Somatic Training for Musicians

“To make the inconceivable, doable, the doable simple, and the simple, elegant”-Moshe Feldenkrais

These phrases may nicely describe a musician’s objectives in utilizing approach to comprehend musical inspiration, whether or not it’s refining a compositional concept or perfecting a demanding instrumental passage. But they had been written to explain the objectives of a Sensory -Motor studying technique that makes use of mild motion and directed consideration to extend ease and vary of movement, enhance flexibility and coordination, and stop and deal with many widespread overuse and misuse accidents musicians encounter.

Tendonitis, Repetitive Stress Syndrome, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, sore backs, necks, shoulders, and so on. are all too widespread amongst musicians. Many circumstances require medical consideration and it’s clever to seek the advice of a health care provider when ache or discomfort alerts you to an issue. However treating the symptom might not get on the trigger. Happily, there exist various strategies oriented towards the event of physique consciousness in motion which can be utilized to forestall these accidents and, the place they exist already, apply non-medical approaches to enhancing our functioning. Grouped collectively beneath the identify “Somatic Training,” these strategies handle postural and motion points extraordinarily related to musicians however usually uncared for within the pursuit of instrumental abilities.

Its not shocking that motion training is of worth to musicians. All music manufacturing entails motion, and it follows that being attentive to the way in which we transfer to make music will have an effect on the music we make. Exploring this straightforward connection can have profound impacts on biomechanical well being in addition to creating sensitivity and energy in music manufacturing.

Historic Roots

Somatic (from the Greek work Soma, that means “residing physique”) training could be regarded as a bodily training that doesn’t separate thoughts and physique. The roots of the Somatic strategy return to the Gymnastik motion of Northern Europe and the Japanese U.S. in the course of the late 1800’s. These lecturers shared concepts about posture and motion, which had been at odds with dominant fashions in classical ballet, bodily training, faith and drugs. Gymnastik pioneers rejected the separation of thoughts and spirit from a mechanistically conceived physique, inspired self-developed values over conforming to a great, and approached bodily training as a unity of motion, physique construction, and psycho-spiritual well being. Following the disruptions of two world wars, strands of this shared imaginative and prescient got here collectively as previous pioneers and new strategies established colleges and unfold their work. Right this moment 1000’s of educators observe strategies corresponding to Sensory Consciousness, the Alexander Method, Ida Rolf’s Structural Integration, Moshe Feldenkrais’s Consciousness By way of Motion and Purposeful Integration, Gerda Alexander’s Eutony, in addition to Aston-Patterning, Physique-Thoughts Centering, Trager Work and others. After exploring a couple of widespread threads working by these approaches, we’ll have a look at the 2 mostly used with musicians: The Alexander Method and the Feldenkrais Technique®.

Significance of Motion & Consciousness

Musicians are acquainted with the notion of our instrument being an extension of ourselves; and in a manner, the first instrument is the self. A pinnacle in our species’ evolution of motor abilities, enjoying an instrument calls for a extremely complicated use of the neuromuscular equipment. However treasured little of a musician’s coaching entails refining one’s capacity to maneuver effectively, sense strains, and attend to extra of oneself whereas making music. With out this coaching, we unwittingly develop neuromuscular habits which can be bodily anxious and improve our vulnerability to damage. When the motion is poorly organized, forces are created that generate pointless warmth within the joints, with shearing and different stresses within the connective tissue and muscle tissues. Performed repeatedly over time, harm and damage usually tend to happen. Postural issues from sitting and standing for lengthy durations, instrument-specific issues (corresponding to ache in a selecting hand) and easy pressure resulting in pointless muscular contraction are widespread outcomes of inefficient motion patterns.

Step one to recognizing dangerous habits is to seek out out what we do already, that’s, grow to be conscious of our motion. After we exert numerous muscular effort, it’s inconceivable for our mind to make the sensory distinctions wanted to enhance our neuromuscular group. With this in thoughts, many Somatic strategies use gentleness, delicacy and slowness of motion to note what is definitely occurring. It’s analogous to the way in which a gradual ballad tends to disclose many nuances of the sound: tone, intonation, and time all grow to be simple to note once we gradual all the pieces down. In the identical manner, being attentive to refined distinctions turns into simpler once we gradual our motion and keep away from extra effort and pressure.

Thoughts, Physique And Setting-A Purposeful Complete

Motion happens by an data suggestions course of between our senses, muscle tissues and central nervous system. As we transfer, our senses of contact, steadiness, sight and sound ship our mind details about our place and muscular exercise and it responds by modifying the outgoing messages to our muscle tissues. All this happens in response to the challenges of our surroundings. You play a word, hear the sound, and make adjustments or changes for the subsequent assault, all whereas contemplating the surroundings or context (the model of the music, the room or viewers, different musicians). These components exist as a purposeful whole–one by no means happens within the absence of the others.

Equally, the supply of a given downside is usually a mixture of a bodily limitation, psychological, or emotional perspective, and the particular challenges of the instrument itself. Every aspect might contribute and dealing in a single space could have ends in one other. The pianist’s sore wrist could also be associated to a number of of the next: a shoulder that doesn’t transfer freely, a psychological perspective that ends in practising too lengthy with out breaks and/or a bench peak stopping comfy arm place. Therapies that target one among these components to the exclusion of the others are sometimes restricted in effectiveness.

The holistic strategy acknowledges that difficulties are sometimes a part of a basic underlying dysfunctional motion sample. The manifestation of the issue could also be removed from its supply and enhancing the final sample usually improves particular grievance.

Discovering Our Personal Manner

Simply as completely different types of music name for various instrumentation, aesthetic selections, and musical values, somatic educators acknowledge that context and individuality play a major function in figuring out applicable motion. Because of this, Somatic educators keep away from basic prescriptions for all to observe. Slightly than espousing anyone ‘proper’ manner of doing one thing they encourage people’ in creating the flexibility to sense, uncover, and resolve what’s greatest for themselves. They promote our capacity to belief our subjective and speedy perceptions of ourselves and domesticate the capability to differentiate between appearing to evolve to an “exterior preferrred,” and spontaneous pure motion born of figuring out oneself.

Let us take a look at these rules in motion within the work of two towering figures in trendy training, F.M. Alexander and Moshe Feldenkrais.

Alexander Method

F. Mathias Alexander (1869-1955) was an Australian-born actor who discovered himself dropping his voice throughout performances. After docs had been unable to supply something however relaxation as a therapy he started a radical examine of himself which continued over a ten-year interval. This examine revealed that he pulled his head again when talking which led to stress on the larynx, and vocal chords and ensuing hoarseness. This head and neck place additionally precipitated him to raise his chest, slender his again and grip the ground along with his toes. He thereby realized his speech organs had been influenced by misusing his entire self. Alexander went on to refine these insights right into a extra environment friendly use which he referred to as “main management”. This consisted of getting his head ahead and up along side lengthening and widening his again. But regardless of having discovered a extra environment friendly group he confronted an impediment: overcoming the pressure of behavior that frequently reinstated motion patterns deep within the nervous system. He noticed that specializing in the tip outcome was obscuring the “means whereby” his motion happened. Alexander went on to refine a method of “inhibiting” all computerized impulses simply in the meanwhile of motion and changing this with “aware constructive management.” He overcame his recurring fallacious use and never solely his voice downside however his nasal and respiratory difficulties vanished too. The top of his experiment was the start of a lifetime’s work refining and instructing his approach first in Britain and later all around the world. Endorsed and supported by such influential folks as Aldous Huxley, John Dewey, and George Bernard Shaw, the Alexander approach proved particularly precious to vocalists (and has been on the curriculum of appearing colleges and music conservatories for many years.) In a typical Alexander session, the trainer makes use of mild guide steerage to extend the scholar’s bodily consciousness in fundamental actions corresponding to sitting-to- standing, and strolling. College students can be educated to inhibit recurring patterns and acknowledge good coordination of the top, neck and trunk.

Gary Burton and the Alexander Method Berklee Faculty of Music Government Vice President and vibraphonist Gary Burton credit an injury-free musical profession to consideration to his personal biomechanics and classes with an Alexander trainer. His curiosity in these issues got here early in his improvement: “In my teenagers and early 20s,” Burton states, “after I practiced, I did numerous enthusiastic about how I used to be shifting and what was shifting and noticing pressure. Through the years, I made adjustments as I grew to become extra conscious of what was concerned bodily.” After a yr of finding out the Alexander approach, Burton developed a way of find out how to maintain his neck and head which felt appropriate. He developed a long-lasting physique consciousness and new habits yielding advantages that transcend enjoying the vibraphone. “I’ve at all times had the unprovable assumption,” he says, “that the rationale I’ve by no means had any again issues, after years of lugging a vibraphone round, lifting it out and in of automotive trunks, is as a result of I am fairly conscious how I transfer, after I choose one thing up the place the pulls and strains are, and find out how to do it rigorously.”

The Feldenkrais Technique®

Moshe Feldenkrais was a Russian-born engineer, physicist and athlete who labored with Nobel Prize winner Joliot-Curie in early nuclear analysis. As one of many first Europeans to earn a Black Belt in Judo (1936) he launched this Martial Artwork to the West by his instructing and 5 books on the topic. Within the early 1940’s, after struggling a sequence of crippling sports-related knee accidents, he was given a 50- p.c likelihood that surgical procedure may restore his knees. However the docs warned that if the surgical procedure failed, he would possibly find yourself with crutches or in a wheelchair. Feldenkrais selected to not bear the proposed surgical procedure and as a substitute be started to review neurology, anatomy, biomechanics, human motion improvement, and methods idea. Utilizing his personal physique as his laboratory , after two years of analysis and experimentation, he taught himself to stroll once more. Feldenkrais continued his research and examined his concepts with buddies and colleagues, treating their aches and pains, muscle and joint issues, and even critical neurological circumstances. By accessing the ability of the central nervous system and our extraordinary capacity to be taught, he discovered he may obtain enchancment in folks the place many different approaches had failed. He continued to refine his concepts right into a system often called the Feldenkrais Technique, finally coaching practitioners in Israel and the U.S. Right this moment, there are literally thousands of practitioners worldwide and the Feldenkrais Technique is taught in quite a few bodily rehabilitation facilities, universities, theater and music packages and neighborhood training facilities.

Whereas Alexander had targeted on the head-neck relationship, Feldenkrais– along with his background as a Judo master–was particularly keen on how the central, highly effective muscle tissues surrounding our pelvis and trunk correctly do the onerous work whereas the extremities fine-tune our motion. When, attributable to rigidities in trunk and pelvis, the smaller muscle tissues are compelled to take over work extra effectively achieved at our heart, pressure and damage usually observe.

The Feldenkrais Technique is taught in two codecs. In group courses, referred to as Consciousness By way of Motion®, the Feldenkrais trainer verbally leads college students by actions which step by step improve in vary and complexity. Based mostly on developmental actions, extraordinary actions, or extra summary explorations of joint, muscle, and postural relationships, the emphasis is on studying which actions work higher and noticing the adjustments in your physique. As college students grow to be extra conscious of their recurring neuromuscular patterns and rigidities, they develop new options with improved flexibility and coordination the outcome.

Personal Feldenkrais classes, referred to as Purposeful Integration®, are tailor-made to every scholar’s particular person studying wants. Carried out with the scholar totally clothed (often mendacity on a desk or in sitting or standing positions) the practitioner, by mild touching and motion, communicates the way you manage your self bodily and the scholar learns find out how to reorganize his or her physique and conduct in additional expanded purposeful motor patterns.

Studying Not Therapeutic

Whereas there are clearly therapeutic advantages to each the Alexander Method and the Feldenkrais Technique, they’re academic in nature and obtain their outcomes by tapping our huge potential for self-awareness and self-direction. The educational course of used is just not goal-oriented however exploratory, and works very similar to the way in which we realized as infants to sit down, stand and walk–essential skills that all of us realized with no trainer. With out the thought of accomplishment (and the judgmental exercise that accompanies it,) college students are free to find what they’re doing (not what they’re “purported to be” doing) and from there discover different potentialities.

Studying this manner reduces compulsive, self-destructive motion patterns. Practitioner Paul Linden’s remark reveals the outcomes: “he did not really feel that he had realized a static method which dictated the suitable option to play, however that he had elevated his consciousness so he was higher at studying the cues his physique and the sound of the music had been giving him.”

Each Feldenkrais and Alexander refused to simply accept the opinion of specialists and rejected the Western cultural emphasis on one appropriate manner for everybody. Slightly, by paying cautious consideration to their motion, they realized what they wanted to enhance their use of themselves. By way of the strategies they based they demonstrated their implicit belief within the people’ capacity to seek out his or her personal option to higher coordination.

Any program of therapy for overuse and misuse accidents ought to benefit from the ability of Somatic Training which is the ability of studying that’s each individual’s birthright.

1 Don Hanlon Johnson, Physique 2 Paul Linden Physique Consciousness Training for Musicians: A Case Examine Illustrating Fundamental Workout routines and Rules

Copyright © 1996 by Richard Ehrman

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *