At the start of last month you’ll remember that I blogged about my first experience with Alexander Technique – a technique that teaches you to be more aware of tensions in the body and to release those tensions to allow the body to move and work more freely, easily and with greater efficiency. Check out that post here: https://classicalguitarnstuff.com/2012/12/05/alexander-technique-my-first-lesson/
Following my first week or two taking Alexander Technique (AT) lessons and practicing the semi-supine position on a daily basis, I began to become lot more aware of where I was holding tension in my body. I noticed I was holding tension in my jaw – and what a lot of tension there was there! After realising I was holding this tension, learning to notice it more (both in semi-supine position and in normal everyday situations) the feeling of release in the jaw and lower head was a revelation!! I likened it to that post-workout or post-run kind of feeling – like you’ve been working hard, putting your muscles through stress and strain and now you’ve stopped……Ahhhh!
I also noticed a similar tension through my shoulders, and noticed that they have a tendency to creep up around my ears when I’m in an uncomfortable or challenging situation (mentally rather than physically that is), or when I get excited, nervous or agitated. And knowing where this tension exists and when it may occur, or what may make it occur can help then to begin the process of reducing it. The act itself of noticing it begins to change the habit.
So why is releasing tension in the body important for a guitarist?
Well, if your hand, arm, neck, shoulder or back muscles (even other muscles in other parts of the body, but these in particular) are unnecessarily tense and tight it’s:
- taking energy away from the actions you do want to make and the activity muscles you do want working for you
- puts pressure on various parts of the body, including the joints and spine which may lead to longer term issues
- does not allow you to give you your full self to playing the music as you are literally holding yourself back.
In terms of my playing, I’m noticing some really positive benefits of the AT. First up, I’ll lie in the semi-supine position before settling into some serious practice as it tunes me into my body, where tensions may lie, and relaxes me ready for practice. Then during practice I’m feeling a lot more relaxed through the head, neck, shoulders and arm, which makes practicing and playing much more enjoyable and means I can practice for longer periods of time. When I’m done practicing I also get down into the semi-supine position to help release any tensions that might have crept in and give the spine a rest from the pulling, pushing, tensions and pressures put on it through the rigours of practice.
I’ve done a couple of performances too since starting with AT and I’ve noticed it’s helped significantly with relaxation prior to and during the performance, which makes things a heck of a lot easier!
I have some more AT sessions coming up in January and I’ll keep you posted on my journey into relaxation!
- Alexander Technique – My First Lesson (classicalguitarnstuff.com)