Breathe easy with the Alexander Technique


Kathy Driscoll

What many professional singers and wind instrumentalists don’t realise is that they are also professional breathers. In order to sing and play wind instruments well, you need to master the art of stable and rhythmic breathing. While this may seem common knowledge, many performers struggle to adopt conducive breathing patterns.

What’s wrong unstable or laboured breathing?

Overtime, unstable or laboured breathing can become a habit for singers and instrumentalists and this habit can be unhealthy for the body. To maintain a healthy respiratory system it is essential that you keep your air passages clear and relaxed. If you become tired or stressed during a performance your muscles tense, this tension will affect your natural breathing rhythm. If you allow yourself to become distressed, your brain will stimulate the lungs to increase the levels of oxygen in the body. Poor breathing patterns will lead to strained singing or playing, and can negatively affect your poise and balance. Unstable breathing can also cause a range of problems including: anxiety, muscular tension, headaches, hallucinations and derealisation. Irregular breathing is often a root cause of stage fright and performance anxiety.



How can the Alexander Technique help?

The Alexander Technique recognises that breathing is a demand-led system. In other words, your breathing will respond to physical needs (demands) of the body. By controlling these demands, you can successfully return to your body’s natural rhythm of breathing. By utilising the Alexander Technique, you will be taught to recognise erroneous breathing patterns and how to prevent them. You will also be taught how to adopt a natural, healthy breathing rhythm conducive to performance. The Alexander Technique is concerned with understanding and utilising the inextricable connection between the mind and body. A freer body will result in freer breathing, just as freer breathing will lead to a freer body. By adopting the Alexander Technique you will learn to relax the body and achieve a healthy amount of appropriate tension.

Breathing for singers and wind instrumentalists is just as important as it is for runners and swimmers. In order to improve your performance, you need to be in control of your body. and the best way to do this is to take control of your breathing.


About Kathy Driscoll

I want to share information, insights and a few stories about Alexander Technique with you. I’ve used Alexander Technique in some extreme circumstances including the birth of my twins and when I had appendicitis!  I also use Alexander Technique for everyday activities as well.

I have been involved with Alexander Technique for more than 25 years.  I meet Greg Holdaway (Director of Sydney Alexander Technique) just as he was transitioning from a professional career as a dancer into Bill Brenner’s Alexander Technique teacher training program in Sydney.

Greg now has been teaching for decades, he remains passionate and totally focused on positive results for those he works with, which now include his own teacher training program.


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