Our Brain in Motion
As humans, we map our interior space as well as our outer surroundings.
A body map is a conglomerate of cells on the surface of the brain which fire together to govern our movement. Neurophysiologists can track the arrangement of these cells and see that they are changeable - they have to be, basically, because we grow and the map must change with us. Sometimes however, we misconceive parts of our map like bone, muscle, tendon and joint structures. We will move in ways that reflect this faulty conception, 'as if' this map were true. In every instance the map will win and will determine how we move. This can result in excess tension and lead to dysfunctional motor habits predictive of future injury.
William Conable, professor of cello at Ohio State University School of Music discovered the practical application of Body Mapping. He found that with a brief retraining course in the practical anatomy Body Mapping offers, students movement in playing changes to become based on the accurate conception of the functional mobility of their structures. Harmful movement habits are reduced and playing becomes efficient, expressive and appropriate for music making. These observations have broad application for psychomotor retraining and rehabilitation and are supported by recent studies on sensory discrimination, cortical somatosensory responses and motor performance. This finding has important implications for music education programs and instrumental teaching and performance.
We come to realise the fact that our first instrument will always be the body we use to play. Body Mapping teaches us to question our conception of how we are structured and correct our map by aligning it with the reality of our design. Moving well will mean there is no discomfort associated with performing an activity. And if we are playing a musical instrument - one of the most complex and repetitive kinds of movement a human can do - then the way we move our body will also determine the quality of sound we make. We can learn to have a beautifully accurate and detailed body map that will mean our music making will be balanced and gracefully coordinated, our technique and expressiveness are enhanced and we feel enabled to play at our best with ease.