September 2018 MTNA e-Journal

Body Alignment And Awareness For Conductors: What’s Good For The Conductor Is Good For The Ensemble
By Natasia Sexton

The anatomy and physiology of the human body is complex. The spine is strong with nuanced curves at the cervical, thoracic and lumbar regions. Many of the muscles are coupled into pairs and groups that function antagonistically, and the central nervous system weaves through it all to coordinate messaging between all our parts. When we factor in the effects of gravity, the daily grind of repetitive movements and physical work environments that may strain the body, we are frequently left with—at the least—poor posture and sore muscles or something more serious like skeletal misalignment, muscular atrophy or a degenerative joint disease. A conductor, whose working conditions certainly include repetitive movements, may communicate strength and a powerful impulse of will through excessive muscular activation. These conditions combined with long rehearsals and demanding work schedules put conductors at risk for experiencing work-related injuries. Is it possible for conductors to communicate expressively, illicit musical responses from their ensemble, and maintain a balanced, flexible and healthy posture? With the body awareness that is often achieved when one works to develop alignment that is dynamic and flexible, one may gain a greater sense of expressiveness in gesture because the connection between mind and body is heightened, and in turn, the clarity of one’s musical intent is strengthened. [Read More]


Unveiling The Mystery: A Pianist’s Discovery Of The Organ
By Jacob Benda

Taking on many different guises, the organ can be a mystery to the eyes and ears with its enormous apparatus and ethereal sounds. Potentially overwhelmed by the multiple keyboards, pedal board, array of buttons and gadgetry typically found on an organ console, one might determine that an organist has no other mission than to touch the right key(s) at the right time. Music, like other natural phenomena, abides by particular laws and structures designed by nature. The organ, however cryptic it may seem at first glance, is the exemplar guide in understanding a fundamental musical law. With this article, the author “pulls back the curtain” on the organ—explaining everything from the harmonic series to navigating the console, and he offers tips for conducting from the organ bench, as well as ideas for practicing and performing. [Read More]