How Does Your Body React When You’re Stressed in a Music Setting?

Cat's face expression of surprise

There are numerous stories in our journey of music making. Some of them make us feel complete and encourage us to keep going and enjoy our music. However, there are also times when we face situations that make us believe that we are not talented (“enough”) and lose our confidence.

If you want to know how these experiences feel in your body, try the next exercise!

Music, stories, and body awareness

1. Think about an experience while playing or after attending or teaching a class. An experience that has made you feel fulfilled and left you satisfied.

  • Notice what emotions arise in you. What are the feelings related to this experience?
  •  Also, pay attention to what you feel in your body and if you can, write down your answers.

2. Now think of an experience

where there wasn’t a good outcome. It could be related to your playing, or perhaps a time when you were treated unfairly.

  •  For the moment don’t judge, don’t try to blame anyone. Just observe yourself emotionally and physically. How did your body react?
  • Note if your body still reacts to that memory.

3. Compare these two experiences. Find the difference in words that you used to describe these events, the emotions, and your body reactions. What are the differences? Are there similarities?

Looking at my experience

Personally with the first exercise, I notice that some of my playing or teaching experiences are related to a feeling of openness in my body and in the perception of space. Wide, open, like when you’re going to give a hug. I can be aware of how the sound travels in all directions.

I am not referring to an immense space that makes everything far away, but where there is a specific quality of attention and I am focused. This is what in Body Mapping is called inclusive awareness.

In the second exercise it’s the opposite. There is no vast space and I feet restricted.

Everything in my body closes and I cannot move, I freeze and I notice it in the quality of my breathing and in my muscle tension.

Each situation is different, but sometimes when we are in a challenging moment, we tense. We stop breathing and we can even disconnect entirely from our body. It is important to perceive our body because with it we create music!

3 Things that can help you to relieve some of the stress

1) Be aware of the space around you

To avoid the closing of your body, notice how big and high the room where you are is. Pay attention to the ceiling and the things or people that are around you, including the ones behind. You can do all this without seeing them, but just look at them in the corner of your eye and remember or imagine how the space is behind you. If you are in a class or rehearsal you don’t want to seem distracted.

This is an exercise to reclaim your space and connect to yourself by being attentive.

2) Allow the touch sense to be present

If you have your instrument in your hands notice how it feels. Feel one string, the wood, or the temperature of the metal. If you don’t have an instrument, notice how your clothes feel on your body, the texture, the tightness, etc.

3) Breath

Notice your breathing and try to make it easy and fluid.  Try to make your exhalation and inhalation about the same length.

Repeat this exercise when you are by yourself.

Learn to recognize these incidents, analyze the situation and do whatever you need to find the balance in your body again.

Please feel free to comment or send me a message!