Music and the Franklin Method: An Interview with Hanna Keßeler
Interview By Josie Bray
Hanna Keßeler is a flutist, singer and teacher for music and movement education. She is a level 3 Franklin Method Educator and professional, and a member of the Franklin Method faculty. She teaches Franklin Method for musicians at the Music University of Cologne, Germany. Hanna has been teaching Music and Franklin Method since 2002 and has been a teacher trainer faculty since 2006.
When asked how studying the Franklin Method can help musicians, Hanna said that the benefits are manyfold. “Most musicians don’t know anything about anatomy,” Hanna said. “The Franklin Method ® allows me to teach students how their bodies are working, so they understand which parts of their bodies need to work in order to play efficiently. For example, many of the string players I work with come in with the idea that the muscles in their hands are doing most of the work when they play. Once we begin working with images of functional anatomy, they can understand that the muscles at work are mostly under their armpit, and this allows their playing to be easier and free of tension.”
The imagery work in the Franklin Method ® helps Hanna’s music students deepen their relationship with their instrument and with their music to create a more subtle, nuanced sound. “If a musician is good, they will already have a story in their imagination about the song as they play it. I will ask them to elaborate on that story to make their imagery more vivid and specific. If the musician, for example, says that the piece they are playing is like a river, I will ask them about the river. Where is it? What does it look like? Can you make the river more vivid in your imagination?”
Hanna also helps students find imagery as a way to facilitate the ease of playing. “I’ll have a string player imagine the strings as a ballerina, so the bow and the strings dance together,” she said, “This makes the music vivid and lively, as much about image as it is about the notes.”
The Franklin Method ® has been useful to Hanna’s musicians and students, not just as they practice, but as an antidote to performance anxiety. “Sometimes when musicians are at an audition, they have to be very close to each other. They are competing with each other for a job but need to be near each other for the purposes of the audition,” she explained. “I often give musicians the image of a bubble. When they are at an audition, they imagine a bubble around them that they can see out of that no one else can see into. Their fear can’t enter the bubble, and the negative thoughts stay outside.”
“Musicians who study Franklin Method ® with me develop a more positive outlook when they plan and before a performance,” Hanna said.
Hanna said that music teachers can use the Franklin Method ® in a variety of ways that benefit both their students and themselves. The imagery work, she explained, can be useful to help Musicians prepare for their performance, and become more aware of their bodies. Hanna has seen Music teachers use the Franklin Method ® to help their students reduce tension, create better alignment and therefore play better. “So many instruments cause musicians to stand in an asymmetrical way,” she said, “and having a music teacher that teachers the Franklin Method ® can help musicians understand how to stand and use their body in the most efficient way so they have less pain and can play better, for longer periods of time.”
“Lots of musicians do some sort of body movement to take care of themselves, like yoga or the Alexander Technique,” she explained. “Unlike those movement forms, the Franklin Method ® can be done not just in between performances but while you are playing. It’s a toolbox that is always at your disposal. I use it all the time while I’m teaching; I can make myself feel better while working with students using the Franklin Method ® principles of imagery, mental practice, and functional anatomy. I can use the Franklin Method ® without anyone noticing: my body feels better, I can teach for longer, and I can play better.”
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