Part 3: 7 Things every musician needs to know to overcome tension, minimize pain, and maximize ease in performance.
Part #3: Exploring Ease
Treat yourself to a moment of ease. It won’t take long and it will permanently change you for the better.
Noticing tension, pain and discomfort is second nature to us. We go to start practicing and our thoughts are immediately drawn to areas of tightness and tension in our bodies.
What if you were to take that first moment, right before you even think of taking your instrument out of the case, and just ponder for a moment, wondering where there is some ease in your body. A place of calm, quiet, neutral — a place which simply feels easy.
Before you approach your instrument for a practice session, PAUSE. Find a comfortable place to sit and begin by finding 3 places in your body that feel pretty easy, free, calm, or relaxed — whatever word resonates for YOU. If you have difficulty and feel you are desperately “searching” for a place of ease, simply go back to the head/spine relationship, as discussed in part 2 of this blog series. Ask yourself a question: “I wonder how easy my neck is?” or “Is there a bit of easing there?” I refer to this thought process as “constructive thinking”.
Repeat this activity two more times, for a total of nine “questions” before you move forward with your practice session. (It will only take you about 10 seconds!!) Did you notice any change from the first constructive thought to the last? Did your breathing change? Is there a change in the head/spine relationship? You will find that this activity is cumulative, just as is the focus on tension. The more we think about tension, the more tense we become. And….here’s the good news…..the more we think about ease, the easier we become. I invite you and encourage you to explore this activity. Create your own experiments, your own questions and your own constructive thoughts, using words and phrases that mean something to you.
The next four parts of this blog series for musicians will include: breathing, sitting, standing, jaw tension, performance anxiety and more. Stay tuned!
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