Steve Vai’s Single Note Meditation
The Single Note Meditation is a guitar meditation technique that I picked up from the legendary virtuoso Steve Vai.
Steve Vai had a huge influence on my philosophy about creativity as force of the divine speaking and moving through you. Plus, the guy’s work ethic is absolutely incredible, working 8 hours a day on music (his mentor, and one of my favorite composers ever, Frank Zappa, famously worked 12). While my hands and brain do not have that type of fortitude, at least at this point in my life, that type of dedication is something that should give us pause when we wonder why maybe our own projects and skills aren’t where we’d want them to be.
It’s rarely a question of inborn talent, and regardless of what we are born with, it takes thousands of hours of work to refine and express those skills.
And its worth it. If you’ve ever seen Steve Vai live, he is an absolute wizard!
You can find a bunch of his mini lessons here. I HIGHLY recommend doing just about everything he says as far as guitar work.
Today we will be talking about focusing on a mere atom of music – a single note.
I think it would be tricky for a piano player using a keyboard, unless it is very responsive with touch sensitivity. A real piano would be a bit easier, and you could use the pedals to alter the tones a bit.
Regardless of what instrument you use, find a single note and just stay with it.
The idea is to keep pulling the mind away from distractions the same way we do while meditating. You may think “this is stupid”, “I forgot to do that thing”, “I’m hungry”, and on and on and on. And despite those thoughts, you will just come back to the note.
This builds Discipline. Focus. Control.
We also get the physiological benefits associated with that particular frequency (there is some debate as to exactly which benefits each frequency denotes - there are many reasons for this which maybe I will discuss in another article).
How long to go for
When first starting this exercise, start with only a minute or two. Once you really get into it, you’ll be amazed at how much nuance there is to perceive within a single note. 10 and then 20 minutes can fly by. Vai suggests to work all the way to 60 minutes.
The duration isn’t as important as the focus itself. Work up to staying longer and longer and the benefits will match your endurance.
When we focus on purposely limiting what we are doing on the fretboard, we are able to concentrate on different things than we normally would. Meditating on a single note can add a new dimension to ourselves as writers and players, opening ourselves up to that ethereal quality that we yearn for both as musicians and as listeners.
Check out the power for yourself...
If you have any questions do not hesitate to comment below.
Thanks for reading!