Musicians & Alexander Technique: Introductory Workshop

Alexander Technique for Musicians:
An Introductory Workshop with Bradley Newman

Bradley was a full time, professional pianist in the 1990s until RSI forced him to stop playing. After studying the Alexander Technique, he returned to playing professionally. He is also a qualified Alexander Technique teacher and for the last 17 years has helped many musicians recover from injury, as well as learn to play more comfortably and more effectively.

Date:   Sunday, March 25th
Time:   2pm - 4pm
Cost:   $50 ($40 for students)
Venue:   The Flute Tree
                 1/111 Moore St, Leichhardt

Does your wrist feel tight when playing flute, or your neck hurt playing the violin? Does sitting at the piano leads to arm, shoulder or back pain? Are you comfortable at your instrument but keen to avoid developing similar problems which affect so many musicians?

The Alexander Technique may be for you.

We slowly acquire habits when playing our instrument such as our stance, how we hold our instrument, embouchure, bowing, pedalling and breathing. These habits may not be helping us play at our best and could be well be gradually injuring us, one practice session at a time. Many musicians suffer from playing-related problems, such as back, neck and shoulder pain; RSI; jaw pain; finger and arm pain; and tension throughout the body. So looking at your habits when playing your instrument should be a fundamental part of your playing, amd the Alexander Technique gives you a meaningful and reliable way to do this.

The workshop

After a brief introduction explaining the basics of the technique, we will look at how most people play with unnecessary tension, interfering with their body's ability to be as free as possible. Usually, they are either unaware of this, or unable to let go of it despite their best wishes to do so. With a gentle hands-on demonstration, you will learn to hold and move your body more efficiently when playing. Hopefully, you'll leave having had an experience of playing with more ease and poise. You'll know that it's possible to play in an easier, calmer and lighter way, and you'll have learnt how to start developing this for yourself.

Some examples

The pianist who has been sitting slightly slumped for many years will slowly grow into a posture that reflects this habit. This may lead to lower back pain, shoulder pain, or neck pain.
The wind player who has gradually developed a habit of overtensing their arms to support their instrument may eventually get arm and shoulder pain, and possibly neck and upper back pain. Again, this is due to the posture they have slowly grown into over many years.
The flute player may develop neck and jaw pain from unnecessary tension when trying to produce the best sound possible.

Alexander Technique and the ease of playing

The Alexander Technique teaches people to hold and move their bodies as efficiently as possible. For musicians, this means they are free to express themselves through their instrument as thoroughly as possible. Any habitual tension will restrict their ability to play their instrument freely, and this will be heard in their playing. Removing this allows for a freer and more enjoyable experience when playing, whether at the Opera House, the community hall or the lounge room.

Bradley Newman is a professional pianist and Alexander Technique teacher of fifteen years experience. In that time he has taught many musicians to play with greater ease and freedom.