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All of our technique, whatever we play or sing, boils down on movement – we move ourselves to create music. The less effort and tension we use, the better, and more efficiently, we can bring across to the audience what we want.

Often as musicians, we don’t learn to look for comfort in our playing or singing, the music is put in first place. Which we might be able to push through when we’re young amateurs, mobile and flexible (although about 70% of kids have pain when they play). But in the profession we need to be able to play and sing with both precision and ease.

When we have excess tension in our movement patterns it puts unnecessary strain on our skeletal and muscular system. The Feldenkrais Method, as a holistic sensory motor learning system, looks at addressing how we sense ourselves, and improving our awareness of what we are doing.

It may not be the easiest name to remember or spell, but it’s the best way of learning I have come across.

You’re probably less aware of your spine than you are of your back

We can think about it like this – most of us are pretty aware of our hands and fingers. If I ask you to sense all of your fingers in turn you can probably do that. You can probably sense most of your 10 toes, maybe the middle ones are less clear for you? But what if I ask you to sense all 26 vertebrae of your back?

Most of us simply don’t have the same levels of awareness of the spine as we do of the fingers. You can probably imagine how useful it would be though. How much back pain would simply be avoided if we were aware of what we were doing before it caused pain?

When we don’t really know ourselves, it can be hard to change anything for the better: we end up making a compromise on top of a compromise, a habit on top of another habit, which over time leads to pain, discomfort, or simply lack of freedom in what you’re doing, and how you think.

In Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement lessons we peel back the layers in exploratory mindful movement to learn what are the limitations of the human form, and what are unnecessary limitations you are adding yourself.

You’ll learn over time (it takes 8 weeks of any mindfulness practice for the brain to change): how to feel your whole self , your skeleton, to reduce the amount of work you’re doing to what you need to do, rather than what is habitual.

What you can gain from Feldenkrais

In my weekly sessions we look at:

  • How your whole body supports your moving (if you’re a musician, your technique)
  • Developing your self-awareness so you can feel what you’re doing more easily
  • Learn to sense yourself from the inside out
  • Discover skeletal movement and structure, and how to use it to better support your hands, shoulders, breath, voice and head.

You’ll learn to:

  • Refine your sensitivity to how you are moving
  • Reduce the effort & excess muscular tension
  • Find more effortlessness, and reduction of pain when playing
  • Work with your body not against it
  • Improve your self image, (both physically and mentally)
  • Learn new options for greater freedom of movement.

If we improve how we’re moving, supporting and creating the movements we need to play, the end result also improves.

We explore different functional movements each week, making our way around the whole self over the course of the sessions.

These sessions are for all, whether you’ve been to a session before or not. You’ll need comfortable clothes to move about in, your instrument, a mat on the floor and a little space around it.

Find out more about the ten-week online Feldenkrais course Emma is running exclusively for MU members, and book your place.

Photo ofEmma Alter
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Emma Alter

Emma Alter is both professional classical musician and Feldenkrais teacher. She brings a wealth of experience with her, understanding the pressures of standing in front of an audience and performing at the highest level, whatever the situation, complexities of playing an instrument, and how the body can get in the way of performing to our optimum. She has helped musicians with postural issues, restricted movement, chronic tension (including back pain and RSI ), or simply to find more efficient ways to play more easily.

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