Musicians and the Alexander Technique
“Some fingers (no doubt because of too much writing and playing in earlier years) have become quite weak, so that I can hardly use them.”—from the 1839 biographical notes of Robert Schumann, pianist and composer
In 1988, the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians surveyed orchestral musicians and found from the 2,212 respondents that 76 percent had a significant medical problem that affected their ability to play.
The Alexander Technique has a long history of helping instrumentalists and singers to perform with less stress and likelihood of injury. Musicians do some of the most complex and demanding physical movements of any profession. In recent years, the term Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) has come into popular use, but musicians have always had to face the challenge of performing the same complex muscular actions over and over again.
By helping musicians improve the quality of the physical movements involved in playing an instrument or singing, the Alexander Technique also helps improve the quality of the music itself. A violinist's stiff shoulders and arms will get in the way of a pleasing sound; a singer's tight neck or jaw will cause the voice to become less resonant. By helping musicians release undue tension in their bodies, the Alexander Technique makes possible a performance which is more fluid and lively, less tense and rigid.
Over the years, a number of prominent musicians have publicly endorsed the Alexander Technique: Yehudi Menuhin, Paul McCartney, Sting, Julian Bream, James Galway, and the conductor Sir Adrian Boult, to name but a few.
The Technique is taught at the Juilliard School in New York, The Royal College of Music in London, The Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, The San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and at many other schools of music, universities and colleges.