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Resiliency in Performance: The Window Pane Test

In baking, there is a test that is performed to discover the readiness of dough. When you knead dough, you are developing the gluten strands, which make it stretchy. To see if the dough is ready, you can perform a test called window-paning, or the window pane test. The dough is stretched very thin to the point of near-transparency, without tearing. The structure of the dough allows it to be both strong and very thin. If you can do this, it is ready.

In performance, this pliant, resilient quality is key. Inherent in effective performance techniques are adaptability and spontaneity. There is broad range of creative options available to us if we have strong, flexible underlying coordination in the service of artistic intention.

When I am helping an artist, this is a significant part of of what I help them develop-  the ability to reliably sing or move with any quality they wish, no matter how robust or delicate. Often when we wish to change the quality of the sound, we compromise our functioning; crescendos become forced, decrescendos restrictive, etc.) and our artistic expression is compromised. Organizing intention around studied coordination creates consistency though rich, soaring forte passages and gossamer-delicate pianissimi. Our whole instrument is then available to us, and adapts to the changing demands of our activity as we move through notes, phrases and entire pieces. As a consequence, the emotional spectrum that we can convey is vast and profound.

Self-fluency and receptivity in our work make available to us a spontaneous quality emerging from resiliency, pliancy, elasticity.

Photo Credit: Leite’s Culinaria

May 9, 2016 / Alexander Technique

Kate Conklin is a performance coach and teacher of voice and the Alexander Technique. Kate specializes in helping world-class performers whose work requires excellent technique and profound artistry. She teaches in Los Angeles and remotely via Skype.

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