Mind Over Muscle, or Muscle Over Mind?

Muscles are worse than teenagers — you can’t tell them what to do.  All we can really do is remind them to do something they already know.  If you think you can tell your arm or hand or finger to suddenly behave differently, you are likely to be disappointed.  This is why reading about hand positions or finger movements, and understanding them intellectually, is not enough to learn how to do them. 

Even if you do know what to do, as you add more tasks, combining bowings and fingerings, the brain simply can’t keep up unless you have muscle memory working for you.  It’s kind of like trying to speak while spelling out in your mind every letter of every word you’re saying!  You just can’t do this without slowing the whole operation down to a snail’s pace.

The technique videos on this site are geared toward remedying this problem, by providing simple isolated exercises that allow your muscles to learn movements that make playing much easier.

You can also making the physical learning easier by customizing your movements to your own experiences.  For example, one of my students was a flight instructor, and it was fun to teach him about bowing dynamics while he taught me how it connected to terminology and physics of landing and taking off in his plane. (See the “Circular Bows” in Technique Videos Group 2).

Another student was a physical therapist who, when she linked some of her daily routines for moving patient’s muscles with the motions she was trying to learn on her instrument, became bolder and more confident about moving her bowing arm and hand. A postal worker who was learning fiddle was able to think about a machine or a sorting action he was using every day at work, in order to move his bow with the same kind of confidence he has professionally with that machine or that workaday action.

If you try the exercises in Groups 1 & 2 of the Technique Videos, which of them mirror movements you do every day at work or home?  (Feel free to add your comments below.)

© Ed Pearlman 2015

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