Your mind/body/self is your primary instrument.
Not the violin, not the piano, not the guitar… this is your secondary instrument.
YOU are your primary instrument.
Too bad the mind-body-self doesn’t come with an owner’s manual and private lessons from an expert from the time we are very young!
When we’re little, we learn how to use our mind-body-self through experimentation and by imitating those around us, especially the adults in our lives who are close to us and/or in roles of authority. Unfortunately, many of the adults we imitate as children don’t have much awareness of how to play their primary instruments, either. So we unconsciously pick up plenty of unhelpful habits of thought, posture, and movement from those unwitting teachers.
The Alexander Technique is a way to unlearn those unhelpful patterns of unnecessary tension which limit us, causing us to shrink, shorten our spines, and generally aim our lives down instead of up. AT helps us become more aware of what we’re doing from the inside out, so that we can choose whether to continue on in our habitual unconscious ways, or to stop and re-direct ourselves with awareness of our innate freedom of mind-body-spirit.
It doesn’t do much good to practice playing our secondary instrument while oblivious to how we’re playing our primary instrument. If our neck is tight in general, it will be tight while playing our musical instrument. Learn to live with awareness of a free neck during everyday life, and you will be more aware of it while playing your instrument and everything will work with more ease. Practicing this is worth countless hours of practicing your secondary instrument – I mean it. I’m a violinist and an AT teacher – I know, truly!
Your general and specific coordination during any activity works IMMENSELY better when you’re aware of the freedom of your neck, instead of mindlessly stiffening it in a habitual way. You might be a great pianist even while playing with a stiff neck, but when you become aware of the freedom of your neck (and your head and the rest of your body, too) you enter into the possibility of realizing a vast galaxy of infinite potential for improving the way you play the piano, as well as everything else you do.
Isn’t that an exciting prospect? Much more exciting than remaining stuck in the habitual way you play which is perpetually limited by the tension in your neck. The difference is so huge that you can hardly imagine what this could be like without actually experiencing it.
So take an Alexander Technique lesson or class – have an Art of Freedom session – and you’ll get a glimpse of what I mean. The feeling of freedom that is possible is simply impossible to describe… just as it’s impossible to describe to a blind man what the color red is.
“The way that can be told is not the true way” – Tao Te Ching
Have you ever had an AT lesson? What was your experience? I’d love to hear about it.