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The Importance of Movement Education in the Training of Young

Lynn E. Medoff
From: Medical Problems of Performing Artists: Volume 14 Number 4: Page 210 (December 1999)

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Abstract: This paper: (1) explores the role movement training can play in improving playing quality and decreasing musculoskeletal injury in the young violinist, (2) discusses how to recognize and correct postural faults common to the young violin student, and (3) demonstrates the effectiveness of incorporating a specific method of movement and posture training into the treatment of injured musicians. The author describes four years of experience in treating injured violinists with neuromuscular retraining of movement and posture. The author hypothesizes that the incidence of musculoskeletal injury in violinists can be decreased if efficient posture and movement mechanics are taught at an early age either through supplementary education or within violin technique training. The teaching philosophies of four prominent music/movement educators are presented: Emile Jaques-Dalcroze, Rudolf Laban, John Kendall, and Paul Rolland, whose common goal is to improve the movement quality of the performing artist. Labananalysis and Dalcroze Eurhythmics train awareness of various aspects of movement. Master teachers John Kendall and Paul Rolland emphasize balanced posture and relaxed, efficient movement. Since most music programs do not include such programs, the violin teacher must correct posture and movement mechanics. Effectiveness in this role requires looking at the whole body, not just the arms, hands, and head. A five-component method of retraining posture and movement is presented: (1) relaxation and diaphragm breathing, (2) skeletal balance and movement coordination, (3) centering and stabilization, (4) lengthening, and (5) strengthening. Constructive rest, centered breathing, and imagined-movement exercises based on the teachings of Mable Elsworth Todd and Lulu Sweigard are employed to release tension, correct alignment, and improve movement mechanics. Once tension-free skeletal balance is achieved, the musician is taught to stabilize posture and maintain lengthened tension-free alignment through centering exercises that emphasize proximal control. Strengthening is most successful after the musician internalizes the first four concepts. A two-year outcome study (1996-1998) of musicians with overuse injuries treated at the Northern Arizona University Physical Therapy Clinic utilizing this retraining technique produced the following results: 23 of 45 musicians, including 13 string players, were treated for repetitive stress injuries. All musicians treated for overuse received an average of nine treatments. The musicians returned to their preinjury levels of playing after an average of eight visits.

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