alexander technique...few questions

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by aaguudis, Nov 26, 2002.

  1. aaguudis


    Apr 3, 2001
    I know theres a couple other threads on this in the forum but i have different questions than those.

    1) what kind of problems will this help with? my arms and back are terrible and give me all sorts of problems. ive tried chiropractic and am now trying acupuncture but nothing seems to really help.

    2) if my bass teacher says hold the bass like this, and hold the bow like this and do this and that, would whatever an alexander teacher says override that? should i play the bass (technique-wise) solely as the alexander teacher suggests?

    3) any recommendations for a teacher in portland, OR? theres a few names on the website, wondering if anyone has had and luck.

  2. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Unless you have things malformed, athritic, or broken, the change can be drastic. Chiropractics doesn't fix any problems, but rather the symptoms. AT goes right to the cause of the problems.

    Studying AT and having a full length mirror will answer all of those questions. You teacher may not be far off, but you can take what he says as a general heading --given that he's doing things right -- and go from there.

    No help on this one.
  3. argue this:

    Go to
    Go to link to find certified AmSAT teachers. At least 4 are listed for Portland.

    Alexander Technique principles do not contradict good bass playing technique. International Society of Bassists has done numerous articles on body use completely congruent with AT. I'd sooner doubt the teacher. (I have 16 months of AT study so far.)
  4. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I have had back problems and have also tried Alexander Technique - while I have seen big value in the latter, I don't think it is a solution to back problems in itself.

    I got to see a Harley Street specialist through my work health insurance and he said that the best answer was always "light physiotherapy" - by this he meant "not a chiropracter"!!!

    His view was that this was too violent. I ended up working with a sports physiotherapist for several months and eventually he cured my problems - but this involved my feet. He explained how most people are unbalanced in their feet and this causes twisting in the pelvis when you walk, meaning that your back is always stretched unnaturally.

    The resolution for this stype of problem is usually inserts for shoes or just a visit to a podiatrist.

    Anyway - along explanation, but I just wante dto say that I find Alexander technique deals with general stiffness etc But it can't "cure" every back problem outright on its own and that this should be addressed by specialists in the medical profession.
  5. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    It sounds to me like you didn't really get a handle on AT, Bruce.
  6. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well, I went along to classes for about 8 weeks or so on an introductory programme - but nobody ever sold it to me as a cure for back injuries!

    I think if you have definite back problems then you ought to be seeking the advice of specialists and not hoping that something like this will be able to replace MRI scans and medical advice.
  7. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    If you'll go back and read my original reply, Bruce:

    "Unless you have things malformed, athritic, or broken.."

    I believe I covered what you are suggesting.

    As for my personal experience, I went from having to lay off for a couple of days after 2 or so hours of playing, plus problems sleeping because of the throbbing arm, to playing 10 and 12 hours days with no problem. 2 years of physical therapy, electrodes, on and on from the traditional medical approaches did almost nothing to aleviate my situation.

    By the fourth Alexander lesson I noticed a remarkable change, and I continue now beyond having pain and damage to actually noticing overall improvement not only in the physical aspects of playing, but in my ability to tap into the 'magic' of music from many angles, from charisma to playing well in spite of a bad band, sucking a bad rhythm section into a groove, etc, etc. In short, I'm on the path to what is described in the work 'Effortless Mastery' -- and I can see clearly how I'll get there.

    Beyond playing AT opens up your approach to life in general, sensitising you to things as it has been described to me that Yoga achieves -- after many of years of study.

    Sure. If you have doubt as to how intact your parts are, go get screened and see if anything is broken. Otherwise, AT is one of a few ways that you can fix chronic physical problems, and, as I have hinted at above, go far beyond.

    Now that I gotten that out of my system a bit, the only question that I would like to pose to Bruce is:

    "You couldn't find an AT teacher in The Empire that would come to your house and teach for free?"
  8. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    The teacher who came for the introductory classes at our local alternative therapy centre was very good and all of us in the class of about 5/6 wanted to carry on with her - but she lives a fair way away and she couldn't give us the name of any local teachers.

    She did charge for personal lessons as well - it seemed quite high at the time, but I can't remember any exact figures.
  9. Blues Minefield:
    Group lessons aren't worth much at all. It's virtually impossible to properly experience the Alexander Technique in anything other than an individual lesson. In addition, the mental and emotional changes don't get your conscious attention for about 6 months. Then when they do, the experience is indescribable. It has been profound; it has changed my life forever.
    As I've said elsewhere, I have committed to begin training to be certified as a teacher. I have studied with two teachers who were only one-teacher-removed from Alexander himself. They tell me they never stop learning things.
    If you go to the web site I posted above, and link to International teachers, you'll find one in Brighton.
  10. aaguudis:
    To the extent that your back problems are the result of tensions brought on by bad body use over the course of years, I'd say that Alexander is the only answer, since the whole premise of AT is to learn what you're doing wrong and stop it. As Alexander says, the right thing does itself. In my case, AT has virtually eliminated chiropractors from my life. I was good for 20-25 visits a year. I'll add that my two legs have a difference in length of 3/4", and I was born knock-kneed. Orthotics for the short leg did nothing to reduce the incidence of periodic back and neck pain. AT starts with a fluid relationship of the head and neck, which can be established irrespective of whatever malformation of the spine resulted from the imbalance. My relief from back and neck problems has come in spite of discontinuing use of an orthotic for leg length difference.

    Alexander Technique goes to great length not to promise therapeutic benefits for a couple of reasons, even though invariably people experience physical benefits:

    To avoid classification as an Alternative Form of Medicine (a government concept), so as not to be subject to bureaucratic regulation by people who don't know what the f**k AT is;

    Because AT is a system of learning, the effects of which dwarf the ancillary therapeutic benefits in importance. Because the mind and body are inseparable, Alexander principles that you accept quite naturally for body use also spill over into your thought processes, without you even knowing it's happening. That moment when you realize that they're working is a source of joy.
  11. davizao


    Dec 21, 2002
  12. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    This is interesting.. I only got the DB a few weeks ago, but when I play for more than 1/2 an hour I'll notce my back hurting.

    I also noticed that this was because I was standing sideways on so my left arm was really stretched.. which in turn was because I was looking at the fretboard...

    I found that if I stand with the bass facing away from me, standing up straight and try to maintain a circle from my shoulder to the fretboard I get much less pain and the only aches are through my arm and shoulder - and is more like a 'dont do enough excercise' pain than 'doing this very wrong' pain - if that makes sense?!!

    ...and yes, i will be seeing a teacher in the next month or so, waiting for the expensive xmas period to end - i'm also making an effort to not play it too much before i see a teacher!
  13. Alexander's position is that if something hurts, you're doing something to yourself.
    You should not be trading a big pain for a smaller pain.
    It sounds to me like you are collapsing forward. This, too, is incorrect body use; the back and shouders should be straight across, not bowed. Rather than your arms and back be a circle, you might think of your arms as parentheses with a straight underline between:
  14. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    Well, yes I agree... but dont you think it unrealistic to expect to learn something as physical as a DB without using a few muscles that you wouldnt usually use?
    I mean a bit of arm ache is one thing, back pain that needs professional assistance is another... I'd get sore shoulders and arms digging the garden, but I wouldnt need to see a doctor about it!

    I find it pretty easy to spot when I'm doing something that will hurt me and I stop doing it immeditely - hence my EB have recently made the move to a much higher position and I avoid playing low C as much as possible!

    Yep... that's the one!
  15. Yes. Another reason why the old farts here are always saying 'get a teacher'. The teacher will get you into the proper position, set the endpin, etc. This can't be done by printing words on a page. Right now, you can't distinguish whether a pain is from using heretofore unused muscles, or structural.
  16. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    That is indeed a very good point!
  17. I've made the decision to book in with an AT teacher. I've found one only 5 minutes from my work, and I'm starting in a coupla weeks. I'm very interested Don, in your comments on the mental benefits. I presume you mean your creativity is stimulated? I've read Barry Green's book on your mind getting in it's own way. Is this a similar thing?
  18. No.
    I mean that your thinking process will change. Exactly how, I expect would vary among individuals. And if you go into this with particular expectations of what form, and with expectations that you'll know exactly when, as with a light going on, I guarantee you it won't happen. That will only interfere with the whole point of the Technique. The work and its effects are subtle. I realized the mental changes retrospectively

    Alexander said something similar, but I have not read Green's book, and without knowing the context, I can't and won't say.

    You are starting a process of re-education. I recommend that you just turn yourself over to the teacher and stay open. Bring all your questions to him/her. For starters, you could print out this entire thread.
    It's simple, but not easy. If you come to it with commitment, the benefits can be enormous.