Using the Body's Wisdom to Unlock Technique
Herbein, Jacqueline, American Music Teacher
As teacher and performer, it is impossible to have too much knowledge about the body. We owe it to our students to pass along information that will allow them to unlock their musical potential and prevent the possibility of future injury. But what information will we pass along? Will it be recycled information from the latest workshop or clinic we attended or the last article we read? It all sounds so good and makes so much sense when that dynamic speaker/writer presents his or her definitive methods, but on what information was that particular presentation based? Do we have enough anatomical knowledge to assess the validity of the information? If it was valid, have we taken the time to incorporate the latest work-shop/clinic/article principles into our own playing? If not, how can we teach what we haven't experienced? How does the incorporation of these new principles feel? Are we in touch with the new physical sensation? Does it work? To answer these questions, we need solid knowledge and an understanding of how our bodies work in relation to our instruments.
We now live in an age where more information than we ever dreamed of is only an Internet connection and mouse dick away. Understanding and using this information is another matter. A thorough knowledge of basic anatomy is crucial to understanding movement when playing an instrument. Armed with solid anatomical facts, we can guide young musicians into forming good physical habits so when they start practicing longer hours in junior high and high school they are not at risk of repetitive stress or other injuries. This anatomical knowledge also allows us to look at the information presented in many of the beginner methods on the market today and truly question their validity. Position and outward appearance of the hand, arm and body are only part of the puzzle. Creating a movement free from underlying tension is another. It is here that we must tap into our own body's wisdom. In his book, The Inner Athlete, Dan Millman states: "A good teacher can speak the language of the intellect--words--and communicate clearly so the student understands. An excellent teacher can speak the language of the body--by showing the muscles, bones, and nerves how something should feel if done properly."
Take a moment to check in with your body right now. How comfortable are you? Are you sitting hunched over in a chair, or are you sitting supported? Are your shoulders tight? Are you gripping the pages, or are the pages resting easily in your hands? What does your body tell you? The majority of us go through our days without listening to what our bodies are trying to communicate. We tune out our bodies to squeeze in all the demands of our jobs: practicing, rehearsing and teaching, not to mention the details of our personal lives. When our bodies finally get our attention with excruciating sensations we can't ignore, how do we respond? Do we quiet our bodies by popping a pill, having a drink or watching mind-numbing television, or do we consider working with them in a cooperative way?
The messages of holistic health abound. Look no further than the offerings at your local health club--in addition to the basic low-impact aerobic and step classes you might find tai chi, yoga, Pilates and therapeutic massage. …