My training as a musician seemed to focus on the end-product of music-making. How did it sound? Were the fingers moving evenly? Was the tone what I wanted? I pursued satisfying these elements of performing by listening and evaluating my practice and performance after the fact. It never occurred to me that the key to satisfying these parameters could be found inside me, and could be adjusted throughout the process of playing. Learning flying trapeze has helped me to recognize that the power to fully express my ideas were right within me. Expression depends on the way I move.
The power of whole-body connections has become clear to me through learning trapeze. It would be impossible to swing or execute a trick without the whole-body engaged. For example, hanging from the bar is not simple gripping with the hands. Muscles from the hands all the way down through the torso contribute to the strength needed to hold onto the bar, and hang. Apply this concept to flute playing, finger movement is not isolated in the hands, it involves muscles in the forearm and upper arm, along with support from muscles throughout the torso. The external focus I used to use left my playing feeling out of control, because movement and control seemed isolated in small, remote regions such as hands and lips. Becoming aware of the body’s powerful internal connections, allows me to make beautiful subtle adjustments to the way I move, and the effort I use. These adjustments happen “on the fly,” as I shape the musical phrases. This has added a new dimension to my inclusive awareness, allowing me to actively monitor the movements I use throughout a performance, enhancing my expression. The great news is that the power of this inclusive awareness isn’t just for the concert stage either, it is the key to a great presentation, connecting with students in lessons and classes, connecting with those around you.