Musicians and the Alexander Technique
The foundation of every musicians wonderful skill is the control of his or her overall movement coordination.
An easy, free comfortable body opens the door to high levels of skill, power, subtlety and enjoyment and protects the musician from tension, stress and physical injury. The Alexander Technique is valued and taught in music schools, conservatories of music, orchestras and choirs world-wide.
Technical skill, Creative artistry and Movement Coordination
Music involves both technical skill and creative artistry. Both of these are dependent on the quality of the musician’s physical, mental and emotional coordination.
While musicians generally acknowledge the importance of good support, freedom of movement and posture, there is a strong emphasis in musical training and practise on ‘getting it right‘. This can lead to significant problems for musicians, as the achievement of technical skill and accuracy is given priority attention over sustained good coordination, ease and flexibility in movement.
When musicians discover how important overall coordination is to the specifics of their skill they generally experience significant gains in ease, fluidity and performance.
Musical performance involves many hours of dedicated repetitive practise. This leads to amazing skill and freedom of expression, but also deeply embeds particular habits of coordination. These may be so well practised that they are completely out of awareness. In other words, the musician does not necessarily know what they are doing that is interfering with their freedom.
The Alexander technique was developed to deal with problems of entrenched and trained habits of coordination that are resistant to change. In the process, Alexander became convinced of the essential unity of mind and body in action, he called it Psycho-Physical Unity. See our description of how the Technique works here.
Repetitive Strain and Overuse injury
Overuse and strain problems can be avoided by attention to ease in movement, accurate body-mapping, and clarity of intention. Often problems come down to a simple wrong idea, where the musician’s idea of their body structure or the movement required do not match the physical reality. There are many examples of such errors in thinking in the book “What Every Musician Needs to Know About the Body“.
Once a problem is experienced, there will need to be a period of re-training to change entrenched habits of playing. The Technique provides a systematic and structured framework to enable progressive improvement over time, with the goal of a return of health, freedom and comfort in playing.
Peak Experience – ‘It does itself’
Beyond recovery from injury or strain is the ultimate potential of the musician. Alexander said, “you create the conditions and the right thing does itself”. The potential we all have for extraordinary performance and enjoyment of music lies behind unconscious habits of coordination that interfere with our freedom. The Alexander technique has the ultimate aim of assisting you to stop doing the things that interfere, and thereby create the opportunity for your natural ability to shine through.