I know. At first, the differences between body map, Body Mapping, and Body Map Studio can be very confusing. Here’s a quick explanation of what it’s all about.
We have information about our bodies within our brains. According to studies by Wilder Penfield in the 1930’s, in the motor (movement) and somatosensory (touch) cortex specific points will correspond to the right hand, another to the forearm, another to the knee, and so on. Each part of the body has a precise place in the brain. These are called body maps or body representations.
According to The Oxford English Dictionary (2016):
- A diagram or collection of data showing the spatial distribution of something or the relative positions of its components.
- Physiol. … within the central nervous system, a representation of sensory or motor information in which some parameter of a stimulus or movement varies systematically with physical location in the brain.
So, a body map is a representation of our body within a specific location in the brain. It corresponds to your knowledge of your body and the way you feel your body.
The information gathered in these maps comes from our outside world experiences and perceptions of our own bodies. For example, the information that we gather from the sense of touch helps us to notice a variety of things, including temperatures and pain.
We also gather information through our sense of movement. Think about how you learn to play your instrument. Usually, you learn by following instructions from teachers and watching the way they play. Then, you try to follow their suggestions and emulate body movements to develop your own approach to the instrument. In this process the understanding of movement is crucial.
So, when you are learning, practicing, and watching other musicians, you are collecting information that shapes your body maps. This is a natural process, as we learn things in life, our body maps change.
We all have body maps, however, not all the body maps are going to be accurate. Some of the information that we collect about our bodies is imprecise. These maps which contain misleading information are called mis-mappings. Sometimes, these mis-mappings are the cause of pain and injury.
For example, a common mis-mapping is to think that the wrist is the part where you wear a bracelet or a watch. In your brain you have information about how the movement is in that part and an idea of the structure. Usually, we don’t think about this kind of thing consciously, and so the information is vague and sometimes wrong.
To change this mis-mapping we need access to information that is real and concrete. The place where you wear the bracelet is not the wrist, but the two forearm bones: the radius and ulna. The structure of the wrist and its movements are different.
That is when Body Mapping helps.
Body Mapping is a method that helps to access your body maps. This is, the information that you have about your body related to your music performance.
Body Mapping originated during the 1970s when William Conable, a cello teacher, discovered that the way that his students moved was related to their perception of their own bodies. He noticed that with accurate information about the size, function (the mechanics) and structure (shape) of their bodies, the movements and sounds that musicians produce were different, more efficient, and more expressive (Conable, 2000, p.5 read more here). Barbara Conable developed this method and created Andover Educators, an organization committed to promoting Body Mapping.
In Body Mapping, we use different tools to access the body maps, such as anatomical models, images, and palpation of our own structures. Self-observation and self-inquiry are fundamental in this practice. Teacher guidance is limited to verbal communication; there is no modeling or hands-on approach, so students can learn and experience within their own bodies.
Body Mapping helps you to rewire the way that you think of your body, so you can recognize your mis-mappings and transform them. You can understand why you suffer from pain by recognizing and changing the triggers of your own discomfort. Also, Body Mapping helps you to find new ways of interpretation by connecting your whole body to the music that you play. You can discover your body, instrument, and music in new ways.
Body Map Studio
Body Map Studio is a space where you can learn about your body and your music performance through Body Mapping.
It is a space for self-inquiry, self-reflection, and motivation in music making. A place where you can feel free to explore topics related to music making, your desires and interests, but also your doubts and anxieties.
I am interested in sharing my experiences and information to help you to discover and recover your body.
Here, you can learn, understand, explore, and take care of yourself.
If you have questions, feel free to contact me!
*The study of the brain is fascinating, yet complex. Here I am trying to give a simple definition of a body map. One source to find more about Penfield’s research and to understand better about body maps is:
Blakeslee, S., & Blakeslee, Matthew. (2007). The body has a mind of its own: How body maps in your brain help you do (almost) everything better. New York: Random House.
Conable, B. (2000). What every musician needs to know about the body: The practical application of body mapping to making music. Portland, Oregon: Andover Press.