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Alexander Technique

Discussion in 'Off Topic [DB]' started by myrick, Oct 28, 2002.

  1. anyone ever done it ? Did it help with any bass-related physical compaints? Did it help your playing ? How long did it take for results ?

    For those who don't know what this is, I am no expert, just considering trying it. A search on the net will turn up plenty of articles and websites, but most commentators seem to agree that to understand what it really is and how it works, it is better to experience it firsthand than to read or listen to an explanation. In short, its a kind of posture adjustment and movement and body awareness training.

    Anyway, I've found a certified instructor near me, and am curious to hear of other bass players experiences.
  2. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    I can't recommend it highly enough. I'm thinking about looking into what it would take to get myself trained and certified as a teacher.

    Also, I'm not an easy sell.

    If you want to buzz me on the phone some time, feel free. I don't have to energy/patience to give my full schpiel via type, but I'd be happy to talk to you about it. You can find my contact info at my web site...
  3. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon In Memoriam

    Dec 11, 1999
    Princeton Junction, NJ
    Quite literally, Alexander Technique has changed my life.
    I am about to begin training to be certified as an AT teacher.
    It's true, articulating the AT experience is almost impossible, like trying to explain the color red to someone who can't see.
    The word "posture" is rarely used, since it connotes fixity. AT is fluid and dynamic. It is not an exercise, it is not a therapy. It does not address specific symptoms. I am engaged in a project to bring AT into a large children's social welfare agency that I work with. The clinical psychologists and educators (all PhD's) instantly recognized Alexander Technique as an educational process. It happens to have ancillary physically therapeutic benefits. AT is well known in the performing arts, i.e., in NYC. Most people come to AT with physical problems, and in the course of things (6months, a year) find that it has changed their thinking processes. It has been one of the most profound experiences of my 66 year life.

    There's more, but I might have to write a book and post it to say it in more detail. And I am not about to justify its principles or enter into a debate with any exponent of any other discipline.

    As with Ray, if there's personal interest, e-mail me and we can talk on the phone.
  4. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I went to weekly classes that were run at a local alternative therapy centre in my town - the teachers had direct links to Alexander himself.

    I went because I had back problems and it did really help with this - I'm not sure if it helped with bass playing though - but this is made more difficult if you have back pain! ;)

    It also gave me a great sense of well-being and relaxation - which is probably a good thing for certain types of music - like acoustic Jazz, where you want to be focused but relaxed to be able to put your best into it.

    Not sure it would help with something like Death Metal though! ;)
  5. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    If you play Death Metal, you're beyond help anyway :D j/k
  6. Thanks Bruce, Don, and Ray. Comments like these coming from three guys I've come to respect on this site means alot.

    As it happens, before getting back to TBass and reading your posts, yesterday I received from Amazon a book on AT for musicians called Indirect Procedures, written by a cellist/AT instructor. Based on what I have read previously on AT on the net I appreciate, Don, your remark that its like explaining colour to a blind person. That said, though I still don't completely "get it" exactly myself, the first few chapters of this book have taken me a long way to seeing what AT is about - though I've no doubt one must only expenriance it firsthand.

    So, off I go, I guess. Also had a meeting with the instructor and my first (introductory) session yesterday, and it was "interesting". Clearly this will take a real investment of time. So, if I may, back to one of my initial questions: based on your experiences, how long (and how intensely) were you studying this before it begins to affect you meaningfully ?

  7. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    After the second lesson, things were different, but indefinite. After the fourth lesson things were drastic, and I also ran out of cash. Been working on it myself since and will be visiting my teacher when the cash flow allows.

    Before I started, a two to four hour playing event necesitated a couple of days away from the bass. Now I play 10-12 hour days (real playing time) regularly with no problems.
  8. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon In Memoriam

    Dec 11, 1999
    Princeton Junction, NJ
    Indirect Procedures is one of the best books available, but it points to the major problem with reading about the Alexander Technique. Imagine never having seen anyone playing golf, then buying a book written by Tiger Woods identifying and explaining every aspect of how to play, then reading the book 3 or 4 times. What would you expect to happen the first time you went out to play? The point being that no matter how articulate DeAlcantara is, until you are having lessons, you cannot appreciate more than 10 % of what he's saying. Even with a year of lessons under my belt, I stopped after the chapter on breathing, because I have not yet experienced his techniques for arm and hand, lunge, chair, etc.

    Another thing about reading about AT is that as your experience grows, yet get more and deeper insights re-reading the same material 6 months later, and again a year later. With years under her belt, my first teacher insists that she continues to learn with every lesson she gives, regardless of the level of the student. I am now starting with a teacher who studied with DeAlcantara's teacher. She is one of those in in NYC who existing teachers go to for retraining. And she insists that she is still learning.

    Another excellent intro book is Body Learning, by Michael Gelb. I noted one snide review in the Amazon listing for the book, but it was written by an ignoramus who simply can't understand what I say above, and whose response to his own ignorance is to accuse the AT community of some sort of elitism. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    Getting to your specific question, the time required for results varies with what you're looking for and what kind of bad habits you're trying to undo. And that's just for the physical results. What happened in my case was that after 6 months, my thinking process started to change. Remember, AT is psycho-physical. It is not a treatment or a physical therapy; it is education. How much education is "enough"?

    Final note: On page 280, DeAlcantara notes that the defining mark of a good teacher is that your thinking changes, to which I say AMEN.

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