Alexander Technique for musicians

The Alexander Technique can help musicians of all levels to develop further, both musically and technically. It can help you to:

  • perform better in accordance with your actual ability
  • prevent injuries and recover from them
  • gain more calmness and confidence and suffer less from nerves, performance anxiety and stress
  • create a bigger and better tone without having to work hard to achieve it
  • practice more efficiently
  • discover how your thoughts influence your performance and coordination
  • breathe more easily and improve the way you use your voice
  • improve your ability to play/sing together with your musician colleagues
  • play/sing/conduct difficult passages while continuing to breathe calmly
  • practice in a calm and positive manner without separating technique and music from each other
  • concentrate in such a way that you continue to be aware of your surroundings

Holding your instrument

How can you hold your instrument in a way that requires the minimum amount of effort? This is already an art in itself. Let us take the violin as an example. Take a look at the following two violinists. Which of them do you think looks the best, and why?

Taking the anatomy of your body into account while holding your instrument is a good idea!

The young P. Hirschhornn holds his violin superbly.

 

In this way the fantastic violinist N. Znaider creates more tension than is necessary.

In my opinion, violinists and violists should take into account the natural coordination and anatomy of their own body in determining the positioning and model of chin rest and shoulder rest. Each individual’s body is different, so it seems logical to me that everyone ought to have their own unique, made-to-measure chin and shoulder rest.

However, all too often we see that the students of teacher X all use the same type of chin and shoulder rest, while on the other hand the students of teacher Y all play without using any chin or shoulder rest at all. This is irrespective of the fact that one student has a long neck or long arms, while another has a short little finger, narrow shoulders or, on the contrary, broad shoulders. All of these factors influence the optimal choice of model and position of the chin rest and shoulder rest as well as the positioning of the instrument in relation to the body.

If you would like to know more about made-to-measure chin rests and shoulder rests visit: www.violinistinbalance.nl

Flow

The best weapon against performance anxiety is to totally immerse yourself in the music. Most musicians can remember their most fantastic concert: how effortlessly they played, enjoying every note and feeling the music in every fibre of their being. Psychologists call this flow. How can you increase the chances of experiencing this flow?
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A student with her violin during an Alexander Technique lesson

Performance anxiety

The Alexander Technique can help you with the following:
1. Accepting your performance nerves so that you can focus more attention on the music
2. Learning well-coordinated movements
3. Learning to study in an efficient, positive and calm manner
4. Developing a healthy internal dialogue…
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Injuries

A high proportion of musicians experience injuries at some point; ultimately as many as 75%. Frozen shoulder, tendinitis, back/neck/shoulder pain, RSI, focal dystonia, etc etc. Professional musicians and conservatoire students are under great pressure to attain their optimal level of performance as quickly as possible. Concerts, competitions, interim exams, student try-out concerts and the pressure to accept all offers, for fear of missing out next time around. Musicians are exposed to all of this without general access to injury prevention measures, psychologists, masseurs and personal coaches – all of these are standard facilities in the world of top sport.
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Study tips

The way in which you study is an extremely important factor in preventing performance anxiety and injury. Most musicians play/sing/conduct a number of hours per day in their own practice room. For most musicians it is worthwhile taking a critical look at how they spend these hours.

It’s not so much (naturally to a certain extent) about how much you study (quantity) but primarily about how you study (quality). Practising in a qualitatively good manner saves you:

  • time
  • energy
  • injuries

and you will experience:

  • better results
  • more enjoyment
  • less chance of performance anxiety
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