If you are an instrumental musician, you know how demanding and complex your physical movements are. Whether you play the guitar, bass, violin, the piano, or any other instrument, you need to coordinate your fingers, hands, arms, shoulders, neck, head, torso, legs, and breath in a precise and harmonious way. You also need to cope with the pressure of performing in front of an audience, which can cause anxiety and tension.
But what if there was a way to improve your tension control, your posture, your breathing, your coordination, and your confidence as a musician? What if you could learn to play with more ease, fluidity, and expressiveness? What if you could prevent or recover from injuries caused by repetitive strain or misuse of your body?
This is where the Alexander Technique comes in. The Alexander Technique is a method of kinesthetic re-education that teaches you how to use your body more efficiently and effectively. It helps you become more aware of your habits of movement and posture, and how they affect your performance. It also helps you change those habits by giving you the tools to inhibit unwanted tension and direct your energy in a constructive way.
The Alexander Technique was developed by F. M. Alexander, an actor who suffered from vocal problems that threatened his career. He discovered that his voice improved when he stopped interfering with his natural balance and coordination. He then applied his findings to other aspects of his life, and developed a system of principles and procedures that can benefit anyone who wants to improve their functioning.
The Alexander Technique has a long history of helping instrumentalists and singers to perform with less stress and likelihood of injury. Some of the prominent musicians who have publicly endorsed the Alexander Technique are Paul McCartney, Sting, Robert Fripp, Julian Bream and Yehudi Menuhin. The Technique is taught at many prestigious schools of music around the world.
The benefits of the Alexander Technique for musicians are manifold. Here are some of them:
- Improved posture and alignment: The Alexander Technique helps you find your natural balance and alignment, which allows you to play with more freedom and comfort. You learn to avoid slouching, hunching, twisting, or stiffening your body, which can interfere with your sound production and cause pain or injury.
- Improved coordination: The Alexander Technique helps you coordinate your whole body as a unit, which allows you to play with more fluidity and accuracy. You learn to avoid isolating or overworking certain parts of your body, such as your fingers, wrists, elbows, or shoulders, which can cause fatigue or strain.
- Improved breathing: The Alexander Technique helps you breathe more deeply and naturally, which enhances your tone quality and stamina. You learn to avoid holding your breath, gasping, or forcing your breath, which can affect your pitch, rhythm, and expression.
- Improved expression: The Alexander Technique helps you play with more sensitivity and creativity, which allows you to convey your musical intentions more effectively. You learn to avoid inhibiting or suppressing your emotions, which can affect your dynamics, articulation, and phrasing.
- Reduced anxiety: The Alexander Technique helps you cope with the stress and pressure of performing in front of an audience, which allows you to play with more confidence and enjoyment. You learn to avoid reacting negatively to external stimuli, such as noise, criticism, or expectations, which can affect your concentration, memory, and mood.
If you are interested in learning more about the Alexander Technique and how it can help you as a musician, you can visit the Society for Teachers of the Alexander Technique. You can also find a qualified teacher near you who can guide you through the process of learning the Technique.
The Alexander Technique is not a quick fix or a magic bullet. It is a lifelong journey of self-discovery and improvement. But if you are willing to invest some time and effort into it, you will be rewarded with a better quality of life and a better quality of music.
If you specifically play guitar or bass, Effortless Guitar by Adrian Farrell is a book that teaches guitarists how to play with less tension, pain, and effort, and improve their posture, performance, and technique. It is based on the principles of the Alexander Technique. The book also includes six hours of bonus video lectures and masterclasses to help guitarists visualize and apply the concepts in the book.
The book covers topics such as:
- How to reduce tension and effort in playing
- How to improve postural understanding and positioning
- How to manage emotion and stage fright
- How to use the body's natural mechanics
- How to develop speed and technique effectively
- How to practice safely and healthily
- How to overcome and prevent playing-related injuries
- How to deepen the relationship with the instrument
The book also covers key electric guitar techniques, such as string bending, barre chords, legato, alternate picking, sweep picking, and more. It teaches guitarists how to execute these techniques with elegance and minimal effort.
The book is suitable for anyone who is serious about guitar playing, whether they have any pre-existing injuries or not. It is a breakthrough in guitar education, dispelling myths and misinformation that have caused many players' careers and progress to be cut short. The book is available from Amazon for Kindle or in paperback, and soon to be available as an audiobook.