Musicians, as a rule, are strivers. Not only are we driven to excellence at our instruments- we are endlessly curious about what new things there are to discover in the music we play and in our own techniques. It can be a gratifying lifelong process for both professional and casual players. Dedicated Pilates teachers and practitioners tend to have a similar mindset. I began learning Pilates almost 20 years ago(!) and continue to discover how I can move and feel better.
To me, the practice of music and Pilates are very similar. This is so much the case that I consider my daily Pilates practice to be part of my musical practice “quota”, and likewise the practice and performance of viola informs my Pilates practice.
Sometimes I meet musicians who try Pilates because of a repetitive strain injury. Others want to combat the specific sensations of tightness and fatigue experienced from years of playing in an orchestra. Still others are aspiring young musicians, just discovering how learning about movement can be complementary to their musical studies.
I’ve experienced the benefits of Pilates and other movement techniques in all of these ways. As a student, my thought was, “learning about movement can make me a better player? Sign me up!” As an orchestral musician, I have considered Pilates to be an integral part of staying in shape to perform. As someone who has had an injury or two in my life, I have been grateful to my own Pilates teachers (and of course Joseph Pilates himself!) for passing along this extremely healing and enjoyable movement practice. I have seen Pilates benefit many of my fellow musicians in similar ways.
I believe the practice of Pilates and movement can enrich one’s musicianship and overall sense of ease and freedom in playing. When the body moves gracefully, the door is opened to new ideas and subtleties in our playing.