A Way of Doing Things: Exploring and Applying the Alexander Technique for Choral Conductors
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The human body is a machine of extraordinary design and intricacy, and musicians widely recognize the role the mind and body play in making music. Despite the problems that affect performing artists, there is a surprising lack of an empirically verified method of teaching unified psychophysical performance to musicians. For choral conductors, the problem is significant. Conductors rely heavily on non-verbal communication to convey their musical intent and understanding of a given work. However, few experiences in a conductor’s traditional training take full account of learning the psychophysical unity of the body that allows for the greatest freedom of expression. The purpose of this study is to introduce choral musicians to the Alexander Technique and its suggested applications within choral music making. The Alexander Technique is a psychophysical method of directed thinking activities and heightened kinesthetic awareness leading to the best possible use of the body, defined colloquially in this study as “a way of doing things.” As choral conductors improve their understanding of the history, study, and application of the Alexander Technique, they can begin to make better choices about incorporating the Alexander Technique into their conducting gesture, musical performance skills, choral pedagogy, other educational curricula, and even their everyday movement habits. In addition, in this study, choral conductors will gain a clearer picture of how to distinguish the Alexander Technique from other somatic methods popular in the performing arts. This study seeks to inspire choral conductors to pursue training in the Alexander Technique and illustrate the need for continued empirical research into the Alexander Technique.
- Music