Today we’re going to talk about the concept of resonance and why it is so important for our playing! Did you know that it’s not entirely up to our instrument to produce a good sound? In fact, our entire body plays a huge role in this.
So what does it mean to play with a resonant sound? To be resonant is to be free of tension & stress, and to be rich in fullness & reverberation. Instruments are able to create sound successfully through an extension of our resonance. Sure, if you press down the key of a piano a note will sound, but to create music, actual, beautiful music, it requires doing something outside our comfort zone - you must open yourself up and share your essence & being with the world.
So how do we do this? Start by removing any extra factors, including your instrument (if you are a vocalist, don’t think of yourself as a vocalist for this exercise, think of yourself as just a human being). Taken from the practice of Alexander Technique, think of your feet being grounded - send the lower half of yourself to the ground; you are now a tree. From the waist up, float to the sky; you are now a bird. Take a deep breath and let go of everything you are bottling up, or that has resulted as weight on your chest and shoulders. If only for a brief moment, let it go. Close your eyes, focus on your breathing and let everything negative fall away.
To help focus on breathing I often use the Fitbit breathing tool - you can set it for 2 or 5-minute intervals that guide your inhale and exhales. For longer meditations and yoga practices I recommend Yoga with Adriene - a successful and popular Youtuber who is sure to make you feel good inside and out.
The next step for me often feels quite difficult: take up space. So maybe this practice isn’t something you can do 100% while living in a city when you’re on a crowded train at rush hour, but to get a sense of this feeling in day to day life I try to apply it to people you feel comfortable around as a first step - friends, family, or just being by yourself. To visualize this feeling I think of being in a huge bubble or a having a hula hoop floating around me. This creates a feeling of presence that I have noticed also helps visualize taking the full breath necessary for playing a wind instrument.
After I have mentally checked off these tools I then reconnect with my instrument and begin my practice session. If I ever feel tense and am not playing with resonance, I put down my flute and assess my posture. Unfortunately for impatient people like myself, it is proven that it takes an exponentially longer time for good habits to stick than it does for bad ones. Discipline will be your friend if you are patient, I promise.
What do you do to find resonance? Did you benefit from any of these tips?