains the same.

It was suggested that I try simplifying my way of thinking. Now when I’m playing music I think like this: -

Middle line = press key with index finger on my left hand.

The note ‘B’ no longer features in my thought processes.

This simple solution was a revelation and instead of feeling frustrated I began to again see improvements in my saxophone playing.

To parallel this way of thinking to modern life I suppose it’s a bit like clearing the recycle bin on your computer. Emptying the recycle bin frees up space in your computer’s memory and simplifying our thought processes has a similar effect on our brain capacity. Why use up precious memory and waste energy on information that you no longer need or already know?

Re-training your brain to think in a more efficient way and so much more becomes achievable.

It might take a little time to re-think the way you think but for me it ultimately proved to be worthwhile.

Less can really result in more.



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