Dr Heleen Du Plessis: Muscle Measurement in Making Music


To make music, we make sound; to make sound we move; to move we use our muscles; and we control our muscles with our brains. Therefore, the most important aspect of technical skill is awareness and control of our muscles. But our perception of what our muscles are doing is not always accurate. Surface Electromyography (SEMG) accurately measures the electrical activity produced by muscles and shows it in a visible record. Seeing an electromyogram gives immediate feedback and leads to an instantaneous correction of our movement. With this technique we can teach people which movements muscle groups are responsible for and help them develop an awareness of how to ‘find’ and control the appropriate muscles to establish and maintain correct posture and movement in playing their instruments and in everyday life.


In this interactive workshop, assisted by expert Rowan Ellis with his SEMG equipment, Heleen will explore the implications for teaching and the effect on improving sound quality, concentration, nerves and confidence.

Cellist Heleen Du Plessis is a graduate of the Conservatory of Geneva, the Peabody Institute and the University of Otago, and has studied with esteemed masters Starker, Rostropovich, Litschauer, Peled, Grosgurin and Aaron. She has appeared as a soloist and with leading artists, chamber groups and orchestras in South Africa, USA, New Zealand and Europe.

An established performer of the classical repertoire, Heleen also presents research-based performance outputs of new music and music that crosses cultures and genres. Her DMA project Cello for Africa combined the cello with African instruments, fusing musical styles to explore, perform, and reinforce her South African identity. The resulting CD was one of five nominated for the prestigious International Listener’s Choice Awards. Her multimedia performance Cellists Aotearoa at the 2016 Dunedin Arts Festival assembled poetry, videos and NZ landscape photography curated to apply theories of landscape and music as markers and reinforcers of identity. A recent grant from CNZ to commission a work by Gareth Farr for marimba and cello will form part of a 2019 CMNZ tour with marimba virtuoso Yoshiko Tsuruta.

Heleen lectures in the pedagogy of music teaching, music theory, and cello at the University of Otago. She is director of the cello ensemble, Cellists of Otago.



How long is the presentation? 

15 minutes


What do you need to view the presentation? 

A browser capable of playing YouTube video.

Audio output (speakers)


Prices: All prices listed include GST

Membership LevelPrice
Institute of Registered Music Teachers Free
Non-members $35.00

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