Terre Pruitt's Blog

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Posts Tagged ‘RAW’

Nia White Belt P3 – Music + 8BC System – 2020

Posted by terrepruitt on July 20, 2020

We are on our fifth week of the Nia White Belt Training via Zoom. We have reviewed Principle 3. From my previous posts, when I first took the White Belt, it was treated like two parts. Now, in 2020, while Principle 3 is called Music & 8BC System it is broken down into three parts. While our triads go from bottom left corner, to right, to top, I feel like the book and the training do not follow that order:  Principle 3’s triad is made up of RAW, Sound, and the 8BC System.

Following that triad, we have RAW, which is truly R.A.W. and stands for Relaxed, Alert, and Waiting. This is how we are supposed to listen to our music. Eleven years later and I still get so sleepy I often stop and take a nap. The original instruction was always to sit and most of the time, halfway through a song I am so tired I can’t keep my eyes open, so I think I will start standing in RAW. It really is an amazing way to listen to music. Maybe I just take the “relaxed” part too far. We relax, but we are (supposed to remain) alert, and we wait for the sounds and the silence.

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There are so many ways to do this it can be fun, if you can stay awake! You can listen to the sounds of the song as a whole or you can pick out one instrument or sound and follow it through the whole song . . .that is where the waiting can come in because it might not be a constant throughout the entire song so you are left waiting.  It could be actual silence you are waiting through.  Once you are familiar with the sounds and silences they can become cues when the choreography is added.  You can do this with songs you have never heard or songs you have been listening to your entire life.  Sit in RAW and listen to a song you are familiar with and see if you hear any new-to-you sounds.

On another corner of the triad, we have sound, the anatomy of the music; the rhythm, the melody, and the harmony. This is listened to in RAW. Instead of listening to just one sound/instrument, perhaps you focus your attention on just the harmony and listen to the entire song that way. Or the rhythm or the melody, it is another way to become familiar with the music.  Again, a fun way to listen to music.

And finally we have the 8BC System which is the way we Nia teachers learn our music. We count it to “bar” it and the result is a map that helps us to move to it. Again, eleven years later and I am still learning with this. I love really studying the music and mapping it well because I always hope to “do my own thing” to it, but then, more often than not, I am in awe of the choreography and end up trying to stick to it. So . . . I am still learning to play with Nia music that has choreography.  Perhaps this time through the white belt I will grasp “playing more” with Nia music and become more flexible.  When dancing to music that has not be choreographed by the Nia choreographers I can play just fine, but it is stepping away from the moves that are timed and planned so well that I am still learning.

My previous posts on Nia White Belt Principle 3 Music & the 8BC System are still pertinent so I am not going to go further into it. As I have said over and over, to really understand the richness of the material and training you have to take it for yourself. I have barely scratched the surface on what Debbie went over in class and the triad graphic is incomplete, there is more to each triad. As I have also said about Nia, 98% of this can be applied to your life.

If you approach listening to people in RAW, where you are relaxed but alert and just waiting for them to share with you what they are saying, how fabulous would that be? If you were to stop and listen to the rhythm of life around you and notice the melodies and harmonies that accompany it, what would be able to notice? Now, the 8BC System might be a little more challenging to add to your everyday life, but I bet there is a use for it. If not the ACTUALLY “barring” of life, but the idea of when you hear a certain sound you can attribute a move to it or a sensation.  Perhaps a surge of excitement when a familiar ring tone sounds on your phone.  A move to rise when you hear the doorbell.  A move towards the kitchen when you hear family coming in for a meal.

Can you think of ways you can listen in RAW?  Can you listen to life in the form of rhythm, melody, and harmony? 

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Relaxed, Alert, and Waiting – Nia RAW

Posted by terrepruitt on October 18, 2011

One of the things we practice in Nia is something we call RAW.  We are Relaxed, Alert, and Waiting.  It is listening to music by listening to the silence and the sound.  The body is relaxed.  The mind is alert.  The conscious is waiting.  We sit and listen.  Our spines are upright, tall, and lengthened, even though the body is relaxed.  Our muscles are not tense, but they are ready.   Within our spines there is space around each vertebrae.  The mind is alert.  There is no inner dialog with ourselves going on in our head.  We are waiting.  What we are waiting for is the next sound or the next silence.  We are listening to both the instruments and the silence.  We are curious.  We are listening to the music as a whole.  Listening for specific sounds and silences that can allow us to sense many things.  The specific sounds and silences can also be used as cues when teaching a Nia class. We might hear a flute every so often.  So we might train ourselves to listen for that soft sound.  Then we might notice that always after the flute there is a ting of a triangle.  Eventually we might notice that right after the triangle there is a moment of silence. We are relaxed.  We are alert.  We are waiting, either for a sound coming out of silence or a sound of a familiar pattern, as in the triangle after the flute.

With this tool we are to listen and observe what transpires in the music.  We aren’t to form an opinion of whether it is “good” or “bad” or whether we like it or not.  We are just listening and learning.  Part of RAW is not moving.  This to me is one of the most challenging parts of RAW.  We are to listen and not dance.  We are to listen and not move to really be able to LISTEN and in order to be in the sensation of RAW and not allow the sensations of the body interfere.  Sometimes it is really hard to do.  Nia routines are set to music that inspires the body to move so to have to sit still and just listen is not always easy.

Additionally, I slip out of the tall, upright, and lengthened spine.  Once I start barring the music I tend to lean on my arm.  Ya know, elbow on the desk, forearm upright, chin resting in the palm of your hand?  Without fail this makes me sleepy.  The combination of being relaxed, and alert – so I have no conversation going on in my head, and I am waiting.  I start to fall asleep.  Then I realize I missed the instrument I was waiting for.  So I sit up and start again.  Sitting up tall and with a lengthened spine really is the key.

It’s a practice; Nia and RAW.  It works too.  Listening to the music in this state of concentration really helps me learn my music.  It is fascinating to think of the silence as music just as much as the instruments are.  RAW is a great tool that Nia has taught us to help with our Nia practice both as teachers and as students.

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