As a musician you work in dynamic environments with high expectations for the performance and even higher time pressure. The profession is equally physically and mentally strenuous and regularly causes back pain, shoulder and wrist complaints et cetera. These are sometimes temporary, but often chronic or durable. But even if there is no physical complaint, more and more musicians realise the value of a more conscious use of the body, for themselves and for the music they make.
TOOLS FOR PRACTICE
With lessons in the Alexander Technique you train body awareness, straightforwardly. You learn to recognise where you build up unnecessary tensions during your everyday activities and while playing your instrument, singing or conducting. You also get tools to leave behind those preparatory habits and learn to recover the natural anatomical organisation of your body. From the first lesson on you will get instruments that enable you to be self-supporting while applying the Alexander Technique.
The physical challenges with the different branches of the professions can vary, but Alexander lessons have the same integrating effect on all musicians. You stop playing with only the arm and hand, for instance, and connect the whole body to the activity. Releasing superfluous muscular tensions will make your body more available to express your image of the sound more precisely. It will help you to communicate more directly with your body and therefore with the audience.
EXAMPLE FROM A LESSON
In a lesson a young soprano was singing and I was observing how she used her body during the singing. I noticed that she would lift her heels off the ground sometimes. It was hardly visible and happened mostly in more challenging parts, like higher notes. This habit was influencing her breathing indirectly through her legs and pelvis, but not in a beneficial way. We worked a few minutes on reinforcing the contact with the ground. I supported release and lengthening of the whole muscle chain from the feet to the thoracic spine by putting one hand on the lower back and the other in front of the diaphragm. Then I asked her to sing again and while doing so, to repeat a few of the directions that I had given her.
This all resulted in, and I’m paraphrasing her words, a free breath and an open and free sound, equally throughout the whole register. In the five lessons that preceded the singing she had already gotten a good feeling for the contact with the ground and that’s why I could help her so quickly. During the singing and with the few directions I had given her in between, she could refer to the previous experience, integrate the release and enrich her activity. Moreover, she could increasingly find her way to this herself and also indicated that she had been practising the principles on her own in between the lessons. The new physical experience and especially her own observation of the new sound were a good base for her to build upon and expand her practice.
BACKGROUND AND PRACTICAL EXAMPLES
Everyone who wants to experience more ease in his or her body, should take classes in Alexander Technique. These are just a few examples of how this method is extraordinarily valuable to specific professions.