Monday, January 30, 2017

Monday Practice Tips

Good morning, friends! I hope you had a great weekend. Did you play tunes? We did. Eric and I pulled out the button accordion and concertina and went over the very few tunes we have, including "Happy to Meet, Sorry to Part"! In working with a new instrument, I find I have to make myself aware of a different posture and a different approach to the tunes (that's a discussion for another day). That got me thinking about practicing. Even a short ten minute practice can leave you feeling "creaky" if you aren't paying attention to your posture or your technique.

“Strain and fatigue are often caused by rigidity. The more you allow your body to move and breathe, the greater your stamina.” – You Are Your Instrument, Julie Lyonn Lieberman

How many times have you finished up a practice session or rehearsal and struggled to get up out of the chair or had to stretch or massage your jaw/hands/shoulders? Chances are that when you are practicing, you are tensing up as you focus on intonation, technical mastery, or just memorizing a tune. 
Make breathing, gentle movement, and mindfulness a part of your practicing and you soon train yourself into a more dynamic yet relaxed way of playing.  A great way to start sorting that out is to play/practice one tune or set and then stop for a minute. Scan your body to see if there is any discomfort. Is my neck sore? My jaw tight? Hands tensed? Shoulders hunched? Did I forget to breathe during the tune(s)? If the answer to any of those questions is "Yes", you have your marching orders. As you play the tune or set of tunes, scan your body again for signs of tension. When you discover one, slowly breathe in and out as you play and make a conscious effort to loosen your grip, straighten your spine, unclench your jaw, etc. Work with gravity not against it. 
Have a great week!

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