What is Body Mapping?

Photo by Greg Funnell

Body Mapping is the conscious correcting and refining of one’s body map to produce efficient, coordinated, effective movement. Body Mapping, over time, with application, allows any musician to play like a natural. It is a tool that is useful in many different settings from music studios to exercise studios and to other somatic disciplines such as Alexander Technique and the Feldenkrais® Method. Mapping not only helps musicians avoid injury; it also enhances musicians’ technique. The practical application of Body Mapping to music making was developed by William Conable, professor of cello at the Ohio State University School of Music. He observed that students move according to how they think they’re structured rather than according to how they are actually structured. When the students’ movement in playing becomes based on the students’ direct perception of their actual structure, it becomes efficient, expressive, and appropriate for making music. Conable’s observations are currently being confirmed by discoveries in neurophysiology concerning the locations, functions, and coordination of body maps in movement.

In 1998 Barbara Conable launched Andover Educators and created the “What Every Musician Needs to Know About the Body®” course and began training teachers to teach the course. Given that Amy started her study with Barbara in 1992, she was one of the first people trained by Barbara to teach Body Mapping. In 2019, Andover Educators officially changed its name to the Association of Body Mapping Education.

What are Body Maps?

The body map is one’s self-representation in one’s own brain. If the body map is accurate, movement is good. If the body map is inaccurate or inadequate, movement is inefficient and injury-producing. In Body Mapping, one learns to gain access to one’s own body map through self-observation and self-inquiry. The student carefully corrects his or her own body map by assimilating accurate information provided by kinesthetic experience, the use of a mirror, anatomical models, books, pictures, and teachers. One learns to recognize the source of inefficient or harmful movement and how to replace it with movement that is efficient, elegant, direct, and powerful based on the truth about one’s structure, function, and size.

The Course

“What Every Musician Needs to Know About the Body®” is designed to set each performer who takes it on a path of self-evaluation and change, in order that he or she may eventually arrive at a sensory-motor integrity sufficient to becoming and remaining free of injury and pain through a lifetime of performing with increasing pleasure and proficiency.
What You Will Learn:

  • SECTION ONE: ABOUT MOVEMENT, YOUR SENSES, AND ATTENTION IN PLAYING amp; SINGING. Training musicians’ movement by cultivating an accurate and adequate Body Map. Training sensory discernment and responsiveness. Training attention.
  • SECTION TWO: THE CORE OF THE BODY AND THE PLACES OF BALANCE. The spine; the balance of the head on the spine; the balance of the head and thorax on the lumbar vertebrae; the balance of the torso on the legs; balance at the knee; balance at the ankle; balance on the arch of the foot; and the balance of the arm structure.
  • SECTION THREE: YOUR FOUR ARM JOINTS AND HOW TO USE THEM. The four arm joints; the organization from the tip of the little finger to the tip of the shoulder blade; support for arm movement by a dynamic, lengthening and gathering core.
  • SECTION FOUR: THE MOVEMENT OF BREATHING. Mapping the structures of breathing and the movement of breathing, including a dynamic, lengthening and gathering core.
  • SECTION FIVE: YOUR LEGS AND HOW THEY MOVE AS YOU PLAY. The three leg joints; the organization of the musculature; support for leg movement by a dynamic, lengthening and gathering core; the reflex that gives us a spring in the step.
  • SECTION SIX: HOW TO. Individual work with instruments.

Learn More About Body Mapping