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Not trying to “be expert”

Not trying to “be expert”

Glenna Garramone came to me at the beginning of a tour complaining of tightness and discomfort. She eats well, stays very fit and is thoughtful about her practising, structure and rest. Yet she was still running into trouble.

Glenna is a professional, classically-trained musician in piano, voice and guitar and works on the folk circuit, currently touring her Tower of Song.

I worked with her on the stage before a gig and she quickly noticed where her problem was coming from.

Glenna was keen to take this fresh insight into her playing and after that particular tour was complete, she sent me an insightful explanation of what she had been able to accomplish:

“While working with Emma at the beginning of a tour, she noticed my tendency to brace my shoulders against the guitar strap while I’m playing. She suggested that I allow my entire body to absorb the weight of the guitar, and release the impulse to brace against the weight.

As the tour continued, I noticed times when I was able to let go of bracing myself against my instrument, and it changed my whole relationship to the guitar and therefore to the music I was playing.

This one seemingly simple suggestion lead me to a more vulnerable, open feeling when playing on stage, but also in that space there is more possibility and it made room for more connection with myself, with the music, with my fellow musicians, and with the audience.

It freed up the energy of effort and the perceived need to try to “be expert” and instead allowed the music to flow through me. The fact of playing onstage everyday on tour combined with this new experience and understanding that came from a short session with Emma, combined to make a powerful shift in my music and me.

Emma is a very perceptive, knowledgeable, skilled, and intuitive guide, and her observations and suggestions have helped me tremendously. I’m a touring singer-songwriter and I play guitar and piano, so being able to play my instruments comfortably is integral to my career.”

And the process of opening up to fresh understandings continues.  Having seen Glenna again recently, we worked on a particularly demanding chord shaping which needed persistent repetition throughout Leonard Cohen’s, The Stranger.  Glenna was able to remove pressure created through her left forearm and wrist which enabled a very different shaping through her hand and fingers.  As I attend her gig that evening, I was pleased to see her ease and had a chuckle at the lyric:

“Oh you’ve seen that man before, His golden arm dispatching cards.                                                                     But now it’s rusted from the elbow to the finger”

I wonder, could she have been embodying that idea a little to faithfully?!

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