Skip to main content

Power Posing


I heard this TED Talk a couple of years ago, and thought vaguely at the time that it was probably something to try. Would a more powerful posture really change my attitude and success rate?  Would people perceive my performances as stronger, and would I FEEL stronger?

Then I decided that if I had any more confidence on the oboe I'd be just plain cocky.  This advice wasn't for me.  I let myself forget all about it.  (Sidenote: my archery instructor comments frequently on my excellent posture. Delights me deeply.)

Something happened today, though. I have a student who is very shy and self effacing. Every week she comes in and I have to ask and ask for real air, for confidence, for power in her playing. She is a fine oboist, but she has a tiny sound and she stops every few seconds to apologize for the smallest mistakes. By the end of the lesson she usually is playing very well, but I have to be on her constantly until she pulls it together and blows real air through the instrument.

Today something was different. She walked in taller than usual. She spread her feet apart and stood in a power pose and gave me a strong, confident sound from the very beginning of the lesson. We played some scales and started an etude that she genuinely wasn't prepared on, and instead of apologizing a million times she admitted that it wasn't ready and suggested something else more productive to work on. Which she played well. Fifteen minutes in I stopped the lesson and commented.

I LOVE the new you! You're standing there like you MEAN BUSINESS, and you own the oboe today. Where is this coming from?

Oh, she said, embarrassed, I didn't know anything was different.  We had swimming this morning and my legs are totally cramping.  It just feels better to stand like this.

Did you catch that? She ACCIDENTALLY adopted a powerful posture and it translated into powerful playing and an unusually strong level of engagement with the grownup in the room.

Mind. Blown. Guess who's going to be talking about posture a LOT more in lessons!

Thank you, Erin, for this reminder!


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Resonance

When my students get too MOUTHY with the oboe, I put them in a corner.

Really.

They tend to play the oboe only from the TOP of their body, north of the collarbone, and it winds up unsupported.  Fussy.  Weak.  And out of tune.

So I back them into a corner, and have them stand a foot or so out from it, facing out into the room.  And I challenge them to find a sound that resonates BEHIND them, out from the corner of the room that they are not facing, to fill the space without blowing directly into the space.

It's a weird metaphor.  I wouldn't have any idea how to describe the physical technique to do it. When I find it in myself, it feels like my back is puffy and my body is round, and large, and barrel like, and also collected and zipped up, and supremely powerful.  If you know me, you know that these statements about my body aren't remotely true.  But that's what I feel when I'm blowing well, and filling the room, and owning my resonance.

I teach resonance.  I talk …

Five Minute Reedmaker: Length of the Windows

My Five Minute Reedmaker Season Two seems to be largely about experiments.  People ask me how LONG, how THICK, how SLOPED, etc - and I'm running the experiments for them and for you.

I've been posting these videos on YouTube, and sharing them from my Facebook Page, but haven't totally kept up with sharing here on my blog.

Here are the ones you may have missed:
Length of the Heart
Fallacy of the Long Tip
Moldy Cane

And here's the new one:




Here's the YouTube playlist with all of my other Five Minute Reedmaker videos.  You could subscribe right there if you wanted to - I'm dropping a video each week until I run out of ideas this season.
Here's my website, where you can order reeds or cane or ask me questions.  Questions will keep these videos flowing! 

Here's how you can send me your own reeds to analyze and improve on video for your learning pleasure!

Generosity in Programming

I had the most interesting conversations with a few of my students after my first recital performance last weekend.  One thanked me for exposing her to so many interesting new pieces that she had never heard before.  One admitted unabashedly that his favorites were the familiar ones, the ones he already knew from his previous listening.  And both of these observations rang true to me.

See, I LOVE learning new music.  I really enjoy digging into a piece and breaking through an unfamiliar harmonic language to get to the depths of it.  To discover the composer's intention, and to find the universal emotion or experience at the heart of the work, and then to communicate that meaning back out to an audience.  This challenge is fun for me, and I think I do it well.

I have to be fair, though.  By the time I have put that kind of work into a new piece, it's not new to me anymore.  By the time I get it to the recital stage, it's an old friend.  I find great pleasure in performing i…