What is the Alexander Technique?
The Alexander Technique is an educational method used worldwide for over 100 years. It was developed in the late 19th century by F.M. Alexander. The Alexander Technique is taught with a combination of hands-on guidance and verbal coaching. Studying the Technique increases mobility, posture, performance and alertness and provides relief from chronic stiffness, tension and stress. The Alexander Technique is taught in many of the top performing arts programs in the world, including the Curtis Institute of Music, the Juilliard School, and the Manhattan School of Music, to name a few.
During an Alexander Technique lesson you learn through direct experience how to apply the Technique to playing an instrument, with increasingly less effort and greater ease. Most of us have many habitual patterns, learned consciously or unconsciously. Studying the Alexander Technique helps us unlearn these patterns, inviting the possibility of new choices in posture, movement and reactions.
I frequently work with professional as well as nonprofessional musicians to help alleviate stage fright and performance-related issues, playing- and performing-related injuries and chronic pain, and to improve overall coordination while engaging in their craft.
Opportunities to Study the Alexander Technique
- Private, one-on-one lessons in Brooklyn and in Manhattan
- Group Workshops in Brooklyn and Manhattan
- On-going group lessons in Brooklyn and Manhattan
Who I Work With
Musicians: I frequently work one-on-one with musicians and actors to help alleviate stage fright, playing- and performing-related injuries and chronic pain, and to improve overall coordination and efficiency while engaging in their craft.
I also frequently see individuals and groups to address issues of chronic pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, scoliosis, and mindful eating.
Organizations and Universities: I offer 2 hour, half day, and full day workshops for organizations and universities who would like to learn more about the Alexander Technique. I have worked with orchestras, chamber groups, instrumental studios, and music departments.
Contact me to learn more about private and group lessons in New York City, or to set up a group workshop with your ensemble or organization.
My Personal Experience with the Alexander Technique
I first encountered the Alexander Technique while living in Paris in 2007. At the time I was struggling with crippling stage fright and multiple technical issues with my playing. My cello teacher at the time took one look at me and was like, you need the Alexander Technique. He gave me a copy of Pedro de Alcantara’s book on the Alexander Technique for musicians, Indirect Procedures. Although I thumbed through the book, I wasn’t particularly interested by its contents at the time. Then in 2009, while preparing for graduate school auditions, I took a few Alexander lessons in Northampton, MA, but once again didn’t really understand what this Alexander Technique thing was suppposed to be about, so I stopped lessons.
And then came the fall of 2012. I was on the cusp of finishing my Master’s degree in cello and feeling paralyzed by anxiety around my playing. I felt like something needed to change or I needed to find a new career path. Luckily, I began playing with Joseph Arnold, a wonderful violinist and an Alexander Technique teacher. I asked Joe for a lesson out of the blue one day. To be honest, I didn’t notice that much of a difference in that first lesson. But then the week after the lesson I noticed that every time I played my cello, I stiffened my legs. The next week after my Alexander lesson, I noticed how I stiffened my neck as I began a Bach Bourée. I began to wonder what other physical habits my body had around playing the cello that I wasn’t aware of. Within a month of regular lessons, I noticed an enormous change in my technical facility on the instrument. Within four months, my stage fright had greatly reduced.
That was six years ago. Back in 2012, I was ready to quit playing because I couldn’t seem to get it together— despite years of training and hard work, my playing didn’t seem to be getting better, and I was in a constant state of fear and anxiety. I am a totally different player today than I was before the Alexander Technique. My performance anxiety is all but gone, I experience way less muscular soreness and tension, my playing is more musical, my practice sessions more efficient, and I have a greater sense of trust in myself as a musician. But perhaps best of all, I enjoy playing so much more, and, as an Alexander Technique teacher myself, am able to help others.