Skip to main content

Moving Gracefully

I wrote a post last year on the difference a power pose made to one of my high school students.  Standing in an authoritative position made her immediately less apologetic, more authoritative, more confident and competent.

I LOVED this, and I believe that as women we should be using our body language to telegraph our pride in ourselves.  I'm always coaching my students to take up MORE physical space as they play. To own the room if they are soloing.  To act like musicians worth listening to.

However.

Zoe recently turned seven and started second grade.  She also hit a growth spurt - although she's still a tiny girl, and small for her age, she has suddenly begun to have the mass of a real human, rather than a fairy or a sprite, and when she crashes her body into mine it hurts, and when she bumps into things they fall over, and when she walks through the room the floor shakes.  Just like everybody else, but not like her first six years.

Suddenly I'm always having to remind her to slow down, to be mindful, and to move gently and gracefully through the world.

After all, grownups don't fling themselves down on furniture.  Everyone knocks things over now and then, but grownups try actively to avoid it, and are embarrassed when they do.  Big people don't intentionally smash into other big people just for fun or to show their love for each other.  And we're trying to raise a grownup, ultimately, aren't we?  Someone who occupies space in a way that doesn't impede others?

I remember my mother being ALL OVER ME about this when I was younger.  Sit down gently!  Don't crash around so!  Approach your chair like a lady!  Don't tilt backward at the dinner table! And I hated it.  Why should I have to change my approach to the world?  Why is "ladylike" the desired objective? Why isn't it OK to just be me?

Now that I am constantly on Zoe for this same thing, I kind of hate myself for it.  The individualist, and especially the feminist in me, is furious that I keep using those words, graceful and gentle.  Why should I be using these words, which smack of traditional femininity, to my daughter in the 21st century?  Why can't she just crash around like she wants?  Then I think about the possible future in which she never learns to be self aware, and I keep picking at her.

I seem to be trapped inside the verbiage I was taught as a child.  I don't actually think Zoe needs to be more feminine.  My god, she's already the girliest girl I know.  She just needs to be more careful and more responsible with herself.

So why is it that all of my middle school and high school female students need to be coached to be BIGGER and Zoe needs to be coached to be SMALLER?   Is there a point between now and ninth grade at which I'll need to start going the other way?  Will this take care of itself?  Can I be more hands-off and let her find her own way into her own body?

I'm genuinely asking.  I want Zoe to stand proudly in her own body, I want her to be powerful in her attitudes to the world, and I ALSO want her to be graceful and self-aware and stop hurting me and breaking things.  Am I being the problem?



Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means that if you click on them and place an order I get a tiny commission at no cost to you.  

Comments

  1. If I may venture into an unfamiliar territory- child rearing-, it is possible that the brusqueness and casualness with which toddlers and a little older children cast themselves about is their lack of knowledge of distances. You know what will happen to you if you fall on your face. A two-year old also knows because she has fallen many times. It takes a little time to learn the effect of the force you exert when you trustingly, and with abandon throw yourself into a parent’s arms. And don’t forget that in our society all chairs and couches are cushioned!
    I wonder if your mother was really concerned about your future grace and elegance, and possibly thought that as a more edifying argument, rather that about your safety. She probably thought rightly that she may achieve two goals with one admonition. In you case she triumphed.
    Your suggestion to your students to fill their space with their physical presence is both splendid and necessary. Music inspires and prompts physical motion; it envelops the whole of our being and, almost unwillingly we move. You don’t think that march music was inspired by soldiers walking in rhythm, do you? And, of course you know better than I ,(and many others) that the creation of the art of dancing was the natural consequence of the desire of people to move with the music.
    Best wishes.
    Dimitri.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks, Dimitri. I love that you read and comment!

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Discouraging Words

I can remember at least two old cranky violinists coming to talk to young me about NOT going into music.  There was a session, for example, during a Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra retreat in which a real RPO professional (who was probably 47 but whom I remember as ancient) told us that, statistically, no one who graduates from music school wins auditions for jobs because there are only like 4 jobs out there in the world and 7000 hotshots coming into the job market every week. 

Quit NOW. 

I may have misremembered the details of this speech, but I remember the emotional jolt.  It was designed to discourage.

Last weekend I was presenting at a Double Reed Festival, and heard some oboists grumbling about another presenter who had evidently given something of the same talk to a roomful of masterclass attendees and participants.  High school students and cheerful adult amateurs.

And look, there's an element of truth to this.  Classical music is not a growing field, and it is leg…

Shaq and the Oboe

Here’s my FAVORITE thing about that Shaquille O'Neal video everyone's sharing this week - it’s how HAPPY he is playing this silly game and how little he CARES what the oboe actually SOUNDS LIKE or how to play it. 
Almost as if the oboe is not a giant obstacle to overcome.

Instead of focusing on the CRAFT of the instrument, the precise fingerings, the quality of the sound, the finesse of the vibrato - his focus is on DELIVERING the SONG.   It’s on COMMUNICATION, not perfection.


What a LIBERATING concept!


When I am playing my best, I find that I can surpass the STRUGGLE and come to a place where my focus is on communication.   I can sing through the instrument, and I can use that voice to reach out and find someone else.  This is really what being In the Zone means for me - it's when I don’t have to engage with the OBOE and instead can be generous with my VOICE for the audience.


I seek and strive for this Zone all the time - it’s the whole point of practicing! I practice long…

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

We took a vacation this summer.This is not news to anyone in my life - anyone who knows me or especially Steve on Facebook followed along with all of our pictures.We took our travel trailer out to Arizona - via St Louis, Tulsa, Amarillo, Roswell, Santa Fe - and then stayed a week in Clarksdale and Flagstaff and visited some ancient pueblo ruins, Sedona, Jerome, the Lowell Observatory, the Grand Canyon.We swam in swimming pools, lakes, and icy mountain streams.We hiked.Eventually we came home again, via Albuquerque, Amarillo, Tulsa, and St Louis. (our inventiveness had somewhat worn out).After a week at home we took another trip, and drove to Vermont via western NY and the Adirondack Park (stayed an extra day to hike a mountain), lived four days in East Franklin VT, and came home via Catskill and eastern Ohio.
This vacation felt different from all of our previous ones.In the 21 years we’ve been married, I can name only one - maybe two trips we ever took that were not For Work or For …