Music to my Ears
I really enjoy working with performing artists. Back when I lived and worked in a good size city, I did so quite often. Since moving my practice and myself to an island, however, this happens more rarely.
Earlier this year, I was thrilled to be simultaneously working with two string players. One plays viola and some violin. The other plays cello. One had repetitive strain injury in her right arm; a car hit the other while she was walking and injured her left arm.
At first glance, these may seem like different situations. That said, my Feldenkrais® training and teaching has taught me that no matter the story of our difficulty, when movement of our arms is supported by our trunks, meaning that our ribs and chest are mobile, the strain in the arms and hands is greatly reduced. In the case of musicians, there is a greater physical connection with the instrument and their sound is typically richer.
When we started our lessons both of these women played as if their arms and hands alone were responsible for playing the instrument. There was a limited connection between the instrument and themselves. In both cases I did hands on work, Functional Integration® lessons, to help them sense the possibility that they could initiate the movement of their arms from their backs. I also helped them discover increased ease of movement in the chest and ribs.
I also worked with these women directly with their instruments. Before having them play, I asked them to draw an imaginary “infinity” symbol with their instrument using their whole self. This task was performed on the ceiling for the cellist and on the opposite wall for the violist to promote the appropriate movement in the trunk to support playing. Sitting on an inflated cushion made this easier. Only after this did we begin to work directly with playing music, starting with easy “open strings” and progressing to more difficult passages, always stressing that “mistakes” are just variations that enhance learning.
Here is what these two women had to say:
The cellist …
“After a car accident making it difficult to play my beloved cello, finding Marsha has changed everything. Within the first session I was amazed at how she could pinpoint exactly where my issues were and create a depth of sound and control I had been missing.”
The violist …
“I had to let you know that after just two hours or so of practice time to implement the flexible ribs thing, I played a Brahms piece for my professor yesterday and she could not believe what a difference it made in my sound. That was the missing piece!”
Thank you ladies.
Yes they were coming to see me about some pain- but my work is so much more than just getting out of pain- it is about moving in more comfortable and effective ways that help you to do the things that make your life more wonderful.
-In gratitude to Feldenkrais trainer Mary Spire for her advanced trainings in working with musicians.
Marsha Novak, GCFP (Berkeley 3 2003) lives and practices on Bainbridge Island, WA. She is so grateful to have found work that she finds so personally interesting and creative that also improves the lives of others. Marsha particularly enjoys working with performing artists and other “high performers” as well as children with special needs. You can learn more about her and her practice at www.movingwellbainbridge.com.