In thinking about people that move for a living (athletes, dancers, musicians…trapeze artists), it occurred to me that they all seem to have a very important ‘ready position’ that they are frequently cultivating. This ‘ready position’ is always a place from which the movements for their activity are easiest–a level of muscular engagement that is optimal. Think of a tennis player preparing to hit a serve, legs spread wide in a squat, racquet out front, ready to move to any direction of the court to hit the ball.
For musicians, we generally prefer to be upright, balanced over our boney core, with minimal engagement of the peripheral muscle groups. The movements we use are often very small, and are usually most effective when the movement is fluid and performed with the minimum effort required to perform the activity. Think of it this way: if you move only a short distance from your ‘base line state’, it’s easier/quicker to return. If you move far from your baseline state (with excessive movement or excessive effort) it takes longer to return to your baseline state (perhaps ‘home base’ would be a more appropriate term here). Understanding where the most efficient/effective baseline state is as a musician is so important because the movements we make often need to be extremely rapid and fluid–there’s no room/time for error/recovery.
The same seems to hold true for any movement activity, though the ‘ready position’ and level of engagement may vary. In trapeze, I am still striving to find that correct level of engagement. If my core muscles in particular are not very actively engaged, if my legs are not actively engaged as soon as I jump off the platform, then it takes ‘forever’ to swing my legs up to the bar. The level of work that is required of my muscles to get my legs up to the bar is simply too far away from the lax base line state that I have been using. I need more engagement of the core and leg muscles from the very beginning so that there isn’t ‘so far too travel’.