Ways of integrating conscious activity into practice

Integrating conscious activity in the form of movement into practice can not only help us develop better balance: it can especially help us learn basic musical and instrumental challenges more effectively and sustainably. By "conscious" in this context, we mean that while practising, we perform an activity in such a way that we are ready to change it at any time. We also understand this to mean that what we are practising and the activity itself need to react to each other or be in harmony with each other. This is the case, for example, when I practise a sixteenth-note passage while "moving" my own rhythm with my feet: the rhythm in my feet and the sixteenth notes must therefore be exactly together.

Over time, two basic activities have proven suitable for this purpose, walking and rolling the feet. Both allow (especially for  higher strings) the possibility of close interlocking of the activity with the thing that is being exercised. Further, both have advantages over the other, as well as specifics to watch out for. 

Practicing violin and viola walking

Walking

You can walk on the spot or across the room. Ideally, you do this barefoot or on socks, as the way you walk, i.e. the contact with the floor, can also influence your playing.

Relaxed practice on the violin and viola

Rolling the feet

A textured massage roller is placed under the sole(s) of the feet. By moving the legs back and forth (e.g. in a consciously chosen metre, or following a rhythm) the feet roll the rollers over the floor. In the process, the soles of the feet are massaged quite incidentally, which leads to relaxation while practising.