A New Assignment:
I played in my Alexander Technique (AT) class this past Saturday. My AT instructor did some work with her hands to point out where I might be holding tension when I am playing piano.
She also encouraged me to move around less without being stiff.
I decided to come home that Saturday and Sunday to experiment with moving around less. I immediately got more stiff and started having pain. I will probably not tell myself: move around less. Instead, I will just be aware of movement but enable it to come naturally. However, it did provide great insight into how I moved during both practice and performance.
Habit Patterns and Other Observations:
Something interesting that I have observed since this past summer is that I don’t generally have pain when I perform. For example, despite the excruciating tendonitis in my fourth finger during practice room sessions, I didn’t feel any pain at all during boards, nor did I feel anything afterwards.
I also tend to not have pain during other recitals. I did have a few times last summer where I didn’t have pain when I was playing but felt heavy muscle tightening in my shoulders, elbows, and fingers afterwards.
Anyways, I noticed that I did have more but different movements at that board last semester without really thinking about intentionally doing them.
This is good news because it means, deep down, my body remembers what it was like to move without pain. One thing I did notice is that when I perform, I do engage my sit bones more than when I practice. I feel more deeply rooted into the seat.
Another thing that is different from me compared to other people is that I actually really like practicing on stages. Maybe it is because I really like the expansiveness of the stage area and rest of the auditorium in the recital hall at my school. I feel very relaxed when I practice late at night, and I really ease into the space. Thus, if I move, it is probably more into the up direction.
Another Source of Pain…
I also notice that I have more pain when I attempt to be musical. For example, when I intentionally try to taper the ends of phrases, I seem to create an extraneous movement with my neck to inhibit my hands from pressing too loud on the keys, which creates pain.
This movement also creates a rhythmic problem. When I intentionally try not to hit the keys too loud, I also pause, which is not good from a music standpoint because this tends to happen right before downbeats.
I will refer back to the concept of self 1 and self 2 discussed earlier in this post. Self 1 is the one that wants to intentionally make sure that the hands really soften the end of a phrase to bring out the lyrical nuance. Self 2 just lets the body to go ahead and create the sound through simply awareness that the phrase needs to be tapered, without any little extra effort.
This also reminds me that one of the students in the class mentioned that sometimes we might expend energy and attention to make a face that expresses emotion, but the actual sound doesn’t actually reflect what we hoped it would. We spent a significant part of class also talking about performers
I tried doing self 2 without feeling like I needed to check out of the music to feel happy. I will probably continue working on this up to my recital. Just letting whatever God programmed in me kinesthetically take over to produce the color I want, a concept called “non-doing.”
Often times, churches feel like they need to do this or that in order to get their church to grow. They want to increase in numbers to keep up with other churches. In reality, whether or not your church grows ultimately depends on whether or not God wants it to grow.
Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.
According to Jack Cottrell, author of The Faith Once for All, God the Son gave up certain powers and submitted to God the Father before becoming Christ on earth. Even in the midst of dying at his most vulnerable spirit, Jesus acknowledges that submission and release of control .
I had a professor once give me advice about aiming to be somewhere, stating that it’s not just about whether or not you want to go somewhere, it is also about whether God wants you there.