GC Course Diaries by Robert Fripp: Level 1, 2 and 2.5 in Lebanon, US

Date or timeframe: 15-03-2005 / 24-03-2005
Venue: Baptist Camp
City: Lebanon, NJ
Country: United States
Category(-ies): /

Tuesday 15th. March, 2005; 09.04

Hotel Acceptable, Lebanon, NJ.

The hotel provided a modest feeding trough. New reading: John Mason’s Researching Your Own Practice: The Discipline Of Noticing (Routledge/Falmer 2002).

An e-flurry begins. From a Crafty diarist who has moved off the GC site to diarise elsewhere… I have to say that I find what has happened with the diaries a little arbitrary and thus intolerable, but on the other side I don’t know the whole picture so I will move on on my own.

This post shows why a change became necessary, quite apart from the natural evolution inherent in due process.

09.15 Once there is noticing, then there is something noticed. This something noticed then becomes available to reflection and, with reflection, the experience may be digested. Once the experience is digested, then something else becomes possible.

11.48 Lobby call at noon for carriage to Camp Lebanon.

18.27 An afternoon of rapid acculturation in coffee shops & bookshop of the nearby township of Clinton.

I have noticed several ladybirds in this bedroom & on the staircase.

21.0 Dinner at 19.00. Relaxed conversation & an informal performance call by Debra for downstairs in the Staff Cottage. Upstairs, I’m dribbling.

The night sky is clear and beautiful.

Wednesday 16th. March, 2005; 06.39

Baptist Camp, Lebanon.

Rising at 05.00 & showering in the adjoining shared bathroom, I noticed a ladybird in the bath. To save it from being washed down the plughole, I encouraged it onto a piece of toilet paper from which it land safely on the floor. Then, while getting into the bath myself, I stepped on it. So much for being helpful.

10.35 Morning sitting at 07.00 in the Staff Cottage. Breakfast at 07.45 with good comments from Debra & others on last night’s informal performancing. Reportedly, much reliance was placed upon The Hat. And, although the course has not yet begun, there is the sense that something has already begun.

In the report on the performance, the word conditioned was used.

Then, a small discussion on beginning. The question was posed: does a beginning end? A professional teacher of philosophy was invited to reply and felt comfortable saying yes, a beginning does end. Against this was put the view that, in a conditioned world, a beginning is the first stage in a process, that stage does come to an end, and is succeeded by the following stage in that process. However, beginningness is a quality and, in an unconditioned world, may be said not to end – a quality is and is not governed by time. There we are. First breakfast at Camp Lebanon on a course that has not yet begun but which is eternally beginning anyway.

House cleaning in two of the buildings on the property, the Meeting Hall & Staff Cottage, began at 09.30. House cleaning may be described as eternal & ongoing in both the conditioned and unconditioned realms.

(Re-organised) room…

… with a view…

14.07 Four personal meetings beginning at 11.00. T’ai Chi at noon with Luciano. Then an Alexander lesson for me to address the condition of my back. The Alexander practitioner first came to GC as a guitar student in the early days at Claymont.

A very tasty lunch indeed & a few more arrivals.

20.49 Dinner was 30 minutes late, at 19.30.

Over dinner, various members of the Team called out their favourite House Rules, a formal list of which is posted to the board. A new Rule was proposed: always say yes to seconds, even if you don’t want it, because the next guy along the table will. This is especially important when it comes to dessert.

Guitar Craft House Rules
Baptist Camp, Lebanon, NJ
Wednesday 16th. March, 2005

Honour necessity; honour sufficiency.
Act from conscience.

Nothing is compulsory, but some things are necessary.

No judgements are made: we accept you as you arrive.

There is no mistake save one, the failure to learn from a mistake.

Honour the role, respect the person.

Some people here will irritate you.
Don’t worry: you will also be irritating them.
Please act towards others with goodwill and with courtesy;
Otherwise, be polite.

You are not asked to accept any direction that violates conscience.

You are not asked to passively accept any idea that is presented to you.
Rather, you are invited to test ideas you find surprising, to establish the veracity of those ideas, or not, for yourself.
You are encouraged to adopt a position of healthy scepticism, while participating in a spirit of goodwill.

Please stay outside the kitchen.

Be on the course, to the degree that you are able to honourably bear.
For example, listen to the music generated within the course; telephone when necessary, or when useful.
Avoid listening to, and reading, any non-course material.
Recording during the course is discouraged.

Accept responsibility for your personal space;
and that part of the communal space which you own.

If you smoke, please do so outside the buildings.

Please stay within the boundary of the facility for the duration of the course.
If you require something, please ask the House Manager.

Drug use is incompatible with participation in Guitar Craft.
Although nothing is compulsory, this is necessary.

If Robert considers that any person’s continuing participation is detrimental to either that person, or the course as a whole, Robert may ask that person to leave.

If any of this is unacceptable, you are free to leave with a full refund prior to the beginning of the course.
If you decide to stay, you are asked to stay for the duration of the course.


In the Inaugural Meeting at 21.30 the course was formally declared as having begun at 21.38, although at what time it had actually begun was debatable.

People were asked to say:

who they are;
where they come from;
what brought them here;
their aim for the course.

My own declared aim, and what brought me here, is to get a sense of the state and condition of Guitar Craft in North America.

Walking back down the hill to the Staff Cottage, the night sky is clear & beautiful. This has struck me for two nights running.

Thursday 17th. March, 2005;


18.52 Rising at 05.30.

Morning sitting at 07.00, breakfast 07.45.
Level T into action, for the first time, after breakfast.
An Introduction To T’ai Chi with Luciano at 09.15.
Level One group meeting at 10.00.
Level Two at 11.00 went in search of the elusive C major.

Level 2.5 at 12.00 addressed developing variations; including retrograde motion & octave inversion/transposition. Also an exercise on scale movement, to take advantage of the minor third interval between the top two strings.

Good comments over lunch.

A personal Alexander meeting at 15.30 and my back continues to get into shape.

Personal & group initiatives continued through the afternoon with tea at 16.00. Get lucky with Luci! More t’ai chi at 18.00.

20.59 Dinner at 19.00 with newly arrived persons to the course & visitors.

Very good comments & reports on the day’s work during the meal.

A perceptive observation from a Level One member on the circulations: the student noted that there was more going on than notes. In reply: one aspect of circulating is its use as a binding technique. It strengthens the connections between people working in a group who wish to strengthen those connections. But there is a danger involved: for those who do not wish to be part of the group, the distance increases.

Receiving help: can we receive help? This is a necessary line of work, but our current Western culture is more familiar with a go-getting active mode. Can we be receptive?

Today is House Manager Mark B’s birthday. Happy Birthday To You was played by the New Jersey Chapter of Horn Up Your Ass. Senor Ugo lives!

Walking down the hill after dinner, I did not immediately notice the night sky but was struck instead by a constant roar of traffic. Roar roar.

Interesting aspect of my own day, immediately after lunch: a telephone interview with the Daily Mail regarding T’s book. In my own professional life, currently I am not doing interviews. If I were, I wouldn’t be doing telephone interviews. And if I were doing telephone interviews, I wouldn’t be doing them with the Daily Mail. But, I support my Wife & the Mail was interested in her husband’s comments on her just-released book.

One of the house rules is to remain on the course. This is not merely a physical engagement with geography. If our attention is elsewhere, our body might as well be with it: we have left the course. The interview filled what would otherwise have been dribbling time and, strangely, I found it did not prejudice my presence on the course. If anything, the interview functioned as a pointed stick.

22.31 Guitar For All Who Wish at 21.45, with 41 in the circle & several more on the boundary. Or as we say in England, quarter to three in the morning. The first part of the meeting was lead by RF, the second by Curt.

Friday 18th. March, 2005; 06.02

Baptist Camp, Lebanon.

Another frosty morning at Camp Lebanon.

08.44 Very good comments over breakfast regarding aim, the specificity of aim, differentiation between aim & goals, & the availability of time.

08.54 So, how to make use of the time which is available to us, particularly as we get older?











14.11 Good meetings with the Levels One, Two & 2.5 at 10.00, 11.00 & 12.00. The Buddies in the Outer Circle contributed by taking on the same exercise as the Inner Circle.

Level 2.5 came to life while approaching Developing Variations in A major.

Good comments at lunch, including on circulating. At the centre of circulating is transmission. The circulation presents us with a demonstration of how transmission takes place, while also providing us with the energy needed to see what the circle is presenting; this is subject to us honourably undertaking the challenge presented in the Circle’s working.

18.46 An early & regular participant in GC courses, Laura G, is visiting a GC

House for the first time in 14 years. This afternoon I took advantage of Laura’s visit & received acupuncture for my back; and had stitches removed from my leg. GC was not Laura’s vocation, although she suggests it helped the development of her practice, healing.

A meeting with the Buddies approached descending & ascending in C major through 3 & 4 octaves. Then, to developing variations including in 3#s with double & triple hocket (ie one note on the beat, 3 off). Then descending & ascending 4 octaves in E flat.

T’ai chi at 18.00.

20.27 An interesting dinner.

Following the main course, the team were invited to present reports or comments on their afternoon’s work. One very good comment, from a Crafty whose comments are always insightful, was partly covered by noise in the kitchen, and he was asked to repeat his comment. Then, a voice in the kitchen was followed by the rumbling of a large service trolley, as dessert was wheeled out, with requests for plates to be passed down the tables. This was followed by an enquiry as to who wanted cream on their apple crumble, and then followed by the procedure of serving the dessert. Seconds were then offered to the Head Table (declined). It was as if the focus of the meal, at that point, was not the commentary on the day’s work but the serving of dessert. Which is what happened. The moment of representing, remembering, reporting & reflecting on the afternoon was juggernauted out of the mealtime.

This was followed by a visit from Silence, the first loud silence of this course, which held for some 40 minutes.

Also of interest: I had a small seeing this morning which I began to present at lunchtime. This was also deflected by a joke, by the same person responsible for the dessert delivery. That’s two opportunities for something that were deflected today. But, the appearance of silence at a “failed moment” seemed significant.

On the notice board for 21.15: personal & small group work.

Also novel personal arisings: I am not only eating breakfast, but eating porridge for breakfast. Porridge was breakfast every morning for 10 months at Sherborne House (1975-76) & I’ve never been able to eat porridge since. Until now. And if that is not a significant change of pattern, how about drinking herbal tea? Red zinger for dinner instead of coffee. Yow!

Saturday 20th. March, 2005; 18.57

Lebanon, NJ.

Group meetings this morning mainly based on circulating in various forms, with guitar information for the Levels Two & Two-and-a-bit. Developing variations continue to develop.

Performances at mealtimes are increasing in number.

Acupuncture this afternoon continues to aid my return to fuller health.

A personal meeting with the person responsible for the dessert juggernaut yesterday, discussing the cause & some of the consequences.

Superb presentation to the Kitchen Team by Patrick Smith, Big Cheese of the kitchen.

21.11 The Yorktown Guitar Circle has been playing for the group. They walk to the performance space at the top of the dining room & look as if they are marching to their execution, whether by firing squad or hanging I’m not sure. But they do look as if they’re about to die.

Good comments over dinner, including decision & addressing deeper needs on the course than developing variations on guitar.

Patrick W is presenting a solo bass performance in the dining room for all comers at 21.45.

22.15 Patertronics in the dining room was well set up & presented. A powerful sustaining, unfolding mood.

Back in the staff cottage, Limping Bill Kabusacki is wailing the blues along the corridor.

Sunday 20th. March, 2005; 15.29

Baptist Camp, Lebanon.

Today, rain. This complicates the simple practicalities of moving around a campsite with buildings spread over its extent: umbrellas, raincoats & muddy shoes.

A toast at breakfast for Debra’s 20th. wedding anniversary to Eric. There had been two guests present: Bob Gerber & Hugh Elliot. The toast was offered to Eric & Debra’s marriage.

An important day, with several arising & voiced concerns falling into place, achieving (for me) a focus. How to articulate this?

We are all at the same point.
But our understanding of that point is different;
Our experiencing of this point is different.

A woman’s circle has formed, spontaneously, and by the end of breakfast was in discussion at the end of a table.

For volunteers only: An Introduction To Level T by its Founder at 08.30 & T’ai Chi at 10.00 with Luciano.

At 11.00 a Full House met in the Staff Cottage to consider the subject: if we’re all in the same boat, why is our experiencing of boating so different?

Professional                              Master Musician

These characters, of different degrees of accomplishment & talent, are all in the same place. None is any “better” than any other, but their experiencing of what is going on in that same place is different.

One Crafty was invited to repeat an observation from dinner: while circulating in a L2.5 meeting he found himself moving from a careful counting & watching of the fingerboard, to relying on the different identities of notes which he was playing (my paraphrase). That is, he was experiencing the exercise as would a Master Musician.

Another Crafty was invited to present a Point of Seeing from the September 2000 GC course here in Lebanon. A performance challenge had been presented that took the students to a local bar (specifically a not-very-sophisticated drinking & performance space). While playing, the Crafty “saw where music came from”.

These were presented as practical observations, directly related to the courses here in Lebanon, as examples of all four “worlds” of experiencing being available, and ongoing, wherever our personal centre of gravity happens to be. That is, wherever we happen to live, we can get to visit other places; and/or the “other places” come to visit us. Alternatively expressed: a finer quality of participating in our lives is as available to us as we are ourselves present & available. Guitar Craft is very practical, and addresses how we might become more available to the riches that life has to offer.

Some Crafties come on courses because they are interested in playing guitar; others are more interested in developing a practice, a discipline, and the guitar is a way to approach that. For those interested in developing a musical life, they can join The Hellboys. If we are primarily interested in developing our guitar skills, at a certain stage we will need to develop our practice. If we are interested in developing our practice via the guitar, it is likely that our guitar playing will also improve.

The basis for my speaking was the lecture notes to Discipline & The Act of Music. The insight for this appeared at the GC course in Convento di S. Maria della Pace, Sassoferrato, Italy on Friday 19th. January 2001. In order to galvanise my work with the material, I accepted the Performing Right Society John Lennon Memorial Lecture at York University (at he instigation of Dr. John Potter of The Hilliards) to challenge my thinking. Similarly, in 1983 I undertook The Music System tour of the US to better understand the nature of the tetrad. These two pointed sticks both honoured the aphorism: there is nothing like exposure to public ridicule to galvanise the attention.

This morning’s meeting began with a division of attention exercise & ended some 90 minutes later. The duration was also an attention exercise. The attention span of an “average adult” is around 45 minutes, and more than that requires effort. A full house team sitting in a small room, mostly on the floor, for 90 minutes is itself a considerable challenge.

These are the lecture notes now pinned to the board, as they were in Sassoferrato on Friday 26th. January, 2001…

Discipline & The Act Of Music.
The benevolence of the creative impulse
My Life In The Act Of Music
The Three Disciplines
Craft Techniques:
Practising the Person
Doing nothing
die that ye might be born
letting go of bad habits
Acquiring good habits
the new Crafty
Doing Something Efficiently
Being Someone Efficient
Being Where We Are
Moving Between Worlds
general comments
commercial performance
Qualities of performance
Guitar Craft Aphorisms

Discipline & The Act Of Music.

i May we trust the inexpressible benevolence of the creative impulse.

ii The talk has not yet begun.

iii A key injunction of discipline is to act always in accordance with time, place and person. So, I shall speak without notes and see if this evening takes on a life of its own.

iv A theoretical approach to discipline is not of much help, so the particular example of discipline presented here is that of Guitar Craft. This is specific, practical, rooted in experience and ongoing. Guitar Craft is available to members of the public if they have a sufficient wish and cannot be discouraged.

v This is not a final word on the subject, more a present report on an ongoing concern.

vi Neither do I present this as authoritative. Please don’t accept anything that is presented in this talk as given, or inevitably true. You are invited to engage in the spirit of critical goodwill

vi Now, the talk begins.

The benevolence of the creative impulse

i Sometimes, music leans over and takes us into its confidence. When we have known this for ourselves, our lives are never quite the same again. When angels descend from the heavens on chariots of fire and blow trumpets of gold in our ears, when will they return? The question for the aspirant musician becomes: how may this happen again?

ii Discipline is how we keep alert for when music might visit once more. Discipline is how we continue to call on music, through many long & quiet years when it appears to have deserted us.

iii Music so wishes to be heard that it sometimes calls on unlikely characters to give it voice, and ears. The inexpressible benevolence of the creative impulse is simply and readily available to all, to the degree that we are readily available to the creative impulse.

iv Discipline is how well we are able to respond when our Friend might call. What is possible for us, is to prepare a welcome.

v Discipline is also how we do nothing.

vi The lecture is titled Discipline & The Act of Music. Although both the words discipline and music are nouns, we approach both as verbs. Discipline is not a thing: it is an intentional activity, a process, an undertaking we commit ourselves to honour. Music is not a thing: the act of music is the music.

vii Discipline is a way of life; that is, a way of living. Music is a way of living: are we in time, in tone and in tune with ourselves, and others? Are we in harmony with ourselves, and others?

viii The act of music is eternal. Music is a quality organised in sound and in time. The quality is eternal. The forms of organisation are governed by time, place and person.

ix We consider three kinds of time: time’s arrow, or sequential time; time’s cycle, of periodicity and recurrence; and a particular kind of time where intention is involved: we may think of this last kind of time as “creative time”.

x In the world of creative time, when a decision is taken, the action has already taken place. In the world of sequential time, we experience this as the future leaning back and pulling a succession of events towards the outcome.

xi The distance between the two – the taking of the decision, and the unfolding sequence of events which lead towards the realisation of that decision – involves all three kinds of time. Our engagement in this process is maintained by discipline.

xii So, another way of looking at discipline is to say that it confers effectuality through time. This is experienced subjectively as an expansion of our present moment. A present moment is a moment of presence.

xiii So, we can say that discipline addresses:

the duration in linear time of our awareness;
our sense of personal presence;
how to expand our present moment in order to address specific and practical tasks which require extended periods of linear time to unfold;
and that this action takes place within society and community.

My Life In The Act Of Music

i I have no qualifications. No accreditation. No mandate from qualified others. But a lot of experience.

Been playing guitar for 43 years, one month and one week;
in public for almost 42 years;
professing music for 32 years, eight and a half months;
earning a living from music for 31 years.

ii The young Fripp began playing guitar on December 24th. 1957. The young Fripp was tone deaf & with no sense of rhythm. Yet he knew within 3 months that this was his life. He also knew that he was going to be an estate agent, and grow up to take over his Father’s small country firm.

iii This suggests there are alternative futures available to us:

One is the future which is provided by the conditions of our lives – the conditions determined by where we are born, when we are born, and to whom we are born. These conditions are genetic, cultural, historical and, some would say, astrological.

Another future is the future which is possible for us. This is the future which is uniquely available to who we are. This possible future is one we are born to discover and then create for ourselves.

The degree to which we are able to achieve this is significantly determined by the degree to which we acquire discipline.

iv My life in the act of music, in live performance, began as a student of Kathleen Gartell’s Corfe Mullen School of Music to King Crimson.

v This wide, and not quite unequivocally valuable experience, leads me to suggest that:

It is not possible for the musician to play music.
But, it is possible that the musician is played by music.

We may not be able to govern the weather, but it is possible that we push the boat onto the lake & raise the sail. The wind may not blow, but if it does, we are ready and available.

vi The aim of the musician is to create a construct through which music may enter our world.

15.45 Among the performances at lunchtime: the Yorktown Guitar Circle, Zum & The Intergalactic Cowboy.

16.42 After lunch a meeting with the Yorktown Guitar Band. Curt introduced GC Theme One to all who wished to be at the meeting.

Over tea: a member of the Level One told Tom M & myself of his visit to Mount Athos as part of a visiting architectural group, and stayed in a monastery on Athos for two weeks. In response Tom mentioned a visit to his Orthodox church in Chicago of an Athonite, now in Cyprus, the subject of a book The Mountain Of Silence (coincidentally, which I’ve read). Tom collected the Athonite Big Cheese at the airport and, in their conversation, Tom asked if he knew of Gurdjieff. Big Cheese replied that some of the old monks on Mount Athos remembered the visit of a “mad Russian” to monasteries there, exchanging new carpets for old. Good wheeze, or what?

18.49 My third visit to our visiting acupuncturist. T’ai Chi is being followed by Quiet Time.

21.36 Bob Gerber has arrived! Hoorray! Bob was Chairman of the Claymont board during Guitar Craft’s early courses & often presented The Systematics Of Performance on those courses. Bob’s contributions were necessary & valuable in the beginning days of GC. Bob joined the Head Table and, as is customary for anyone at a hot seat, accepted questions over dinner. You never get a straight answer from a Systematician.

A Hootenannay has been called for this evening by one of the Women’s Circle. It is set for 22.00 in the Chapelasium,

Monday 21st. March, 2005; 22.45


BobCraft underway at breakfast with real issues being voiced.

At 15.00 those who wished met in the Clayton dormitory building for Q&A with Bob Gerber. Old friends Ben Bennett & Sam Nusenblatt arrived shortly beforehand & were present at the meeting.

Bob is very particular about the use of language, and we have not had a theoretical discussion like this since, well, the last time Bob was contributing to GC courses in West Virginia.

Full House meeting with guitars in the Godnasium at 21.15.

Today for me: 18 of those who have signed up for personal meetings without guitar; important issues discussed with Ben.

Tuesday 22nd. March, 2005; 06.10

Lebanon, NJ.

A frosty, bright morning.

14.03 A very fruitful time for me with Bob G after breakfast, catching up on various important arising personal concerns & common interests. Bob is superb at delineating issues & articulating the principles involved in various actions & undertakings. Bob has agreed to have personal meetings while he is here.

The re-connecting on this course, after long absences, of various people in the Crafty & Sherborne families, is significant in ways that I don’t yet understand. But, I do know that it has been necessary for me personally, and the future of Guitar Craft, that Bob Gerber and Ben Bennett have visited.

At 10.00 Bob introduced an exercise that he felt was particularly useful to this course.

Level Two-and-bit met at 11.00. During it, I saw the next period of Guitar Craft unfolding. The Level Two met at 12.00 and various aspects of this next-period revealing continued to present itself.

17.23 The Virtuous Circle Project continued to unfold during the Level One meeting at 15.00. This was a very powerful meeting. As in the earlier meetings this morning, the Buddies surrounded the inner circle of less experienced guitarists and undertook the same exercises. Today, I was with the Buddies.

We are all in the same boat, but our understanding of that boat is different; our experiencing of this boat is different.

Today, the same boat was a particular exercise, new to the groups & to the Buddies. Mistakes were made, even by the most experienced of the Buddies (including one from Dorset). All levels of experience were presented with the same specific challenge, all for the first time, and being put on the spot with & in front of others. How to deal with this?

Immediately afterwards, in discussion with two of the Buddies, the comment was made that, with the Level One, you could sense the group’s irritation where one of its members was a weak link – how can you keep letting us down! – and that this irritation then changed to one of support – how may I help you?

In the circulating Buddies, there was no sense of irritation, criticism, judgement between the members; and there seemed to be very little in the way of internal judgements.

At tea, the Kitchen Team presented some of their work with Alexanderist Kim: playing spoons to accompany Kim’s fiddle playing.

Bob Gerber is conducting Bobcraft – Obscure Ideologies And How To Be Confused By Them – in a series of personal meetings.

20.52 Very good comments over dinner re: today’s meetings.

The group meetings for all three levels of experience have been events of future-unfolding. Something like see this? this is your work for the next step.

Level One & their work with Buddies in the Outer Circle surrounding them, is a new development. Howling Jack Kabusacki commented on the change, for players in the inner circle, from anger (with repeated clunkers) to support for the person making them; and that, among the Buddies, no animosity was passed between them.

A comment: the Buddies were presenting not so much how-to-do-the-exercise as their striving-to-do-the-exercise & demonstrating how they went about it.

Away from the dining table: a very significant validation for Guitar Craft has appeared in the last 3 weeks, and again in the last two days. This enables Guitar Craft to move to the next step. The pattern for the centre-of-gravity of Guitar Craft work, over the next 22 years, has been hinted at & begun to unfold.

The tempo of the course is accelerating & time available is shrinking.

Placed on the board today, by one of the team…


House meeting at 21.30.

An informational overview was presented, based on Discipline & The Act Of Music lecture notes, an outline covering topics deserving & requiring a more careful & considered presentation of them. But if you can’t serve the meal, then at least put up the menu. The clean sheets & tidy story was told.

Bob’s term description was showing empty boxes: at least you know the boxes that are waiting to be filled.

I have not made formal presentations for many years, partly because the courses were more frequently held in Europe and South America, partly because the immediacy of work in a Guitar Craft Circle speaks far beyond anything I can say. Nevertheless, when questions are asked based on common experiences, words may be necessary. On this course, I have felt that some of those words were mine. The combined words of Bob + Robert have added a higher word-quotient to a course than we have had for quite a while. Probably, since the last time Bob was on a course.

This prolixity was referred to, and the immediacy that GC offers. I have been in many discussion meetings on cosmic subjects, and witterings-on in imagination & self-indulgence (of which I contributed my share). With a guitar, you hit a note, or not, and it’s clear: the note was missed. Where were you? No argument. No endless justification. Play it again, hit it truly, and see what is in-between the hitting of the note in tone, in tune, in time & missing the mark.

A performance challenge was offered for tomorrow. Following a 5-minute break, we returned for 30 minutes of various comments & questions.

Wednesday 23rd. March, 2005; 14.36


A wet day on the slopes. Bob Gerber left this morning before breakfast.

Level T has established a new benchmark in dirt – the Mother of Detritus standard – while t’ai chi was proceeding. While t’ai chi was proceeding, more of the unfolding GC pattern unfolded.

After t’ai chi, Tom Hellboy presented an Intro To Performance in the Goddadavida.

Work during the morning centred on preparing for this evening’s performance. For me, many personal meetings. Only one client brought a guitar, a mistake.

Comments at lunch: on performance & protecting the performer. Reference was made to a tradition where, when the master reaches the age of 40, trained students are placed in the four quarters of the performance space to protect the master. This is partly a display of “security”, partly to neutralize inappropriate energies, partly to transmit goodwill.

An e-mail from Hernan is pinned to the board, announcing a 3-month Level Three in Kiel from 10th. July to 18th September.

Now, an afternoon of clients…

16.00 The present moment of experiencing, within the tetrad of musicianship, is different for each station.

For the apprentice, this might be in hours, or days or, for a good apprentice, weeks. The specific part of the training is a 40-day exercise.

For a professional, this begins with a year, moves to three years, and then to seven years.

For the master, the task is to hold a 21-year pattern.

For the genius, the timeframe is a lifetime.

20.39 Snow continues.

Comment during dinner by Sandra, the directing Alexander Teacher: what the Alexander training does is tuning the person.

During the past few days, several sensitive people have been registering negativity in the atmosphere. This changed noticeably at dinner: a grace was sung at the beginning & this set up the meal wonderfully. Goodwill was felt & noticeable during the performance that immediately followed.

The picture of an English Summer Project for 2006 is becoming clear.

21.47 A performance in the Goddadavida. The team clambered up the hill through snow to a rather lifeless performance, preceded by play-on music of an entirely different calibre by Patrick W and Patatronics.

Thursday 24th. March, 2005; 12.22

Lebanon, NJ.

Snow covered the ground this morning & is now retreating.

A room with a (snowy) view…

Tony G returned last night around 22.00 & was at the head table for breakfast this morning. Comments over the tables centred on last night’s performance: dreary (Curt’s description) and dismal (mine).

The Hootenanny was so vital, with lesser material, so why was last night a lesser event? Various comments suggested pre-determination, the audience, the space as unsupportive of performing. Even the MC was criticised. The Doorwoman had set herself to protect the space, but found herself becoming angry with the audience. And then, afterwards, the MC had to urge people to leave.

During t’ai chi (09.15) the tetrad of apprentice-professional-master-genius continued unfolding, indicating varying degrees of Present Moment in space and time. For example (from yesterday afternoon) a good professional can undertake commitments for 3-7 year periods, a master 21 years. The genius has global effect or influence, the master international, the exceptional-professional national, the developing-professional regional, and the Happy Gigster gets work in their own town.

Or so it seemed during t’ai chi. Returning down the hill…

Dining hall…

Looking back up to The Goddadavida…

Staff Cottage…

Clean sheets & tidy….

A House Meeting at 10.00 to present the Exercise Of Qualitative Endeavour. Comments were also made on the lines of Service & Acceptance, with examples of both from this course.

A Staff & Buddies meeting followed. Beginning comments addressed the return of the property to a state of readiness when we leave tomorrow. This is not so much returning the property to how we found it (which would require putting back the Mother of Detritus, for example) but to how we might hope to find it, should we return.

Then comments moved to negativity absorbed by the Alexanderisers. Comments in response recalled that, on early GC courses, the instructor and assistant instructors would always get sick. We were learning how to deal with the emotional states & psychological conditions of students, imprinted & fixed in their bodies, and released as the use of the body changed. My early days dealing with hands were very hard: how a student holds their pick is how they live their life. So, in repositioning the right hand I was confronting a world-view & belief system, locked & typified in one small physical gesture. Lebanon 2005 is the first full-blown GC course for this Alexander team: perhaps they will refine their approach to self-protection as experience grows?

Best guess: there is a measure of de-toxing going on in the course, probably catalysed by Laura’s acapuncture & healing work. Ideally, Laura would have been able to stay, even one day longer, and help to neutralize the toxicity released. Meanwhile, we are all learning on the job.

14.10 Fab performance by Zum and The Red Hot Weenies.

Max had a Burning Issue & asked for 5 minutes of the team’s time to present The Intergalactic Cowboy’s insight into the nature of composition: an aspect missing in GC – the heart. Max gave a practical example from that morning: an amazing & swift compositional accomplishment by the Level Two-and-a-little-bit, written from the heart. Max declared that GC composition is from the head, and that this accounts for difficulties & time spent in preparing new material. Now, composition can be from the head and the heart.

Max was asked whether these were the only two ways to compose and, prompted, accepted that there might be three. For example, a well-trained player could “compose” with little more than the hands. That is, the player would “compose” by rote, but a broadly-based & well-informed rote situated in-the-hands might be moderately convincing.

This would then give us composition by:

the heart;
the head;
the hands;
the heart & the head;
the heart & the hands;
the head & the hands;
the hands, head & heart.

The single forms of composition are one-legged stools. Essentially, this is apprentice level. A good pro can combine any two facets of the three. Balanced & harmonious composition is, fundamentally, in the domain of the master musician/composer. This is the three-legged stool upon which composition can sit. But a good use of one-legged stools is to invert them that they might better remind us of our aim.

Max’s requested 5 minutes actually took 11 minutes of Full-House Team time. It was suggested to Max that he owed the House 6 minutes. A repayment considered sufficient was for The Intergalactic Cowboy to perform a 6-minute piece, Burning Issue, to be composed from the heart. After all, when we recognize a need, we are called upon to address it. The suggestion was also put forward that Max could team up and perform as The Red Hot Weenies and Max’s Burning Issue.

Max undertook a solo-presentation for dinner.

18.51 Following tea, a presentation of examples from today’s Exercise of Qualitative Endeavour began in the dining hall with members of the Kitchen Team, and included demonstrations involving garlic & a carrot. Presentations then moved to the Gymnagogue, aka the Godmagogue, aka the Goddadavida.

Afterwards, a Level Two with concerns based in imagination & a demand for personal attention, attacked me. This, a good person, demonstrates the danger of Level Two. Simultaneously, Bob Gerber and his Wife Veronique arrived by car, right in front of the Godadavidda. Bob proclaimed: I couldn’t leave here!

21.02 A superb candlelit dinner with music had something of the quality of a celebratory feast. Bob & Veronique joined the Head Table.

I am continuing to recover from the Level Two suck. The distinguishing feature of Level Two is that it sucks the life out of anything that moves.

Q: How do I know I have been the victim of Level Two?
A: The diminishing of my presence, and the stickiness that attached itself to me.

22.56 The final meeting was held at 21.45. Friends, family & course participants who are at-a-distance were spoken for, myself on behalf of Bill Rieflin. Four of the Team suggested interest in the Kiel Level Three this July-September & various comments were made. After good words offered by Bob Gerber, the course was declared completed at 22.50.

01.20 Packing mostly done by 00.30ish, I joined old pals in the dorm room opposite. We came together spontaneously for a few minutes, following various departure-organising operations, and toasted Guitar Craft’s newly-arrived twentieth birthday.


Friday 25th. March, 2005; 06.09

Baptist Camp, Lebanon, NJ.

Good Friday.

Rising at 05.20. Curt was in the bathroom before me, for the first time, and heading out the door with Tony shortly afterwards. Going downstairs, Sandra was carrying stuff to her car. Departures are already well underway, the first scheduled for 05.00.

On this day, twenty years ago, the first Guitar Craft course began in West Virginia. What is Guitar Craft, on this Easter Day, twenty years later?

Primarily, GC is a focus for developing a personal practice: one of developing a sense of personal presence, the space around us, and our relationship between the two. The primary means for this are silence, music, the guitar; and the ways these come together for the individual, small Circles and the larger GC community.

Silence is a powerful contributor to many GC courses, particularly where they are held in facilities with an established tradition of prayer, reflection and meditation, such as seminaries, monasteries and places of retreat. Silence also seems able to penetrate facilities less obviously supportive of quiet time.

Those who attend courses come from all walks and conditions of life, many of whose normal working conditions are not externally, nor overtly, encouraging of personal endeavour. The challenge, when leaving courses, is often this: how may I carry this quality of silence with me, and hold it close inside the noise of daily life?

How is it that music appears, as if from nowhere, bringing hope to a despairing heart, food for hungry ears, life to a tired spirit? Music even manages to spring from the instruments of beginning players with little executive capacity, experience or musical talent.

GC guitar techniques have developed over 20 years of application & refinement, following application during 27 years of playing & performance, in a wide variety of contexts & spaces, on four continents.

Personal practice is necessary to apply, internalise and develop the material presented; but a striking feature of Guitar Craft is the degree to which this is undertaken within groups, small, large and even very large.

Currently, there are a growing number of Guitar Circles of varying sizes that meet regularly, sometimes under difficult conditions, throughout the world. Together with non-playing participants drawn to GC practice, these comprise the body of the wider GC community.

Introductory courses to the New Standard Tuning and Guitar Craft are held regularly in different countries, made possible & available by the increasing experience of those involved in Guitar Craft since the earliest courses.

Today’s 20th. anniversary is not the important one, for me. The major shift is coming next year, with the 21st. anniversary. The value of today’s birthday is as a sounding-bell to alert us to what is coming, that we might prepare for the shift to the next 21-year period.

When we reach almost-the-end of a process, it seems to reach back & draw us towards it. Something is required, but not a lot. A clear picture of what is required for 2006, which would begin the next 21 years of Guitar Craft life, is now available. By holding this picture, we allow its power of attraction to draw us towards it.

The course planned at Lunlunta (Mendoza, Argentina) for April 2006 effectively celebrates the 21st. anniversary & (potential) completion of the first generation of GC activities. The proposed 2006 Summer School of The Virtuous Circle Project in England would be the beginning of the second generation.

09.22 Breakfast with Bob & Veronique, Patrick S & Debra joining us. Old friends re-connecting & re-calibrating, learning from each other & together.

Now, a suitcase is looking at me, waiting to be closed.

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