Robert Fripp

Robert Fripp's Diary

Friday 01 February 2002

Guitar Craft Levels 1 & 2 - Convento di S. Maria della Pace, Sassoferrato, Italy


A sense of the next step for GC in Europe has flown by.

It has become clearer than even before that, in order to accept my own responsibilities to the more experienced students within GC, that my attention cannot continue to be directed towards characters who have little alertness and a poor sense of personal presence.

This is not a problem: it doesn’t matter that a large proportion of the Level One students are clueless, it matters that they don’t know they are clueless. Then, they offer danger to the course and others on it. When they know they are clueless, I can help. But the swelling arrogance of a couple of the team is such that they are beyond where I might presently assist them.

08.26  Mass cluelessness is erupting among the Level One. Hernan reports that in the dining room post-performance last night, with a pumping-down of tiramisu underway, a flash went off – one of the Level One photographed the event without asking beforehand. And the photographer of the notice board has been taking photographs of it all week, it appears.

Then the man responsible for ringing this morning’s wake-up bell, who had volunteered for the post yesterday following the non-ringing by the person formerly responsible, did not: another of the Level One had taken this upon himself. They had usurped the post without prior reference to myself. So, a pivotal role in the life of the house was switched from an agent I felt to be responsible, to an agent acting without my permission and prior knowledge. The person who usurped this role is one of the Level One’s  more interesting characters, one who is bouncing well.

08.32  I am about to ask Hernan to accept responsibility for directing Guitar Craft activities in Europe and South America.

08.55  I passed the following document to Hernan & asked him to read it before accepting it. Hernan read and accepted its contents…

 To Whom It May Concern:

This is to confirm that Hernan Nunez is the director of Guitar Craft activities in Europe and South America.

Robert Fripp
Founder, Guitar Craft.
Friday 1st. February, 2002;
Convento di S. Maria della Pace, Sassoferrato, Italy.

One of Hernan’s responsibilities is to improve the quality of Guitar Craft students attending Level One courses. Perhaps one way to approach this would be for Hernan himself to direct an Introduction To Guitar Craft course, with the effect of helping us to better know our cluelessness.

First, we are clueless.
Secondly, we recognize that we are clueless.
Thirdly, we acknowledge that we are clueless.
Fourthly, we move to addressing our cluelessness.

I am available to help address cluelessness in those who feel that cluelessness is an unworthy condition for the aspiring guitarist. We are all clueless, but we need to know this to address the consequences. Hernan is personally responsible that students on future Level One courses are sufficiently prepared & ready for me to work with them.

09.14 Meeting in the ballroom, without guitars, for the Level One & Level Two. As is now a well-established convention, there were several late arrivals from the Level One. The day’s work:

Large & small group pieces for those who wish. This continues what has already been undertaken.

Then, an exercise for today:

Choose one small piece of work that may be simply, easily & clearly defined. Perhaps sitting on a chair in an effortless fashion; perhaps playing one bar of music; perhaps holding the pick; perhaps bringing the left hand to the strings; and discharge this small action superbly. This task must be available for verification - simply, easily & clearly.

Frank called a final Alexander group meeting at 11.30, for those who wish, to have a kind of closure with their meetings this week.

And now, the boat has left.

10.12  First batch of personal meetings with the Kitchen Team & Staff. Good people & questions. Now come the guitars.

10.51 Hands, relatively clueless, but knowing that they are clueless.

13.38  Prior to lunch I pinned a handwritten notice to the board:

No photography of this board without an official Guitar Craft Photo Pass signed by Senor Nunez.

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

Firstly, there is a mistake.
Secondly, we recognize there is a mistake.
Thirdly, we acknowledge there is a mistake.
Fourthly, we move to address the consequences of the mistake.

The boat has left.

Martin & The MBs arrived at 12.35 for a right hand session. These Mentoring Buddies present themselves to other students not as authorities, not as instructors, but as older brothers with a little more experience and a clear knowledge of the difficulties that other, less experienced, students are facing.

However, a downside to this is that errors are also transmitted. Often this is in the right hand. But, we do what we can with what we’ve got, and give it our best shot.

The need to address the needs of Mentoring Buddies is a considerable part of Guitar Craft moving to its next stage: I must be freed to address the needs & bona fide concerns of those who have invested a considerable part of their time & energies in Guitar Craft: in a word, Crafties.

An interesting lunch followed the Mentoring Buddies’ meeting. A tasty soup, and I allowed myself a second helping. As I was standing to leave, a question arose from a Level One student who had photographed the notice board (one of at least three students who had). Did people think this was a mistake? I asked him, what was your intent in taking this photograph? He wanted to remember (the course, etc.).

Then another Level One joined in. I also asked him his intent in taking a photograph of the notice board. This moved along a process of why? until we reached an answer with the word: take. And this was the intent: to take something from the course.

In my professional life this violation is constant. What I register from the photography is the intent. This intent undermines the performance, and violates what I see as a sacred act – bringing music into our fallen world. And anything which undermines that sacred act makes me angry; with a righteous anger. Guitar Craft presents a space where another way is possible. So, Uncle Robert was very, very pissed.

Then, how to address the consequences of a mistake?

14.19  Called Mary P to tell her Hernan’s sense of Elizabeth Bennett at the courses, here last summer & the Berlin Circling weekend in November 1992.

18.22  More personal meetings this afternoon, carrying into tea-time.

After tea, a presentation to the House by Level One & Two of their work today. This was mostly well-intentioned but generally badly prepared or mistakenly undertaken. The garrulous Level One student (who manages to constantly insert himself in situations and make them last as long as possible) was wittering endlessly about his supposedly simply, definitely & clearly stated piece of work, and found himself confronted by a ridiculous pair of spectacles (belonging to Martin Schwutke) on the nose of Senor Nunez, Director of Guitar Craft Activities in Europe & South America; and Robert hanging himself with a woolen scarf held in his right hand.

Then honourable performances by the full Level One followed by Level Two. Small group performances followed, including an exceptionally earnest quartet from the Level Two that warmed up the audience – hooters were pulled out of pockets and blown loudly in support.

Two characters from the Level One were missing from all of this, and a car is gone. One these is persistently late for meetings, and last night was in a car outside smoking & listening to music – music from outside the context of this course & therefore not part of it. The other is the man whose behaviour from the beginning has been interesting – the lick-slinger who notes that “nothing is compulsory”. He is right – you don’t have to be a jerk. He is often to be seen talking into his mobile ‘phone. He has never quite arrived on the course.

So, they have now both left the course; better then they also now leave the house. After the course has ended, the protection available to the course is reduced. The house, and those within it, then become vulnerable to out-of-tune characters who can do damage. The House Manager & Director of GC Activities in Europe are arranging the practicalities of this: room-mates are packing up their things which will be put by the front door. 

Honourable conduct: two rolls of film have been given to me by photographers.

18.52  Shinkuro has just left left the room: he came to volunteer for the post of Japanese GC Registrar. This is a function that has been honourably filled by Hideyo Moriya of The CGT for several years.

20.04  Silence visited dinner very early this evening, and persisted although not being widely acknowledged. There were several small group performances, and tasty dinner. At 19.40 the silence was accepted and held very strongly. We could have sat with it for much longer but I felt it appropriate that we move to clear the dining room & kitchen in preparation for the final meeting. But with gratitude, and without driving the silence from the room. It is interesting to note that one does not have to be “silent” for silence to be present. But it helps to be present for silence to be present.  

The silence available to this course has been remarkable and generous, from very early on. I have no doubt that silence, of the quality we have experienced this week, is indicative of the presence of a conscious intelligence (however we might understand that).

Hernan, Marty & The MBs, came at 15.15 for a Right Hand meeting. This is exactly what my energies & attention should be currently directed towards at GC courses: meeting the needs of the more experienced players who did the best they could in the early days, and spending all their time on calisthenics was not then an option. So, now with experience directly in their hands, it is time to address that experience and refine the template to more closely approximate an ideal.

22.25  The final meeting began at 21.00 and ended at 22.18.

The team is meeting back in the ballroom at 22.30 to discuss cleaning. Rather than allow all the accumulated energy to blow out with noise & late night partying with new pals, we are grounding it in necessary work. This will have the function of making tomorrow’s clean-up much easier for the remaining team who leave on Sunday. 

Q:        What is the difference between Level Two & Level One?
A:        Level Two has lost its innocence but without acquiring competence.

Level One has historically had innocence, but been clueless. Frank & Cathy’s work has helped the penny to drop: if we have no connection to our body, perhaps we have no connection to our mind and feelings. Alexander work helps the penny to drop in 2-3 days instead of 5-6 days without it. But something has changed for me: I am no longer able to work with someone who is clueless & doesn’t know that they are clueless.

Historically, we have been very accepting of anyone who is interested in coming into GC & attending a course. We once had entry requirements - a 21 year-old age limit & fluency in the English language - but dropped both. Whoever wanted to come, even without any guitar experience, was welcome. But this has changed this week. I am no long able to work with students who are clueless & not aware of their cluelessness. We are all clueless, but we need to know this. So, Hernan’s role as Director in Europe contains the brief of preparing students so that I am able to work with them.

Various observations from the students, some of them direct and insightful & two rambling and clueless. Heartfelt thanks expressed to Frank & Cathy, Martin & The Mentoring Buddies – Shinkuro-san, Fumihito-san & Luciano, and to Hernan. This past nine days would not have been possible without them. The next stage in Guitar Craft’s long process is underway.

Curt Golden & Fernando Kabusacki came to mind.

And, at 22.18, an acknowledgement from the Founder of Guitar Craft that The League of Crafty Guitarists has begun again, the Kitchen Team is ongoing, the Level Two is completed and the Level One is finished.

23.00  Called Curt Golden to report the end of the course & say that I felt him present at the final meeting. Curt mentioned the suggestion of Jonathan Brainin for a GC introductory course – Level Zero. Curt has been buzzing with the energy from Europe and moving outwards from the Convento.

A core team of Staff are gathering for a small post-course congreting in this room.