Monday, April 4, 2011
Clearing, Creating, & Updating
Spring arrived here in full force today. Temperatures in the 80's allowed us to have our first dinner in the back yard for the first time this year. Afterward I spent some time working on my nails, while I listened to the birds and the occasional swelling of the wind through the top of the trees. The joyous cries of children playing outside and the occasional sound of neighbors working in their yards.
Overall, I felt good as I moved to practice guitar. My body was relaxed and my mind calm. Even from this good place I choose to do an AT lie down before picking up my guitar. I do want to watch the NCAA Championship game tonight so there is a slight time pressure, but then again Monday is frequently my night off. I did not get to play as much as I needed to this weekend, all for good reasons mind you, so that's why the effort tonight. But back to the lie down. As I was in the semi-supine position, allowing and directing my body to lengthen and widen, I noticed how much better I was feeling as the lie down proceeded. And then the light bulb, no matter what my state before a lie down, even a good one like tonight, I always feel better. Such a simple noticing, yet a profound one, especially if I use this to guide me in the future.
I picked up my guitar and immediately began playing what wanted to be played. Enjoying the freedom and ease brought about by the lie down. Then I dove into the tremolo piece and while not perfect, noticed again the ease that was present in my playing. The importance of this pre-practice lie down becoming more apparent with every bar of music in this demanding piece. By beginning with the lie-down, I am allowing myself to play from a position of relative freedom. I think it would be correct to call this a place of mechanical advantage.
I saw a tweet today by Franis Engel in which she stated that the shortest description of teaching the Alexander Technique is "how to create, update, or clear muscle memory." The AT lie down clears the results of my use throughout the day, and brings me to a better place from which to engage in the delicate movements needed to play my guitar. If I am skillful in how I then use myself in playing, I may be able to update or create new patterns of use in my technique. This education is ongoing; requiring care, attention, and direction. Working with AT also makes me feel good, shows noticeable results in my playing, and supports my other activities of living.