If you ask a Pilates instructor if they use music in their classes the answer is often an emphatic "Yes!" or a shocked "No!" The question of whether music enhances or distracts during Pilates is often a hotly debated one. Some may argue that it distracts from the precision of the exercises and the search for the mind-body connection especially for those new to the method, whereas others believe that music can immediately create the calm ambiance and focus which can be hard to achieve initially.
Music causes incredibly powerful and profound effects involving several response mechanisms. These include:
- The psychosocial response- the spiritual and psychological response we have to music
- The cortical response- creates visualisation and imagery
- The limbic response-how we react emotionally
- The thalamic response-automatic body response to the rhythm of the music
- The corporeal response-our physical reaction to the different sound vibrations.
In the light of these responses surely music would help deepen and enhance our mind-body connection, breathing and awareness?
Music should always create and support smooth movement sequencing, integration of breath and enhance inward focus. It should never intrude, detract or dominate the class.
Lisa Horner, the co-founder of Music for Pilates, definitely believes in the importance of music in Pilates.
"I personally love using music in my Pilates classes. I find it creates a calm relaxed atmosphere so clients can really focus on the areas that we are working on, giving them that whole mind-body experience that Pilates requires. As a teacher I also find it calms my soul which reflects in my voice helping the clients to work in a more intensified, slow, controlled rhythm. This is why it is so important to me to find that right music, which was surprisingly difficult and frustrating. I would find a lovely piece and then right in the middle a random squawk or screech from an unrecognisable animal or a deep boom from a Didjeridoo, shaking you and the clients out of your serene place. There is also that "small" problem of paying for a PPL licence or finding music that is licence free. My husband Perry, is an international song writer and music producer, so it only seemed natural to create our own licence free music, forming "Music for Pilates". We set to work tweaking the bits I knew would not work and testing in my own classes, until we found the balance of rhythm and calmness just right for Pilates."