"I'll give you a little tip about the blues, folks. It's not enough to know which notes to play. You need to know why they need to be played." - George Carlin
I was talking on the yoga.com boards to a fellow Spring 2010 Trainee To-Be this week about learning the dialogue. (Do I need a life? Very possibly, but isn't that why you love me? Let's move on.) The guy was having a little trouble with memorizing dialogue and was kind of discouraged about the whole process, in a "Why do we have to learn this stuff?!" kind of way.
As anyone who's met me or read my blog knows, I freaking love the dialogue. I believe that the dialogue gives you the strongest possible foundation to teach from, because it includes all the most important beginning instructions, for all the postures, in order. It is precise, sequential, accurate, and complete. When you really break it down, you can use it to answer virtually any question about a posture. (I have used this trick on friends of mine many times. Any time my roommate asks me about a posture, I usually just start telling her dialogue until we find the answer!) There's a reason for almost everything in it, including (especially including!) the weird stuff. It's pretty cool.
I mentioned my teacher Diane in the discussion, and another person piped up saying that she'd just taken Diane's class that weekend, and that it was the best dialogue-based class she'd ever had and the dialogue "sounded so dynamic" coming from Diane. (Woot! New England shout-out!!)
I loved that phrase - the dialogue "sounded so dynamic" - because to me it's always been obvious that the dialogue can be delivered with incredible dynamics. Or not! It's like a piece of music. In the hands of an unskilled musician, the best Mozart works will sound boring and lifeless. But when played by a master, you can hear the pacing, the structure, the nuances - the dynamics - of the whole thing.
My belief - though this may just be the scientist in me talking - is that is all comes down to true understanding. Like the late and great George Carlin said about blues music: It's not enough to know what notes to play. You need to know why they need to be played.
In my adventures with home recording equipment, I recorded audio of myself reading the entire dialogue off the page, so that I could study it in my car. I noticed something really striking when I listened to the CD. I can immediately tell which bits of dialogue I have really studied and which parts I was just reading off the page. Triangle is the last pose that I had studied when I did the recording, and it sounds fine. I studied separate leg head to knee and tree pose last weekend, and now the original recording sounds completely off - the phrasing, the emphasis, the inflection, everything! I can't believe how blatantly obvious it is, at least to my ear, when I don't thoroughly understand what I'm saying.
It reminds me of the flute lessons I took for years, when my teacher was constantly telling me, "Phrasing, J, phrasing! Why did you breathe there?!" The lesson finally stuck; I listen for phrasing in music and in dialogue. I find the little couplets and phrases that go together. It's a song, not a grocery list! It's not "Left leg locked thigh muscle contracted spine straight stomach in." It's "Left leg locked; thigh muscle contracted. Spine straight; stomach in." It's "skeleton-muscle, skeleton-muscle." Phrasing!! I'm gonna have to re-record the second half of the series...
Hope the slightly rambling teacher trainee shop talk isn't boring the heck out of you guys. I'm just a little obsessed with this stuff at the moment! (It's my blog and I'll blog what I want to!) Two and a half months 'til training... unbelievable.