The Carnegie Hall Workshop Continues...

Oct 21, 2007

It is now Sunday afternoon, and even though this is only day 4 of the workshop, I feel as though I’ve been here for weeks! This morning’s session was spent with Tessy Brungardt, who is the rolfer who, in combination with botox injections, is responsible for restoring to Mr. Fleisher the use of his right hand. She and Fleisher both spoke; he told us more details about the nature of his injury and how it progressed, and what kinds of things he tried in order to fix it. Tessy talked a lot about anatomy and what it is we musicians ask of our bodies, and how the muscular reaction can be tightness and pain. She then worked with each of us, observed us as we played, made observations about the kinds of body positions we are choosing, and how those might not be the best choices, and then helped us to find more healthy, less effortful, and more productive positions. Naturally, each pianist presented slightly different issues: Adam is enormously tall and so the height of his seat became a prominent issue. Renana’s issue was less in the department of finding healthy alignment than maintaining it without feeling constricted. Yury has a habit of leaning back and lowering his head which causes pain in his upper back. And for me, we talked about the jaw tension that has plagued me for several years now (which, it turns out, probably stems from constriction in my shoulder joint). With all of us Tessy was miraculous in her ability to diagnose and prescribe! I had a chance to play for a few minutes after our brief one on one time together, and was definitely able to find that open feeling in my chest that results in greater ease and relaxation in playing. Definitely something to file away for future pondering! And hallelujah, Tessy is actually based in Baltimore!

This afternoon the workshop is footing the bill for us to hear Andras Schiff playing the first four Beethoven Sonatas. (Rather appropriate repertoire choice, as was my trip several nights ago to Avery Fisher Hall to hear the London Symphony Orchestra and Colin Davis performing another all-Beethoven program, this one including the 4th Piano Concerto with Paul Lewis, and the Eroica Symphony – simply fantastic!)

Lura Johnson