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Abstract

Results from recent research have demonstrated positive effects of somatic approaches, such as the Feldenkrais Method, somaesthetics, and body mapping in the field of music. However, the direct impact of such approaches on instrumental sound has not been studied so far. The present pilot study was thus designed to investigate the influence of non-judgmental body awareness on the sound of high string instruments. Eleven students of the music universities of Neuchâtel and Lausanne were requested to sense specific parts of their body while playing one long note. The analysis of audio recordings and interviews conducted post hoc show a positive correlation between the subjective experience of ease participants reported, and objective sound volume or stability. The largest effects were observed when participants were aware of their pelvis, rib cage or head region. Increases of sound volume or stability were often accompanied by non-voluntary changes in body-weight distribution, indicating that body awareness had a direct influence on the musculoskeletal system. In view of the reportedly high numbers of playing-related health problems in professional orchestra players, more research should be carried out to examine in detail possible effects of body awareness on instrumental sound and on psychological and physical well-being.

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