How can the Alexander Technique help singers?


I get this question all of the time in my teaching.  Singers have heard about the Alexander Technique, because it has been recommended to them by their voice teachers or they read a mention of it online as a supportive adjunct to singing.  They get a vague impression that it would be helpful to them in some way, but they are not exactly sure how.  They know that taking regular, high-quality voice lessons is the most crucial step towards a professional career and that they need to be able to invest in that.  Taking Alexander Technique lessons as well will reduce the amount of money available for voice lessons.  So, studying the Alexander Technique becomes a later goal for when the singer has more money, more time, the stars magically align, all is well with the world, etc., and the singer never ends up taking a lesson at all.

The huge benefits that the Alexander Technique offers singers are not really understood, because there is not enough clear information available explaining those benefits in language that singers can relate to and understand.  Much of the information is in the specific jargon of the Alexander Technique, with vague terms like proprioceptive sense, doing, non-doing, primary control, inhibition, forward-and-up, direction, blah-blah, etc.  Unless these terms have not only been defined for you, but you have also had a physical experience you can relate to them, they are very foreign and can seem daunting and unhelpful to a singer.  Therefore, it is not surprising that singers are not willing to sacrifice to take a series of Alexander lessons, when its tremendous, positive effect on the body, the singing mechanism and the learning process for singing has never been clearly laid out for them.

No one is really at fault that there is not enough information about the Technique written from a singer’s perspective.  The Alexander Technique is like the proverbial elephant surrounded by five blind men.  Each man touches a different part and thinks that part is representative of the whole – the tail, the trunk, the leg, the tusk and the body – when the whole is actually extremely diverse and complex.  The Technique, amazingly enough, can have profound effects on our nervous system, muscles, coordination, habits, breathing, balance, our conscious and unconscious mind, how our bodies feel, as well as our thinking, emotions and learning ability, just to cover a few.  With such a wealth of dramatic effects, it is no wonder that it has been hard for writers to show enough restraint to stick only to one, small corner of the Techniques’ effects and not be tempted by the siren call of touting more of what it has to offer.

In a series of articles, I will take up the mantle and use singer’s language to explain what the Alexander Technique has to offer singers.  In particular, I will write about the Technique from the perspective of the Swedish-Italian School of singing, which focuses on encouraging correct, physical functioning of the vocal mechanism as a way of vastly improving vocal technique and tone-quality.  As both a certified teacher of the Alexander Technique and an accomplished singer and voice teacher, I have a foot firmly in both worlds.  I myself have benefited greatly from having Alexander Technique tools at my disposal as a singer and I looking forward to sharing with you specifics on exactly how the Technique can help you as a singer in multitudinous, crucial ways.


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