The Forbidden Word

A word that many only whisper. 
Is it so awful?

Yes, tension.

And no, it’s not bad. In fact, tension is necessary for playing! Play with no tension, and you’ll be dragging cooked spaghetti across the keys.

Tension to the right degree, in the right place, at the right time.

Does it feel odd when tension is “distal” to relaxation (farther from the spine)? When shoulder and elbow are loose, but hand and fingers have some tension to support your fortissimo? Might that feel odd? Yes. But the oddness is kind of fun, and pays off in improved control!

From Alexander Technique, I’ve learned that relaxation is not merely absence of t-n–n; it is a positive condition that we can control at will. So my playing now benefits from a balance of relaxation and tension, two priceless qualities.


Copyright © James Boyk 2013. All rights reserved.
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