As a musician, Alexander Technique was transformative for Heather. After taking lessons for 12 years and then completing the 3-year teacher-training course, she applied what she had learnt to her piano practicing. Her entire approach to the instrument was dramatically altered.
What used to take hours of practice to achieve, took minutes of active mental engagement and problem solving. By using the principles of Alexander Technique, she was able to figure out how she physically interfered with the flow of the music she was playing. Heather successfully solved passages of music that seemed impossibly difficult and beyond her ability. She gained power, control and a much wider range of tonal colouring.
What astounded Heather throughout her musical discovery was that everything she did physically affected the musical tone and control of the instrument.
Heather came to realize that feeling connected and having an emotional response to music translated into harmful tension in her body. (She notices this pattern consistently with musicians who are Alexander Technique students). Her neck and shoulders would become numb from the tension of pulling her head back and down and lifting and squeezing her shoulders during hours of practicing. Even when the music was not technically difficult, she would still contract her lower back, shoulders and arms in an emotional response to the music. Musical tension translated into physical tension.
When Heather used Alexander Technique to remove unnecessary tension she was initially concerned that she would no longer feel connected to the music she was playing. At first it was disconcerting to give up the physical tension, until Heather could translate the emotional experience as a flow of energy through her body instead of her habitually held tension.
When Heather plays at her best, she gets out of her own physical way and stops interfering with the music. The energy of Alexander Technique throughout her body simply flows with the energy of the music that she produces – it almost feels like someone else is playing the instrument because of the effortlessness and sense of calm.