Roundtable #1 – Role of Music

WHAT ROLE DOES MUSIC PLAY IN YOUR TEACHING/ PERSONAL PRACTICE? 

Do you like to move with or without music, and why?

 

Music plays an important part in my movement practice, be it teaching or moving for myself.
This said it needs to be music that inspires me, that creates a sense in my body where I want to express myself. But balance is important, especially when teaching. If i feel overwhelmed by the music, that it is too loud, that I need to scream to be heard or need to keep asking my student to repeat themselves because I can’t hear them properly. It is of no avail. I stopped going to certain type of classes in sports centers because the music was too intense. I could not support it. Heard teachers say : well it’s motivating ! Maybe but nor for me, it does the opposite. If and when I have students asking for my playlists, for the name of the songs, I feel like I did a good job of putting together an experience for them to enjoy and learn. This goes for indoor activities. But if I take my movement practice outside, be it just walking, than I like the sounds of nature or even of the city. No music there. I don’t like wearing earphones as I feel they easily get in the way of movement.
And lastly, moving in silence to one’s breath, to the sounds of feet on the floor, of my body moving creates another experience, one I cherish from time to time. It’s a proposition to encounter my inner self and dance to my own music.  — Nadia Genois

 

I REALLY like music, to have music playing around me, so I’m always happy to move with it on my own or when I’m teaching.  For my own practice, it’s a good motivator, something to get lost in or get energy from — a variety of stuff, usually very rhythmic dance / funk styles, aggressive or atmospheric.  When I teach yoga, it’s good to have something that fills the space of a room without being overwhelming, if only to obscure the noise of people’s unsettled stomachs. I try to stay away from what I’ve usually heard in other teachers’ classes — sitars, chanting, tinselly world beat, or Thievery Corporation records that I was listening to 20 years ago.  I still keep it mid-tempo, mostly, and more on the atmospheric end, with lots of layered harmonies, echoes, and dubbiness.  I like to dig for things that are obscure, and I’ve found a bunch of German and South American DJs on Soundcloud that pull up interesting things.  I used to make mix tapes all the time when I was younger, so it’s easy for me to slip into that mode and overwork a mix for class, if I’m not careful.  — Chris Davis

 

I like music in the background when I teach. It cuts the silence, and there is something about a rhythmic soundscape that I like and my clients/students seem to like. I love music during my personal practice. Even though I go through long stretches where I don’t notice it, it’s there for me when I need it, usually when I am working on something challenging or uncomfortable. It allows me to focus on an external sense that I really enjoy (music makes me happy). I also find that if I am too much in my head, I can snap myself out of it by listening to the music, which brings me back to my body. Even though I don’t consciously move with it, it provides a backdrop that makes the whole experience more enjoyable.  — Jenn Pilotti

 

Music for me is free motivation. Anything with a good repetitive drum beat will help me start sloshing the waters around, mixing up the stew in this body cauldron.
Anything at a slow to medium, flowing tempo will help me move gracefully and synchronistically with my breath and voice.
Once I’ve gotten these two rivers talking in my body, I can move on to more (annoying) strength work, sets and reps, etc.  — Dare Sohei

 

I think it’s is one of those things you don’t really pay attention to but actually have a massive impact. Pondering on this question, what music do you want to listen to is almost the first thing I ask all of my private clients when I first meet them.
Depending on the session or the skill practice it’s not good to try and rile someone up for a max lift with some chilled out reggae on. But sometimes for a competitor, silence is a fantastic teaching tool.
Personally I definitely have a wide range of things depending on what I’m training, if it’s general heavy lifting, I like music that is heavy that I can hear the words. If it’s a max effort workout then it doesn’t really matter if I can hear the words or not, as long as it’s loud and angry.
When my body feels generally quite banged up I do love a session of restorative movement with really relaxed music that I am familiar with.
And how can anyone not like movie themes and soundtracks! Epic no matter what you do!
Atmosphere plays a big part in everything.  — Tom Morrison

 

I’ve had a love-hate relationship with music.  In the beginning, when I was an athlete and weightlifter, I’d spend hours cultivating the perfect workout playlist.  Looking back, exercise gave me a reason to listen to music.  Exercise on its own wasn’t very appealing to me… I used it and the soundtrack to fit into the image of ‘warrior’ I was trying to be.  As I got away from following what I was told to do and into what I simply felt like doing, I stopped listening to music.  It had been used as a brain-disengaging mechanism, and I now sought the opposite.  As I try to become more expressive, I’m beginning again to let music lead me.  A general rule of thumb that I abide to: if I want to avoid feeling, I listen to podcasts; if I want to dig into my feelings, I listen to music.  — Christine Ruffolo

 

I spent 15 years teaching group fitness classes (Les Mills) where music plays a huge role. Everything is choreographed to music, every single move. And the music is always from the top 40 charts from various genres so, pretty commercial. I got used to, and liked it so when I had personal training sessions or when I worked out myself I’d put that on. Wasn’t until last year, when I retired from the group fitness industry, that I started to practice and teach with music that I choose based on my mood or the person/group I have in for a class.
I don’t regret the years teaching group fitness at all, in fact I learned a lot. Musicality, rithmn, adaptation and coordination are aspects which I worked on and improved during that time.
In my opinion music is quite important because it gives character and sets the mood to a class/workout. Also makes me reminisce about experiences I had during a special class or workshop.  — Miguel Viero

 

When working indoors, I like music at different points in my practice. The most important time for music in my practice is when warming up.  Having the influence of music and its rhythms helps get me out of my head and into a the task of listening with my body to match the rhythm of whatever music with my movement. This is always a really helpful and fun task that gets me into a more vital energetic space for training.
When I’m working on things like skill and strength training, music is less directly helpful but I still enjoy it. In some ways it gives my subconscious something to focus on so my mind doesn’t wander so much and my conscious attention can be on the training itself.
 When it comes time for movement improvisation, I enjoy both working with music and working without it. In my creative process, choreography and concept usually are most influenced by music/sound. A sonic environment makes it much easier for me to determine the tone of the world in which I’m working, and I can either lean into that world or work against it in my improvisation. When I’m not working on choreography though, and just moving freely for the sake of exploring my movement, silence can illicit some incredibly pure material. Building off of that kind of material is always a really fun process too.
 When I am outdoors I don’t like working with music at all, and much prefer having the sounds of nature center me and put me into a deeper state of presence in the natural environment.  I find that it is much more inspiring to listen to the ambient noise of nature than the ambient noise of any kind of indoor space.  — Nicki Miller

 

None whatsoever (at the moment).  I never train with music on.  In the beginning it was because I wanted maximum attention inwards; now it does not matter whether it is on or not – it simply does not enhance in any way the practice.  I do see myself exploring music in the near future but not in combination with motion or formal practice. As a tool in and of itself.
Somewhat tangential but still related – I found the complete cessation of listening to music for 3-4 years to be one of the most rewarding ‘re-patterning fasts’ I have ever done.  It changed my relationship to the music I used to listen to and the the music I now listen to in many interesting and indescribable ways. It also lead to some fascinating insights that would have been unavailable if I had simply reduced the amount or changed genre.  — Dave Wardman

 

Music plays a role in my practice, the absence of it and the integration of it. Currently, I find myself listening to Matthew Halsall’s ‘The Sun in September’ at the beginning of an improvised locomotion or dance session. As much as music can persuade my body and influence my state of mind, it can also pull me outside of listening to the intricacies of certain feelings that a handbalacing session may require of me. The application of music currently falls into these two realms for me but like the adaptation to practice, I look forward to the moments where I may have to adjust my approach. Listening to my intuition will guide me.  — Nelson Cuadras