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Movement for Musicians: a Workshop Series at ASU

Movement for Musicians: a Workshop Series at ASU

I'm so excited to be offering this workshop series at Arizona State University (Tempe Campus) this semester, alongside fellow music student and yoga instructor Brianne Borden. We are both eager to share our knowledge and techniques for musicians' wellness. These workshops are designed to teach you more about your own body, prevent common musician-related injuries, overcome performance anxiety, and reduce stress.

Available to ASU students and faculty -and local non-ASU musicians! Workshops are held on Mondays from 3:15-4:15pm in the Nelson Fine Arts Building (across from the Music School) in Studio 122. Nearby visitor parking is available in Visitor Parking Lot 20 and Tenth Street Parking Garage.

Come as you are. All workshops are for all levels and abilities. No experience necessary. We will provide yoga mats, but if you want you may bring your own. The studio has a strict no shoe policy, so expect to be barefoot. You may want to wear comfortable clothes, have something to take notes, and bring a water bottle!

 

 FB Event for the Workshop Series

 

As musicians, many of us will experience pain from a repetitive stress injury, struggle with chronic pain, or have issues with performance anxiety. A common statistic claims that 87% of professional and 90% of student instrumental musicians will experience a physical playing-related injury at some point in their careers, but in reality the numbers could be much higher. The best thing that we can do as musicians is to treat ourselves as our primary instrument, and prioritize wellness. Tools that have been scientifically proven to reduce risk of repetitive stress injury, reduce pain, stress and anxiety, and improve overall health -are yoga, body awareness, meditation, and breath work. In this 12-week workshop series, you will learn how to have a deeper level of awareness and optimize your ability to perform through body mapping and movement.

 

Kimberly Hankins is currently a DMA Viola student at ASU and Teaching Assistant for Nancy Buck. She is also a RYT-200 Registered Yoga Teacher with Yoga Alliance, certified in a variety of Yoga and Fitness formats and specializes in Vinyasa, Buti Yoga, Merge for Musicians, and Yoga for Musicians. As a violist she has performed as a soloist and chamber musician throughout the United States, Germany, Luxembourg, and Iceland. Her interest in the benefits of yoga (and other mind-body practices) for musicians, led her to create ‘Movement for Musicians’, originally a yoga-based project that aimed to integrate foundational movement with body mapping. Kimberly uses her knowledge of anatomy and physiology in her approach toward teaching both music and yoga, and strongly believes that awareness is the key to improvement in any area of life.

 

Brianne Borden currently attends Arizona State University as a DMA candidate in Trumpet Performance, where she served as Teaching Assistant from 2016-2018. Throughout the years, Brianne has competed nationally as both a soloist and an ensemble member, and performed on an international level. She is also an avid freelancer and private studio teacher within the Phoenix valley. As an ERYT-200 certified yoga instructor, Brianne teaches and regularly leads trainings through CorePower Yoga. Brianne melds her two passions and is a devoted researcher in the field of wellness for musicians. She has published multiple articles and created workshops on ways to incorporate yoga into a musician’s lifestyle in order to counteract repetitive motion injuries, battle performance anxiety, and live a healthier life. Brianne is an active clinician and performer, having presented at numerous universities and conferences around the country.

 

Body Mapping
Body mapping is a term borrowed from Alexander Technique, but is the process of understanding and experiencing your own body. Where the joints move and how the body functions. Understanding functional anatomy in the way it applies to yourself helps develop body awareness, self-correct posture and coordination issues, and allow to teach movement more accurately and effectively. Body mapping has been proven to reduce the risk of injury.

 

Yoga for Musicians
Did you know? Almost 100% of musicians admit to dealing with performance anxiety at some point in their career. 60% of musicians struggle with musculoskeletal injuries, 12% of which end up quitting.
Yoga for musicians is designed to lower these numbers through movement, meditation, and breathe work. We will will touch on specific breathing exercises, full body exercises, and daily techniques for general wellness and health of musicians. Additionally, the workshop emphasizes commonly injured or overworked parts of the musician’s body and provide techniques to prevent injury or pain and aid in efficient use of that particular area. Yoga for musicians will target performance anxiety and provide movements and breath work to help cope.

 

Merge for Musicians
Merge is one of the only movement therapies based in Connective Tissue (Fascia), whose main objective is to even out fascial tonus, create healthy and stronger connections, and all while identifying patterns of disconnect. The movement patterns used in Merge target every aspect of our body so we can make global improvements in our posture, and in turn change the way we move.

 

Deep Yoga for Musicians
Deep is a restorative movement sequence that connects mind to innervated muscle using physical touch and breath-synchronized movement. Using yoga asana as the foundation, this class includes self-massage and pressure point activation to release muscles. Each class ends with a 7min meditation.

  

 

Don't have time or you're too far away to attend a Movement for Musicians workshop? Check out my videos at https://www.patreon.com/movementformusicians

Composing and Improvising for a Yoga Class

Composing and Improvising for a Yoga Class

Two weeks ago I had the incredible experience of creating the music for a live yoga class. I have been struggling with a way to describe this experience, because it was so unlike anything I've ever done. It brought up a lot of emotions, anxieties, and inspiration for me -and it was one of the most fulfilling musical experiences of my life so I feel the need to share it.

I don't consider myself a composer, but I have improvised on and off since I was in undergrad. I think it's a really common experience for musicians, and although I don't think I was very good at it, I had a wonderful time making music with friends and learning more about performing jazz, gypsy jazz, rock, and fiddle. I was a digital arts minor for a short time and composed 'acousmatic' computer-based pieces. Years later I was part of a band in the D.C. area and collaborated with them and a violinist to write and perform string parts. Since then, I have been extremely focused on classical music and working towards using that to build a career for myself.

Fast forward to this last year, when I had the incredible opportunity of studying, rehearsing, and performing with Brooklyn Rider. If you don't know who they are, look them up! They are a string quartet that refuses to put themselves in a box, and performs all genres of music with a level of complete mastery. They were so inspiring to me, and while this was going on I was enrolled in a 21st c. composition class for music theory credit. That class gave me more confidence as a composer, and the freedom to experiment with creating my own music.

Which leads me to a few months ago, when I felt very moved by my yoga community to do something positive for my students. I have been actively teaching at BMVMNT Scottsdale since they opened, and it is one of the most amazing yoga studios I have ever been a part of. On a daily basis I'm so grateful that I get to teach there. Building a yoga studio from the ground up is never an easy task, and the longer I taught there, the more I realized I wanted to offer something completely different for my students. A performance came to mind, when I played a movement of a Bach suite for my "non-performance" final in an Alexander Technique class while everyone was lying on the floor. The class was able to connect with what I was doing on a deeper level than in a concert hall and it was a huge success. About a year ago I had a similar experience performing for a friend's savasna (lying meditation at the end of a yoga class). So, I thought, what would be better than to recreate this as the music for savasana in my classes on a regular basis.

The first class I played a movement from a Bach suite, and then each class since then I’ve tried to step a little more out of my comfort zone. I had this idea to put on a background of a rainstorm to improvise over. Something happened in that third or fourth class that I have a hard time explaining. Basically I stopped thinking and trying to control what I was doing, and the music just happened. It was different from my experiences with improvisation in that I wasn't thinking about chords or scales or even what notes I was going to play next. I would take a moment to think about the energy of that class, and what type of music would help them work through that, and then I would just play. Completely intuitively. I still do this at the end of all my Sunday morning classes.

After doing this for a while, one of my colleagues at the yoga studio suggested I play for a class as the actual music instead of just savasana. I thought it was a great idea, and so did Emily Bowers, a friend that I met at our 200hr yoga teacher training and who also happens to be an incredible yoga teacher and person. Her and I had a free 10mins and we experimented with my improvising and her intuitively doing a yoga flow. We realized that it was unlike anything else we had done: with my sound I could help direct what her sequencing would be next. Because I am a yoga teacher, completely understand Emily's style of teaching, and have known her for a long time, I could tell what she wanted from the music in order for her sequencing to work. It was this interesting communication between us that neither of us were really prepared for, but knew that this idea was going to work.

So we created a class where we didn't plan a thing, and yet the entire time I was confident in our abilities to co-create this experience for our students. I had a selection of various ambient music to use at key moments to help create an arc to the class. I used a movement of Bach at one moment to provide more contrast, and improvised in and out of that. Unlike my improvisations for savasana, I had a handful of motivic ideas that I composed beforehand to help create a sense of musical development and give me a foundation to build upon. I was definitely a bit nervous before we started, just because it was so unlike anything I've ever done before. But then it started raining outside, and it was perfect. 

This was a huge success for us, and as a musician I feel so fulfilled. Many people came up to me afterwards, describing their experience, how the music helped them work through something, long-lost positive memories that rose to the surface, things they were holding on to and were finally able to release, deep levels of meditation and understanding -all the things that we as musicians hope to achieve in the concert hall.

My hope is that we do another class like this in the near future, and continue to build this collaboration between yoga and music performance. In the meantime, check out my yoga schedule for upcoming classes and music during savasana.

Sheet Music in the 21st Century

Sheet Music in the 21st Century

I decided to finally take on the enormous task of digitizing my sheet music collection as a 'fun' summer project. I am a little neurotic, and have saved every piece of sheet music from every concert I have ever been a part of. The orchestral parts alone took up most of my collection.

I am definitely not a hoarder, but when it comes to sheet music I can't help myself. It's hard for me to justify getting rid of something that I might need later on a professional level.

But each time I move it's a pain to pack up and carry, and after making the switch to using an iPad as my primary means of reading sheet music, digitizing everything seemed like the next logical next step. 

Now that I've digitized about half of my collection, I thought I would share some helpful tips that I've learned along the way.

 

1) Come up with an organizational system first, and commit to it.

I decided from the very beginning that I wanted a folder for each piece of music. That way I could keep all the different versions together, and easily find what I'm looking for. It's been great having a way to easily find all the different fingerings/bowings/comments I have for a particular piece of music. The title of each folder is composer, title. The files inside are marked with the dates I last performed/worked on them, or the book they're from.

2) Have back-ups for your back-ups

If you're going to go through the trouble of digitizing your entire sheet music collection, make sure that you have multiple saved locations for it. Even if you decide to go with a portable hard drive, have at least one other saved version. I personally have my library saved to my computer, laptop, portable hard drive (that automatically backs up my computer hard drive), and google drive.

If you have the ability to use google drive, dropbox, iCloud, or some other cloud service -do it. It is incredibly convenient as a musician and teacher to be able to look up multiple editions of pieces I've played, from my phone (and iPad), whenever I want. Paying the $2 a month for the extra space on google drive is totally worth it for me.

3) You don't need a fancy scanner.

I initially used a scanner for all of my loose leaf pages, and it worked really well, but when it got to the large books in my collection it became difficult to not cut-off the sides of each page. 

I ended up using 'Genius Scan' for iPhone as my primary way of adding sheet music to my library, and it's so much easier. If you aren't an iPhone user, there are plenty of similar apps that use your camera to create black and white pdf files. I'm able to back up the files directly to my google drive, which makes it that much easier. I can scan entire book and back it up to google drive in a matter of minutes.

4) Do your own copyright research.

One of my concerns when copying all of this sheet music was wondering if I am still legally allowed to perform these works. I'm no expert, but from what I understand you always need to check who holds the copyrights to each piece you perform in public for monetary purposes. If you are a student, it's easy to ignore this because the university is covering the cost for the licensing agreement. However, it is the circumstances of the performance itself that determine your legal right to perform the music, rather than your physically owning the music or not. To be safe, for recitals I always bring a physical edition of the music with me.

5) Don't feel like you have to do it all at once, and try to enjoy the process.

I've been slowly chipping away at my collection, and each time I do I find something that brings up a special memory. It's also been interesting finding pieces I completely forgot I played! When that happens I sometimes look up a recording of that piece and see if I can remember that time.

Music is so tied into our long term memory, and for musicians it's almost like each piece we work on and perform ties through all of these memories associated with it. Treating this process of digitizing this music as a special event helps me stay motivated. It helps me remember why I decided to be a musician in the first place. 

6) Now that it's digitized, what do I do?

You can easily donate it to a youth orchestra, music school, university music school library or even local public library. I have done this with a lot of my sheet music, and it feels really good to give back to the community.

For orchestral scores, sometimes used bookstores are willing to buy them (for Arizona locals, Bookmans). You can also sell any sheet music on eBay, amazon, or your own website. All kinds of books are allowed to be sold used without violating any copyright laws. In fact, I sell many books from my personal collection here on my website: kimberlyhankins.com/collections/shop.

 

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Let me know what you think! Have you made the switch already, or are you in the process of digitizing your sheet music collection? Was there something that you found helpful?

 

*My statements have not been influenced by sponsorship of any kind