Have you ever watched a lion or tiger on television, stalking and then bursting upon its prey? It leads the attack with its eyes. All the rest of its magnificent body follows its eyes as it watches sharply, calculating speed and distance, supremely focused, and then explodes across the distance between it and its goal. The eyes are critical to its power.
The following exercise is a Shaolin Kung Fu eye focus exercise. This exercise is designed to keep your eyes honed and sharp. I will teach it to you and then we will apply what you have learned to your ear focus. Read the instruction closely and do the exercise.
Stand fully extended and relaxed, hands at sides, facing forward.
Snap your head quickly to the right, turning a full 90 degrees, so that your chin is over your shoulder, and focus your eyes as far into the distance as possible. Snap your head back straight. Now snap it to the left, look far, and snap your head straight again. Do this one quickly. Boom–right. Bam–straight. Boom–left. Bam–straight. Don’t turn your body. Stand fully extended, with your feet planted firmly on the ground and your chest forward.
Even if you’re standing in your bedroom and can only see the wall a few feet away, project your vision farther than that. See as far as Iceland and its polar bears in one direction, and as far as Miami and its dolphins in the other. Fully extend your sight, just as you fully extend your mind, your body, and your whole life.
Do it 10 times quick.
Now imagine the first 5 notes of Bach’s Invention in F.[audio:http://www.grahamenglish.net/blog/audio/shaolineartraining.mp3]
Imagine each of those notes are like the spots you were looking at in the eye focus exercise. Now imagine increasing your hearing speed to focus on each individual note. It’s different with the eye focus exercise because your eye muscles are at work focusing and moving. Your ears don’t have to do anything. It’s all in the mind and brain. We have to exercise our focus, giving it precision, speed, and accuracy.
Listen to a fugue and pay attention to one voice at a time. Hear each and every single note. Add voices. Hear everything. Work with sequencers, metronomes, and audio editors to slow things down and speed things up. And keep practicing the eye focusing exercises. It will help your sight reading and provide a perfect metaphor to remind you to hear with focus.
Strong senses are of utmost importance to the warrior.