The Somaesthetics of Musicians

Rethinking the Body in Musical Practice


  • Jungmin Grace Han


Motor skill acquisition is a key element of playing Western classical music. The repetitive practice of musicians demands instrument-specific skilled movements that result in automatic and habitual routines. Having achieved a certain level of technical skill, professional musicians tend to shift their attention to cultivating abstract musical ideas as by then, they do not need to concentrate on their skilled movements as these have become more or less automatic. This essay offers a phenomenological account of the ‘somaesthetic’ reflections of two musician-teachers on their musical practice, and challenges the conventional dichotomy between ‘rudimentary’ bodily technique and ‘high’ musical thinking pervaded in the theory and practice of musical performance. The aim of the essay is to articulate the performing body as a transformative subject that rediscovers its self and musical capacity, thereby illuminating the lived experience, according to which somaesthetic concepts are enlivened and redefined in practice.