COMPANION

Music

Books

  • Indirect Procedures by Pedro de Alcantara.[1]
  • What Every Musician Needs to Know about the Body – The Practical Application of Body Mapping and the Alexander Technique to Making Music by Barbara Conable.[2]
  • Mind, Muscle and Music by Elizabeth Langford.[3]
  • Integrated Practice by Pedro de Alcantara.[4]
  • The Alexander Technique for Musicians by Judith Kleinman and Peter Buckoke.[5]

Articles

  • ‘Posture, tension and technique’ by Niso Ticciati; an introductory to the Technique which was first published in 1953 by the Re-education Centre (Isobel Cripps centre) as Niso Ticciati at that point was a pupil of Charles Neil and/or Eric de Peyer.[6]
  • ‘The organization of awareness’ by Frank Pierce Jones argues that the Alexander Technique is a method for organising awareness so that a performance can be well-learned without becoming stereotyped.[7]
  • ‘Awareness, freedom and muscular control’ by Frank Pierce Jones discusses a typical case of misdirected energy where a musician develops over-relaxed hands and arms at the expense of excessive tension around the spine.[8]
  • ‘Working with musicians’ by Vivien Mackie; making some observations on teaching the Technique to performers, on helping performers beyond ‘posture-as-such’.[9]
  • ‘Playing in a symphony’ by Evangeline Benedetti; the author has been a member of the New York Philharmonic cello section since 1967, qualifying as a teacher of the Technique in 1991, and reports of her experiences.[10]
  • ‘How to play Beethoven’ by Mark McGee; on discovering that his desire to shape music according to his own beliefs about the music amounted to an interference which produced forced and unnatural playing.[11]
  • ‘Conceptions and misconceptions’ by Nelly Ben-Or; on what to realistically expect – and not expect – for a musician from the Technique.[12]
  • ‘The relevance of the Alexander Technique for musicians under stress’ by Debrah de Graaff; a professional clarinet player discusses her experiences of playing with less tension.[13]
  • ‘Surprises in the music class’ by Vivien Mackie discusses working with singers, and the ‘holding habit’ in musicians.[14]
  • ‘The value of the Alexander Technique’ by Patrick Maddams; the Managing Director of the Royal Academy of Music on the importance of the Alexander Technique for musicians.[15]
  • ‘Working to principle’ by Pedro de Alcantara; on the importance of praticising with one’s whole body.[16]
  • ‘Some thoughts on practicing’ by Alex Farkas; on transferring what is learned in the Alexander Technique lesson to the student’s practice session.[17]
  • ‘A warm up for musicians’ by Ilana Machover presents some basic ideas behind her constructive warm-up for musicians.[18]
  • ‘Thoughts on musicians and the Alexander Technique’ by Elizabeth Langford on her experiences of teaching musicians.[19]
  • ‘“An open and shut case”’ by Alun Thomas stresses the importance of the quality of preparation for playing from a musician’s perspective.[20]
  • ‘Anti-technique – Can we learn without exercises, or how can we approach technique using F. M. Alexander’s principles?’ by Alex Farkas, with additional report by Cat Jary, challenges the assumptions that exercises are necessary for the physical means to perform adequately, and the task is something to endure.[21]
  • ‘The use of mime in instrumental learning and teaching with reference to the work of Kato Havas’ by Janet Pinder-Emery explores ideas taken from the teaching of Kato Havas, author of A New Approach to Violin Playing, using mime.[22]
  • ‘Inspiring musical performance’ by Ethan Kind discusses five aspects of playing: Alexander Technique posture, trusting yourself, troubleshooting, breathing, and playing as a gift.[23]
  • ‘A workshop for and about musicians’ by Evangeline Benedetti; on hearing the music you want to play as an aural image (pre-hearing), and on using the squat-sit as a preparation for sitting.[24]
  • ‘Reflective practice, the Alexander Technique and technology’ by Judith Kleinman; on the use of a Performance Simulator (which provides a virtual audience) in the Centre for Peforming Science department at the Royal College of Music.[25]
  • ‘Confident creativity’ by Corinne Cassini describes four of the practices the author offers in her classes for musicians, e.g. identifying thought and belief patterns which get in the way of performing well.[26]
  • ‘The note is the stimulus’ by Evangeline Benedetti melds the AT into instrumental technique by using the note being played as the stimulus to direct good use as well as the correct rhythm, pitch, inflection, etc.[27]
  • ‘Musical performance enhancement’ by Aingeala De Búrca on how the Technique can improve musical performance, especially by using less effort, stopping what is preventing a musician from performing to the fullest of his/her abilities.[28]
  • ‘Tuning the performing self’ by Dorothea Magonet reports on a workshop in which she presented some activities with arms and shoulders based on her experience of teaching the AT at the Royal Academy of Music for more than 30 years.[29]
  • ‘Teaching and learning music: An Alexander perspective – Part one,[30] Part two[31]’ by Alexander Farkas and Marcell Kaemmerer is a dialogue of two AT teachers’ experiences with teaching musicians the AT.

Autobiographical case history

  • ‘Mastering a process can help musicians learn the Alexander Technique’ by Lorin Chisholm.[32]

Research

‘Minding the Body: An interdisciplinary theory of optimal posture for musicians’ by Ann Shoebridge, et al.

Based on interviews this study develops an interdisciplinary theory of posture to support musicians’ health and performance. Interviewed were four heads of university instrumental departments, three university physiotherapy lecturers and three heads of Alexander Technique teacher training schools. All participants defined optimal posture as efficient coordination enabling the best possible performance with the greatest efficiency. The overarching theory arising from the interviews is called ‘Minding the Body’ to indicate the inseparable nature of the mind and body, as well as the importance of taking care of the body. ‘Minding the Body’ comprises five processes: Maintaining ease, suggesting effortlessness and biomechanical efficiency; Finding balance, describing the continual rebalancing that occurs between the musician, the music, the instrument, and the playing environment;habits and the strategies used to overcome them; Expanding the framework, expressing the physical expansiveness associated with effortlessly balanced coordination and the mental openness needed to constantly develop one’s own playing; Barriers to change, describing impediments to musicians playing with optimal posture and suggesting that overcoming these provides a way forward.[33]

‘Alexander Technique classes improve pain and performance factors in tertiary music students’ by Janet Davies

23 volunteer music performance students at Sydney Conservatorium, University of Sydney undertook weekly Alexander Technique classes for one semester using a curriculum specifically designed for music students. The responses showed that the majority of participants rated AT classes as beneficial for all factors, particularly reduction of playing-related pain, posture, ability to release excess muscle tension, improvements in instrumental technique, and improvements in performance level. Benefits to practice effectiveness and a reduction in non-playing-related pain, stress levels and performance anxiety were also reported.[34]

‘The use of conscious inhibition in the work of a performing artist’ by Maret Mursa Tormis

A study in which three musicians and three actors were tested three times over a period of two years (2006–08), before and after 20 Alexander Technique lessons, and then after a further period of six months. Both qualitative and quantitative methods were used to measure changes, and all measurements showed an improvement in performance.[35]

‘Tension release in piano playing: Teaching Alexander Technique to undergraduate piano majors’ by Loo Fung Ying, et al.

Fifteen volunteer piano major undergraduate students were selected participants after a pretest score identified problems of tension. The participants identified tension in certain areas (fingers, hands, arms, wrists, shoulders, back, legs, and neck) before and after Alexander Technique training in a group class where each session lasted three hour, once per week over fourteen weeks. A one-to-one session of ten minutes was given to each participant while others observed. After a fourteen-week intervention of the Alexander Technique, the outcome reveals a positive effect in reducing tension in pianist.[36]

‘The Alexander Technique and musicians: A systematic review of controlled trials’ by Sabine D. Klein, et al.

12 studies were included for further analysis, 5 of which were randomised controlled trials (RCTs), 5 controlled but not randomised (CTs), and 2 mixed methods studies. Main outcome measures in RCTs and CTs were music performance, respiratory function, performance anxiety, body use and posture. Music performance was judged by external experts and found to be improved by AT in 1 of 3 RCTs; in 1 RCT comparing neurofeedback (NF) to AT, only NF caused improvements. Respiratory function was investigated in 2 RCTs, but not improved by AT training. Performance anxiety was mostly assessed by questionnaires and decreased by AT in 2 of 2 RCTs and in 2 of 2 CTs. Conclusions: A variety of outcome measures has been used to investigate the effectiveness of AT sessions in musicians. Evidence from RCTs and CTs suggests that AT sessions may improve performance anxiety in musicians. Effects on music performance, respiratory function and posture yet remain inconclusive.[37]

‘Effect of the Alexander Technique on muscle activation, movement kinematics, and performance quality in collegiate violinists and violists: A pilot feasibility study’ by R. C. Wolf, et al.

This pilot feasibility study was designed to determine if muscle activation, movement kinematics, musical performance, and qualitative self-assessment over the course of a 10- week Alexander Technique (AT) intervention are viable means to assess the efficacy of AT in violinists/ violists. Two groups of collegiate violinists and violists participated: Group A (n=4) participated in weekly 1-hour group AT lessons and kept a personal journal of their progress. Group B (n=3) received no AT lessons. Pre- and post tests included muscle activation recorded using electromyography (EMG) and movement kinematics recorded via motion tracking as musicians played a scale and a Kreutzer étude. Performance was also video-recorded and evaluated by an expert for quality and kinesthetic awareness. The results suggest that the measures and intervention employed could, with some adaptation, be a viable means of determining the potential benefits of AT training.[38]

‘The effect of lessons in the Alexander Technique on music performance in high and low stress situations’ by Elizabeth R. Valentine, et al.

25 music students were randomly assigned either to an experimental group who received a course of 15 lessons in the Alexander Technique, or to a control. A variety of measures were taken on four occasions: in both high and low stress situations before and after treatment. The experimental group showed improvement relative to the control on the following measures: overall music and technical quality as judged by independent experts blind to subjects’ condition assignment, heart rate variance, self-rated anxiety and positive attitude to performance. However, with the exception of heart rate variance, these effects were restricted to performance in the low stress class situations. There were no significant effects on height, peak flow or misuse as judged on the basis of video recordings of behaviour by independent experts in the Alexander Technique.[39]

‘Postural homeostasis’ by Wilfred Barlow

A study with 50 students from a ‘London Voice and Drama College’ who had an average 37 half-hour lessons in the Alexander Technique over a period of 2–3 months. Progress was assessed on 20 subjects by means of Sheldon photography from which it was concluded that ‘marked differences occurred in the subjects without employing physical exercises’. In addition the two professors in charge of the students at the College prepared a progress report where they stated: 1. in all subjects there was a marked physical improvement, which was usually reflected vocally and dramatically; 2. all subjects became easier to teach; 3. eight of the subjects entered a singing competition where the total entry was over 100. Six of the eight students reached the semi-final, in which there were 15 semi-finalists.[40]

‘Voice production as a function of head balance in singers’ by F. P. Jones

A single-subject study: a sound spectroscopy (a voice print) was made of a young woman singing, in an ‘habitual’ head-neck position and in an ‘adjusted’ head-neck position. The ‘adjusted’ head-neck position showed an improvement in the richness of the overtones and the almost disappearance of breathing sounds.[41]

‘Alexander Technique gives me space to create musically’ by Gabriella Minnes Brandes

An article containing extracts from and an analysis of interviews with musicians which the author conducted in 2010–12 with 20 musicians who had taken private AT lessons, on how the Technique helped their performance.[42]

See also under individual musical instruments, and String Playing, Stage Fright, Singing.

References

[1] Indirect Procedures by Pedro de Alcantara (Oxford UP, 1997).
[2] What Every Musician Needs to Know about the Body – The Practical Application of Body Mapping and the Alexander Technique to Making Music by Barbara Conable (Andover Road Press, 1998).
[3] Mind, Muscle and Music by Elizabeth Langford (Alexandertechniek Centrum, 2008).
[4] Integrated Practice by Pedro de Alcantara (Oxford University Press, 2011).
[5] The Alexander Technique for Musicians by Judith Kleinman and Peter Buckoke (Bloomsbury Methuen Drama, 2013).
[6] ‘Posture, tension and technique’ by Niso Ticciati in The Alexander Journal no. 17 edited by Francesca Greenoak (STAT, 2001), pp. 26–29.
[7] ‘The organization of awareness’ by Frank Pierce Jones in ‘A technique for musicians’ by Frank Pierce Jones (The Sheildrake Press, 1968), booklet. Also in Freedom to Change [Body Awareness in Action] by Frank Pierce Jones (Mouritz, 1997 [1976]), p. 174–81.
[8] ‘Awareness, freedom and muscular control’ by Frank Pierce Jones in ‘A technique for musicians’ by Frank Pierce Jones (The Sheildrake Press, 1968), booklet. Also in Freedom to Change [Body Awareness in Action] by Frank Pierce Jones (Mouritz, 1997 [1976]), p. 182–86.
[9] ‘Working with musicians’ by Vivien Mackie in The Congress Papers 1988: Towards Unity edited by Jeremy Chance (Direction, 1994), pp. 106–107.
[10] ‘Playing in a symphony’ by Evangeline Benedetti in Direction vol. 1, no. 8 edited by Jeremy Chance (Fyncot Pty Ltd., 1991), pp. 303–05.
[11] ‘How to play Beethoven’ by Mark McGee in Direction vol. 1, no. 8 edited by Jeremy Chance (Fyncot Pty Ltd., 1991), p. 315.
[12] ‘Conceptions and misconceptions’ by Nelly Ben-Or Direction vol. 1, no. 8 edited by Jeremy Chance (Fyncot Pty Ltd., 1991), pp. 323–26.
[13] ‘The relevance of the Alexander Technique for musicians under stress’ by Debrah de Graaff in The Congress Papers 1994, The Meaning of Change, 125 Years On, edited by David Garlick (Direction, 1996), pp. 25–27.
[14] ‘Surprises in the music class’ by Vivien Mackie in The Congress Papers 1994, The Meaning of Change, 125 Years On, edited by David Garlick (Direction, 1996), pp. 28–30.
[15] ‘The value of the Alexander Technique’ by Patrick Maddams in Performing Arts Medicine News vol. 3 no. 2 (BAPAM, September 1995), pp. 18–19.
[16] ‘Working to principle’ by Pedro de Alcantara in The Congress Papers 1996, Back to Basics edited by Shmuel Nelken (Shmuel Nelken, 1999), pp. 115–19.
[17] ‘Some thoughts on practicing’ by Alex Farkas in Papers from the 4th International Music Conference 2000 edited by Peter Buckoke (Peter Buckoke, 2000), pp. 50–52.
[18] ‘A warm up for musicians’ by Ilana Machover in Papers from the 4th International Music Conference 2000 edited by Peter Buckoke (Peter Buckoke, 2000), pp. 20–21.
[19] ‘Thoughts on musicians and the Alexander Technique’ by Elizabeth Langford in The Alexander Journal no. 19 edited by Francesca Greenoak (STAT, 2003), pp. 18–23.
[20] ‘“An open and shut case”’ by Alun Thomas in The Congress Papers 2004, Exploring the Principles edited by Anne Oppenheimer (STATBooks, 2005), pp. 358–63.
[21] ‘Anti-technique – Can we learn without exercises, or how can we approach technique using F. M. Alexander’s principles?’ by Alex Farkas, with an additional report by Cat Jary in Conference Papers – 6th International Conference for Alexander teachers working in Music Institutions edited by Malcolm Williamson (Malcolm Williamson, 2006), pp. 50–51.
[22] ‘The use of mime in instrumental learning and teaching with reference to the work of Kato Havas’ by Janet Pinder-Emery in Conference Papers – 6th International Conference for Alexander teachers working in Music Institutions edited by Malcolm Williamson (Malcolm Williamson, 2006), pp. 7–12.
[23] ‘Inspiring musical performance’ by Ethan Kind in AmSAT News issue no. 76 (Spring 2008), pp. 20–26.
[24] ‘A workshop for and about musicians’ by Evangeline Benedetti in The Congress Papers 2008, From Generation to Generation Vol. 1 edited by Jean M. O. Fischer (STATBooks, 2009), pp. 46–53.
[25] ‘Reflective practice, the Alexander Technique and technology’ by Judith Kleinman in The Alexander Journal no. 27 edited by Paul Marsh and Jamie McDowell (STAT, 2019), pp. 28–32.
[26] ‘Confident creativity’ by Corinne Cassini in Galvanizing Performance by Cathy Madden, Kathleen Juhl (Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2017), pp. 76–96
[27] ‘The note is the stimulus’ by Evangeline Benedetti in The Congress Papers 2018, Advancing Global Perspectives edited by Paul Marsh (STAT Books, 2019), pp. 185–88.
[28] ‘Musical performance enhancement’ by Aingeala De Búrca in The Congress Papers 2018, Advancing Global Perspectives edited by Paul Marsh (STAT Books, 2019), pp. 188–92.
[29] ‘Tuning the performing self’ by Dorothea Magonet in The Congress Papers 2018, Advancing Global Perspectives edited by Paul Marsh (STAT Books, 2019), pp. 205–07.
[30] ‘Teaching and learning music: An Alexander perspective – Part one’ by Alexander Farkas and Marcell Kaemmerer in STATNews vol. 11, no. 3 edited by Jamie McDowell (STAT, September 2021), pp. 34–37.
[31] ‘Teaching and learning music: An Alexander perspective – Part two by Alexander Farkas and Marcell Kaemmerer in in STATNews vol. 11, no. 4 edited by Jamie McDowell (STAT, January 2022), pp. 37–40.
[32] ‘Mastering a process can help musicians learn the Alexander Technique’ by Lorin Chisholm in AmSAT Journal Journal no. 8 (AmSAT, Fall 2015), pp. 11–12.
[33] ‘Minding the Body: An interdisciplinary theory of optimal posture for musicians’ by Ann Shoebridge, Nora Shields, Kate E. Webster in Psychology of Music vol. 45, issue 6 (1 February 2017), pp. 821–838.
[34] ‘Alexander Technique classes improve pain and performance factors in tertiary music students’ by Janet Davies in The Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, vol. 23, issue 2 (April 2019), pp.
[35] ‘The use of conscious inhibition in the work of a performing artist’ by Maret Mursa Tormis in The Alexander Journal no. 25 edited by Paul Marsh and Jamie McDowell (STAT, 2015), pp. 41–50.
[36] ‘Tension release in piano playing: Teaching Alexander Technique to undergraduate piano majors’ by Loo Fung Ying, Gabriel Isaac Evens, Mohd Nasir Hashim, Loo Fung Chiat in Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences vol. 174 (12 February 2015), pp. 2413 – 2417.
[37] ‘The Alexander Technique and musicians: A systematic review of controlled trials’ by Sabine D. Klein, Claudine Bayard and Ursula Wolf in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine vol. 14:414 (October 2014).
[38] ‘Effect of the Alexander Technique on muscle activation, movement kinematics, and performance quality in collegiate violinists and violists: A pilot feasibility study’ by R. C. Wolf, H. P. Thurmer, W. P. Berg, H. E. Cook, L. J. Smart in Medical Problems of Performing Artists, vol. 32, no. 2 (June 2017), pp. 78–84.
[39] ‘The effect of lessons in the AlexanderTechnique on music performance in high and low stress situations’ by Elizabeth R. Valentine, David F. P. Fitzgerald, Tessa L. Gorton, Jennifer A. Hudson, Elizabeth R. C. Symonds in Psychology of Music, vol. 23, no. 2, (October 1995), pp. 129-141.
[40] ‘Postural homeostasis’ by Wilfred Barlow. Paper read at the Annual Meeting of the British Association of Physical Medicine on April 26, 1952. Published in Annals of Physical Medicine vol. 1, no. 3, July 1952. Also in Postural Homeostasis by Wilfred Barlow (Mouritz, 2014), pp. 79–96.
[41] ‘Voice production as a function of head balance in singers’ by F. P. Jones in Journal of Psychology vol. 82, 1972, pp. 209–15. Also in Collected Writings on the Alexander Technique by Frank P. Jones. Edited by Theodore Dimon Jr. (Alexander Technique Archives, Inc., 1998), pp. 343–47.
[42] ‘Alexander Technique gives me space to create musically’ by Gabriella Minnes Brandes in The Congress Papers 2018, Advancing Global Perspectives edited by Paul Marsh (STAT Books, 2019), pp. 192–98.
Taxonomy: