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What Every Pianist Needs to Know About the Body
5 sessions

 

In this 5-session course, I offer an in-depth introduction to the somatic method of “Body Mapping.” Our body map is our self-representation, our personal idea of our body in our brain. Body Mapping teaches us to move in relation to accurate anatomical information about the body in motion. It awakens and enhances self-perception through our tactile and kinesthetic senses, and expands our attention to include our performance space and its contents.

 

In addition to preventing and resolving performance-related injuries or limitations by correcting faults in our body map, musicians will discover how well-coordinated movement increases both ease and control in playing, greatly enhances and expands artistic choices, and helps lessen and even eliminate any negative effects from performance anxiety. In the end, our movement and expressive possibilities will be limitless and our playing a continual source of joy, freedom, and renewal.

Session 1: The Attentive Musician

Topics include:

  • Increasing our movement choices by correcting and refining our “body maps”

  • Identifying piano-specific issues related to our movement

  • Developing a “Unified Field of Attention,” the condition of expanded and continuously-shifting awareness that allows our music making to be informed by the sensations of our bodies in motion as well as a clear perception of our performance environment

  • Perceiving and cultivating “micromovements” in relation to the large range of movements available to us in any moment

 

Session 2: Balance and Weight Delivery in the Human Body

Topics include:

 

  • Experiencing the benefits of balance in sitting and standing: how to depart from and return to balance in the midst of performing

  • Accessing the “core” of the body for efficient weight delivery through the bony structure, thus avoiding muscular tension and finding ease in sitting and standing

  • Understanding the importance of head balance and head movement in launching our coordination

  • Clarifying the torso/legs relationship: top half over bottom half----"monkeys, lunges, and squats, oh my!”

 

Session 3: All About Arms!

Topics include:

 

  • Understanding the structure and movements available at the four primary joints of the arm

  • Balancing the arm structure

  • Utilizing sequential movement within the arm structure

  • Securing support for the arms: the arm-torso relationship

  • Keeping the arm structure in continuous relation to the whole body by mapping the distance from the fingertip to the rest of the body in every moment of playing

Session 4: Breathing with Ease at the Piano

When playing do we ever find ourselves holding our breath, clenching our jaw or unconsciously humming? Let’s put breathing fully and freely into a whole-body context!

Topics include:

  • Following the journey of the air

  • Freeing any structures that might impede our breathing (tongue, jaw, muscles of facial expression, muscles of the pharynx)

  • Embracing the sequential movement of breathing: distinguishing voluntary from involuntary muscular movement

  • Understanding the five (5) sources of support for breathing

Session 5: Balance and Weight Delivery in the Human Body

Starting with the premise that performing music is a whole-body activity in every moment, this session explores the multiple roles of legs in practice and performance.

Topics include:

  • Clarifying the leg-torso relationship

  • Coordinating the three joints of the legs: a chamber music trio (or sextet!)

  • Finding enhanced freedom and control in pedaling

  • Thinking like a quadruped: how arms and legs relate in every moment

  • Looking to our legs as first responders to musical impulses

  • Exploring the coordinated movements of legs and torso in embodying the musical line

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