The Alexander Technique for Musicians

IMG_2439The Alexander Technique is taught at The Royal College of MusicBirmingham Conservatoire, the Royal Northern College of Music, the Juilliard School of Performing Arts in New York, and at many other schools of music, universities and colleges around the world. It is recognised as one of the foremost methods for musicians both to enhance their performance, and to prevent injuries and medical problems, such as RSItendinitisback/neck/shoulder pain and strain, and stress-related conditions.

Many musicians have used and publicly endorsed the Alexander Technique: Sir Paul McCartney, Yehudi Menuhin, Sir Colin Davis, Sir Adrian Boult, Madonna, Sting, Julie Andrews, Julian Bream and James Galway, among others.

The usefulness of the Alexander Technique for musicians also receives endorsement from medical practitioners.

“We always advise musicians, and indeed all performing artists, to seek the help of teachers of the Alexander Technique. This has transformed many players’ lives as they learn to control their own bodies and know how to cope in times of stress.” C.B.Wynne Parry, King Edward VII Hospital, Midhurst; letter to the British Medical Journal (vol 299) on overuse injuries in musicians.

My background in Music and the Alexander TechniqueIMG_2470

Before training to be a teacher of the Alexander Technique, I was Director of Music in 11-18 schools, in South Yorkshire and Devon. As a pianist I perform regularly as an accompanist, and with chamber ensembles. I have practised the Technique for 20 years myself, and it has given me more confidence and freedom in perfomance. I have also found it invaluable in my own encounters with stage fright, fear of judgement, and self-doubt.

Testimonials

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During the lessons I’ve had with Janet she has helped me gain precious insights into the balance and the organisation of my movements. Those, in return, have helped me obtain more fluidity and ease in my day-to-day movements, and in my piano playing. I now know much more about what it means to let go and to allow things to happen, rather than forcing things. These are vital concepts for musicians, I believe.

(Alexandre, pianist)

I had the privilege of taking Alexander Technique lessons from Janet for two years in Montreal after graduating from university. Janet has been a great resource to me: not only does she understand the body and how it functions, but she also knows music and how the mind works. She helped me prepare for auditions and gave me tools on how to pace myself. Often, I felt like she knew exactly what was going on in my body, and that way, helped me become my own teacher. I would recommend Janet to anybody who desires to build a better understanding of their body, and any musician who seeks to have a better comprehension of how the mind, the body and the music work together.

(Julie, cellist)

Pre-audition package

As well as one-to-one lessons for musicians, I also offer a series of 5 Alexander Technique lessons to musicians who are preparing for auditions. During these sessions we work on confidence, presentation, and strategies for dealing with this particularly stressful situation. The sessions are tailored to your needs, applying the Technique to what is most pertinent to your circumstances.

Recommended reading

I recommend the following books, which wisely – and with humour and insight – address many of the issues facing the performer.

Indirect Procedures, a musician’s guide to the Alexander Technique – Pedro de Alcantara. I also recommend the ‘Resources for Musicians’ page on his website http://www.pedrodealcantara.com/musicians

Mind, Muscle and Music – Elizabeth Langford. To be read in conjunction with her book Mind and Muscle, this book also addresses the complex issues around playing music, and gives new insights into how we can think differently about ourselves as musicians.