Frequently Asked Questions:

How is Body Mapping different from other movement programs such as the Alexander Technique and Feldenkrais®? Body Mapping is a tool that can be used by any discipline to enhance the process of learning that discipline. While all movement-based disciplines develop the kinesthetic sense, Body Mapping teachers use  practical anatomy and modeling, rather than a hands-on technique. They observe the movement of the student and help the student understand and correct his or her own body map. Body Mapping can also be studied on one’s own.

How can Body Mapping help prevent injury? A large percentage of the injuries sustained by musicians are caused by movements that interfere with balance or that create unnecessary tension in muscles during hours, days, weeks and years of repetitive work. By learning efficient and effective movement, we form a solid base for a lifetime of playing.

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How can Body Mapping help improve breathing? Free and full breathing is based on good balance of the whole body and an understanding of the structures and movements of breathing, such as use of the pelvic floor for support and the changing curves of the spine. Balancing the torso over the hips and freeing the legs releases the muscles of the torso to move during breathing, whereas muscle tension in the torso limits both rib and diaphragm movement.

How can Body Mapping help musicians’ technique? The techniques we require to play well necessitate movement of joints and muscles. Since every sound we make is produced by movement, we need to learn the freest and most efficient ways to make those movements.

How can Body Mapping help with performance anxiety?  By fully understanding the structures and movement of the body in making music, musicians can play using their whole beings, thus fully embodying the music. As the mind becomes involved in the process of attending to the body and the environment, fear of performance lessens.  Read Barbara Conable’s informative article at What to Do About Performance Anxiety

How can Body Mapping help recovery from injury? If a musician’s injury is caused by movement while playing, discovering and understanding the incorrect map that led to the playing-induced injury is of prime importance in recovery. Once a musician begins to correct and refine the body map, pain and discomfort will diminish over time. If an injury is caused by a medical condition, then having an absolutely accurate body map will make it possible to return to playing without re-injury and with the most buoyancy and freedom in movement.

How do I tell if an injury or pain is produced by movement? First, be sure to see a health care professional. If no medical cause can be found, there is a good chance that faulty movement is contributing to the injury. If your comfort is increased by seeing a Body Mapping or other movement specialist, that is an indication that movement is contributing to the injury. Injuries sometimes exacerbated by a poor body map include tendinitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, TMJ syndrome, thoracic outlet syndrome, and compressed discs.

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How do I study Body Mapping? The study of Body Mapping involves learning how our understanding of the body’s anatomy creates the movements we make. You can study anatomy through books, CD ROMs, classes, lessons, and many other methods. Inquiring about your own body map and applying what you learn about anatomy to understanding the structure, function and size of your own body are the most crucial steps. For example, you discover that you have a map that the arm structure has three joints; you then learn that the arm structure has four joints, where they are, and how they move; then you begin to play and move with those structures in mind. Many teachers use Body Mapping along with many other tools in their teaching. Licensed teachers, called Andover Educators, teach Body Mapping classes of varying lengths (one day to a whole semester) throughout the world. See Body Map Teachers for a listing of Andover Educators and Body Map Schedule for a schedule of courses near you.

How can I practice using Body Mapping? Put anatomy pictures around your practice space to help you remember what is most important to you: for example, where the places of balance are, or how long the neck is, or how the forearm rotates. As you practice, make sure you include all of your body in your attention. At first this will be difficult, as most musicians are only aware of parts of their body when they play. As you develop your kinesthetic sense, you will become more refined at sensing balance, freedom, buoyancy and fluidity. See Recommended Readings for additional suggestions

Who invented Body Mapping?  Many artists, athletes and performers have, over the years, used Body Mapping in their work. In 1978 William Conable, D.M.A., wrote the first article describing and naming the body map. These concepts have since been incorporated into several books about the Alexander Technique and Body Mapping. See http://www.alexanderworkshops.com/NewDirections.html

Who teaches Body Mapping? Anybody who understands Body Mapping can teach it in his or her own way. The best teachers often are those who have had to retrain their own movement; they understand fully the time, patience and hard work that enable the development of free, fluid, poised and buoyant music-making movement. Only Licensed Andover Educators teach Body Mapping courses.

Who is best helped by Body Mapping? Any musician can use Body Mapping. Those who have retained the original poise and buoyancy of childhood throughout their adulthood can learn more about the gifts they have and how to help students become freer. Musicians who feel they just can’t express the music the way they want to (they feel something is getting in the way of their phrasing, technique, breathing, bowing, etc.), can use Body Mapping to understand how to undo these impediments. Musicians who feel stiff or uncomfortable while practicing or performing can use Body Mapping to help them learn the most efficient ways of working.  Musicians who are hurt or injured are the most in need of Body Mapping, in combination with good health care professionals. Many musicians who have given up their careers due to injury have relearned to play using Body Mapping.

How can an instrumental, vocal or conducting teacher best use Body Mapping in teaching? The most effective way is by modeling good movement, teaching anatomy as it relates to playing or singing, having lots of relevant anatomical pictures in the studio, showing videos of good movement, naming and reinforcing the progress a student makes, and by watching the movement of the whole body. For example, when a student has hand problems, look at the balance of the head and throughout the torso, because poor balance puts pressure on the nerves, blood vessels, connective tissue and muscles of the arms and hands.

How can I correct my body map? To be your own teacher, study all the materials named above in #16, work to develop your kinesthetic sense and your inclusive attention.

Why are people who teach the Body Mapping class called Andover Educators? Andover Educators is the name of the educational company formed by Barbara Conable, founder of Andover Press (named for Andover Road). Barbara likes to say it is because we have to learn this information over, and over, and over again….

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