Psychology | Psych of Movement for Musicians
P457 | 3564 | E. Thelen


Musical performance requires the highest levels of motor skill.
Professional-level performers practice for many decades to achieve
extraordinary feats of precise movement coordination and control along
with artistic expression. Unfortunately, these countless hours of
playing sometimes bring physical discomfort from overuse and poor
movement habits.

This course is geared to performers who are not scientists, but who
have a strong interest in learning about movement and in discovering
ways to develop awareness, flexibility and enhanced coordination for
their own movements. The course is an experience-based introduction to
the basic concepts of motor control and development. Each class will
begin with 40-45 minutes of a Feldenkrais MethodAwareness Through
Movement (ATM) lesson.  In ATM lessons, the instructor leads the
students through a sequence of movements while they are sitting,
standing, or lying on the floor. These are gentle movements designed
to increase perceptual awareness of movements and interrupt old
habits. Students engage in precisely structured movement explorations
that involve thinking, sensing, moving, and imagining. Many are based
on developmental movements and ordinary functional activities. Some
are based on more abstract explorations of joint, muscle, and postural
relationships. The lessons consist of comfortable, easy movements that
gradually evolve into movements of greater range and complexity.
Feldenkrais lessons are used with musicians and dancers all over the
world.

Each movement lesson will serve as a springboard for a discussion by
the instructor on an aspect of the science of movement relevant for
performers. Topics will include: the “degrees of freedom,” problem,
the nature of coordination, motor control and motor learning, some
neurophysiology of motor control, especially issues of brain,
plasticity, motor development, motor memory, attention, movement,
mental imagery, and “sense of self,” measuring movement, and studies
of musical performance. All of these discussions will be geared to
students without previous background in psychology or neuroscience.

Students will be expected to attend all classes and participate in the
movement lessons. In-class lecture and discussion will be supplemented
by a reading each week, chosen to be at an appropriate level. Student
will also be required to keep a weekly journal integrating their
experiences, the readings and the discussion. Grades will be based on
attendance and the integrative journals.