Alexander Technique

The Alexander Technique for Musicians

Musicians execute some of the most complex and demanding physical movements of any profession as they have to face the challenge of performing the same complex muscular actions over and over again.
The Alexander Technique has a long history of helping people develop the subtle coordination of thought and physical action required to monitor and alter harmful patterns of posture and movement.
By helping instrumentalists and singers improve the quality of the physical movements involved in playing an instrument or singing, the Alexander Technique helps musicians to perform with less stress and likelihood of injury. It also helps to improve the quality of the music itself. A violinist's stiff shoulders and arms will impede the production of a pleasing sound; a singer's tight neck or jaw will cause the voice to become less resonant. It is also crucial to allow breathing to be deep and free, especially during activities that we find demanding. 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 highly acclaimed musicians have publicly endorsed the Alexander Technique, among others, Renée Fleming, Yehudi Menuhin, Paul McCartney, Sting, Julian Bream, Shmuel Ashkenasi, and the conductor David Zinman.

What about learning the Alexander Technique?

The Alexander Teacher uses verbal explanations and a guiding touch to help students rediscover balance, ease, and flexibility within themselves. To facilitate this process, the teacher will start by working with natural, basic everyday movements, allowing the effect to carry over into other activities like playing an instrument or singing.
Learning the Alexander Technique involves changing longstanding habits; improvement thus relies in part on the student’s active participation. Alexander teachers work similarly to coaches, offering constant guidance and appraisal. Consequently, problems often begin to resolve themselves, simply because they are no longer unconsciously caused by unnecessary effort.
More specifically, Alexander teachers will help musicians learn how to keep their head and neck free in relation to their back and the rest of their body while performing any kind of activity.

F.M. Alexander (1869-1955)

F.M. Alexander was an Australian actor who began to experience chronic laryngitis whenever he performed. When his doctors could not help him, Alexander discovered a solution on his own. He had not been aware that excess tension in his neck and body were causing his problems, and so began to discover new ways of speaking and moving with greater ease.
His health improved to such an extent that his friends and several of the doctors he had consulted earlier persuaded him to teach others what he had learned. Over a career spanning more than fifty years, he refined his method of instruction. After teaching for over 35 years, he began to train teachers in what has now become known as the Alexander Technique.

Short profile

Sylvia Baumann is a psychosocial consultant, coach, and Alexander Technique teacher in private practice. Previously, she worked as an Alexander Technique teacher at Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK) from 1986 to 2010, and taught courses in various organisations. She studied modern flute at  Zurich College of Music and at Freiburg im Breisgau College of Music; she also plays the Baroque flute. As an experienced concert musician and music teacher, she is able to lend musicians the necessary support required to enhance their well-being and performance. She is a member of the Swiss Society for Music Medicine SMM, the Swiss Association for Counseling SGfB, the Swiss Society for Alexander Technique SVLAT and the Swiss Association for Music Education SMPV.