The Musician

The musician walks into my office, we say our hello’s and she proceeds to open her violin case, revealing not only her precious instrument and bow but a bit of her inner life as well. The instrument case is often adorned with photographs, lucky knicknacks and children’s drawings.
At times I feel like a voyeur as I take a surreptitious glance, at other times I am invited to look and feel as if I’ve gained initial entrance into her special world.
She takes out her instrument and bow and first-always-tunes it; if the weather is at either extreme this may take a bit longer than usual. Then she plays for me and suddenly, amazingly, my office is filled with the sounds I have loved since childhood, sounds that filled the American Ballet Studios where I began my love of dance and classical music. Sounds I couldn’t bear to listen to when my dancing was cut out of my life in my adolescence. And finally, sounds I could again embrace when I returned to dancing in college. ¬†As I listen to her play, I sometimes recall all of this in a flash and feel gratitude and wonder at where my life, and my work, have taken me.
This musician-she may be a student, performer or teacher-is playing for me because she has a problem. Perhaps she has been sent to me because she has chronic neck or back pain or arm and finger discomfort. Perhaps she has come because her teacher has noticed her musical voice is somehow locked in her body armor.
Whatever the issue, I begin by observing many things, some of them prior to her playing a note. I notice how she approaches her instrument, how she uses her body to pick it up and her set-up. I then bring my awareness to her breathing and how she holds her head and uses her arms. I continue to scan her chest and lower back and, no less importantly, I notice the alignment of her feet and legs. And then I know and we can begin our work.
I call the work I do with musicians Body/Instrument Technique with a focus on whole body consciousness. After the initial evaluation I design a program to bring awareness to the whole body and how and where the it absorbs daily stress. The intention is not only to eliminate the presenting problem but to enable the musician to be present in her entire body, from head to foot and back again.