EXPANDING OUR ATTENTION TO INCLUDE OUR PERFORMANCE ENVIRONMENT
Before I began to study Body Mapping, I was a “concentrator.” I am defining
“concentration” here as the intentional blocking out of any information from the
environment that might “distract” from the hyperfocus on my fingers on the keys
(I am a pianist). What I know now is how this “concentrated” condition actually
makes performing harder, induces tension (overwork), and puts us in a rather
artificial state as we make music.
In actuality, the physical work of playing an instrument or singing is minimal.
Playing the piano is a matter of key speed, not force for example. And this is true
of other instruments as well. Speed of the bow, speed of the breath, the little bit
of work to bring a string to a fingerboard. So, the first step in letting go of
“concentration” is to know how our instruments work, what is actually needed to
We want to approach playing/singing with the least effort possible.
Playing and singing without excess work (tension) leaves us able to bring
attention to other things while we play: the feel of our hands on our instruments
and our feet on the pedals or on the floor. These tactile sensations of keys, bows,
strings, the speed of the breath, along with our awareness of the chair and the
floor, can be experienced as a chamber ensemble as we continuously shift our
attention from one element to the next.
We can expand this awareness to include the space that surrounds us. But let’s
make this an active process. Intentionally invite the occupants of your
performance space (people, objects, pets and plants) on the musical journey you
are initiating. Including your “audience” will add energy and make your expressive
intentions even clearer. Performing music need not separate us from the world
around us. Quite the opposite!