Viola da Gamba (Viol) – Warming Up (Musicians)(Psychology)(Pain)(Strain)(Injuries)(Posture)(Alexander Technique)(Albuquerque)

by ethankind on July 11, 2013

This ebook, An Alexander Technique Approach to Viola da Gamba (Viol) Technique, is published on this website in a PDF format. It is very detailed and practical, and it will give you the physical tools you need to take the limits off of your ability to create the accurate viol technique you want without sacrificing your body.
This ebook is also for sale on all AMAZON websites in a KINDLE format.
Located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, U.S.A.

Most of the viola da gamba players I have worked with over the years warm up. Most of them say they are not happy with how well they play when they practice 50% of their practice time. So, three to four days out of each week most viol players are not happy with how they’re playing/practicing. This means that warming up by playing scales, arpeggios, etudes, etc. does not work half of the time. Why?

BECAUSE MOST VIOLA DA GAMBA PLAYERS PRACTICE FOCUSING ON THE ENDS OVER THE MEANS. The Alexander Technique calls this end-gaining. END-GAINING means that the viola da gamba player doing his or her warm-ups is focusing only on what is coming out of the viol and not taking care of him or herself.

Simply, the warm-ups are not being used as a place for the viola da gamba player to bring him or herself into balance on the instrument. They are a place to do a daily mostly unconscious RITUAL, and hope that at the end of the warm-ups they will play well. AS I SAID, MOST VIOL PLAYERS DON’T PLAY WELL AT LEAST HALF OF THE TIME.

How does the Alexander Technique solve this problem of making warming up on the viola da gamba effective? IF AT LEAST HALF OF THE TIME THE WARM-UPS AREN’T HELPING, THEN WARMING UP IS NOT EFFECTIVE!

Here is a famous definition of insanity: Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and over expecting different results. This seems to be what is happening to most viola da gamba players. They believe that warming up before playing works, because isn’t this what everybody does? And even though it doesn’t at least half of the time, this doesn’t seem to shake most viol players’ faith in warming up. They just keep warming up!

So is this faith misplaced in most viola da gamba players? No! Why? If the intention of warming up is to take the viol player to a place each day that they can play with ease and grace, this intention is perfectly sane. IT IS HOW THE AVERAGE VIOLA DA GAMBA PLAYER WARMS UP THAT DOESN’T WORK.

So, in an Alexander Technique session I have the viol player sit, and I ask the viol player to play a scale for me for a few minutes. I ask the viola da gamba player what they thought. Usually I get a response telling me they are NOT HAPPY with what they’re hearing.

I now ask him or her to play a scale at a very easy slow tempo. They’re usually happier with the performance. I then ask the viola da gamba player to place all of their awareness on sitting fully upright WITH EASE and not care how the scale sounds. They’re usually even happier with the playing. I now ask the viol player to focus on releasing any unnecessary tension out the hands and arms, and the viol player is really beginning to like what he or she hears. Why?

I’VE ALTERED THE WHOLE INTENTION OF THE WARM-UP. I’VE MADE THE WARM-UP A PLACE WHERE THE VIOLA DA GAMBA PLAYER CAN CONSCIOUSLY BRING THEIR MIND AND WHOLE BODY INTO BALANCE WITH THE AID OF THE SCALES, ARPEGGIOS, ETC.

Now, the warm-up is a place where the viol player can fully connect to what is happening in his or her body at that very moment on the viol, and can consciously choose with the Alexander Technique knowledge of what a balanced poised body is on the viola da gamba. The viol player is now using the warm-up as a place to consistently, day after day, create physical and emotional well-being with the aid of the viol.

This approach truly turns the viola da gamba into something you do daily into a place where you know almost every time you sit to play, even if you are in a bad place, the viol can be used to lovingly return you to a good place.

So, after a warm-up where you bring your whole body into coordinated poised balance on the viola da gamba, then making music can be what you do daily to make yourself happy almost every single day.

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