If you haven't already noticed, my intentions while practicing always involve awareness, efficiency, and freedom in the body. If there’s anything I’ve learned, it is that these things are always at their best at the beginning, but can fade while moving through a piece - especially during performances when anxious thoughts can take over!
Intentions are wonderful because they can always come back into our awareness while playing, and one of the best times to check in is during a rest. (Encouraging positive action during rests can ease anxiety, as well!)
Here are my favorite ways to re-set during rests:
1. Renew a Grounded Relationship with the Floor
Notice whether your feet have shifted, and use the opportunity to re-establish a grounded, supportive relationship with the floor. If you are sitting, notice your feet on the floor, as well as your sit bones in the chair.
2. Release The Abdominal Muscles
Freeing the abdominal muscles can allow more efficient inhalations and make exhalations easier to regulate. As a result, the sound is often more free and phrasing is easier. I find that tensing here can be a deeply rooted habit, and one of the more difficult muscles to maintain freedom in for an extended period of time. As a result, I'm reminding myself to release quite often!
3. Allow the Jaw to Release
The space within my mouth tends to feel more closed as time goes on, and I especially notice this happening when playing fast or at soft dynamics. Allow the jaw to hang off the skull and notice the soft palate and space between the teeth at moments of rest.
4. Associate the Exhale with Letting Go
If your rest is long enough to allow multiple breaths before coming back in, use the opportunity to notice areas of tension that you can release upon exhalation. Maybe you notice your shoulders or the back of your neck releasing. If you begin re-associating exhalations with releasing while you're resting, you'll have the opportunity to continue the idea while playing. (If you study meditation or yoga, this association may come more naturally to you!)
5. Remember Musical Intentions
If you find yourself getting caught up in thoughts or feeling disconnected, bring your thoughts back to musical intentions and focus on listening and enjoying.
What do you focus on during rests?