Ritchie’s Newsletter

The Zone

experiencing it

Various musical instruments throughout the world,
so many that have evolved over time.

I was fortunate to have seen some Chinese instruments, when visiting Shanghai recently; instruments that have been utilised throughout the dynasties’.
A busker was playing one in the city – just as his ancestors would have, centuries ago.

Seeing these sights rekindled my memories of the instruments I’d played,
from the very first ukulele I discovered by chance – tucked away in a far corner of a wardrobe in our farmhouse.
It had been neglected for many years until I dusted it off and tuned it up.
I enjoyed strumming along to the contemporary pop hits abundant on the radio in the early 60’s.

This was the start of my bumpy musical journey.
Finding my comfort zone with the traditional acoustic guitar,
I also had fun dabbling on our family piano,
and blowing the odd brass instrument.

Being lucky to have an opportunity at high school to receive formal musical lessons with viola and violin, it was undoubtedly playing the violin that I fully experienced being in “the zone” when playing in our school orchestra.

Many people would have heard of it, or perhaps been familiar with their own “zone” in their individual activities. Any activity that involves dedicated concentration – like a high level gymnastic displays; or a classical solo musical concerto – requires finding and attaining one’s specific “zone”
to produce the desired results.
We sometimes observe it, when watching these participants go into a quiet mode, or become detached, for a period of time before commencing their heightened activity.
It’s also sometimes apparent watching pop and folk musicians on stage, performing live, or in a studio when recording.

Yes, I believe I found my own “zone” at various times when, during my early teenage years, playing violin in our school orchestra.
There were times that I felt at whole with: the music; myself playing my violin, the other musicians in the orchestra, and our Conductor – Mr Gorreinge.
Being in such an impregnable zone – it felt as if no one could touch or harm me.

I believe I haven’t attained these levels of feelings or sensations since.
I recall them clearly; but I since have only been able to approach them.
The violin has continued to be the only instrument that has produced
for me a unique experience, that when in my special “zone”,
seems effortless playing and deep fulfilment.
Sure, the guitar and other instruments provide good sensations and fulfilment,
but not to the level the violin does.
The few times I play the violin on occasion now, reminds me of those feelings years ago, when being entrenched in my total “musical zone”.

I’m sure that anyone, perhaps without realising, has experienced their own “zone” in some particular activity they routinely do.
Whether it’s part of one’s work, sport, interests or hobby – it’s a place that only that person truly knows about, and how it feels for them, in their own mind.
Everyone has their own “zone”.

Best Wishes – Ritchie