Group 4

Unlock your full musical potential with this tailored course, designed for players seeking to release tension at the instrument. After countless hours of playing, it's not uncommon to develop unproductive habits of tension and stiffness. But it's never too late to change. By shifting our focus from the instrument to our bodies and surroundings, we can rediscover the joy and freedom of playing with ease.

Check out Dragos' Course on tonebase 

Dragos Ilie - Mind and Body Mapping: Understanding Your Hands and Arms

Details

  • Course Period: February 13 - February 24th
  • Sign-Up:  starts on February 8, 11 am PT!
  • Group Session: February 20th, 10 am PT

Assignments

Here is a playlist with the first two assignments! A third one will be added next week!

Exercise 1: Bringing our arms around the guitar, with specific focus on leading with the pinky. Whenever we move our arms, we lead (whether we are aware of it or not) with a specific finger (call that the initiator of the movement in the arm). There are two general camps, the leading with thumb and leading with pinky camp. If you want to check that in more depth, you can watch the course I taught on Body Mapping on Tonebase. For today, I want us to imagine our pinkies as if they were the initiators of the movement.

**Demonstration of what I do - focusing my awareness on pinky, moving the entire arm up/down, in circles, with focus on the pinky (for some it helps if you imagine the pinky grew an inch longer). Drawing a line from pinky all the way to the shoulder blade.

***Applying over the guitar. We now bring our pinky-oriented arms to the guitar. **Doing it a couple of times. You may notice as you do that, the chest and upper back also free up. Why is that so? We have just integrated our whole arms into playing: collar bone, shoulder blade, upper and lower arm bones.

Exercise 2: Inclusive Awareness. I learned this from my mentor Jennifer Johnson. This exercise should help you gain a wider sense of awareness which is both helpful in releasing tension as well as connecting with the room, and the audience. When we tense, we collapse. We shorten, narrowing our vision and movement.

**Demonstrate at the instrument. Sometimes to get out of that habit, the easiest thing to do is to allow the surrounding space to be part of your awareness. This exercise has 3 levels:

  • Start this exercise by playing anything. A scale, a passage. As you do, pick an object that’s in your visual field. You can keep that in your peripheral and still be able to pay attention to the task of playing the scale. The object itself can be vague: let the color or the loose shape of it be in your awarness.
  • 2nd level, pick an object on the right side as well. This one is particularly important for us guitarists since we tend to “twist” to the left to see the fretboard.
  • 3rd level. pick as many objects as you want. Let the whole room become part of your experience. This is extremely important for a performer. It may feel scary at first, but this
  • way you will be able to deliver the sound to your audience. Now you are playing for them.

Third Assignment

Exercise 3:

Breathing out on the scale. This is an exercise to apply during your own playing. I found it very useful with improving hard spots. Often when we have difficult passages, we tense up which results in a holding of our breath too. The most common pattern is the one where we inhale (up), without releasing. This exercise helps you undo this pattern. We’ll use the a C Major scale just because it is the easiest form exercise, but you can do this over any passage. Take a big inhale, then play the 1st octave. Preferably you want to save enough air to perform the shift as well, that is the spot where we tend to tighten up our breath the most. Practice back and forth till you get the hang of it.

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    • Roni Glasernull
    • Classical guitarist and composer
    • roniglaser
    • 1 yr ago
    • Reported - view

    Hello everyone!

    This course looks really interesting! Can't wait to see what happens! Here are some notes so far:

    Exercise 1: Leading with the little finger (as we call it this side of the Atlantic :) ) is very interesting, and I notice clear connection of the than side of the hand along the wrist, the forearm and to the elbow, which in turn makes it easier to notice some other movements further up my arm. Moving the hands to the guitar seems easier and more comfortable with my right hand than my left, probably because of the twist in the movement, but now that I try it again, it's interesting to notice the rotation Dragos talks about in the Mind and Body Mapping course, and I can feel the forearm rotating around the little finger axis to place it on the fretboard.

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      • Dragos I
      • Dragos_I
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Roni Glaser Glad to hear you find the rotation to be easier, Roni! That's very true; thinking of the ulnar side as a line between elbow->ulna->pinky makes the rotation happen more naturally. 

      Like 1
    • Roni Glasernull
    • Classical guitarist and composer
    • roniglaser
    • 1 yr ago
    • Reported - view

    Exercise 2: With this one I found the first stage more difficult (I used a curtain), because it requires focus on an object while focussing on the "object" of playing the guitar, but when I added an object on my right (my piano), awareness had to open out and became general, and also both hands became easier to hold in awareness together. It also became easier to open awareness to the whole room than the two objects, or at least a wider space than just what I was doing on the guitar.

    Interestingly this more open awareness collapsed when I wasn't quite sure of what I was playing.

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      • Dragos I
      • Dragos_I
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Roni Glaser I also found it difficult at first; try not to let the outside objects "overwhelm" you, but rather letting them become part of the experience. If they phase out at times, that's fine. Just take notice, sometimes that's more than enough to tap into your inclusive awareness. I like to first think of the color of the specific object I integrate, this way it doesn't feel distracting in any way to the musical task, let's say, when you practice your pieces. 

      Like 1
  • Ciao, I watched the full video mapping. im familiar with the body in depth, hiwever applying it to the guitar was a nice different exp. Primarily bringing mote awareness to the embrace of the guitar.

    Like 2
      • Dragos I
      • Dragos_I
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Dracó G. Romero Hi Draco,

      Great point. 

      I find it fascinating that regardless how much I read about the body or its structure, there is always a new layer of awareness to discover, especially when playing. Aside from the purely tactile sensations, the practice becomes more like a meditative state, opened. 

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    • martinTeam
    • LIVE
    • martin.3
    • 1 yr ago
    • Reported - view

    Dear Friends,

    I wanted to share with you the link for today's Check-In with Dragos, which you can access at https://us06web.zoom.us/j/89928858415 on Monday, Feb 20, at 10am PST!

    I also share the third exercise here and in the thread!

    Like 1
  • Love this topic, I am catching up just now with the posts and exercises.

    Sorry to miss the live Zoom session, is there a recording by any chance? Thanks.

    Like 1
      • Dragos I
      • Dragos_I
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Calin Lupa Hi Calin, we mostly talked about the third exercise and answered a beautiful question. Let me know here how your practice goes with these/ or any questions!

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    • Derek
    • Derek
    • 1 yr ago
    • Reported - view

    I'm finding these exercises very useful so thank you Dragos. What I also find with exercises 1 and 2 is that they help me to project my sound more due to opening my body up and being more aware of the full space around me rather than being fully focussed on my guitar. Does this make sense?

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