Joe's Blog

A tangible feeling of connection between each part of the arm mechanism and another

November 25, 2019

This is a way to help the student feel the connection between the various parts of their arm mechanism – from shoulder to finger tip.

In the steps that follows the teacher or the student can follow the instructions by doing the things described either to themselves by themselves, or the student and teacher can it to the other.

General description of all the phases of the procedure:

I pull gently on one of the finger tips, as I will again and again throughout all the stages of the exercises.

I first increase and then decrease the force of my pull.  This repeats about once each second.

Stage One:

The first time I do this I tell the student that my aim in pulling on their finger tip is to exert a force directly onto the first knuckle of their finger. I want the result of my pulling to be felt in the student’s first knuckle. I want both myself and the student to feel that I am trying to move that knuckle around – as I increase and decrease the pull I’m exerting on the finger tip (a pull directed along the long axis of the finger).

Stage Two:

In stage two I do the same type of periodic pulling, on the same finger tip as in stage one. However the goal this time is to as if I am pulling on the second  knuckle and not the first. I want to feel that the resistance to my pull is coming specifically from the second knuckle of the student’s finger.  As I pull and ease up, my consciousness is focused on moving only the  region of the finger at that knuckle.

I will have adjusted the way I’m pulling on the finger versus as in stage one, in order to shift the location along the finger of the goal or outcome of my pulling. I ask the student whether they feel anything different when I do a  stage two pull as against a stage one pull. I say, in this new stage it’s as if I am sending a message, or a pulse of energy, directly from your finger tip to second knuckle of your same finger; and in your imagination you can feel like the entire length of the arm has shrunk down to just the part of your  arm that lies between the finger tip and the second knuckle.

Stage Three:

In this stage the goal of our pull has shifted further up the finger  so that the pull affects only the third knuckle of the finger. I say to the student: this is  that it feels like when I am pulling directly on your third knuckle from by virtue of my pulling on your finger tip.

Remaining Stages:

“Now I’m pulling on your wrist. I am trying to make the wrist bones separate a bit and then close back up, but only by virtue of what I am doing at your finger tip. You can imagine now that the length of the arm has  shrunk down to just a single object in space whose ends are the finger tip and the wrist.”

The location of the goal of my pulling on the finger tip progressively goes up the arm.  “This is what it feels like when I move your forearm by pulling on your finger tip.”  Then the same for the elbow….upper arm….the shoulder. “Feel me move your shoulder as I pull on your finger”.* “If you want, you can feel as if the shoulder and finger tip have no physical distance in  space between each other, they are one fused object with no remanent left of any other part of arm between them. You can imagine the two of them them being  adjacent and touching each other. By moving your fingers  you are moving your shoulder (or another part of the arm on the  way to the shoulder).”


The result of playing with such an ‘integrated’ arm causes the most natural,  beautiful and rich sounds to emerge from the instrument.

Every once in a while, one or another part or parts of the arm  will “fall out” of the continuous connecting series of integuments. We will usually notice this first with our ears and then subsequently with sensations from within the arm.   If we are attentive we will almost immediately a difference in the sound quality we are producing.  It is the sound that offers the quickest and  easiest to recognize cue to the fact of a disruption in the flow of the energy down the arm from the shoulders to the finger tips. Next comes the need to ‘diagnose’ where there is an unresponsive, un-moving, part to the  mechanism. Then, to reintegrate into the chain of connections so that by moving one part you are automatically moving all the other parts.

* for some reason this reminds me of the saying: the tail wags the


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