Author Archives: Laura Medisky

Alexander Technique: A Simple Direction Can Free the Body and Mind from Tension

  Many musicians have heard of or had some exposure to Alexander Technique through workshops, group classes, or perhaps private lessons. It is often thought that it is about posture training or relaxation, and while those may improve with Alexander work, the Technique is far more complex than that. The Alexander Technique is an educational method that teaches students how to change faulty patterns of body use, enabling improved mobility, posture, performance and alertness. This can relieve chronic stiffness, tension and stress as the student develops an awareness of the body as a whole, an understanding the mind-body connection, and becomes conscious of habits that may cause problems or pain. As a freshman music major I experienced tendonitis in my right arm, and I adopted the faulty strategy to ignore the pain and “power through,” assuming it would eventually subside. That plan failed, and within months the pain escalated into severe tendonitis and bursitis that developed into debilitating pain, making it difficult to function in routine daily activities. I underwent the standard treatment of PT/OT, anti-inflammatories, and frequent practice breaks. This was ineffective, and by my fourth semester as a music major I had no choice but to stop playing oboe. To my surprise, removing the oboe did nothing to change my condition. Simple daily tasks were still a challenge; while I took notes, extreme pain would radiate through my entire arm and into my shoulder, neck, and back. It became clear that I would also have to quit school, and at the suggestion of several people I decided to try the Alexander Technique. In my first AT lesson, I did not understand anything my teacher did, but I left with a sense of physical lightness that was new and welcome. As I learned more about the Alexander principles, I found that the Technique offered a way to be in control of my body, instead of being a victim of it. I soon joined an Alexander Technique training course and learned that the oboe was never the problem, but a general and habitual misuse of my body led to my state of chronic pain. During the three year training course I took a hiatus from college and from playing the oboe. When I finally returned to the oboe with a newly developed sense of awareness, I discovered that all of my damaging playing habits were still there. The oboe was … Continue reading

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