I recently shared The Cycle: Awareness of Ease, a video by violinist and Alexander Technique teacher Jennifer Roig-Francoli, on the July Inspiration Calendar.
If you haven't watched the video, the basic idea is to notice places of ease in the body in a rhythm that prevents over-thinking.
After watching this video and following along with The Cycle, I went ahead with my warm-up as usual, but with a heightened awareness of ease and effort.
I specifically found myself noticing the hands and arms in a way that I typically do not.
Here are a few of the statements from my practice journal that I noted during my warm-up:
- If I observe and perceive the length of the whole arm, my arms and fingers gain a sense of ease and connection that I didn't even realize I was missing before.
- I hadn't realized that I perceived my arm only in separate parts until surrendering to ease and noticing the connection of the whole.
- Specifically, my biceps and hands are easily perceived, and I barely perceived the forearms at all!
- I also noticed the left arm more so than the right. In fact, the right hand was barely in my awareness at all.
A Simple Change For Greater Clarity
I began by only bringing the flute up with the right arm (letting the left arm relax by my side) so I could focus on really feeling the right arm as a whole first. I aimed to notice the entire length, from the collar bone to the tip of the pinky.
Then, I kept the right arm in my peripheral vision while lifting the left arm, and while playing, I actively kept my awareness open to the full length and connection of both arms.
In making this shift, I was able to feel ease and length of the arms, and more importantly, the hands and all ten fingers felt free and light.
I especially gained a new perception of both pinky fingers which really helped me to navigate the footjoint notes with precision!
powerful finger awareness
A heightened awareness in the hands and fingers brought up a new question:
"Do I perceive the keys beneath the fingers?"
- Does this question elicit a different feeling than the statement: "Keep the fingers close to the keys?"
- While the fingers hover over the keys, can you perceive the amount of space below the fingers and above the keys?
- Can you perceive whether they're directly above the key or slightly off-center?
- Are some fingers higher or further off-center than others?
- Do you perceive some fingers with greater clarity than others?
Pausing to observe my perception of the fingers in relation to the keys has provided powerful insight into issues of coordination and excess effort.
Having a greater awareness of the whereabouts of each finger has immensely improved my ability to problem-solve technical difficulties, including low note issues, trills, and awkward finger exchanges.
What is it like to invite each individual finger into your awareness?
Share your own comments and discoveries below or on social media!