How to Play the Violin Comfortably, Without Pain! Interview for Violin Lounge TV

Last month, I enjoyed being interviewed twice by Zlata Brouwer on Violin Lounge TV from the Netherlands. We had a GREAT time exploring the Alexander Technique and how it can help musicians, particularly violinists.

This video, “How to Play the Violin Comfortably without Pain”, is the second of a two-part series. The first video, which I shared in my last blogpost, is on “Mindset for Music”.

Zlata was willing to be my “guinea pig” in this second video, so you will get a little taste of the Alexander Technique in action (try it out for yourself as you watch)!

If you’re a violinist in pain, there’s nothing I can recommend more highly to promote healing than the Alexander Technique! Get on the waitlist for my next FREE masterclass on the topic HERE >> FREE Masterclass Waitlist.

ENJOY!

Want to learn more NOW?

Take my FREE 5-Day Cycle Challenge!

Sign up here: http://bit.ly/bestwarmupchallenge

Let me know how it goes – I’m here to help you feel better and play better!

With Love,
Jennifer

p.s. Join my free facebook group! http://bit.ly/practicetribe


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Mindset for Music! Interview for Violin Lounge TV

Last month, I was interviewed twice by Zlata Brouwer on Violin Lounge TV from the Netherlands. We had a GREAT time talking about the Alexander Technique and how it can help musicians, particularly violinists.

This video, “Mindset for Music”, is the first of a two-part series. The second video is on “How to Play the Violin Comfortably without Pain”. I’ll be sharing that in my next blogpost. ENJOY!

Want to learn more?

Take my FREE 5-Day Cycle Challenge!

Sign up here: http://bit.ly/bestwarmupchallenge

Let me know how it goes – I’m here to help you feel better and play better!

With Love,
Jennifer

p.s. Join my free facebook group! http://bit.ly/practicetribe


Alexander Technique music teacherENJOY THIS POST?
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You can help a musician and help support my practice by sharing this post! Thanks! 🙂

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Attn. Musicians: FOCUS on THIS when you play!

We all know that we play better when we’re focused, and concentration is a key to learning, right?

Sure! Everybody knows what if feels like (and what a disaster it can be) when you’re onstage and your mind starts wandering… you mess up!

Here’s a revolutionary way of looking at focus, though, which will show you that you’re probably NOT focusing in the best way. Here’s the live video I gave today on this topic:

In a nutshell…

  • When you DON’T FOCUS….. YIKES! (mistakes, embarrassment, frustration, trainwreck, etc.)
  • What do you do when you realize you’re unfocused and not paying attention to what you’re doing? You try harder, right? Not really a good idea, though….. Trying harder means more effort, and what you really want is for your music to be EFFORTLESS, with the minimum tension required to do the task.
  • You’ve got to look at HOW you’re focusing, and on WHAT! 
  • Get your priorities clear: what’s your BIG PICTURE (or general mission… for your life… for your music… why are you a musician, anyway?). THEN you can include your specific goals (I want to play an F# next time!).
  • FOCUS on THIS: You will make your best music and learn fastest when you are paying attention to your PRIMARY INSTRUMENT first (that’s why it’s primary!) – your mind-body-Self. YOU are #1!
  • You can’t do ANYTHING without your primary instrument, and everything you do improves when your primary instrument is functioning well – with optimal coordination and well-being. Your sound reflects your primary instrument’s state of Being. You MUST make that the most important thing FIRST. It needs to be your PRIMARY FOCUS – and everything else fits into that.

But this is a SKILL! It must be learned and practiced!

Fortunately, it’s REALLY easy to learn this, and I can teach you how to do it! You can learn the first step on your own (for free!) in just 10 minutes, and then it takes just 2 minutes twice a day (with consistent practice) for your brain to start getting it!

Start here: Take my FREE 5-Day Cycle Challenge!

Sign up here: http://bit.ly/bestwarmupchallenge

Let me know how it goes – I’m here to help you feel better and play better!

With Love,
Jennifer

p.s. Make sure to join my free facebook group, where we’re doing the challenge together and much more! JOIN HERE: http://bit.ly/practicetribe

3 MYTHS about Musicians and PAIN!

Too many musicians are in pain! In this live video, I talk about 3 common myths related to music-related pain and how to start helping yourself out of your discomfort! Read about the 3 Myths below…

MYTH #1: The source of the pain is where I feel it. 

You may have a real injury in your arm or elsewhere, but the SOURCE of that injury is not your arm!

Most music-related injuries are due to overuse and misuse, and are based on a misunderstanding about how your mind-body-self works, which causes you to move in ways that are harmful to your whole system.

Not only does the way you move end up hurting you, but the way you move is dictated by your brain, and how you THINK about moving! Change how you THINK and you will move differently.

Once you realize that every thought affects how you move and therefore how you FEEL, you can learn to free up your muscles and take the pressure off, healing the pain, which will allow your music and creativity to start flowing freely instead of being blocked by tension and reactivity to your discomfort.

MYTH #2: A medical expert can tell me exactly what’s wrong with me.

First of all, PLEASE go to the doctor if you have extreme pain, or pain that lasts longer than a few days. And… PLEASE stop playing IMMEDIATELY and rest if you’re in pain – don’t play through it!

It’s so common for musicians to push themselves to play through pain and discomfort, but that is a sacrifice that is detrimental not only to your body but to the quality of your music! Your music – and your SELF – deserves better care!

Doctors are important, and sometimes drugs or surgery are necessary. But most of the time, those should be a last resort, and there’s a LOT you can do to help yourself before things get to that point.

A doctor is trained to look at your BODY, not your movements and how you are approaching your activity. A doctor is highly unlikely to be able to tell you how your thinking caused you to move in a certain way (maybe over a long period of time) which resulted in the pain or injury you’re experiencing.

Doctors are not trained to understand how the head-neck relationship governs our coordination, and how poor coordination and mis-use of our thinking and movement contributes to things going wrong in the body.

Since they are not mind-body experts, they will not be able to give you the BIG PICTURE of what’s wrong, and they won’t be able to tell you how to change what you’re doing to heal yourself or prevent another injury or pain in the future.

So don’t expect more than a diagnosis about the BODY from your doctor – and you are SO MUCH MORE than your body!

MYTH #3: Exercise will solve my problem.

I’m sorry, but it won’t… because exercises are about moving in a way to strengthen specific body parts, but HOW you are moving matters infinitely more than WHAT you are moving!

Exercise DONE WELL (i.e. done intelligently, with due attention paid to your mind-body coordination and the head-neck area, as taught by an expert Alexander Technique teacher) can sometimes be beneficial, but 99% of the time, exercises are NOT done with the proper care, coordination, and self-awareness necessary for them to be healthy for you.

Doing exercises with excess neck tension can do more harm than good because you will be interfering with the key area within you that governs your overall well-being (namely, the head-neck area), and you will be ADDING NEW TENSION instead of releasing the tension that is likely causing your discomfort in the first place.

So, if you’re going to do exercises, please pay attention to your mind-body attitude first, inform yourself about how to be more at ease when you’re moving, and make sure you are doing the movements as mindfully as possible.

Just a few simple movements done mindfully are WAY more powerful  than a lot of repetitions done mindlessly or with a lack of awareness of the head-neck area.

LEARN MORE about how to help yourself out of pain when you play….

Want to learn more about how the Alexander Technique can help YOU ease out of music-related pain and discomfort?

Don’t wait to take action! Your well-being is INFINITELY more important than your instrument, your music…and even your career!

Find out about The Centered Musician® online masterclasses now:
CLICK HERE to get details! 


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You can help a musician and help support my practice by sharing this post! Thanks! 🙂

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Great Performers DON’T Concentrate?!!?

When it comes to concentration, we’ve got it all wrong. The great performers know that intuitively, and value FLOW over concentration. Here’s a LIVE video I did on facebook this morning that explains this.

 

So… do you want to learn how to LET GO AND ENTER THE FLOW when you make music? Who doesn’t!

But HOW do we do that?

First of all, get clear on what you’re already doing. If you’re like most people, you believe heartily in the need to “concentrate”.

When you aren’t present, it can feel scary and out of control. You are more easily distracted, your mind is all over the place, you worry about difficult passages coming up, you worry about what people think, and you criticize yourself for anything that goes wrong.

So you wrench your mind back to what you’re doing and you force yourself to TRY TO CONCENTRATE! Right?

The problem is… that doesn’t work.

When we concentrate the way we’ve been taught, that act of concentration itself creates a lot of tension.

We narrow our focus and make THE OBJECT of our attention (for example: the sheet music, our fingers, the conductor, somebody in the audience…) into a “center” of greater importance than our Self (whole self: mind-body-soul-spirit).

When you give something greater importance than yourself in a way that causes you to narrow your attention, you exclude other things from your awareness and that causes a general tightening in your system.

That compression hurts your performance, plain and simple. It can even cause physical pain over time.

Concentration that narrows, tightens, and blocks the FLOW of music is not TRUE concentration.

TRUE concentration flows from YOU as a center. When you practice real concentration, you are opening and expanding, including other points of interest (or focal points) in your expanding field of awareness.

True concentration is INCLUSIVE, not exclusive.

It leads to flow of creativity and great artistry. And it FEELS GREAT!

So… you might be wondering… how can I learn to do this?

Glad you asked.

STEP 1: Download my FREE checklist and guide, “7 Keys to Make Your Music Sing!” from the red box on this page.

STEP 2: Join the Mind-Body Practice Tribe, my FREE facebook group.

STEP 3: You’ll know what to do next, and if you don’t, send me an email and ask me! 🙂

ENJOY!

Love,
Jennifer


Alexander Technique music teacherENJOY THIS POST?
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You can help a musician and help support my practice by sharing this post! Thanks! 🙂

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Do YOU Make the #1 MISTAKE Musicians Make???

I’m sure you do… because you’re human!

I do it, too.

So what’s the #1 Mistake? F.M. Alexander called it “End-Gaining”.

End-gaining is when you care more about the result of your action than the process, the “means-whereby” you achieve your goals.

It’s when you focus more on what you’re DOING more than on your WELL-BEING.

The Alexander Technique is THE BEST way I know to bring my awareness back to my whole-person BEING so that I can do my activities in the most efficient and effective way possible, without causing myself physical or emotional discomfort.

In this live video, I talk about end-gaining and the pitfalls of making music in this way. In short, you’re not going to play as well if you’re end-gaining, and you’re going to waste a LOT of valuable time when you’re paying more attention to WHAT you’re doing than HOW you’re doing it.

Find out more, and learn some very powerful, quick ways to counter this problem by joining my FREE facebook group, the Mind-Body Practice Tribe here >> CLICK HERE TO JOIN!.

See you there!

Love,
Jennifer


 

Alexander Technique music teacherENJOY THIS POST?
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You can help a musician and help support my practice by sharing this post! Thanks! 🙂

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5 Tips to Help You Practice When You Feel Down

If you’re human, then you know what it’s like to have a “down” day. Here are 5 tips to help you get over the hump when you’re dragging along and it’s really hard to get yourself to practice!

Here’s a brief summary of what I talk about at length in the video:

  1. LISTEN to yourself, and ASK yourself what you really want.
    – Honor your feelings. Respect your mood. STOP pushing yourself around, and stop “should-ing” yourself!
    – Use my “3 Magic Phrases” to let yourself off the hook.
    – Go deep and ask yourself “Do I really WANT to practice right now? What Do I really want? What will practicing get me that I really want?”
    – If you discover that you absolutely don’t want to practice right now, then don’t! But respect your freedom to make that decision for yourself, and don’t fall into the guilt trap afterwards. Decide to take care of yourself with whatever you decide to do instead.
  2. Let it be short!
    Sometimes, the hardest part of practicing is getting started. I find it much easier to start if I think, “If I do only 5 minutes of practicing, that’s OK – it’s better than nothing – and I’m going to do 5 minutes of really MINDFUL practicing so I get something good out of it.”
    Think QUALITY over quantity!!
  3. Start from silence and center yourself.
    Give yourself a few minutes to sit quietly release some of your negative thoughts, and free your body of some unnecessary tension.
    – Journaling for a few minutes to get negative thoughts out of your mind can be very helpful if you’re feeling very upset about something. WRITE it out!
    – Visualize things you LOVE. What do you feel good about in your life? Do you have a good memory that helps you get in touch with a positive feeling? Start a gratitude list, and FEEL the gratitude melt you.
    – DO THE CYCLE, an Alexander Technique etude that takes only 2 minutes but is pretty much guaranteed to help you feel a little better, and more relaxed. Learn it here: http://bit.ly/JRFthecycle
  4. Redefine Practicing! 
    Do you have a habitual way of thinking about practicing? Maybe it’s time to redefine it. Are you including practicing your mind-body coordination in your idea of practice? If you’re not, it’s about time! You can get SO MUCH done without your instrument if you know how!
  5. Experiment and think about having a bit of FUN!
    How would you treat a child who’s down and doesn’t feel like practicing? Would you force her to practice, or would you get creative and find a way to get her interested?  Treat yourself with kindness. Is there a way you can entice your inner child to get curious about your instrument? Is there something NEW about it that you can discover? Touch it… feel it… wonder… I list a bunch of ways you can practice in the video above. Get creative and make it DIFFERENT today!

EXTRA TIP: Get support from your friends!
The Mind-Body Practice Tribe is my FREE facebook group, and it’s always available to you – come join us! We’re a group of very POSITIVE music-lovers who have a way with supporting and encouraging one another, so if you feel down, hop on over and someone will be sure to help lift your spirits! 🙂
JOIN HERE: http://bit.ly/practicetribe

Of course, there are so many other ways you can approach practicing when you’re down. But remember that it’s OK to skip a day! Very often, giving yourself a break to REST is going to do you and your playing much more good than forcing yourself to do something against your will.

I hope you found this helpful, and watch the video to get the fuller version of each tip! Maybe you find JOY in your practicing soon!

Love,
Jennifer

p.s. Know any musicians who could benefit from a little practice mood-lift? Please share this with them! And let me know what you think!


Alexander Technique music teacherENJOY THIS POST?
PLEASE SHARE YOUR DISCOVERY!

You can help a musician and help support my practice by sharing this post! Thanks! 🙂

SUBSCRIBE TO MY NEWSLETTER!
Use this link to sign up for my free monthly newsletter with news, tips, and blog updates for musicians:  http://www.artoffreedom.me/newsletter/

Do You RUSH?! The Surprising Cause and Cure!

If you’re human and a musician, I bet you’re guilty of rushing – at least once in awhile!

The question: WHY do you rush? What is the CAUSE?

My answer to you: your music rushes because YOU rush. YOU – your whole mind-body-Self – are the cause. Why? Because you’re good at rushing through LIFE, even when you’re not making music. Your brain is a virtual rushing expert because you practice this often, throughout the day, every day.

We modern humans rush to get up in the morning. Rush to eat. Rush to work. Rush to communicate. Rush to finish projects. Rush to shop. Rush to get home. Rush to make time to do other things. Rush to get places…. You get the idea!

Want to cure your habit of rushing the music?
Cure your habit of rushing through life!


Alexander discovered that his #1 problem that caused all of his performance difficulties was something he called “end-gaining”.
End-gaining is when you pay more attention to the RESULT than the PROCESS (what he called the “means-whereby”) for achieving your goal (“end”).

When you’re end-gaining and rushing, you aren’t paying attention to what’s happening in the present moment. You’re likely projecting into the future, either too eager to get somewhere or afraid of something coming up. Or maybe you’re just plain over-excited and caught up in what you’re doing instead of how you’re BEING. Your internal sense of timing gets thrown OFF because you’re over-focusing on what’s outside of you and not really paying attention to what’s going on INSIDE of you RIGHT NOW.

When you’re in the middle of a musical phrase, worrying about the next note, or afraid of that difficult shift coming up later, or focusing on nailing that hard fast passage coming up, then you aren’t giving the current note it’s due, and you’re more likely to fall into the rushing trap.

So what’s the cure?

  1. Start observing yourself rushing during the day, away from your instrument.
  2. Notice how your body tenses up when you’re rushing.
  3. Learn how to discern between relative tension and relative ease in your body.
  4. Practice the Cycle 2x/day. The Cycle is an Alexander Technique etude by Mio Morales that takes 2 minutes. You can learn it here: THE CYCLE VIDEO
  5. Include the Metronome-Cycle as part of your practice routine, separately from your instrument.
  6. LATER, once you’ve already been practicing the Cycle for awhile, add practicing with the metronome to your music. This will be SO MUCH more effective once you’re including the concept of Ease into your use of the metronome.

Here’s a simple version of the Metronome-Cycle:

Set your metronome to a slow speed. Try it in a triple meter.

  1. Count out loud on the first beat. (“1″… “2”…  up to “25”…)
  2. Notice and name a place of relative ease in your body on the second beat
  3. Take a moment to rest on the third beatCount this way up to 25, more or less, as desired

I challenge you to do the Cycle 2x/day, and the Metronome-Cycle 1x/day EVERY DAY for 30 DAYS, and I can pretty much guarantee that your rushing habit will be very significantly improved or even gone by the end of the month!  (Feel free to experiment and create your own version – but make it EASY!)

If you take me up on the challenge, let me know how it goes!!

Love,
Jennifer


Alexander Technique music teacherENJOY THIS POST?
PLEASE SHARE YOUR DISCOVERY!

You can help a musician and help support my practice by sharing this post! Thanks! 🙂

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Magic for Musicians: the Alexander Technique! 3 STEPS

In today’s LIVE facebook video, I introduced the Alexander Technique, a mind-body tool that helps you get out of your own way and do whatever you want to do with more ease. AT has transformed my life and my music-making in ways that are truly magical!

I’ve been practicing AT since 2003, and the violin since age 4, so I’ve had more than a bit of time to explore and develop my skills with both. There’s always more to learn in both areas, though, and combining them has been a perfect way to bring more ease and joy into my life! In the video, I speak a bit about my background and how I’ve come to enjoy sharing what I know through teaching and performing.

I also share 3 STEPS for bringing magic into your practicing! They are…

  1. GET CURIOUS!
  2. LEARN YOUR FIRST ALEXANDER TECHNIQUE ETUDE
  3. DEVELOP A CONSISTENT DAILY PRACTICE

Join my group, the Mind-Body Practice Tribe, to help you develop these steps in a great community of like-hearted musicians on a similar journey to yours!
There’s a free gift waiting for you there! “The 7 Keys to Make Your Music Sing!”

Enjoy, and HAPPY PRACTICING!
Love,
Jennifer


Alexander Technique music teacherENJOY THIS POST?
PLEASE SHARE YOUR DISCOVERY!

You can help a musician and help support my practice by sharing this post! Thanks! 🙂

SUBSCRIBE TO MY NEWSLETTER!
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Interview: My Life, Violin Struggles, and Alexander Technique

I was recently interviewed by Jasmine Reese II for her blog at Fiddlershop.com! @FiddlerShop.com blog. Check it out guys! #FiddlerShop #MusicisforEveryone #Interview

Here’s the link to read it:  CLICK HERE TO READ THE INTERVIEW

Enjoy!!! 🙂 

Alexander Technique teacher Cincinnati

 

You can read about this amazing woman who travels around the world on her bicycle with her violin and her dog here:

CLICK HERE TO READ ABOUT JASMINE