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In Their Own Words: Students at the Berklee College of Music Talk About the Feldenkrais Method

By Richard Ehrman

Over the past 9 years almost 1000 music students have taken Awareness Through Movement® classes at Berklee College of Music. Students take the course because they want to avoid injuries, deal with physical or performance anxiety problems they have, and improve their sensitivity and precision in performing the many demanding movements that produce music.

The Awareness Through Movement lessons themselves show students they can change the way they feel and move. In their journals they report how the class affects them:

When I was finished my whole range of body movement seemed a lot freer and less constrained. I left the class in very high spirits. It literally felt like somebody had removed the ton of bricks I have been carrying on my shoulders. - Jason P.

I went to play directly after class today. Most of the practice was good I was loose and feeling good. The part that was amazing was when I started my exercise of moving around the drum kit. When we were moving our torso, I found that translation to playing, it really helped me to play with a world of difference.-John K.

Rather than telling students exactly how to move, the lessons provide the tools of perception that enable them to make changes on their own.

My posture when playing the viola is improving now that I am becoming more aware of my movements. It is really nice to be able to critique my own posture and to make improvements on my own. Usually when I am playing I am focusing on the music and am unaware of my body. Today it was really helpful to break my concentration on the music and to pay more attention to my posture.- Liz M.

It turned out that this has been one of the more important classes I have ever taken. I went into it expecting to be told the right way to do things but came out knowing that the only right way must be discovered by me through awareness of myself. -Russell K.

I started to focus more on how I move when Im playing the drums and how I could make things easier and Ive found myself playing more comfortably, with the increased comfort my playing feels and sounds better.-Andrew J.

Beyond the resulting physical changes, students notice effects on other aspects of their experience.

This weekend I had a gig, and decided to apply all the knowledge I had accumulated to see if I really had learned anything and if any of my movements had improved. Not only was I breathing deeper and producing much stronger a sound, I was generally more aware of everything-the way my band performed, the way the audience reacted, the way the lights hit me, the way the floor felt beneath my feet, the sounds we were producing and how they were affecting everything. -Jessica M

So by getting a clearer picture of myself and my body I learn more and more to be the way I am, without trying to hide something I might have been ashamed of in previous times. More and more I feel that I become as Im meant to be originally. This is actually a great feeling. It gives me confidence in everything I do. -Johannes B.

In their own words, these are the ways the Feldenkrais Method® has changed the musicians at Berklee College of Music.

Richard Ehrman is a pianist and teaches the Feldenkrais Method® at Berklee College of Music in Boston. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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