This fall I resumed my piano lessons at Drake University. My piano teacher, Amanda Jones, sounds remarkably like my yoga instructor, Dottie Jackson.
“Play the keys using your entire arm and shoulder, not just your hand,” Amanda says
“Walk from your hips and your core, not just your legs and feet,” Dottie says.
“Sit up straight, don’t hunch over the piano,” Amanda reminds me.
“Stand tall while you walk,” Dottie reminds me.
Both playing music and moving with strength and grace require many of the same skills and awareness. Grounding is important, whether it’s your fingers on the keys or your feet on the floor. Improving technique requires practice. Although we naturally begin walking as children, we soon lose body awareness and our erect posture. Regaining it takes discipline. Likewise, rushing over the trouble spots in a musical composition rarely produces excellence. We need to go back to basics.
“Focus just on these eight bars next week,” Amanda instructs.
“Make getting up from a chair using your core your assignment for the week,” Dottie directs.
Both pursuits have become lessons in mindfulness–staying present, noticing sensations, savoring pleasure, transforming energy into beauty. Both offer the joy of absorption, forgetting for a time the demands of the future and recalling how our bodies are meant to be.