Visualization – Alison Fujito

I’m really amazed how 3 hours of PT
exercises can seem YEARS longer than 6 hours of practicing the
violin. It’s not that I don’t like exercises. I probably like exercises
more than most people. I can happily spend half an hour practicing
Sevcic’s School of Violin Technique Opus 1 (which is a bunch of
finger doodles for the left hand), and a good 2 hours practicing scales
and double stops. (And now, I bet all my colleagues in the violin
section are reading this and saying, “Wow, she IS weird!”) I like
physical exercise, too, which is not so weird. I like swimming laps,
which I admit is not the most thrilling activity imaginable, and I
actually think that weight machines are FUN! I’m not sure why.

But
somehow, doing countless reps of struggling to lift my arm in different
ways (with and without the broom handle) is not Fun. Maybe it’s the
broom handle. Nah, maybe it’s the struggling part. Now, that makes more
sense. I do feel a bit like there’s someone else’s arm attached to me;
this one isn’t acting like it belongs to me. It doesn’t even seem to
know what I want it to do! I’m sure I’m sending it a crystal-clear
message: “Lift Up Now.” It starts to do what I tell it—and then it stops like it’s stuck in the mud.


 

Maybe I need to do a better job preparing it for the message. “Prepare for Lift-off!”

 

 

No, that’s even worse. It’s freezing up before I’ve even gotten started. What is going on here?!

 

According
to Laurie, my physical therapist, we use one set of muscles to lift our
arms up, and another set to lower them again. My
arm is receiving the messages incorrectly (or else it’s jumbling them
after receiving them) and both sets of muscles are contracting
simultaneously—which effectively locks the arm in place.

 

What’s
really fascinating here is how much of this is in my head .Not
entirely, of course – obviously, there’s an injury here – but enough to
really surprise me. If I close my eyes and pretend I’m someone else doing something else, my arm behaves much better. If
I think back to the winter Olympics, and pretend I’m Sascha Cohen
landing a Triple Axel, my arm floats up, not nearly as far as I’d like
it to, but a good foot higher than it had, and effortlessly and
gracefully (well, for me) to boot.

 

I’ve actually been doing this sort of thing for a long time– on the violin. When
I was in high school and college, whenever I had trouble learning a
particular difficult passage (think flying double-stops here), I would
imagine that my hands weren’t my hands—they were Itzhak
Perlman’s, on loan just for the occasion. I would close my eyes and see
those huge, sausage-like fingers hitting every note with total ease and
accuracy, and somehow, mine would, too. Later,
after joining the PSO, I would listen to Andrés Cárdenes play with his
trademark elegance and beautiful sound, and go back to my practice room
and try to duplicate it by visualizing his hands on the violin and
hearing, in my mind, his sound.

 

 

So
in order to improve my current performance on the broom handle, all I
have to do is decide what role to play. Who am I going to be today? We
had Family Movie Night last night, and watched “The Incredibles.”
(Great flick, by the way.)

 

Today—I am ELASTI-GIRL!!!!

This could be fun.

One Response to “Visualization – Alison Fujito”

  1. Wayne Fujito says:

    Alison,
    I have really enjoyed scanning your blog entries. Only now have I had some time to comment. So much of what we do is mental, so keep imaging you are Itzhak Perlman and you’ll be back on stage with the PSO in no time! Maybe even playing solos in a Spielberg movie ala Schindler’s List like IP did. Seriously, please continue to improve. Do what Laurie says and let us know when you and the PSO will be back at the Kennedy Center in DC.
    Love,
    Taku

Leave a Reply

Mar 19