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A String Player Uses Guided Imagery for Peak Performance

09 Jan

This wonderful description from a string player about using his own, personal version of guided imagery to help him play his music and cohere his technical knowledge with the emotionality and meaning of the piece, came from a post in Chamber Music Today.

“In order to have fast mobility and clarity on left-hand fingers, string players have to train their fingers to have these 3 elements when dropping their left-hand fingers on the fingerboard: speed; strength; and the fast release right after the drop.

“The 3 elements on the left-hand fingers take training to build up the strength of the muscles and the speed of the reflex of the fast release.

Of course, any ‘tool’ that we gain from our technical training is ultimately to be used to create music that would touch listeners. Sometimes when musicians concentrate too much on technical elements, their music tends to be too mechanical, too careful, and lacks emotion.

“By contrast, when musicians concentrate on being musical, it actually helps the technical things. For example, whenever I feel my fingers stiffen in fast passages, I always find thinking something light and bubbly helps to increase my fingers’ lightness, mobility, and fast articulations.

“Whenever I try to sustain a long note [and yet try to musically project vitality and suspense, despite the temporary absence of pitch-change or the lack of overt dynamics changes while the note lasts], I remind myself about the struggles and tension of the music.

“Whenever I try to create smooth bow changes, I often picture a [calligraphy] paint brush changing its direction, instead of which muscle to move first!”

— Jackie Lee, Heartland Music Academy, 2012.

Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award