Tag Archives: classical

Blades of steel!

If there were only one piece of advice to be garnered from everything that I address in my research, this would surely be that relating to the separation of the shoulder blade. This is actually the most common issues among musicians. By relaxing the shoulder muscles, we cause a structural problem in the shoulder blade region. The latter becomes prominent. If you pass your hand over the shoulder blade, and you can actually feel the tip of it, this means that you are afflicted by this terrible “evil” that I call the “sharp blade”!

Like many nerves, muscles and tendons that cross at the shoulder blade, it is essential that it be maintained in its proper place (coaptation) to ensure optimal movement of all members driven by the structural elements crossing at this place. The effect of a well-positioned blade can be felt by the fingertips. To maintain the blade in place, it is essential to ensure the tone of some of the upper back muscles. This is achieved by extending the shoulders (and the collarbone) slightly and adding this a slight forward motion. It goes without saying that the shoulders must be extremely toned, and under no circumstances should one release the muscles below this region.

I am aware that it is difficult to visualize without example, but I am working on something that will help you better understand these concepts. Stay tuned!

© Jean-François Desrosby (D.Mus.) 2019

Visualization: Getting started! (What you see is what you get!)

No matter at what level is your ability to visualize, it can develop in a daily work. Start by imagining you where you practice your instrument: what it looks like, smells, how you feel when you would normally enter this room.

Imagine yourself trying to perform simple extracts on the guitar. Imagine the sound it produces, acoustics, resonance. To develop this ability to visualize, you should work on it 10 to 15 minutes a day.

For example, you can train to see yourself going up on stage, play your repertoire with pleasure and visualize the warm welcome of the public. You can also visualize a difficult passage seeing you be successful in your head, the brain then lower the psychological barrier that was created earlier.

In addition, you can train yourself to see your fingerings and your scores to accelerate memorization. You can train yourself to relive a performance that was a success for you. Imagine staying focused, despite all possible distractions. Imagine reacting  in the right way.

You can help you overcome your blockages thanks to visualization. The secret is in regular training.

© Jean-François Desrosby (D.Mus.)

Posture and self-confidence

We already know that posture plays a significant role in optimizing our movements when playing an instrument. Many of you may be surprised to know that posture also affects self-confidence.

If we can guess the level of self-confidence of someone by analyzing his posture, it is as well true that our own posture reflects our confidence in ourselves.

So if our posture reflects our confidence, can we influence our level of confidence intentionally by changing our posture? The answer is yes. Good posture will affect your level of personal confidence in addition to giving others the image of someone more confident about his abilities. If we add those benefits to both the injury prevention and optimizing technique, there is no reason for you not to work to improve your posture, and this, in your instrumental practice as in your daily life!

© Jean-François Desrosby (D.Mus.)

Visualize or not visualize, that is the question!

A student asked me: how visualization can help me? My answer was simple: The brain cannot tell the difference between an imagined experience and a real experience. It deals both on the same footing. So what you train yourself to see or feel, your brain registers it as a real experience. Take special care not to imagine the worst, because your brain will be able to help you to realize it! Yours to try using this tool with all possible variations, for sure it will help you reach your full potential!

© Jean-François Desrosby (D.Mus.) 2019

Tone versus relaxation

The first error of the musician who is conscious of his well-being is listening to people who constantly remind him that the most important thing in the practice of his art is to be relaxed but they forget to specify how to a relax! The result is the emergence of tension.To counteract these pressures, the well-intentioned musician accentuates is relaxation, which accentuates the tension.

The result of this accentuation of relaxation appears to be an escalation of tension for no apparent reason. After discussions with his teachers, colleagues and friends, all advise him to do one thing: Relax!

While it is true that relaxation may be an appropriate solution to the problem of tension, we must first understand the mechanisms that are behind the idea of relaxation.

For example, take the shoulders. If a musician wants to relax the shoulders, he lets them fall down. As a result, he complains of stiffness in the neck. This is a typical example of what I call “false relaxation.” This state involves releasing a particular muscle in order to relax a body part. What we must understand about the concept of relaxation is that each muscle has its antagonist.

Therefore, relaxation can only occur when there is a perfect balance between the antagonistic muscles. Relaxation does not involve muscle relaxation, but a dynamic tone of the antagonistic muscles that maintain the member in a position of inertia. We thus speak of an active rather than a passive relaxation. The balance of forces produces a feeling of muscle relaxation.

© Jean-François Desrosby (D.Mus.) 2019

Performance psychology, basic concepts

The brain is a tireless worker. It is never idle. If it is not occupied, it can bombard us constantly with (primarily) negative thoughts through our subconscious.

Filters also direct our thinking. All data that reaches the brain is altered before being interpreted. The brain does not have the power to register the negative form. It is therefore important to set clear goals and to expose them in an affirmative and positive way.

For example, if one says,

“I will not fail, the brain registers: ‘I will fail.’ So one must say, ‘I will succeed!’

Our conscious minds are responsible executing all that work that is linear, sequential, logical, mathematical, analytical and verbal. On the other hand, our subconscious minds are liable for everything that as to do with intuition, creativity, motor function, emotion management and the storage of memories.

Clearly, the subconscious has a lot to do with our instrumental practice. It allows us to deploy all our assets when the time comes to perform. Unfortunately, if it remains unoccupied, it will act as a moral being, and our personal filters will guide its decision-making.

There are at least four types of filters that can alter our perceptions.

It is therefore clear that the information that reaches us is not pure information. It is also easy to understand that each of these elements comes to power to interfere with our future performance. Indeed they have the power steer our brains to places that may not be in line with our desired level of performance. For example, someone who feels unable to perform a certain technical passage technique will not succeed.

‘Do it or do not do it, There Is No try!’  Yoda

‘If you think you can, you’re right. If you think you cannot, you are right. ’ Henry Ford

‘I have not failed, I found 10,000 ways that did not work!’ A. Einstein

The good news is that everything seems to suggest that this situation is not immutable. The latest research results on brain plasticity show that it retains the power to change throughout the human lifespan. We can always learn, regardless of our age.

Everything can be reshaped. We can change our beliefs, our values and our meta programs when they obstruct our goals. It is also possible to change our goals such that they are in line with our values and beliefs. The important thing is to ensure that all of the elements are working in the same direction by beginning a process of self-discovery. To do this, we can make a move to get to know. The assistance of a psychologist or other professional help to clarify a complex situation.

In the next post, we will t explore practical solutions to optimize our mental performance.

© Jean-François Desrosby (D.Mus.) 2019