Connect your body movements to the music
Ory’s Flute Tips
Connect your body movements to the music
Have you ever considered how your body movements effect your playing and your phrasing?
Are you aware of the way you move while playing?
Do you plan your movements in order to make it part of your performance?
If you have answered with ‘No’ to one or more of these questions then this post is for you.
The way you move while performing is important for 3 main reasons:
- Music is a performing art – and movement is part of the performance
- It effects your phrasing and therefore effects your interpretation
- It might effect your tone quality and interrupt your performance
💃 Music is a Performing Art
How many times have you listened to a concert and thought ‘He/she plays great, but their performance didn’t work so well for me’ or ‘They move too much, I should better close my eyes in order to enjoy the concert’?
Sometimes we witness many extra movements which are not controlled and not planned by the performer, which interrupt the experience of the public. They ‘steal’ the focus from your music making and from the mood you, the performer, are trying to create. Isn’t that already a good reason to develop your awareness to your movements?
I believe that your movements should serve the music you play. The musical context should provide for you enough information that will help you to understand how to move. If you play something very calm, it won’t make any sense to move a lot. If you get to a more exciting part of a piece, your movements should support that.
My suggestion is to consider every concert you play as a performance. It doesn’t matter whether there are 10 or 1000 people in the public, whether your public is ‘only’ family or friends. Use those opportunities you get to be on stage in order to raise your awareness to the way you move while playing. Ask the people you trust to give you an honest feedback about the way you move and whether there is anything in particular that interrupts your performance.
🎼 Movements that serve your phrasing
Want to be able to play a long phrase? Then your movement should accompany the music. If you are moving up and down marking each bit, 2 bits or 4 bits then your phrase will suffer from accents on each bit, 2 bits or 4 bits. If you are ‘drawing circles in the air’ with your flute while playing your performance will as well sound like that. These movements I’ve mentioned might fit to very specific pieces, but in general (and very much in romantic and 20th century repertoire), musical phrases would be shaped in either a rainbow-shaped phrase or kind of a linear line that always go forward, and your body movement should reflect that.
Take for example the opening phrase of Prokofiev Sonata:
Try to play it and concentrate on your movements. Are you moving on each quarter, 2, 4? On every bar or 2?
Idyllically we should have a long 4 bars phrase, which is not interrupted in the middle.
Now try the next approach:
While playing imagine you draw with the foot-joint of the flute a long rainbow shaped line. You should draw it very slowly and throughout the whole opening 4 bars. By very slowly I mean a movement which is maybe just few millimeters in each bar. This kind of movement creates immediately kind of a positive tension in your phrase and doesn’t allow you to break the 4 bars phrase.
🎧 Movements can effect your tone quality
If your movements are too sharp and sudden, I would not be surprised if the tone quality of the notes during/after the movement suffer from lack of focus. Sharp movements could change the position and the contact between your embouchure to the lip plate (direction, pressure, distance from the lips) and the result is that certain notes will not have the same color and focus as the rest of the notes in the phrase.
I would recommend then to increase your awareness and notice whether you are moving in a way that doesn’t help your tone quality and simply reduce these movements.
Your movements are an integral part of your performance. Gaining control over them and increasing your awareness to your movements will allow you to improve significantly the experience of your public and improve both your playing and your performance on stage.