Alexander Technique for Performing Artists
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.
Learn more about Alexander Technique for Musicians. Read “Awareness, Freedom & Muscular Control” by Frank Pierce Jones.
Here’s what performing artists have to say about learning the Alexander Technique with Sherry Berjeron.
Singing with Ease
“Since I began weekly sessions learning Alexander Technique, my quality of life has improved dramatically. I no longer experience the chronic back and neck pain that had become very troublesome over the past year! I sleep better and have more energy in my daily routine. As a professional opera singer, I have learned a great deal from Sherry about bad habits in breathing and phonating that caused me chronic tension and pain. Not only do I sing with ease now, I have more resonance and greater dramatic presence in my performing!
Thank you Sherry!!”
—Dr. Robin Fisher, CSU Sacramento Department of Music
Enabling an Easy Legato
“As a singer, it is extremely important to have as little tension as possible. When I first came to the Pacific Institute for the Alexander Technique, I was having difficulties sustaining a smooth/continuous legato and my middle body would shake from the tension while singing dynamics over mf. With the help of Sherry, I was able to relieve the tensions that my body was used to and doing so enabled the legato line I had been working for to come out with such ease that it did not even feel like I was singing. All of the sudden, singing became a process where the sound is not created, but allowed to come out through the release of various muscles and joints in the body. Not only was it easier, but my sound both matured and increased in volume thanks to their tutelage.”
—Eugene Chan, lyric baritone
Physical Freedom Is Only the Beginning
“As a choir director and singer, I began studying Alexander Technique to gain freedom of the body. What I’m discovering is that physical freedom is only the beginning. Alexander is changing the way I approach studying, teaching, and creating music. Rather than ‘doing’ music, I am letting the music happen and moving in sync with it. I look forward to many enriching and rewarding experiences in the years to come—for both myself and my choir members.”
—Keven Smith, Choir Director
Everything Becomes a Dance
I have tried so many different self improvement techniques in my life. Alexander is by far the single best thing I have done for myself. I spent most of my life not being in my body and now since working with Sherry, I now understand the joy of being in my body and every little move I make is enjoyableTalk about life enhancing–even turning on a faucet can be fun. Everything becomes a dance.
—Rabbi Shula Calmann, ice skater, therapist, artist