Ten short lessons to make yourself comfortable in an orchestra pit:
1 Pencil on the head
Imagine that there is a pencil on top of your head which is an extension of your spine. The pencil extends upward toward the ceiling. Draw a very small circle on the ceiling with this pencil, clockwise. Then pause and draw the circle counter-clockwise. Feel your whole spine participate and notice how the weight shifts on your sit bones.
2 Feet and legs
Place your feet squarely on the floor. Without tilting the knee a lot (it will move a little), lift the inner edge of the right foot, then the outer edge. Feel as if you’re ironing the bottom of the foot out on the floor. Try this with the left foot, then with both. See what movement you sense in all the leg bones, in your spine and pelvis.
3 Sensing the spine
Count your vertebrae from the tailbone to the top of the spine. Imagine that you can actually touch each vertebra from the front with a finger. The tailbone and sacrum form the back of the pelvis. Above the sacrum are your five large lumbar vertebrae, then twelve thoracic vertebrae (the ribs are attached to these), then seven cervical vertebrae which form the neck. If you can’t sense individual vertebrae, just pretend you can – it’s equally beneficial.
4 Rounding and arching
Tilt your pelvis back slightly, look down, and let your whole spine round. Then look up, let the pelvis tilt forward, and arch. Think of the whole spine, and see how many vertebrae you can pay attention to simultaneously as you do this movement. You can do this movement very small and slowly even as you’re playing.
5 Side-bending
Tilt your head to the right, and also bring your right shoulder and your right hip toward each other, lifting the right side of your pelvis a little off the chair. Then do the same to the left. Sense your whole spine. See how small a movement you can make that still involves the whole spine.
6 Circles
Round forward. Begin to make a circular movement combining the previous two lessons – rounding, side-bending to the right, arching, and side-bending to the left. Make a very small, slow movement, and sense your spine.
7 Circles with sternum
Point to a spot on your sternum (your chest bone in front). Slowly move this spot up and down, tracing a vertical line. Stop for a moment, and then move it left and right, drawing a horizontal line. Pause again, and then begin to make circles up, down, right, and left. Pause again and change the direction of the circle.
8 Shoulders
Make a very small movement sliding your right shoulder up and down. The shoulder blade is not attached to the ribs in back by any bones. Sense how the shoulder blade slides across the ribs in back. Try this with the other shoulder.
9 Breath
During a rest, sense how you breathe naturally – what moves in your ribs and abdomen? Then intentionally direct the air to different places as you breathe in. Think of breathing and directing the air so that the right shoulder gets wider, then the left. Then direct the air elsewhere - the lower ribs, the abdomen, the pelvic floor, the feet, etc.
10 Jaw
Feel the pull of gravity on your jaw, and let the jaw sink down a very slight amount (someone observing you would not see this movement). You can do this with the lips closed or open. The teeth will come apart slightly. Let your tongue and lips be very easy.  Repeat this several times.  Because the jaw muscles are anti-gravity muscles, this movement is calming to your nervous system as well as beneficial for jaw and facial muscles.
Stacey Pelinka, GCFP    |      The Feldenkrais Method®
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