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May 1, 2014
New insights

Last week, I was very fortunate to participate in a 4-day workshop for teachers that I organized for our Cincinnati Alexander Technique community, led by Tommy Thompson, an amazing Alexander Technique teacher at the American Repertory Theater at Harvard.  I thoroughly enjoyed being in student role, and learned so much!

Now that the workshop is over, I'm exploring what I've learned with myself and my students, and I am enjoying some incredible breakthroughs and insights – as are my students.  Tommy encouraged me to post some of my own insights on facebook, but I prefer to put them here for now.  Here's what I wrote yesterday, while spending an hour or more experiencing my evolving relationship with my violin and bow.  I'm looking forward to meeting with them again later today!

Would you believe I never really understood before that the sound of my violin is not just “my” sound or the violin's sound… and it's not “my” voice or “its” voice… but it's really OUR sound / OUR voice?!  What an unbelievable difference this makes!!  It feels and sounds completely different, and it is so gratifying to join together in this way!  I understand now how all three parts (me, violin, bow) are necessary to each other, and the music-making becomes a trio, a game, a play, a balancing act… 

oh my goodness… it just gets better and better!

I actually WANT to be with my instrument now!  This is EXACTLY what I needed to understand.  Things are suddenly making so much more sense now, when I think of working on/with my violin and bow as if I were giving them an AT lesson – not just before I play (which is amazing in and of itself, because the sound changes very noticeably), but WHILE I'm actually playing.  Actually, it's more like exchanging work with an excellent teacher.

I am communicating with my violin now in a much more direct way.  How fascinating!  In fact, I was feeling a bit down just now… and it occurred to me to go to my instrument as if I were turning to my friend…  what tremendous new potential I see for this relationship…

Treating the violin like my unique and special partner, my friend, my student, my teacher… my Beloved… not just as a tool for communication with others, or for self-expression, but as a manifestation of the One with whom I wish to communicate the most… we have a conversation.  We work and play and listen and move and respond and grow together… every part of the trio is affected.  And the sound – oh, the sound!!

It's also a reflection of my own Self.  I play from the heart and the heart of the violin speaks to me.  I expand and it expands.  I contract and it crunches…             

Just beautiful.

Sorry, I have to go now.  My violin is calling me.  😉

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Tags

love, practice, relationships, sound


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  1. What a wonderful summary of the few of the feelings/ thoughts I have been having lately. This morning, after breakfast, etc., instead of doing what I would normally do, I started singing. And I felt very happy! Of course, my voice is within my body and I really cannot separate from it, but there have been times when I have felt alienated from my singing. Just in the past few weeks I have found that my voice is my friend…and it give me joy to join with it in my singing…and the good feelings/thoughts continue even after I have stopped…there are some days I just want to keep singing and singing, but alas, there is a limit to even the well-trained and muscle-toned vocal cords. And I truly believe that I am merely a vessel for the One I would call God and His Son, Jesus. When I am in my vessel mode (my voice and I integrated as one) my singing becomes a manifestation of everything I have been given, music related or not. Thank you Jennifer!

    1. Miriam, your voice is not only within your body, and it is not only your friend – it is YOU! You are your own best friend, and you are beautiful, both inside and out; your voice reflects that. I love what you say about being a vessel for the One; what could be a more blessed life-purpose than that? Thank you for sharing your insights here! I look forward to our lesson tomorrow!

  2. Beautiful! And as we work with our instruments in this way, we are actually changing their inherent quality, the resonance on the molecular level of the wood. In 150 years someone will pick up your violin and say, “Wow! What an incredible sound!”

    Just as holy sites of pilgrimage have tangible energy from years of devotion, your violin absorbs your intentions, and becomes something incredibly special in the process, with an energy that can be distinctly felt.

    Whoa…Now I’m intrigued! Thank you, Jennifer!

    1. Thank you, David. I heartily agree with you. Just this morning, as I met my instruments again, I found myself holding them up in offering. The body is the temple of the soul, and the body of the instrument is a temple of sound. Join the two (three with the bow) together with awareness and the soul is expressed through sound. Just as we honor the body, we honor the instrument; and when they come together, we honor their union. When I listen, the instruments speak; when I feel the vibrations, I am moved; when I am moved, I play; when I play, I enjoy; and joy is irresistible! Every atom shimmers when joy shines on it, and is changed. And yes, it is an energy that can be distinctly felt. Thank you, David, for your comment!

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