Music Offers Body-Mapping Course


Robert Engelhart (Music) will apply what he learned on professional development leave to a new course on body mapping – the study of how internal perceptions of structure, function and size govern the way we move. While designed primarily to help musicians achieve their full potential and limit the risk of injury, the course will have practical applications for anyone interested in exploring the quality and efficiency of movement.


“We move according to how we think we are structured, and this may be different from how we are actually structured,” said Engelhart. “If a person’s internal map is inaccurate, he or she may suffer technical limitations or injury. This course will involve a combination of instruction, self-observation and physical activity. The goal is to improve the interface between the mind and body. This will help students become aware of their body maps, identify the source of inaccurate mapping, and correct inefficient movement.”


During a semester of professional development leave last winter, Engelhart studied body mapping under Barbara Conable, an eminent movement educator from Portland , Ore. This training, combined with studies in anatomy and physiology, enabled him to make numerous adjustments to improve his own singing.


“I have a tendency to open my jaw too wide at times, which caused a chain reaction of little tensions that impede breathing,” he said. “As I’ve gradually ‘remapped’ the function of the jaw, I’ve made progress in freeing my breathing and overall phonation. Some people – the Michael Jordans and Luciano Pavarottis of the world – don’t seem to have any errors in their body maps; they conceive a movement and it takes place smoothly and efficiently. But most of us have lots of room for improvement.


“Body mapping work doesn’t take the place of technique or natural ability. It won’t turn me into Pavarotti. However, it is a simple and effective tool for increasing my range, stamina and musical expressiveness. It enhances flexibility, endurance and power during movement and helps lessen the possibility of injury or pain during activity.”


The course in body mapping fundamentals will meet from 10-11:30 a.m. Fridays, beginning in January. Teaching the course is part Engelhart’s pursuit of a teaching certification in this discipline. Once certified, he will be able to present Conable’s seminar, “What Every Musician Needs to Know about the Body,” at NMU, school in-services and other professional conferences for musicians and music educators.


For more information, contact Engelhart at 1038 or .






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Updated: April 23, 2004