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  Maureen McHugh, Feldenkrais Practitioner          Musicians and Musician Teachers                       703-751-2111

   

     Musicians live in two worlds: one of constraints, and one of opportunities. What draws the musician is the opportunity side: the chance to express something through sound, the chance to be a creative and growing person, the wonder of sharing music with others. And, then, all along the way, comes the constraint side: the need to practice, the demands on the body, the physical requirements when playing with others, and the artistic limitations that come with employment. How do these currents meet in any one person? In you?

    The Feldenkrais Method is a way to explore this question. It is a way to explore "how you are" as you make music and "what other possibilities" you may have.

     The goals of this exploration include:

* being more comfortable while playing
* avoiding injury while putting in the time needed to learn a new piece
* being better able to meet demanding technical requirements
* feeling more joyful and alive while playing
* bringing something more authentic to your playing
* extending your life as a musician

     A number of my colleagues have written about how this process works. Here are some articles for you to read.

 

bulletOverview
bulletHighlights
1.

"The Feldenkrais Method and Music, An Interview with Paul Rubin."
by Linda Case.
Originally published in The American Suzuki Journal 1995.

Paul Rubin is a Feldenkrais senior trainer in California. He studied with Moshe Feldenkrais for nearly ten years beginning in the mid 1970's. He has extensive experience working with musicians, as well as many other professionals.

Linda Case is a professional violinist, and professor of violin at Ithaca College who has used the FM extensively for herself and for her students.

    

     "Remember, what the Feldenkrais Method is about in general is to teach people how to use themselves better. As I mentioned, I look at the person as the instrument which they use to play their particular instrument. Of course, the human organism is much more complicated than any musical instrument that I know of. As obvious as this seems—and perhaps just because it is so obvious—this fact is often overlooked. Musicians will often center their attention just on their hands or some small subset of “body parts.” While this produces musicians of a very high technical level of skill, it also often produces musicians who are working against themselves, or who are not—at the very least—using themselves nearly as efficiently and simply as they could. The end result is often pain, interference with the flow of attention and breath, the use of “main force” or “will power” as a substitute for intelligence and creativity.

     So, we show musicians how to use their spine, pelvis, hip joints, shoulders to support the use of their hands, elbows, forearms and breath. This is what we mean by Functional Integration: the integration of the whole of oneself into intention and action. "

 

 

2.
Playing Music "The Feldenkrais® Way": An
Interview with Aliza Stewart, GCFP

By Lavinia Plonka, GCFP

SenseAbility Newsletter, #40, Spring 2007

Aliza Stewart is a Feldenkrais Practitioner and Assistant Trainer and a professional pianist. She has used the teachings from the Feldenkrais Method to further her own musicality and to help other musicians, as well as other people in all walks of life.

     "Music teachers are beginning to recognize that movement is essential to achieving better posture and injury prevention. What is still left largely unexplored are those facets which are unique to Feldenkrais, namely: in increasing the repertoire of possibilities of movement in the nervous system, the repertoire of sounds and the possibilities of the combination of sounds increases, which causes the understanding of the text to become much more sophisticated. In addition, one’s increased self-knowledge in all areas of life (which I experience continually as a result of this work) makes the communication between the composer and performer through the music much more immediate. "
3.

Carol McAmis specializes in working with performing artists and educators. She is also a Professor of Voice at Ithaca College where she teaches Awareness Through Movement classes for music majors in addition to her work as a singing teacher.

 

     "A dry mouth, shallow breathing, a rapid heartbeat, a tight throat, upset stomach, shaky hands and knees. Are you facing a life-threatening situation? For many people, speaking in public brings up such terrors. Speaking in public is the most prevalent fear in America, ranking ahead of even the fear of death.

      As a practitioner and college voice professor, I have used the Feldenkrais Method® to help young singers learn to cope with performance anxiety and to use its energy to produce beautiful sound."

      In subsequent paragraphs Carol presents three simple awareness exercises that make an amazing difference in voice quality, quickly!

 

4.
Interview with Uri Vardi
by Cathy Spann
Published in the Wisconsin Cello Society Newsletter, Summer 2004.

Uri Vardi is a Cello Professor at the University of Wisconsin - Madison and a Feldenkrais Practitioner.

 

 

     "In order for my students to gain the ability to meet any composition's demands, they must have a vast repertoire of movements that will give them the freedom to use their bodies with maximum efficiency. Most of us accept the ways we move as if they are a part of our genetic makeup, whereas in reality, we learned to move by trial and error, and our nervous system is wired according to our experiences. Unless we are challenged to question this wiring, and to explore new possibilities of movement, we limit our range of expression. I constantly challenge my students to explore new ways of moving while playing, and to correlate them with minute differences in the quality of the sound. Through my experience, I have found that when students discover the power of becoming aware of minute differences in their movement, it is not only their sound that changes, but also their coordination, and overall technical proficiency."