An inspiring path to challenge music performance anxiety

The Alexander Technique has long been recognized by musicians as a practical and thoughtful way to prevent and heal repetitive strain injuries caused by undue tensions. However, the indirect but powerful benefit of A.T. practice is the ability to address issues pertaining to performance anxiety. This key aspect of the practice has also kept musicians coming back!

The Alexander Technique is an inspired and grounded way to approach performance by orienting your practice and performance experience in the here and now, where everything is known, and can be dynamically explored, modified, enjoyed and shared…not feared.

Break the pain cycle while freeing your creative expression

Eric

Many factors in a musician’s life contribute to feeding the cycle of fatigue, pain, chronic pain, compensations, injury and the struggles to regain one’s previous ability to enjoy practising, playing and performing.

A.T. teachers, Francis and brigitte are concerned with you, the primary instrument through which your audience gets to experience the beauty of music in a way that only you can express it. They can help you build up a better, more coordinated response to playing because they understand the process involved in unlearning faulty habits and acquiring a way of doing/playing that not only respects the way the body works but how the body-mind integrates in movement.

Emma

How will learning to improve sitting, standing, walking, using my arms with a better head neck back relationship help me improve my playing?

  • Your daily activities influence your musical life. They also are inextricably tied to your stamina and ability to play comfortably.
  • Although an A.T. teacher will help you find your way around your instrument with A.T. principles, you can’t just skip ahead to doing things “right” at your instrument, because, as F.M. Alexander pointed out, your idea of right may be the very thing causing you pain.
  • The misuses that are interfering with your musical technique are usually too full of the anxieties that have been built up throughout the many years of learning to make music. Starting with the simple activities that govern your day and learning how to initiate them in a more coordinated way will indirectly improve your playing and become your practice ground.

Taking into consideration that an individual learns and discovers at their own pace, there are some observable changes one could reasonably expect within the first ten lessons from a student who practises. These changes may translate immediately into better playing or may take longer depending on the injury or the student’s willingness to let go of the habits acquired with undue tension.

Musician suffering from serious or long-standing injuries would benefit from the daily A.T. attention provided within a teacher training course by either joining the training course, coming in regularly as a guest student, or considering the professional development option.

Testimonials

As is quite typical, I first came to discover the Alexander Technique as an undergraduate musician with overuse injuries. However, the story I wish to share is far more intriguing.

During my Masters degree, instead of spending the summer at a music festival or program, as most students do, I decided to spend the summer studying Alexander Technique and apply it to my viola playing. I had two A.T. lessons per week – one just on A.T., one with the viola. I then practised with the viola what I had learned in my A.T. lessons, rather than practising viola technique or repertoire. It was a lot of fun as well as restful and rejuvenating.

The first week of classes in the fall, I had a placement exam for the school orchestra (typical of all music programs). When I finished the audition, everyone on the panel congratulated me for my marked improvement over the summer and asked where and with whom I had been studying. Imagine their surprise when I told them I hadn’t had a single viola lesson, or ensemble rehearsal all summer, but had spent the summer studying A.T. with brigitte. I eventually joined her teacher training program and am now a certified A.T. teacher.

Erin Macdonald, violist

Thank you, brigitte and Francis for your interest and contribution to the studies conducted for my dissertation, Posture During Piano Performance: Variability and Postural Changes Following Training in the Alexander Technique. I received positive feedback from the participants. They highly enjoyed taking lessons in the Alexander Technique and the general consensus was that the Alexander Technique was useful to them and that it could be employed in piano performance. brigitte, thank you for dedicating a lot of your time to teaching lessons, recruiting teachers to volunteer their own time, and making sure each pianist was well taken care of. This study would not have been possible without your efforts. Francis, I thoroughly enjoyed and greatly appreciated your lessons in the course of preparing for the studies. Thank you!

Grace K. Wong PhD, MA, GDip, BMus(Ed), ARCT

My time in the Ottawa School of Alexander Technique with brigitte was one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. The learning curve seemed so steep at first, but brigitte equipped me each day with the skills to handle not only Alexander Technique, but to face my own learning process as well.

The learning was holistic and exhausting, but incredibly powerful at the same time. I continue to grow (figuratively and literally) from what I learned under brigitte’s hands.

If you are even a little but curious about what teacher training might be like for Alexander technique, I recommend you visit the school. It is an amazing learning environment – completely different than anything I had experienced in all my years in music conservatories and universities. I feel like I could learn anything if it was taught in this atmosphere.

Krystal, clarinetist, A.T. teacher training graduate

I came to Brigitte’s school on a hunt. I wasn’t sure what it was I was looking for but as soon as we met I knew Brigitte and Francis were the people who could help clarify my then ambiguous path.

Throughout my Alexander Technique training b and Francis showed up every day with boundless energy, humour, and depth. Brigitte’s willingness to explore the unknown led me to discover and draw upon all my available resources instead of being continuously corralled by my unconscious habits. Francis’s commitment to the details of the work helped me to grow every day and his ability to marry joy and dedication is still a delight to experience.

In three years at the school I’ve discovered my voice, learned how to consciously change, and realized what I was hunting for. I was hunting for freedom. And that’s what the Alexander Technique offers us all. Just remember, freedom isn’t a place, it’s a path…

Evan Wise, guitarist, A.T. teacher training graduate

I have treasured my time studying with brigitte. As a teacher, she has conducted our jam-packed lessons with patience, support, curiosity, passion, gentleness, generosity, seemingly limitless wisdom, and refreshing humour. I have never walked away from a lesson without learning something new or being challenged to revisit a familiar concept from a fresh, new angle. Thanks to her guidance, my understanding of the Alexander Technique has deepened greatly, and my usage of myself has improved immensely—not just in my work as a musician, but in my day-to-day living.

Chris H., musician

Brigitte’s passion for the Alexander Technique has created a supportive community of teachers and trainees. Her knowledge, professionalism and compassion are clear from the moment you walk in the doors of her school. Trainees receive comprehensive and powerful instruction, and she regularly invites well-known teachers from across the globe to give workshops. I’ve been lucky enough to have worked with Brigitte and take part in some amazing workshops. Everything I’ve learned through her teaching and her school have helped deepen my understanding of the Alexander Technique. Montreal is lucky to have Brigitte Caron as a teacher and practitioner!

Caroline H., Ph.D. candidate, McGill University Schulich School of Music

Brigitte has a great personality and she is a lot of fun to work with! She is also a passionate advocate for musicians’ wellness. She believes very deeply in a holistic approach, and she tailored our AT sessions to my individual needs as a performer and a whole person. Through working with her, I became more attentive to my whole body at the piano and in many daily activities. This has helped me feel more comfortable and confident when playing, and has also given me a greater awareness of how I move in everyday life.

Jeff S., pianist

En tant qu’étudiante invitée, l’École de Technique Alexander d’Ottawa m’a offert la possibilité et le temps de prendre davantage conscience de mon corps dans l’espace et des habitudes physiques qui me limitent. Il est précieux de trouver un contexte qui offre un encadrement propice à la quête de profondeur, tant physique qu’émotionnelle. brigitte est une enseignante hors-pair, généreuse et attentionnée, qui a à cœur l’expérience authentique que vivent ses élèves, tout en sachant sagement lâcher prise pour permettre au cheminement de chaque individu de suivre son cours.

Emmanuelle, violist, music educator

Oui, la Technique Alexander a beaucoup amélioré ma qualité de vie. J’y ai retrouvé de la souplesse dans mes jambes, surtout dans mes genoux. Ça a ralenti la progression de l’arthrite. Après une session en Technique Alexander, je me sens plus légère, plus dégagée. Descendre les escaliers se fait alors avec assurance. En tant que musicienne, j’en ai tiré des bénéfices pour ajuster ma posture par rapport à mon instrument. Ceci facilite ma concentration et mon endurance. Merci Brigitte!

Hélène B., music educator

Grâce à Brigitte Caron, j’ai découvert la Technique Alexander. J’étais à la recherche d’un moyen de résoudre des problèmes constants de dos et des difficultés dans mon interprétation en tant que chanteuse. Cette approche a changé ma vie. Brigitte sait présenter les choses de façon très claire et facile à comprendre. Grâce à ses conseils, j’ai pu corriger des défauts de posture à l’origine de mes maux de dos. Comme chanteuse, j’ai constaté une grande amélioration dans ma capacité de chanter. L’approche de Brigitte est graduelle, par étapes adaptées à ma situation. Je recommande sans réserve ses services. Vous serez étonnés des résultats.

Micheline B., singer