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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000831.txt from 1999/04

From: Kratofil <>
Subj: [kl] Re: All that stuff about the diaphragm" (long)
Date: Sun, 18 Apr 1999 15:55:26 -0400


Your essay made sense to me, even though it was never articulated that
way before. My teacher used metaphors exceedingly well. Through my own
teaching I have come to appreciate his metaphors. I started out using
his, and have added my own.

Tony Pay wrote:
> This sort of learning, however, doesn't conform to our normal model of
> what it's like to learn to do things. Mostly, when we learn a
> technique, we have a direct experience of doing something.

> In this essay, I shall say that we are 'using a metaphor' whenever we
> give a picture or description of what we do on the instrument that is
> not technically specific ™ in other words, a description that does not
> tell us in detail what we should do. A metaphor says, rather: while
> playing the instrument at this point, think of the situation as if it
> were like something else.

> So metaphors constitute an indispensable tool for a teacher. They vary
> in generality, from those designed to address the student's attitude to
> her whole being with the instrument, to those concerned with the
> character of a particular phrase or note. In fact, given the great
> complexity and multi-levelled nature of what we do when we play, you
> would have to say that even the most careful scientific description is
> metaphorical too, being necessarily a simplified model of the situation.

That last paragraph says it so well!

Specifically to breathing, my teacher used the same metaphor that you
metioned by Paul Harvey.

Tony Pay wrote:
> I always liked, and often repeated to students, Paul Harvey's advice to
> 'keep your trousers up' when playing. He told the story of how he
> forgot his belt (or was it braces?) one day when he had to play a
> concert, and found that his performance was improved as a side effect of
> his effort to make his abdomen as large as possible.

My teacher suggested holding up clown pants. Then, to check your
progress I guess, he would make a fist and lean on your belly and make
you play! Now, to get the point across to my young students (I was in
college when he did this to me.) I will let them try to push on me while
I am playing. It always amazes them that I can keep playing. (I
know, I know my husband reminds me that I shouldn't touch
matter how inocently.)

But, you are right, I never actually thought it through, and always
spoke of the diaphragm doing all the work. Now it seems obvious. I
will make the appropriate changes to my "support lecture!"

Thanks for yet another thought provoking contribution, Tony!

Aimee Kratofil
Greensburg, PA USA

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