THE CHOREOGRAPHY OF PLAYING

A musician’s sound is created by his/her movements. For the instrumentalist or the singer, it’s a kind of subtle dance which transforms into sound and gives birth to music. Each part plays a role: arm movements, the fingers, breathing movement, expressions on the face, all the way to the more global movement of the entire body. This “dance” is comprised of extremely controlled movements (such as finger technique, the diaphragm, etc.), as well as more unconscious or parasitic movements which get in the way of our technique, and finally “expressive” movements which add to the musicality or scenic expression of a musician. Sometimes, as soon as the first reading of a piece, we “fix” gestures associated with each musical phrase without even realizing it. Musicians often move in the same way every time they play a piece without ever wondering if it’s the best way.  This can, in effect, create a series of movements which help us, but also can get in the way of achieving our potential. We can also ask the more general question. “what is our ‘palette’ of gestures and movement which accompany our playing as artists?” There are great musicians who move a lot and others who are much more restrained in their movement. Is it possible to expand this ‘body language’ and our freedom of movement to have more choices and a greater range of expression? What is the relationship between the beauty and refinement of a movement and the beauty and expression of the sound produced by this movement? It is rare that we chose our movements while playing in the same way that a choreographer determines each step for the dancer. All technique could even be seen as a form of dance with very precise choreography. It’s a fascinating subject rarely addressed in musicians’ training. Let us begin to explore this theme together with a spirit of fun and play, supported by principles and lessons of Feldenkrais.

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