The music next door

The Feldenkrais Room is adjacent to a rehearsal room. In my private practice I would never put music on during a lesson for all kinds of reasons. The few times I have used music were when I worked with children with Autism and other deficits who responded well to the organizing properties of Bach’s cello suites or his orchestral suites. At those times I found that my lessons where better organized and my thinking and feeling had a “flow” I did not experience to this extent at any other time. Since 40 years of my life was devoted to music from very early childhood, my creativity is at its best when I let it guide me.

In the first day of my stay at Yellow Barn Chamber Music School and Festival, the two pieces rehearsed were Schubert’s Rosamunde quartet and a Telemann flute concerto. Since I do not have a choice in this matter, and since all my students here speak the language of music, it is O.K. with all of us.

Settling into the lesson I was giving and feeling enhanced by the music, I was thinking about the similarities between a piece of music and the structure of a Feldenkrais lesson.

In a lesson the teacher thinks of an everyday activity, a “Function” in the Feldenkrais language, or a component of it, which he/she thinks will enhance the student’s life if done better, with less effort and with grace. The way to make it happen is by having a sensory conversation with the student’s nervous system which will bring about new learning. The tools we have are quite similar to composing a movement of a symphony.

The movement is composed around the Functions (note the similar word!) of a certain key, which are organized in a basic progression throughout the entire movement. Each one of these functions gets established by harmonical journeys away from it and back to it, or by circling it, which then highlights it. The digressions can be enormous, but as long as the composer has the original progression in mind, the listener feels that every sound is inevitable and that the piece ends exactly in the right moment. There is a tension that does not get completely resolved until the last sound.

It is an apt description of the ideal Feldenkrais lesson. Sometimes we use elements of other dynamic relationships from other lessons (functional progressions) to highlight a missing element in the picture the brain has of the chosen function. It is sometimes necessary to journey quite far in the service of a vision of home base. As long as the vision of what needs to be learned is clear until the end, there will be an internal, sensory logic to the lesson which will be appreciated by the student and establish new patterns of action. Here, in Yellow barn, it will mean better performance and injury free playing.





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