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Association for Body Mapping Education Teaching Manual

Supplemental Teaching Material for Section One

Throughout these supplements, Barbara Conable’s language will always be indicated with this font style.

 

Consultation of Medical Professionals

 

If someone comes to you in pain, inquire if they have seen a doctor. If they are telling you that they are being treated for a musculoskeletal injury related to misuse of their body, Body Mapping can be helpful. We often offer movement explorations. These are not meant to be therapeutic. They are intended to trigger curiosity, awareness and discovery. If you are in acute or chronic pain, you will want to consult with a medical professional.

Barbara Conable: Here’s testimony to what I am saying from one of our own highly valued Body Mapping Educators, Connie Barrett. I am grateful to her for her candor.

Connie Barrett: “I was convinced that I had a performance injury last year, even played some for Barbara who didn’t see that I was doing anything particularly injurious. I kept being convinced that I must have just screwed up, and that’s what turned out to be bone metastases. However, I WAS seeing doctors (chiropractor, orthopedic, oncologists, breast surgeon), none of whom even recommended any kind of scan MRI or PET, except for the chiropractor, who insisted on an X-ray. Too bad that his equipment wasn’t sophisticated enough to show those tumors. In any case, as Barbara herself has said so many, many times - get everything checked out by a medical professional before working with anyone with truly severe pain.”

In Memoriam - Connie Barrett (1961-2013)

Link to obituary https://tinyurl.com/yv2nsmfm

Barbara Conable’s Commentary on Section One Images

The following paragraphs provide historical context of the organization.

This language comes from Barbara Conable’s original training manuals, circa 1997.

This manual for Hour One of the course What Every Musician Needs to Know about the Body is organized around the slides that Benjamin Conable created for the first hour. No Body Mapping Educator is obligated to use these images in the presentation of the first hour, but any trainee will do well to use the images to provide anchors for the information that must be presented in the first hour (or second, if you choose, as some do who present The Core of the Body and the Places of Balance as the first hour).

 

You are, of course, free to rearrange the images if you find a better organization than the one I use, though you may not, of course, because of copyright, change the images themselves, though you may add text as you like to the images for hours two through six. You may also remove some images, of course. I will number the images according to the order that I use. Generally I have indicated which image I am talking about by the words the slide contains.

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Image 1.3: Somatics: Body

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Image 1.4: Why Somatics?

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Image 1.5: Somatics: Prevents Injury; Promotes Facility

You may want to add other somatic innovators. I sometimes mention Mabel Todd’s book, The Thinking Body, noting that the title is a perfect description of what a musician needs. Most of the scientists who study movement are deeply interested in the practical application of their work. They want their discoveries to improve movement. These are, for the most part, not ivory tower scientists, and a fair number of them are amateur musicians who play well, so they really perk up their ears when you raise the possibility of improving musicians’ movement.

Recommended Resources for more information about Musician’s Injuries

 

The Biology of Musical Performance and Performance-Related Injury by Alan Watson

https://www.amazon.com/Biology-Musical-Performance-Performance-Related-Injury/dp/0810863596

 

Fit as a Fiddle: The Musician’s Guide to Playing Healthy by William Dawson

https://www.amazon.com/Fit-Fiddle-Musicians-Playing-Healthy/dp/1578866847

 

Notes of Hope: Stories by Musicians Coping with Injuries edited by David Vining

https://www.mountainpeakmusic.com/notes-of-hope-stories-by-musicians-coping-with-injuries/

 

Link to Performing Arts Medicine Association resources on Covid-19

http://www.artsmed.org/resources-for-artists-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic-and-beyond

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Image 1.11: Sense, Movement, and Attention

I. Movement will be trained as movement, not abstractly or by inference, as it so often now is. Movement will be trained by correcting and perfecting students’ body maps, because that is the most efficient, effective way to do it. Correcting and perfecting students’ body maps is both remedial and preventive, remedial because the movement changes when the map changes, and preventive because mistakes in the body map are the cause of the poor movement that creates injury.

 

II. All the relevant senses will be trained, not just hearing. Vision will be trained. The tactile sense will be trained. Kinesthesia will be trained. Students will be quite directly taught how to use their vision for sight-reading, for watching the conductor and each other’s gestures, and for seeing the instrument; students will be quite directly taught how to increase the tactile sense of their instrument so that contact is improved, and how to further awaken the tactile sense as singers and conductors for the sake of creating character and maintaining clear boundaries; students will be quite directly taught how to feel their bodies kinesthetically so that they clearly perceive their own position, movement, and size in order to effectively monitor for freedom and efficiency in the movement.

 

III. Attention will be systematically trained rather than left to chance or mis-trained, as it so often now is. Students will be directly taught how to form the effective gestalt we call inclusive awareness: both inner and outer experience in a single, fluid gestalt. They will be directly taught how to rapidly and effortlessly shift focus within a fluid gestalt so that they avoid forever the grotesquely destructive habits of concentrating and scanning.

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Image 1.13: The Integrity of Any Movement

Of course, Body Mapping Educators are free (encouraged!) to write about Body Mapping with only the requirement to credit the source as described in the Licensing Agreement you will sign at the time you qualify for licensing.

 

Bill Conable and I did not know when he discovered the body map practically (you may read that story in an appendix in “How to Learn the Alexander Technique” or in the Alexander Technique International Congress Papers from Engelberg, Switzerland) that it was also being named and explored by neuroscientists. I learned about the scientists’ work fairly recently. It would have helped us very much during our years of exploration to know about the scientists’ work, but we didn’t.

Resources on Body Maps for Further Study

 

The Body has a Mind of Its Own: How Body Maps in Your Brain Help you Do (Most) Anything Better

by Sandra Blakeslee and Matthew Blakeslee

https://www.amazon.com/Body-Has-Mind-Its-Own/dp/0812975278

 

Scientific Basis of Body Mapping” article by T. Richard Nichols

https://www.bodymap.org/articles-the-basis-of-body-mapping/scientific-basis-of-body-mapping

 

The Plastic Human Brain Cortex” article by Dr. Alvore Pascual-Leone

https://www.annualreviews.org/content/journals/10.1146/annurev.neuro.27.070203.144216

 

Decartes’ Error, Emotion, Reason and the Human Brain by Antonio D’Amasio

http://www.amazon.com/Descartes-Error-Emotion-Reason-Human/dp/0380726475

 

Music, Motor Control and The Brain edited by Altenmueller, Kesselring, Wisendanger

https://www.amazon.com/Music-Motor-Control-Eckart-Altenm%C3%BCller/dp/0199298726

 

The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science by Norman Doidge https://www.amazon.com/The-Brain-That-Changes-Itself/dp/0143113100

 

Bill Conable’s address to Alexander Technique Congress on Body Mapping

https://www.bodymap.org/articles-the-basis-of-body-mapping/origins-and-theory-of-mapping

 

Interview with Barbara Conable ATI Magazine

https://www.alexandertechnique.com/articles3/conable/

The Biological Basis of the Body Map (June 2015)

From ABME Science Advisor, Dr. T. Richard Nichols:

There are body maps in many parts of the brain, both in sensory and in motor areas. Which ones are involved in the Body Map, and do they include both sensory and motor areas? The primary motor and sensory cortices constitute final output stages for motor information to the spinal cord and brainstem, and incoming sensory information from the skin and proprioceptors, respectively. These two areas are organized as a distorted map of the body with more space accorded to the hand and face (the Penfield “Homunculus”) but also represent functional relationships between muscles and sensory inputs. For example, a given muscle may be represented in different places on the motor cortical map depending upon its functional context. Despite these functional representations, these maps probably do not reflect the complex patterns and sequences of muscular action required for different skilled movement, and so probably do not constitute the sole locus of our Body Maps but are likely to be an integral part of this representation. The motor cortex receives input from more frontal areas concerned with these patterns and sequences, and these motor areas in turn receive information from sensory association areas in the parietal cortex. Together, these parietal and frontal areas are believed to make up a perception-action network that mediates the learning and maintenance of complex patterns and sequences of movement, and works through the primary motor cortex to deliver commands to circuits in the spinal cord and brainstem. This network fully integrates sensory information with motor planning, and is therefore a candidate set of structures, together with the primary motor and sensory cortices, that underlie our Body Maps. The learned use of inappropriate or inefficient combinations and sequences of muscular activation patterns will impact patterns of sensory input besides leading in some cases to repetitive strain injury, all of which could lead to abnormal patterns of activity in the network. These considerations lead to the hypothesis that the Body Map comprises a network in the cerebral cortex that consists of motor and sensory areas that are capable of learning and adaptation.

History of the Body Map, Dr. Richard Nichols (Nov. 2020)

The idea of a body representation on the cortex is actually quite old, as Barbara pointed out. John Hughlings Jackson (1835-1911), an English neurologist, observed seizures in epileptic patients that “marched” across areas of the body, giving him the idea that the body was represented on the cortex and that the seizure was progressing across the body representation. Two German researchers, Fritsch and Hitzig, were some of the first to electrically stimulate the cortex in animals and show the rudiments of a body map. Their study was conducted around 1870. David Ferrier, an English researcher, built on Fritsch and Hitzig’s work using a number of different animal species. Penfield’s work occurred in the mid-20th century. About the same time, Clinton Woolsey, an American neurophysiologist, produced what then were the most accurate and detailed cortical maps in a variety of animal species, both sensory and motor. More recently, studies of Randoph Nudo at the University of Kansas and others have developed extremely detailed cortical maps in animals with cortical injuries, to see how these maps become modified in disease. In addition, work of Nancy Byl and Micheal Merzenich showed how the somatosensory cortex is reorganized with the condition of focal dystonia. Getting back to your original question, I would say the main origins of this concept were to be found in the work of Hughlings Jackson (clinical observation) and Fritsch and Hitzig (experimental), but the idea had been floating around in various guises even before that. These studies were focused mainly, although not exclusively, on the primary motor and somatosensory cortices. By “primary” we mean that the result of cortical processing goes out partly through the primary motor cortex and sensory information from the skin, muscles, etc. comes into the primary somatosensory cortex. Information from the latter is integrated with other sensory areas (visual, auditory, etc) in the posterior parietal cortex. And, the primary motor cortex receives information from frontal lobe areas that are involved in motor planning, sequencing, etc. Finally, the posterior parietal areas communicate with the motor planning areas to form a massive network that underlies skilled movement. So, when we think of representing the organization of our movements, we really have to consider the whole network. Within these other areas, one can find somatotopic representations as well. When we correct someone’s movement patterns to be more efficient and less injurious, we are dealing with modifying the whole network. It is not clear where most of the modification takes place, but I will bet that the motor planning areas are involved to a large extent.

Gender and the Body Map

Body Mapping Educator Gabriela Sanchez Diaz questions how femininity affects body movements and musical performances. She has written a workbook, Connecting Bodies: Music Performance, Femininity, and Body Mapping, that explains deep-seated gender stereotypes and how they are culturally reinforced. It examines social ideas and perceptions of femininity, gendered spaces and inclusive awareness, power dynamics in music education and professional musical settings, and how all these can affect women’s music making.

 

In the introduction, Gabriela’s underlying theory expands our conception of the body map: “The body is more than organs, muscles, and bones; a body carries meanings. For instance, bodies carry meanings about gender, race or age, all of which contribute to our experiences and perceptions of our bodies. The information that we get from the external world shapes our body maps…The construction of the self, which includes body maps, cannot be separated from social forces…In Body Mapping, we connect the whole body and discover some of its restrictions. But what happens if some of the limitations are not physiological, but rather, related to social expectations?” (https://bodymapstudio.com/en/connecting-bodies)

Self Map

In her book, Coordinate Movement for Pianists, Sponsoring Teacher Lisa Marsh says of the self map: The self map refers to our internal impressions of who we are. For musicians this includes who we are in every aspect of our profession: practicing, performing, collaborating, creating and teaching. We are musicians in a broad sense that encompasses our instruments and our artistry. Self maps include many aspects. They reflect our education, current employment, professional goals, musical affinities, and our biggest dreams and aspirations. These maps grow and change as we move along our musical paths. There is no problem with creating and recreating these maps frequently. The loss lies in not being aware of your identity as an artist or musician. Without this basic reflection, you cannot successfully communicate through music.

https://giamusic.com/resource/coordinate-movement-for-pianists-book-g9987

Article by Barbara Conable:

https://www.bodymap.org/articles-the-basis-of-body-mapping/body-map-self-map%2C-keynote-address%2C-seventh-biennial-conference-of-andover-educators%2C-june-2015

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Image 1.14a : The Cerebral Cortex of the Brain

Image 1.14b : Penfield Diagram

Most people can understand the body maps best initially by analogy to the visual maps. If you read the books that scientists write for lay people about the brain, you will almost certainly have read about the visual maps, for the visual maps have been the focus of study for many neuroscientists over the last ten decades. They are well understood, and they often offer hints about the rest of the brain. The relevant features of the analogy are this:

• We map outer space with our brains. We map inner space with our brains.

• Map is not a metaphor. These are literally maps. We are all cartographers.

• The maps are built in infancy and childhood. The visual maps make it possible to see as an adult sees; the body maps make it possible to move as an adult moves.

• They provide a basis for continued learning.

• They depend on continuous sensory feedback for their functioning in actual seeing and moving.

• The contrasts are as significant to musicians as the comparisons: The body maps are more susceptible to examination and more amenable to change. Why? Because we grow. A circle, whether on a clock face or a wheel, is always a circle. Our feet get bigger and further away from our head as we grow.

• If there are multiple body maps why don’t we say body maps instead of body map?

 

By analogy to the visual maps, which are interdependent to a degree that justifies the singular, visual map. If you had thirty maps of the terrain around your house: a street map, a topographical map, a map of population, a map of rainfall, etc., and they were all bound together, you might very well say as you begin a trip around your neighborhood, “Do we have the map?”

Image 1.20a : Spine: What is it Like?

Image 1.21 : Spine: What Does it Do?

Image 1.20b : Spine: Three Views

Image 1.22 : Spinal Mobility

You all know that I think the hour of playing that Roberta Gary does in her course is brilliant. Her spinal mobility is perfectly evident as she demonstrates, and she keeps calling the students’ attention to it. I used the tape of that hour at Westminster Choir College in my five-day course, and it made all the difference for one of the organists there. He was just stiff enough that he did not have his gathering and lengthening available to him, so his arms became tired and he didn’t have the quality of sound he wanted. He watched Roberta’s tape five or six times during the five days of the course, sometimes with sound, sometimes without (it was playing, as were other tapes, all the time I was teaching). He took the tape home one night and gave it his full attention, and he got it, he really got it. He was thrilled with the changes in his playing, and he had been very good before coming, very successful in his church, but he didn’t have the support from his spine to get the sound he really wanted. Now he absolutely has it. That’s why I say it’s the most important piece of information that we give, because it provides that big, big difference between good and magical.

Video of Roberta Gary at the Organ https://youtu.be/TknwyrVYZ2I

Notes on Image 1.24

From Science Advisor T. Richard Nichols on the Vestibular System:

The vestibular system is important for the control of balance and perception of head and body motion. The sense organs are located in the inner ear near the cochlea, and measure both linear and rotational motions of the head. The control of balance normally involves the integration of visual, kinesthetic, vestibular, and cutaneous information. Although these three sensory sources provide different kinds of information, there is overlap so that these systems can in some cases partially compensate for the loss of another. For example, younger individuals who have suffered the loss of vestibular function can do quite well with the kinesthetic and visual senses. However, the loss of kinesthetic sense cannot be compensated by the vestibular and visual systems. The two latter senses are located in the head, and so cannot provide detailed information about the orientation of the body and relative positions of the limbs and trunk.

 

The perception of body position and motion in space is obtained through the integration of kinesthetic and vestibular information. The vestibular system provides information about the orientation and motion of the head in space. Kinesthetic information provides the nervous system with information about the geometrical relationships of the body parts to each other, including the relationship of the body to the head. Receptors (muscle spindles) in the muscles controlling the cervical spine provide the central nervous system with this information about the orientation of the body with respect to the head. When these two sources of information are combined (in the brainstem and cerebellum), the central nervous system is informed about the orientation and motions of the body in space!

Image 1.34 : Training Attention

You will probably need to explain the word gestalt if you use it. English borrowed the word from German because we didn’t have a word that means what gestalt means: the contents of consciousness at any moment and its organization. Your gestalt always has a focus, like vision, and, like vision, the rest of the information in awareness falls somewhere in the ground, to use the term gestalt psychologists used to mean everything in the gestalt that is not in focus. What is in focus they call the figure, so every gestalt can be analyzed from the point of view of figure and ground.

If I get further questions, I may talk about other circumstances. I may ask the students to imagine a hunter-gatherer in a forest, two days hungry, looking for food. Further imagine this hunter-gatherer is potential dinner for at least three kinds of creatures in the forest. The hunter-gatherer is not going to be concentrating on anything. Dinner may turn out to be in the sky, in a tree, on a tree, part of a tree, on or in a shrub, on the ground, under the leaves, as mushrooms often are. Predators may come from behind or above or from the side. The hunter-gatherer is going to be emotionally awake and certainly kinesthetically and tactilely awake to prevent snapping twigs and to be truly ready to respond to the presence of nourishment or predator. I then say, “If your awareness would get you starved or killed in a forest, it won’t work on the concert stage.

 

You can also talk about driving, though this isn’t a perfect analogy because often drivers who have an otherwise acceptable gestalt and shifting focus do not have themselves and their own bodies in awareness, but at least they know that they must keep many cars in awareness at once and shift among them, now ahead, now rear view, now the left, now the right, now how fast is that car coming, now is that other car going to turn, etc. We know we can’t say, “But, officer, I was concentrating on the red car when I hit the green one. Isn’t that what I’m supposed to do? Concentrate on my driving?” If it doesn’t work on a highway, it won’t work in the practice room.

Training Committee Additions: Attention, Senses, Movement

Traditionally, Body Mapping Educators have introduced these three aspects of our teaching in this order:

Movement, Senses, Attention.

David Nesmith changes the order instead to Attention, Senses, Movement.

He offers this explanation:

Our body is wired to reflect the quality of our attention. Attention is the first aspect of our use of ourselves as musicians, even as human beings, that has the most immediate impact on how we function. Because a narrowed, concentrated attention is an aspect of the startle response (fight or flee), it’s usually also accompanied by a stiff neck and restricted breath. A tight neck will not come to balance completely in a concentrated attention state, nor will restricted breathing free completely in a concentrated attention state.

 

Our body is also wired to follow and take us in the direction of our interest. For example, when riding a bicycle straight down a road, what happens to the steering if we want to simply turn our head to look to the side, or even to look around behind us? It usually tends to move in the direction of our looking and we stop going straight. Hence, if we are in a concentrated, narrowed state of awareness, the contents of our attention is coming inwards from many directions, rather than expanding outwards in all directions. The result in our body is a compaction, or shortening and narrowing.

 

If our attention is habituated to looking forward and down, our stature will follow and tend to be collapsed and downward. Perhaps because of a habituated submissiveness or depressed state: “I’m feeling rather down today.”

 

In my view, attention needs to be the first aspect of retraining introduced in our courses and lessons. And then, the senses naturally follow as a logical next retraining element of our use. In other words, as we re-establish an unconcentrated attention state, then, within that gently expanding unified field of attention we notice sensorial information, including kinesthetic and proprioceptive information. Then, as we are attentionally expansive, sensorially alive, we can correct and enhance our body maps to much better effect and benefit.

 

This is why I introduce our major retraining foci in Section One in this order: Attention, Senses, Movement.

There can be a variety of means for teaching inclusive awareness. David Nesmith shares the following method he uses when teaching the course and individual lessons:

Activity: Three Spheres of Attention

A strategy I use regularly is to invite students to practice organizing the contents of their consciousness in three concentric spheres.

 

1. This first sphere is our most important. It includes ourselves, our instrument, our music, the chair, and perhaps a colleague or two nearby. The first sphere also includes our peripersonal space, the realm within which we can reach out with our fingers and toes in all directions, the extreme of our reach. Our brain maps this space. It’s one of the ways we know where our alarm clock is in the morning without looking, for example. When we have a tool in our hand, a fork, a violin bow, etc., our peripersonal space increases to include the added reach potential.

 

2. Our second sphere is the stage, classroom, workspace, tennis court, etc., the realm within which our larger activity is taking place. This would include the entire concert stage, where the bright lights are during a concert and anyone else involved in the performance, including their instruments, etc.

 

3. Our third sphere includes the audience, backstage, beyond the exit doors, above the building, etc. This third sphere has no outer limit.

 

This strategy is actually adapted from Stanislavski, An Actor Prepares. No matter where we are, we can practice noticing these three spheres as a way to not fall into the trap of concentration: an effortful, narrowed attention.

 

Start by simply standing and locating yourself in these three expanding spheres. Then bring your music or instrument up to singing or playing position without losing connection to the expanse of attention. Then practice singing or playing something very simple. As confidence grows, expand on this in practice. In performance, allow the experience to arise naturally as an organic response to being “on stage” and having practiced this in rehearsal.

Mind Maps to Teach Section One Content

Mind Mapping: A diagram used to visually organize information.

• The main idea, subject or focus is crystallized in a central image.

• The main themes radiate from the central image as ‘branches’.

• The branches comprise a key image or key word drawn or printed on its associated line.

• Topics of lesser importance are represented as ‘twigs’ of the relevant branch.

• The branches form a connected nodal structure.

 

From Tony Buzan – Mind Mapping and Michael Gelb’s Present Yourself

 

Here are examples of different approaches to Mind Maps:

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Mind map of inclusive awareness from Coordinate Movement for Pianists.

Copyright © 2019 GIA Publications, Inc. Used with Permission.

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Mind map of grip inducing emotions

• Fear

• Anger

• Guilt

• Loneliness

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Mind map of ease inducing emotions

• Love

• Gratitude

• Compassion

• Inspiration

• Awe

FAQ Sheet for Course Attendees

 

What is “What Every Musician Needs to Know About the Body?”

It is a book written by Barbara Conable. It is also a course taught by Licensed Body Mapping Educators.

 

What is Body Mapping?

Body Mapping is the conscious correcting and refining of one’s body map to produce efficient, graceful, coordinated, effective movement. Body Mapping, over time, with application, allows any musician to play like a natural.

 

Body Mapping was discovered by William Conable, professor of cello at the Ohio State University School of Music. Conable inferred the body map from the congruence of students’ movement in playing with their reports of their notions of their own structures. He observed that students move according to how they think they’re structured rather than according to how they are actually structured. When the students’ movement in playing becomes based on the students’ direct perception of their actual structure, it becomes efficient, expressive, and appropriate for making music. Conable’s observations are currently being confirmed by discoveries in neurophysiology concerning the locations, functions, and coordination of body maps in movement.

 

Barbara Conable, the founder of Andover Educators (now ABME), is now retired from her career as an internationally renowned teacher of the Alexander Technique. What Every Musician Needs to Know about the Body, her book and her course, are informed by the insights of F. M. Alexander, as well as other Somatic disciplines and current findings in the neuroscience of movement.

What happens during a private Body Mapping lesson?

The Body Mapping Educator will ask you what you want to change in your music making or what you want to discuss/explore. Based on what you want to learn or change, you will be asked additional questions to help clarify your understanding of your body map. The teacher will help you learn how your body moves based on practical anatomy using books, anatomical models, videos, movement, and verbally guide you as you locate where the different bones and muscles are in your body.

 

Will Body Mapping interfere with my physical therapy, instrumental technique, etc?

No. Body Mapping Educators will help you learn how your body moves based on practical anatomy using books, anatomical models, videos, movement, and verbally guide you as you locate where the different bones and muscles are in your body. Body Mapping Educators do not need to touch the student.

 

Body Mapping Educators do not teach instrumental technique in a strict Body Mapping lesson. They will teach you how particular body parts move and it’s your responsibility to apply this information to your technique, if you choose to do so.

 

What is Alexander Technique?

The Alexander Technique is a simple and practical method for improving ease and freedom of movement, balance, support, flexibility, and coordination. It enhances performance and is therefore a valued tool for musicians. Practice of the Technique refines and heightens kinesthetic sensitivity, offering the performer a control which is fluid and lively rather than rigid. It provides a means whereby the use of a part — a voice or an arm or a leg — is improved by improving the use of the whole body, indeed, the whole self.

 

With the Alexander Technique, these benefits are accomplished by the application in one’s own experience of what Frederick (F. M.) Alexander called constructive conscious control. Constructive conscious control is a process of self-observation and self-analysis, wherein one becomes intimately knowledgeable about one’s own habits so that one can suspend habitual muscular tightening (sometimes called downward pull), where it exists, and gradually consciously replace it with constructive behavior. Often one simply suspends unnatural movement and waits for natural movement to emerge. Natural movement is discovered to be that movement which is most supported and sustained by the body’s whole complex of postural reflexes, including the much prized “Primary Control”, the natural lengthening and gathering of the spine in movement, which depends on a dynamic, initiating relationship of the head to the spine.

What is the Feldenkrais Method®?

The Feldenkrais Method® is a form of somatic education that uses gentle movement and directed attention to improve movement and enhance human functioning. With this Method, you can increase your range of motion, improve your flexibility and coordination, and rediscover your innate capacity for graceful, efficient movement.

 

By expanding the self-image through movement sequences, the Method enables you to include more of yourself in your movements. Students become aware of their habitual neuromuscular patterns and rigidities, and learn to move in new ways.

 

The Feldenkrais Method® helps those experiencing chronic or acute pain of the back, neck, shoulders, hips, legs, or knees, as well as healthy individuals who wish to enhance their movement abilities. The Method has been very helpful in dealing with central nervous system conditions such as multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, and stroke. Musicians, actors, and artists can extend their abilities and enhance their creativity. Seniors enjoy using it to retain or regain their ability to move without strain or discomfort.

 

What Happens in a Feldenkrais Method® Session?

 

In group Awareness Through Movement® lessons, the Feldenkrais teacher verbally leads you through a sequence of movements in basic positions: sitting or lying on the floor, standing or sitting in a chair. These precisely structured movement explorations involve thinking, sensing, moving, feeling, and imagining. By increasing awareness, you will learn to abandon habitual patterns of movement and develop new alternatives, resulting in improved flexibility and coordination. Many lessons are based on developmental movements and ordinary functional activities (reaching, standing, lying to sitting, looking behind yourself, etc.). Some are based on more abstract explorations of joint, muscle, and postural relationships. There are hundreds of ATM lessons, varying in difficulty and complexity, for all levels of movement ability. A lesson generally lasts from 30 to 60 minutes.

 

Private Feldenkrais lessons, called Functional Integration® lessons, are tailored to each student’s individual learning needs. The teacher guides your movements through gentle non-invasive touching and words. The student is fully clothed, lying on a table, or in a sitting or standing position. At times, various props (pillows, rollers, blankets) are used in an effort to support the student, or to facilitate certain movements. The learning process is carried out without the use of any invasive or forceful procedure.

Who are some important early Somatic Pioneers?

FM Alexander

Barbara Clark

Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen

Moshe Feldenkrais

Joseph Heller

Ida Rolf

Marion Rosen

Lulu Sweigard

Mabel Todd

© Association for Body Mapping Education 2024

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