Alexander Technique and Organ Performance
The organist has an intensely physical relationship with her instrument. Over time, routines of practice and performance of music almost invariably lead to the build-up of stress, fatigue, and muscular tension that can lead in turn to pain and injury. The organist is particularly at risk of incurring tension and pain, due to the demands of negotiating performance on multiple dimensional planes (i.e., the multiple manuals at differing heights and the ranks of stops placed at some distance from the organist), with the added challenges of simultaneously operating the pedal board and additional expression pedals. Thus, all four limbs of the player are in almost constant and frequently independent motion, leaving the player susceptible to hyperextension, fatigue, and a variety of range-of-motion issues. The “Alexander Technique”, devised by F. M. Alexander in the 1890s to assist performers and public speakers, can provide the organist with effective strategies for becoming more aware of the ways in which stress and tension can arise in the course of performance and how the prolonged misuse of the body leads to pain and injury. The goal of the Technique is restore physical balance, equilibrium and poise through body awareness, allowing efficient and painless movement over sustained periods of time. This dissertation investigates the ways in which the Alexander Technique can assist the organist in achieving this goal with regard to the particular physical demands and challenges of organ performance, focusing on how the Alexander Technique allows the organist to create and maintain the optimal posture for pain-free organ performance.
- Music