I recently attended a thought-provoking class on a branch of Aikido called Kinomichi, a blending of martial arts with dance, informed by an anatomical understanding of movement. I found it to be a challenging and satisfying experience, shaking me out of my usual routine and engaging my creative thinking in motion. As I learned more about this graceful, dynamic practice I noticed parallels with the Alexander Technique and interesting implications for playing an instrument that I'm excited to investigate further.
We began the class by experimenting with simple gestures engaging the whole body (spirals, squats, lunges, etc.). We were encouraged to let our inner sense guide the movements rather than to impose the "right" position. What does it take to get this inner guide to perk up and contribute? If you're like me, it takes time - quieting expectations, judgments and preparation. And what comes from this listening? As your inner chatter falls away you may find answers that you didn't even know you had.
I wondered almost immediately: how do these questions apply to flute playing? Am I making music from the outside in or the inside out? Am I forcing my interpretation on the music or am I allowing the music to speak through me? Big, important, scary questions that can start a person on a long and winding road... Perhaps not an easy path to follow - it often means having to delay the gratification of performing in our usual way - but well worth the patience required to allow alternative, spontaneous possibilities to emerge.
In my next post, we'll try a simple movement experiment - stay tuned!