Twist My Arm! An introduction to Body Mapping

Presenters: Alison Wells and Ásdís Valdimarsdóttir


“Introduction to Body Mapping for String Teachers” Alison Wells – Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, UK Asdis Valdimarsdottir – Royal Conservatoire, The Hague, Netherlands 90-minute lecture introducing the potential of Body Mapping as a powerful basis in pedagogy. 2 main focus areas – the balanced body, and free use of the arm/shoulder region.

What is Body Mapping? Body Mapping is a method that trains musicians to move according to the true anatomical design of their body. Identifying and correcting misconceptions about how the body is structured increases facility and avoids injury.

Why is it important?

  • Alarmingly high numbers of musicians suffer from musculoskeletal pain. Body Mapping provides an effective way to gain awareness of accurate anatomical structure and movement, thereby preventing injury.
  • Musicians can practice for many hours but not feel free. Ensuing frustration can be detrimental to self-confidence, affecting performance.
  • Quality of movement is essential for the integrity of sound. Body Mapping provides an anatomical underpinning for understanding our balance and movement. Who benefits?
  • Teachers gain invaluable information for their pedagogical practice. Body Mapping provides an anatomical foundation for healthy technical development.
  • Students gain an accurate anatomical reference as they grow their skills.
  • Performers benefit from increased freedom and facility through somatic awareness.


Ásdís Valdimarsdóttir comes from Reykjavík, Iceland. She studied at the Juilliard School and in Germany. Chamber music is her main passion, and she has been invited to many prestigious Festivals worldwide.

Ásdís has been a member of several ensembles; most notably principal viola of the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen and the violist of the Miami, Chilingirian and Utrecht string quartets. She has made numerous recordings with these ensembles. Recently she made two CDs titled ‘The Voice of the Viola in times of oppression’ with the pianist Marcel Worm and she recorded the complete String Trios by Beethoven for his 250th birthday with the Brunsvik String Trio.

Her most recent CD is ‘Stolen Schubert’, with her own arrangements. Later in 2022 her arrangement of Telemann’s Gamba Fantasias for viola will be published by the French publisher, Billaubot. Ásdís is currently professor of viola and chamber music at the Royal Conservatory The Hague.

Alison Wells has divided her career between Britain and the USA. She studied at Cambridge, the Royal Academy in London, and Yale with Ralph Kirshbaum, David Strange and Aldo Parisot. As a founding member of the Pirasti Trio, performances were described as “absolutely incandescent” (The Strad) and “eloquent, unfailingly stylish” (Gramophone), and CDs were recommended by BBC Music Magazine, Gramophone, International Record Review and Radio 3’s Building a Library.

Her chamber music career has taken her throughout Europe, North America and to East Africa and Asia. Alison taught at the Peabody Conservatory, Cleveland Institute of Music and Trinity College of Music.

She is currently on the faculty of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Regular summer festivals have included the Heifetz Institute, Madeline Island and Green Mountain festivals, and ARIA in the US, and Encore Music Projects in the UK. She recently founded ArtsBridge, facilitating creative projects in care homes.

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