Exploring the Alexander Technique with Musicians


 

This post is a summary of some Alexander Technique workshops for musicians that I facilitated recently. It deviates greatly from my intention to cover one aspect of the Alexander Technique per post but I wanted to share it whilst it is still fresh in my mind.

If you are a musician my hope is that you will be inspired to experiment with each of the ideas presented below whilst you are playing or singing.  I suggest noticing not just how each idea makes you feel but also the effect they have on your playing or singing.

If you are not a musician I hope you will have a read anyway.  There are things here that you will be able to use in everyday life such as finding balance and ease in sitting and standing.

The important thing is to have fun exploring rather than trying to get anything ‘right’.  Also, to trust that simply thinking differently will have an effect, trying to make things happen will lead to unnecessary tension.

I have purposefully avoided describing the benefit of each idea, preferring instead that you explore them free of expectations.

Improving your posture without effort or forcing

Start with noticing how simply thinking differently can affect your posture.  Try playing or singing whilst thinking of yourself being:

  • Short and tense
  • Tall, wide and free

 

Finding balance and ease in sitting

Whilst sitting try experimenting with:

  • The same thinking i.e. ‘short and tense’ versus ‘tall, wide and free’.
  • Imagining an extra pair of legs and feet that extend from your sitting bones to the floor. This can give you an extra sense of support and balance.

 

Finding balance and ease in standing

Whilst standing try experimenting with:

  • The same thinking again – ‘short and tense’ versus ‘tall, wide and free’.
  • The difference between standing on your feet and standing on the floor
  • Having a sense of the space all around you i.e. above your head, below your feet, out to the sides of you and to the front and back of you

 

Ways of seeing

Notice which of these ways of seeing you prefer, one is likely to give you a softer, wider awareness and a sense of having more time

  • ‘Seeing’ from the front of your eyeballs and focussing intently on one thing
  • ‘Seeing’ from the back of your head by letting images come to you rather than trying to see them. Images are of course processed in your visual cortex which is at the back and towards the top of your head

Creating a sense of expansion rather than contraction

Here we are aiming for a sense of space and openness between you and your instrument or you and your music for singers who are holding music

Again, this is more about thinking than doing as with all Alexander Technique work.  You can approach it in two different ways, I would suggest trying both and seeing which suits you best

  • Have a sense of a gentle centrifugal force between you and your instrument/music.
  • Think about creating a sense of opposition between your hands and your back i.e. your hands moving away from your back and your back moving away from your hands

 

Constructive rest, also known as active rest and semi-supine

This is a classic Alexander Technique practice that will help you let go of tension, especially in your neck, shoulders and back.  Making it a daily practice can not only help relieve aches and pains but can also help prevent problems.

Here is a short guide to help you get started https://alexandertechnique.co.uk/learning-it/semi-supine

 

Resources that you may find useful

Books

  • The Alexander Technique for Musicians by Judith Kleinman and Peter Buckoke
  • Indirect Procedures: A musicians Guide to the Alexander Technique by Pedro De Alcantara
  • What Every Musician Needs to Know about the Body: The Practical Application of Body Mapping to Making Music by Barbara Conable

Podcasts

There is also an excellent resource of short podcasts about Alexander Technique for musicians that you might find helpful https://www.bodylearningcast.com/music/

 

If this post has sparked your curiosity and you are interested in finding out how the Alexander Technique can help you please email me at attbridgetbarr@gmail.com or call me on 07957 981240 get in touch using the contact icons

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