What is Body Mapping and How I Incorporate it in Lessons

What is Body Mapping and How I Incorporate it in Lessons

Jan 30, 2024

The "Body Map" refers to the internalized representation we have of our body’s structure, function, and size and how that governs our movement. If our perception is flawed, our movements may deviate from the body's actual structure, causing inconsistent and tense movement that limits our ability to play to our fullest.

Think about it: be it as a professional or a hobbyist, what do we as we play our instruments? We move! And because we are movers on the instrument, we would be doing ourselves a disservice by not understanding optimal movement. In Body Mapping, we learn accurate information about the body in movement as a way to teach and play the instrument. In my teaching, there is no “well that’s just how I do it.” To play and teach based on anatomical truth as opposed to habitual action is incredibly liberating. This is what makes Body Mapping vital for both beginner and advanced players.

The Association of Body Mapping Education provides training for instructors to deliver a multi-sectioned course, which I am currently pursuing licensure to teach. However, in this time of training, I’m incorporating this instruction in my week to week lessons with students in an approachable, easy to understand way. Here’s a brief breakdown:

Section 1: Introduction 

  • Discuss the importance of learning music on a somatic foundation and how it helps prevent tension and promotes free playing without limitation

  • How to train movement, senses (hearing, tactile, kinesthesia) and our attention 

  • Address your Body Map with a series of questions

  • Re-map our bodies through palpating (to examine by touch) and viewing anatomical images

  • Discuss the structure, function, and size of the spine

Section 2: Balance

  • Discuss what dynamic balance is and why we teach it

  • Discuss the “laws of the spine” 

  • Explain the 6 places of balance: A/O joint, lumbar core, hip joints, knee joints, ankle joints, and arm structure

  • Perform movement explorations at the 6 places of balance

  • Discuss weight delivery in sitting and standing

Section 3: Arms

  • Discuss and map the structure, function and size of the 4 main arm joints 

  • Discuss and map the suspension of arms by way of soft tissue to bony structure

  • Discuss and demonstrate humeroscapular rhythm

  • Discuss and map the deep support arm muscles 

  • Discuss the importance of pinky orientation for whole arm orientation

  • Discuss how a neutral, balanced arm structure impacts breathing

  • Discuss how balance of the torso and spine frees the arms

Section 4: Breathing

  • Discuss and map the structures and movement of breathing

  • Discuss the structure, function, and size of the diaphragm and lungs

  • Discuss and map rib and abdominal movement

  • Discuss and experience how spinal mobility affects our breathing

  • Discuss and experience how a body in balance affects our breathing

Section 5: Legs

  • Discuss and map the structure, function, and size of the pelvis and leg joints

  • Discuss both the independence and connection of the legs to the rest of the body

  • Discuss how mismapping or exclusion of the legs or lower spine negatively affect the upper body and breath

This is an incredible amount of material to unpack that a student can work with and integrate over a lifetime of music making. At this moment in time in trainee status, I am not teaching this information as a set course. I incorporate this information gradually and steadily from day one, regardless of your musical proficiency or prior experience. We will move at your pace and I will provide documents I’ve created to serve as reference material. 

As a guitar instructor in the field of somatics, my goal is transparency and support in your musical journey. I won't hide any aspect of what goes into learning to play to the best of your abilities. We need to break free from old teaching patterns that only leave you feeling frustrated and doubtful. Let's embrace a more empowering approach together!

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© Embodied Guitarist 2024

© Embodied Guitarist 2024