I n order to have fast mobility and clarity on left-hand fingers, string players have to train their fingers to have these 3 elements when dropping their left-hand fingers on the fingerboard: speed; strength; and the fast release right after the drop. The 3 elements on the left-hand fingers take training to build up the strength of the muscles and the speed of the reflex of the fast release. Of course, any ‘tool’ that we gain from our technical training is ultimately to be used to create music that would touch listeners. Sometimes when musicians concentrate too much on technical elements, their music tends to be too mechanical, too careful, and lacks emotion. By contrast, when musicians concentrate on being musical, it actually helps the technical things. For example, whenever I feel my fingers stiffen in fast passages, I always find thinking something light and bubbly helps to increase my fingers’ lightness, mobility, and fast articulations. Whenever I try to sustain a long note [and yet try to musically project vitality and suspense, despite the temporary absence of pitch-change or the lack of overt dynamics changes while the note lasts], I remind myself about the struggles and tension of the music. Whenever I try to create smooth bow changes, I often picture a [calligraphy] paint brush changing its direction, instead of which muscle to move first!” Jackie Lee, Heartland Music Academy, 2012.I n reply to the previous post, I received the helpful advice above.
A nother CMT reader emailed me to ask whether there was any scientific research literature that establishes the effectiveness of visual or kinesthetic imagery in music teaching, especially for soloists or chamber performers.
T here’s lots of published research on guided imagery in the neurophysiology and physical medicine and rehab literature—and in the lit for research on aging and stroke. Quite a lot in the dance and sports medicine lit. But there are not very many published controlled research studies in music performance/pedagogy lit, so far as I can tell.
I will continue looking; please feel free to add comment below or email me if there is a reference that you like.
M eanwhile, here are some links to work that’s relevant to this.
- Green B. The Inner Game of Music. Doubleday, 1986.
- Mark T, et al. What Every Pianist Needs to Know About the Body. Gia, 2004.
- Bruser M. The Art of Practicing: A Guide to Making Music from the Heart. Three Rivers, 1999.
- Berman B, et al. Self-modulation of primary motor cortex activity with motor and motor imagery tasks using real-time fMRI-based neurofeedback. Neuroimage 2012;59:917-25.
- Couillandre A, et al. Exploring the effects of kinesiological awareness and mental imagery on movement intention in the performance of demi-plié. J Dance Med Sci 2008;12:91-8.
- Esplen M, Hodnett E. Student musicians' experiences of guided imagery as a technique to manage performance anxiety. Med Prob Perf Artists 1999;14:127-34.
- Fontani G, et al. Effect of mental imagery on the development of skilled motor actions. Percept Motor Skills 2007;105:803-26.
- Gandevia S. Mind, muscles and motoneurones. J Sci Med Sport 1999;2:167-80.
- Gentili R, et al. Inertial properties of the arm are accurately predicted during motor imagery. Behav Brain Res 2004;155:231-9.
- Gentili R, et al. Improvement and generalization of arm motor performance through motor imagery practice. Neuroscience 2006;137:761-72.
- Gillot A, Collet C. Duration of mentally simulated movement. J Mot Behav 2005;37:10-20.
- Gillot A, et al. Does motor imagery enhance stretching and flexibility? J Sports Sci 2010;28:291-8.
- Gillot A, et al. Muscular responses during motor imagery as a function of muscle contraction types. Int J Psychophysiol 2007;66:18-27.
- Grangeon M, et al. Postural control during visual and kinesthetic motor imagery. Appl Psychophys Biofeedback 2011;36:47-56.
- Heremans E, et al. The eyes as a mirror of our thoughts: Quantification of motor imagery of goal-directed movements through eye movement registration. Behav Brain Res 2008;187:351-60.
- Hovington C, Brouwer B. Guided motor imagery in healthy adults and stroke: Does strategy matter? Neurorehab Neural Repair 2010;24:851-7.
- Kim J, et al. Visual and kinesthetic locomotor imagery training integrated with auditory step rhythm for walking performance of patients with chronic stroke. Clin Rehab 2011;25:134-45.
- Kristeva R, et al. Activation of cortical areas in music execution and imagining. Neuroimage 2003;20:1872-83.
- Lebon F, et al. Modulation of EMG power spectrum frequency during motor imagery. Neurosci Lett 2008;435:181-5.
- Li S, et al. Interactions between imagined movement and the initiation of voluntary movement. Clin Neurophysiol 2009;120:1154-60.
- Lotze M, et al. The musician's brain: functional imaging of amateurs and professionals during performance and imagery. Neuroimage 2003;20:1817-29.
- Louis M, et al. Effect of imagined movement speed on subsequent motor performance. J Mot Behav 2008;40:117-32.
- Meister I, et al. Playing piano in the mind: An fMRI study on music imagery and performance in pianists. Brain Res Cog Brain Res 2004;19:219-28.
- Müller K, et al. Involvement of area MT in bimanual finger movements in left-handers: An fMRI study. Eur J Neurosci 2011;34:1301-9.
- Oishi K, Maeshima T. Autonomic nervous system activities during motor imagery in elite athletes. J Clin Neurophysiol 2004;21:170-9.
- Personnier P, et al. Mentally represented motor actions in normal aging: III. Electromyographic features of imagined arm movements. Behav Brain Res 2010;206:184-91.
- Vergeer I, Roberts J. Movement and stretching imagery during flexibility training. J Sports Sci 2006;24:197-208.
- Heartland Chamber Music Festival
- Stringendo chamber ensembles
- Jackie Lee, viola/violin, Heartland Music Academy
T he left arm functions, to a large extent, by 'walking' on the fingers. In actual walking, torso balance shifts forward, and it is caught on top of the moving legs. For the cellist's left arm, a similar balance can be felt when the upper arm shifts and must be caught by another finger or the arm will fall over... This ‘walking’ image can be strengthened by imagining that the fingerboard is a staircase... Picturing this helps you feel that your balance is aligned in the Earth's gravity, even though your fingers look angled-back in relation to the surface of the fingerboard.” Jeffrey Solow, cellist, quoted in Bruser, p. 121.
I n automatic or cyclical movements, actual and motor imagery (MI) durations are similar. When athletes imagine only the dynamic phases of movement or perform MI just before competing, however, the environmental and time constraints lead to underestimating the actual duration [and the benefits of the guided imagery are diminished, despite the speed and ease with which the imagery for brief or cyclical movements is called up]. Conversely, complex attention-demanding movements take longer to image [and so guided imagery for complex movements has impediments to its effectiveness, even if duration over/underestimation does not occur].” Aymeric Guillot, 2005.
T he bilateral frontal opercular regions [in the brain] are crucial in both preparation for and during music execution and imagining. They may have ‘mirror neuron’ properties that underlie observation or imagining of one’s own performance. The motor areas are differentially activated during the preparation and execution or imagining the sequence.” Rumyana Kristeva, 2003.
D uring execution of musical sequences in professional musicians, a higher economy of motor areas [in the brain] frees resources for increased connectivity between the finger sequences and auditory as well as somatosensory loops, which may account for the superior musical performance. Professionals also demonstrated more focused activation patterns during imagined musical performance.” Martin Lotze, 2003.