Monday, November 17, 2014

What Does It Take?

This morning before my session with David Jernigan to work with the Alexander Technique,  I decided to listen to John Nicholls A New View of the Alexander Technique, a podcast from Body Learning.  Early in the talk, while introducing the concept of "automatic postural responses,"  he stated "our nervous system is continually learning even at the level of how much muscle tone needs to be distributed throughout the body for whatever action we wish to perform."

At this point I paused the podcast to play with my own continuous learning.  I did a lie down and wondered what is required of my neuromuscular system to play the guitar?  Over the years I have learned that considerably less effort is required than I thought.  How and what might I learn about this system I inhabit on this day?

After the lie down I moved to my practice room and began asking myself questions. What does it take for me to stand?  Holding this question for a bit, a slight release occurred in my feet and my legs shifted. Had I been merely standing in a habitual way that required more of me than is needed?  What does it take for me to lift the guitar from the stand was the next question.  My awareness growing as I picked up my guitar.  What does it take to stand with the guitar on?  With this question I noticed a bit of tension in the upper part of my right arm and around the right elbow.  Why?  Decades of improper use of myself while playing.  And yet I was not playing.  I worked with my breath and my thinking to release the tension in these areas.

Next I queried - what does it take to bring my hands to the guitar?  Barely anything is required for this action.  Very very little.  Enjoying this process I played with bringing both hands or one at a time to the guitar.  Relishing this moment of increased awareness of my motion. Perhaps a bit of freedom was introduced into my system.  This is subtle investigation, not guaraunteed to do anything.

Finally - what does it take to play the guitar.  I brought my hands to the guitar, without thinking or directing, and began playing Turning the Wheel.  The tone was sweet for the minute or so that I
 played.  The time had come for me to leave for my AT session.

I reviewed these questions again with David observing and sometimes directing my body with his hands as only an AT Teacher can.  Awareness and focus were free and open.  Two trouble spots within the piece were there, but did not derail the playing nor take too much of my attention away from the what and the how of my doing. 

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