How is the Feldenkrais Method applied in the performing arts?
Feldenkrais and the performing arts: How is the Feldenkrais Method® applied in the performing arts?
Our body is our instrument. We need to learn how to refine, tune and develop it, much as a musician does. Without freedom of movement we risk injury, stress, overuse syndrome (RSI) and diminished potential to express what we want to and how we want to.
Some of the many benefits gained from attending regular Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement® classes or hands-on work, called Functional Integration® with a Feldenkrais practitioner are:
- Improved breathing
- Increased flexibility
- Greater stability and balance
- Learning how to recognize habitual patterns that may inhibit freedom of movement
- Finding different ways of performing the same function
- Better focus and attention
- Working without strain and tension
- Learning how to listen to the body’s signals to stop or change the way you move
These benefits can assist anyone, however, with students of the performing arts, the resulting learning is very specific. Feldenkrais assists students to learn more deeply and in many cases more quickly than they might otherwise. For example, with students of voice, whilst students are learning to develop their voices through learning new singing repertoire, they are also learning more about themselves, understanding more about how they do what they do. There is a refining of the kinaesthetic sense, the ability to sense oneself in action. The learning isn’t just about following a teacher’s instructions, but how the use of voice relates to the rest of the self. Feldenkrais can assist students to;
- Experience more vocal freedom
- Increase the volume of their sound
- Learn how to find more comfort when singing
Additionally, the Feldenkrais Method interacts in a unique way with each individual enabling students to;
- Actualize something that didn’t exist before
- “Tell the story” by gaining a deeper understanding of the creative process
Sometimes, as you will read in the following testimonials, the learning takes place in a way that has huge ramifications for performing and experiencing music generally. In other cases (no less huge) it may be understood in relation to a particular problem or challenge that may have been an obstacle to enjoyment or further progress.
Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner
Convenor of Voice at Melbourne Conservatorium of Music , the University of Melbourne
Helen, Professional Viola Player
I am a viola player working full time as a performer and teacher. I discovered the Feldenkrais Method about 7 years ago. It has totally transformed my approach to my playing and movement in general. I now have many new tools to explore habits in my own playing and that of my students, and strategies to break the habits that aren't useful. I also have a greatly intensified sensitivity in my playing and ability to stay grounded in performance. The Feldenkrais Method has benefitted me on many levels. There seems to be no limit of how long I can keep learning new things from working with it.
Tiriki, Classical Singer
I consider myself most fortunate to have been able to combine Feldenkrais Method classes with my study of classical singing. Not only has Feldenkrais made a truly dramatic impact on my quality of sound production and the comfort I experience in performing, but it has also given me the body awareness tools to be able to diagnose and move forward with my craft independently. I truly believe that by embracing Feldenkrais I have been able to progress much faster and with much greater quality than I would have without it. There is also the added bonus that it has made my day to day life so much more comfortable.
Amir, Concert Pianist
As a professional pianist, Feldenkrais has been an important key to unlocking flaws in my playing. The Feldenkrais Method has allowed me to create an awareness of muscular co-ordination and general movement, and to iron out the bad habits that were getting in the way. I now feel more comfortable at the instrument, and I am able to solve problems myself with ease, due to a deeper understanding of the mechanics of piano playing.
The Feldenkrais Method has been an invaluable tool for me in reducing the tension that caused so many problems in my playing. As the use of my body gets easier and easier, I find that new possibilities in breathing and tone production open up, and things continue to change and improve all the time. I'd recommend this Method, not only for musicians in pain, but also for anyone who wants to improve their playing or singing in a fundamental way.
Nat Grant, professional percussionist
I can easily see the benefits that The Feldenkrais Method would have for anyone and everyone. Who wouldn't like to be more in tune with their own body?
As a percussionist I have battled with sore wrists, arms, neck, back and shoulders. Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement classes as well as the hands-on lessons have helped me become a lot more aware of how my body works, so I can better use it to do what I want (and need) to do with a lot less pain and a lot more success!
Sonya, Concert Pianist
My Feldenkrais teacher has been an inexhaustible resource, both professionally and personally, in the time that I have worked with her. Her insight, wisdom and compassion are truly inspiring and her understanding of the human body and brain as well as the patterns that govern them, is truly remarkable!
Working with her gave a me a new and healthier way of looking and relating to my injury and has given me a strong believe that there is a path out of it – a real gift to be given.
She has taught me to explore and understand new and different ways of moving and organising my self to play the piano and I feel confident that in time, it’ll provide an invaluable key to a healthy and pain-free existence both on and off my instrument!
Sasha, Concert Pianist