Making Music in the Field of Gravity: Playing efficiently while achieving your Musical goals

Note from Josh: I am honored to be involved in organizing the upcoming Boston Feldenkrais Training, slated to begin in August 2016. I am especially excited about this training because it will be directed by Aliza, who, like me, specializes in working with musicians. Over the next few weeks and months I will be posting on my blog a series of articles by and about Aliza and her approach to teaching the Feldenkrais Method. 

Making Music in the Field of Gravity

By Aliza Stewart, GCFPAliza & violinist

Musical performance begins with a musical intention, which is translated into a series of movements involving weight, speed, orientation in space, and relationship to gravity. For the music to soar freely, without causing injuries, you, the musician, need to experience the joy of efficient, elegant movement in gravity. This experience will not only protect you from injuries, it will inform and influence your phrasing, your rhythm, and your palette of sound.

The challenge of realizing our intentions

Properties of sound – time, space, weight, rhythmical impulse, gesture, momentum towards an action (a leap against gravity), process of speeding gradually and slowing down gradually – are all properties of movement. When, for a musician, Aliza & violinistthese properties are not experienced in their movement, two things happen – the brain does not have the appropriate image of the action needed for the musical gesture, and it cannot send the right impulses to the muscles. The action is then clumsy and can result in injuries. Also, the hesitation that is introduced to movements that need to be spontaneous, sends a conflicting message to the muscle to contract and not contract at the same time. It creates paralysis in the muscles that can only be over ridden by forcing the movement.

The Feldenkrais Method, with its Focus on Movement, is a Path to Realizing our Musical Intentions

Aliza & violinist (laughing)We derive meaning from music as we connect one sound or note to another. The flow and movement of the notes as they relate to one another create our sense of music. A note standing alone is difficult to perceive as music. Feldenkrais releases the resistant forces in limbs, joints, and body to provide more nuanced movement. Just as the flow from one note to another creates our sense of music, the more nuanced flow from one physical movement to another provided by Feldenkrais can greatly improve musical performance.

Feldenkrais can improve the “how” and “why” of playing by providing new options for movement, removing resistant forces, and getting back to the internal movement of the music.

“When audiences are deeply touched by a piece of music, they report, “It moved me.”  Why do they say that?  Music and movement are deeply connected.” 

—Aliza Stewart

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