The benefits of the Alexander Technique for musicians (and - to be honest - to anyone) are endless. In this article I've listed some of the core benefits:
Benefit #1: Improved posture
By preventing undue shortening of the head-neck-back relationship, one becomes more upright, balanced, directed upwards and outwards.
Benefit #2: Improved sound quality
One's state of being is directly reflected in the sound. Eliminate undue muscular tension and the sound becomes fuller and smoother.
By increasing one's awareness and connectedness to the environment, the sound projects and 'carries' more.
Benefit #3: Ease in movement
By preventing undesired tension or limiting habits in body and mind, one will experience lightness and ease in movement. Or as F.M. Alexander puts it : "If you prevent the wrong thing, the right thing does itself."
Benefit #4: More joy and pleasure
This is one of the most rewarding benefits of the AT. By eliminating unnecessary habits, freeing yourself from unwanted habits and restriction of all kind, the music making becomes an extremely satisfying, joyful experience. And as a bonus, the joy of the listener is increased likewise.
Benefit #5: Learning how to deal with stage fright
It is not possible to eliminate stage fright. Sometimes it is just there, but that is not necessarily bad. The acceptance of the nervousness is the first step for letting it go. Moreover, the AT teaches skills, directed thoughts that will help you staying calm and focused despite the nervousness.
Benefit #6: Building resilience
Sometimes the professional demands are high. Think of long rehearsals, stressful concerts, touring around with your instrument and more. With the AT one will acquire tools to recover quickly from these impacts.
Benefit #7: Improved awareness of oneself and one's surroundings
With the Alexander Technique one learns to become aware of what's going on 'inside' and 'outside' at the same time. Therefore one can be present in the moment within the environment and at the same time staying calm within oneself.
Benefit #8: Prevention of blessures and pain
By recognizing one's habitual misuse of the organism as a whole, one can inhibit these undesired habits and therefore prevent the corresponding blessures and pains.
Benefit #9: Improved breathing
Every muscular rigidity restricts the breathing and restricted breathing leads to rigidity. If there is even and appropriate muscle tonus throughout the body, the whole ribcage can expand and breathing can function at its optimum level.
Benefit #10: Improved vocal production
The release of the neck muscles accompanied with a release of pressure upon the larynx and improved functioning of the whole has profound effects on the quality of the voice and the vocal production.
Benefit #11: Improved sense of self
With the Alexander Technique everything that is not desired, not necessary, superfluous, excessive sheds away, layer by layer. Think of psychophysical habits as well as unquestioned beliefs and prejudices.
When these shed away, one will gain a stronger sense of one's self.
Benefit #12: Flexibility in body and mind
F.M. Alexander talked about the difference between 'Freedom of thought' versus 'freedom in thought'. 'Freedom of thought' meaning, someone has the right to have opinions/ to think as he wishes. Freedom in thought: Being free of ones own habits of thought.
And as always: The mind is reflected in the body, the body is reflected in the mind. These are not separable.
Benefit #13: Easy does it
A common belief is, that when things don't work out properly, we probably did not try hard enough to make them work. The Alexander Technique on the contrary teaches and gives the experience to try less hard when things don't work out. Push less, ease your will and you will be amazed of the results. Or, in other words: it teaches wishing versus willing. It is the clarity of the thought that does the work.
Benefit #14: Effective self study/efficiency
Effective self study means: knowing what one wants, knowing what is necessary, identifying undesired psychophysical habits and preventing them. Allowing things to happen. Giving the process of acquiring a skill the time and last but foremost the ability not to go directly for a desired end result, but to take into account the means whereby to achieve a desired end (or a certain result). Also: staying in the present moment.
Benefit #15: True self knowledge
'To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom.', Socrates
With the Alexander Technique, one becomes aware of one's psychophysical habits in reacting to stimuli. By becoming more aware of these habits, one will be able to inhibit these, therefore responding in a new, even unknown way. One becomes aware of one's own way of functioning.
Benefit #16: Becoming one's own expert
With the understanding of the Alexander principles, one will be able to make constructive changes and corrections based on knowledge rather than on trial and error and consciously guide one's actions.
Benefit #17: Learning how to stop
This is so beneficial! It is the absolute basis, groundwork, cornerstone of the technique. Once you know how to stop, you can do anything.
We often are conditioned to go on and on, doing more and more. It never enough and goes on and on and on. Saying NO gives the ability to come back to where you are at the moment, staying calm within yourself and making conscious decisions.
Read also: Ein Schnellkurs in Inhibition
Benefit #18: Clarity of the mind
Get rid of all the distractions, noises in body and mind and see how still, clear, aware your thinking becomes. When the body is well organized , the mind becomes organized as well. It is a delicious feeling of connectedness. It is a feeling of stillness and clarity throughout the whole body and mind.
Benefit #19: Authenticity in interpretation
By shedding mannerisms, wannabe's, pretentions and imitations as well as false beliefs and prejudices in music making, true authentic interpretation, (which arises absolutely in the moment) can take place.
Benefit #20: Lightness and freedom.
Have you ever observed children, when they move with a groundedness, yet lightness, ease and freedom? That's exactly what is meant.
That being said, the Alexander Technique offers the best practice for musicians. The effects are profound and far reaching. The "Alexander -principles" become an integrated part of everyday's living.
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