Body Mapping

2013-08-19b photo credit: Colette Phillips

What is the Body Map? The body map is the neuronal representation we hold of ourselves that dictates how we move- it is literally a picture of our body in our brains but it is not fixed: the maps are changeable or “plastic.”  When the body map accurately represents the true design of the body, the movement dictated by the map will look and feel free, easy and balanced. Conversely, when the body map has inaccuracies in it, movement is stiff, awkward, and injury-producing. When a musician gets injured from playing her instrument, it is because her body map is no longer accurately aligned with the truth of the body’s design. She has misperceptions about her true design and that faulty map will continue to produce faulty movement until she consciously changes her map and therefore her injury-producing movement. Neuroscience tells us that we are hardwired from the beginning of life to build and adjust our body maps, and that it is these body maps that allow us in childhood to learn how to move as the adults around us move. The body maps of healthy toddlers are normally extremely accurate. Two-year olds have not yet had time to abdicate from their natural poise and balance. Unfortunately though, children quickly alter how they use themselves by modelling the adults in their world, who are frequently quite poor models. What is Body Mapping? Body Mapping is the term that William and Barbara Conable came to call the method of movement re-education they developed during the 1970‘s. Body Mapping was discovered in the teaching studio of cellist and Alexander Technique teacher William Conable and was then further developed and written about by Barbara Conable, also an Alexander Technique teacher. Barbara went on to train a group of musicians whose mandate is to continue developing and teaching the work to other musicians. Those musicians are called Andover Educators and we teach the course “What Every Musician Needs to Know About the Body.” The purpose of Body Mapping is to teach musicians to correct their own faulty body maps by examining the truth of the body’s design as seen in anatomical images, anatomical models and as felt by palpating one’s own bony structure.  Hundreds of musicians have used Body Mapping to correct how they move in order to heal themselves of injury and pain and to enhance their abilities at their instruments.