Very cool. I had two responses to my previous post about the Alexander Technique.
Yesterday seemed to be a success for me.
When I began the tricky section in the Thomson briefly it was shakey, then as I began thinking about loosening my posture and allowing ease to take over, I played the three difficult variations well.
It’s hard to say exactly what my thought process was.
When I used the word “concentrate” Robert from alexandertechnique.com below suggested that I not “concentrate” or “hold” but think negative sentences about not holding my head or or not fixing head. Robert sounds someone who knows a heckuva lot more about the Alexander Technique than I do (BTW, thank you, Robert and Sue, for your responses).
Some of this might be semantic. I understand that part of the Alexander Technique theory is to inhibit (not concentrate, not hold) rather than act (“hold”). I have a tendency to live in my head. So when I say concentrate, I’m probably doing something a bit different than it sounds. Not sure about this. I do know that I attempt to address my playing and ease of body wordlessly as I do it. (This is sometimes called “stilling the inner monologue” a bit of lingo I picked up from “The Inner Game of Tennis.”)
“Just play” was the motto of my grad school class of musicians.
So yesterday I’m not sure how I did what I did.
It involved a lot of letting go of control and avoiding rehearsing visually about the performance. In fact,I wondered as I wrote the blog entry yesterday if I was doing myself a bit of a disservice in verbalizing about my anxieties when I had consciously avoided doing so for the past twenty four hours.
Anyway, during the closing hymn I again began to notice that if I directed my energy differently my pedal line seemed to work better. It felt like a loosening in my posture and general demeanor. A lessening of conscious thought but all the while noticing the effect and letting the music come out.
During the postlude (in which the technical challenge were about seven long pedal runs under moving keyboard parts), I again somehow managed to let myself play well using a bit of redirecting my thinking towards how I was sitting.
I understand that I might do this better if I could isolate my mis-use and simply think of not doing whatever. I think my misuse might be more some slight muscle tension in the back. My head, neck, shoulders and back must of necessity be loose when I play or rehearse. This is something I have thought of for years.
Indeed as I rehearse I sometimes realize that tension has built up without me noticing it. Often I can (and do) consciously release this tension. Sometimes it is better to stop, but usually I can release it.
Anyway, yesterday worked. Ironically I had a couple of mild train wrecks in new sections of the pieces. More the Thomson than the Mendelssohn.
On another topic I was reading an online excerpt from the book “On the origin of Stories: Evolution, Cognition and Fiction” by Brian Boyd and came across a wonderful story of dolphins making bubble art/play:
“Dolphins breathe air and blow out bubbles as they exhale. They can use these bubbles almost like nets to herd fish together before closing in for the kill. Untrained Amazon River dolphins sometimes play with the necklaces of bubbles trailing from their mouths by turning to swim through them or bite them. Dolphins in several marine species have been observed in more elaborate play, releasing air from their blowholes to form underwater rings that hover and hold their form for several seconds as they expand. But like humans blowing smoke-rings, dolphines must practice to master such a quirky skill.
In a marine park on the coast of Hawaii’s Oahu in the 1990s a small pod of bottlenose dolphins turned these bubble-rings into their own art form. Watched but not prompted or rewarded by the scientists at Sea Life Park, half of the dolphins engage in elaborate air-bubble play. They take their cue from others, practice the rings until they become stable, inspect their own performance, explore new possibilities, and intently monitor others’ efforts. Some dive through the rings as they expand. Others create vortices with their tail flukes, and release the rings into the swirling current so that they travel not upward but sideways or even downward in the water. An adult male, Kaiko’o, can emit two controlled bubble-rings, one after the other, which he then nudges together with his rostrum to form a single large ring. A young female, Tinkerbell, has developed several unique techniques, such as creating a vortex with her dorsal fin as she swims across the tank, then retracing her path and releasing into the vortex a stream of air that shoots out in a helical pattern in front of her.
Is this behavior art?