What is Body Mapping?
Body Mapping is clarifying one’s understanding of how the body is designed to move. Body maps in the brain guide all movement. An accurate picture of the design enhances the way we move! Once you have a clear image of the design, you integrate this understanding into physical movement to enhance movement quality. The third step in the Body Mapping process is integrating the newfound movement quality into music-making. This last step enhances coordination and expression as it releases the unnecessary tension that causes limitation.
I need more air…
For example, if I find that I am not getting enough breath for a phrase – this is an opportunity to investigate how my breath is moving with Body Mapping. There are several ways to investigate a challenge, including:
- Watching oneself play in a mirror
- Watching a video of playing
- Sensing awkward movement (Where does it feel awkward? & What I am I doing that I don’t need to do?)
Identifying ‘Just the Right Movements’..
As I reflect on my playing, one thing that stands out in my mind is that the sound of my inhalation was noisy. With this information, my next step is to answer the question “What movements do I need to get an appropriate, efficient inhalation?” My list includes:
- jaw swings open
- ribs move up & out
- abdominal region moves out, responding to rib and diaphragm movement
- pelvic floor moves down, responding to abdominal changes
- fully exhale from the previous phrase
The ‘A-HA’ Moment…
All of the movements listed coordinate easily if my body is balanced and I have fully exhaled. Remembering the playing sensations I experienced provides another clue to why inhalation is limited in this phrase. I notice that the weight of my body is more in the heels of my feet, and that my head has moved forward. Ah-Ha! This means that the back of my body is working to hold me up. This muscular holding limits my ability exhale fully and inhale sufficiently.
Organize with Intention…
With the list of the inhalation movements in mind, I organize myself to play again. Before bringing the flute up:
- I restore balance in my body
- Expand my awareness to include all 4 of the music-making senses
- Allow my arms to deliver the flute to my lips.
- Employ the intention of “enjoying the equilibrium of contact between the soles of my feet and the floor” (the feet are a good barometer for balance.)
Immediately my inhalation is easier and fuller. And that’s not all, my fingers move with increased ease and precision, and my sound has deeper resonance. Now I can practice playing this phrase including awareness of balance in the body to become familiar with this enhanced approach to playing.
Music-making is Movement…
The process of freeing my breath influences my playing in so many ways! This is a powerful reminder that the solution to playing limitation (technical/expressive/comfort) is not solely found in more practice or increased concentration. The solution is often found through the process of refining movement. Body Mapping is a powerful resource in this process. Approaching playing from the perspective of movement allows one to uncover just the right movements for the sound & technical needs of the music. This important realization offers a concrete means to engage in music-making, no longer having to rely solely on reflection, hoping to play it differently the next time.