102x: Alexander Technique for Musicians

Course Description

This course is designed for students interested in exploring movement as it relates to playing a musical instrument, singing or acting. Students will learn the Alexander Technique and Body Mapping, two complementary methods for improving coordination. Participants will gain ease in performing and learn how improved coordination enables them to better avoid fatigue, injury, technical limitation, and to more completely realize their musical intentions.

Specific topics include:

I. The Attentive Musician: Cultivating an Inclusive Awareness

  1. Why musicians need this information
  2. Develop an ongoing awareness of your body
  3. Develop the tactile sense (sense of touch)
    • a) clarify your boundaries
    • b) dance with every surface you encounter
    • c) know how your instrument works and let it play its part
  4. Develop the kinesthetic sense (sense of movement)
  5. Claim a large space for practice and performance
    • a) move in relation to space in front, in back, above and below
    • b) perceive the space you cannot see
    • c) let the acoustic of the room do their job and listen to the result
  6. Perceive your own feelings and emotions in every moment
  7. Distinguish “focus” from “concentration”
  8. Correct and refine your body map

II. Balance and Weight Delivery in the Human Body

  1. Access the “core” of the body
  2. Drop the “posture myth”
  3. The atlanto-occipital joint (where the head meets the spine)
  4. Distinguish the functions of muscles and bones
  5. Weight delivery through the pelvis in sitting and standing
  6. The three leg joints
  7. Standing, sitting, and walking with awareness

III. The Structure and Movements of the Arm

  1. The four regions of the arm
  2. The natural organization of the arm
  3. Balancing the arm structure
  4. The sterno-clavicular joint
  5. How the arm and torso relate
  6. The shoulder (gleno-humeral) joint
  7. Humero-scapular rhythm (sequential movement through the first 2 arm joints)
  8. The elbow joint and the forearm rotation
  9. The problem of “thumb-orientation” (chronic ulnar deviation)
  10. The wrist, hand, and fingers
  11. Support for the arms

IV. The Structures and Movement of Breathing

  1. The journey of the air
    • a) nasal and oral areas
    • b) facial muscles, tongue and jaw
    • c) pharyngeal space (respiratory and digestive function)
    • d) trachea and larynx
    • e) respiratory and circulatory systems
    • f) lungs (relation to thoracic space when inflated)
  2. The movement of breathing
    • a) ribs, (joints, cartilage, attachment in front)
    • b) intercostals muscles
    • c) diaphragm (central tendon)
    • d) abdominal wall and pelvic floor
    • e) spine gathers (inhalation) and lengthens (exhalation)
  3. Sources of support for breathing
    • a) floor/chair
    • b) efficient weight delivery through the bony structure (spine, legs)
    • c) springing back of abdominal wall (muscles) and springing up of pelvic floor (muscles)
    • d) gathering and lengthening of spine

V. Marrying Movement to Music

Learning to put movement in relation to the structure and emotion of the music. Moving well enables musicians to express their musical ideas more fully. One’s movement choices should be dictated by the music one is performing. Movement must not be formulaic but will mirror the complex and layered structure of the music.