I want to play with nice sound. Beautiful sound, Sound that someone would actually like to hear. And I want to do this in the spring recital performing the Bach Bourree with all the repeats. But I can’t. Regardless of the opening notes, my right shoulder ratchets up, up, up. Invariably, by the end of the second phrase my arm is tensely sawing away creating a sound somewhere between airy and screechy. And what’s the point of the repeats if it sounds like that? As usual, I have a plan.
Alexander Technique instructor Cathy Pollock is in town this week and we’ve started working together, again. (“Again” refers to the successful work we did together about 10 years ago when I had difficulties stemming from an overly tense jaw.) She asked me to play, and within a few strokes could see the hunched back, clenching chin, shoulders caving up and into each other - not a good position for any physical activity, and disastrous for playing violin. My teachers and I are aware of all of this and have been working to correct the posture, with limited results.
With kind words and warm hands, Cathy explained anatomy and repositioned my body. She covered the structure of clavicle and shoulder socket, and where the scapula sits most naturally in the back. She discussed intention of motion, and initiation from the back. She had me sit, stand, walk, and bow open strings in this new positioning. It felt more natural, and sound improved, but it also felt less secure. The physical freedom it provided was scary in its unfamiliarity. My body desperately wanted to fall back to tight, old habits, and it took a lot of awareness to maintain the re-formed posture. I have faith in the method, though, and expect that 5 – 10 lessons will establish significant postural change, resulting in sufficient sonic change, allowing the repeats in the Bach Bourree. That’s the goal.
Previous entries: February 2015
Hear more from the world's top violinists in The Violinist.com Interviews: Volume 1, which includes our exclusive conversations with Joshua Bell, Sarah Chang, and David Garrett, and others, as well as a foreword by Hilary Hahn.
Smiling as he spoke, Steinhardt offered his suggestions with clarity and appeal, in language both efficient and richly meaningful.
Kate Little is from Salt Lake City, Utah. Biography
Please consider supporting Violinist.com by becoming a sponsor, and reaching our dedicated community of violin professionals, students and fans!