50 • Tension is not the problem. Unreleased tension is the problem.

Tension in performance should always referred to as unreleased tension, as that is what leads to overexertion and paralyzation.

Tension is necessary but has to be released. Tension, which is muscle contraction, has to be shorter than relaxation. If tension is continued and not released, first fatigue and then cramping appears and cramping is bad, as it will lead to worse. In the best case tension prevents musical line.  Not the avoidance of tension but the proper release (=efficiency) is necessary.

Playing with tension, against your body and against the instrument, makes your playing emotionally and dynamically poor.

Unreleased physical tension manifests itself in so many ways. Tension is most treacherous when it doesn't appear tense, when it projects the appearance of movement. Movement is not necessarily a sign of relaxation, it can be a disguise: waving wrists, windmill arms, repetitively rocking body, head banging. When you move only from quarter to quarter your rendering falls short of a compelling horizontal line.

You must seek hierarchical independence in coordinated movements: fingers independent from each other, hands independent from arms, arms independent from each other. You must move fluidly without hesitation.


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