Benefits of the Alexander Technique for Musicians
The stress of everyday life, injury, or even pain, can greatly affect the way we perform and respond to situations. For musicians, instrumental and vocal, these same stresses can lead to flaws in performance abilities, concentration and under achievement. The Alexander Technique was developed many years ago, but is still recognized as the most effective program for creating conscious changes in dealing with stress, enhancing coordination and remarkably improving skills and performances. The Alexander Technique for musicians is invaluable to the development of talent.
During the 1890’s, F. Matthias Alexander found himself training actors and singers. Through his research into effective vocal training, Alexander came to realize the importance of breathing techniques and therefore developed a training program to “reeducate” the body’s breathing mechanism. His respiratory reeducation led to many doctors referring their patients who were experiencing breathing problems to Alexander. Alexander also discovered that habits people had adopted without their knowledge, led to an uncoordinated balance between emotions, mental thoughts and the body itself. And when applied to musicians, their body pains, such as in violinists that play their instruments in uncomfortable positions, are a direct result of incorrect teaching and the lack of coordination between the body and the brain.
When looking at habits, it is easy to compare these with the development of a baby. It comes naturally to babies to sit in an upright position, with their backs straight. Later in life, they start to imitate their parents or other adults and thus they start to slouch their shoulders. This will become a habit that they are unaware of. In musicians, children are often taught the incorrect way to balance themselves while playing an instrument, ineffective breathing techniques and unhelpful stances that eventually become a habit, which affects their ability to perform at their best.
The Alexander Technique for Musicians is not only a program that enhances movement, relieves pain and promotes better breathing, but is a complete change of thinking, forcing the brain to work together with the body. This form of teaching is not a boot camp or physical exercise program, it is a process of rediscovery and learning that assists musicians to increase their physical strength, vitality, health and posture. The body is able to perform movements without being mentally aware of it, movements that after years of repetition come naturally. The technique developed by Alexander allows musicians to become aware of those movements and improve their skills so as to be able to perform fluently, relaxed and at ease, without the discomfort of pain or muscular stress. This magnificent discovery by F. Matthias Alexander is still helping performers of the arts, in all its forms, to improve their skills and develop their talents.