Many musicians experience tension, stress, fatigue, pain and performance anxiety while playing and singing. Over the last centuary many have turned to the Alexander Technique for help.
The Alexander Technique helps musicians to identify mental and physical habits that contribute to their problems, pulling them into unhelpful postural behaviour.
Most musicians think of themselves as well co-ordinated, and they are - for their specific skill. Instrumentalists are highly skilled with their hands and wind players and singers with their breathing. But the very focus on developing these abilities from an early age can mean that a musician can be unaware of their general coordination - how they use their necks, heads, backs, arms and legs in making music, as well as in other areas of life.
This lack of awareness of their whole selves means that poor habits, which Alexander Technique teachers refer to as misuse, creep into their playing behaviour. Because this misuse feels familiar, we assume that how we're doing things is right. By the time that we end up in pain, tension or stress, our sense of what's right is no longer reliable, and changing the habits that cause us the difficulties seems almost impossible.
Alexander Technique teachers are skilled at gently bringing a pupil back to a point of balance and poise, where excessive tension and effort in simple acts are reduced. They teach the pupil how to pause in the face of a range of stimuli, to let go of the need to react in a habitual way, and to send themselves messages to release into an activity, allowing maximal muscle length and minimal noise in the nervous system. This allows for a greater sense of presence and focus, paradoxically making more space and time for the task at hand.