A wonderful week of Alexander Technique! Reflections from the 2017 Summer Intensive

by Katie Fittipaldi

When musicians I meet find out that I teach Alexander Technique, their first response is usually something like: “Wow, that is so cool! I have always wanted to study Alexander Technique!”

Why are musicians so excited about Alexander Technique? Developed by F. Matthias Alexander, the Alexander Technique is an educational method used by musicians worldwide to enhance practice and performance, prevent injuries and pain, and overcome performance anxiety. For over 100 years, Alexander Technique has helped musicians learn to practice and play with more ease and less worry, which unlocks the possibility for more freedom, clarity, accuracy, resonance, and genuine expression in their playing.

Katie Fittipaldi working with interview subject Sandra Halleran; photo by Dr. Joshua Rittenberg of East Avenue Chiropractic

Last summer at Eastman, I taught the first-ever Alexander Technique week-long intensive and it was a huge success! Our lovely group had a delightful time together learning the basic principles of the Alexander Technique and applying it to music-making and everyday activities. As the week progressed, it was truly amazing to see each participant let go of habits and patterns that were preventing them from reaching their fullest potential!

Recently, I was able to chat with two of last year’s participants: Sandra Halleran (Eastman alumna, Rochester Cello Society founder/artistic director) and Moriah Wilhelm Rowe (Eastman graduate student working towards a DMA in Violin Performance). Here is some of our conversation:

Why did you take the class?

Sandra: I have always wanted to study AT, but never had the time or opportunity before this. The course discount for Eastman alumni was a real plus!

Moriah: I have also always wanted to take an AT class in order to learn how to apply the principles to my playing and teaching. Over the years I have encountered many physical and technical problems that I’ve had to work through myself without effective guidance. Knowing the principles of the Alexander Technique would have saved me a lot of time and effort!

What did you learn by taking the class?

Moriah: A heightened awareness of my body, which has optimized its functioning and performance. I am a better musician and teacher and a healthier person as a result of consistent application of the principles of the Alexander Technique. I also feel like I can more easily diagnose and prevent issues in my students’ playing so they will be able to play more freely.

Sandra: Lots of helpful information was presented, but the one thing I use almost every day is, “Where is my support?” This question allows me to immediately relax and let the chair/ground/stage support me.

What did you like most about the class?

Sandra: The pace of the class was perfect and I liked all the opportunities to apply what I learned to my instrument. I also liked the daily constructive rest guided talk-throughs because this is something I had not made time for previously.

The private lesson component of the class really allowed me to tailor the principles we had been talking about to my body and my instrument. Everyone in the class played a different instrument, so I’m certain that this one-on-one time really helped each of us to know how to apply the information to our own playing.

Moriah: I really enjoyed your teaching personality and how easygoing the class felt. I could relax and enjoy the process of learning without stress!

Sandra: Yes, you are a patient, kind and incredibly knowledgeable teacher. This course was a treat!

It makes me so happy to know that you felt comfortable and safe learning! Would you recommend this class to other musicians?

Sandra: Yes! Anything people can do to learn to play an instrument more safely will help lead to a long career.

Moriah: Every musician should take an Alexander Technique class to learn and apply its principles to playing and teaching.

Interested in registering for this year’s class? Register early, the course is limited to 6 participants!

Alexander Technique for Musicians runs June 25-29, 2018. Visit https://summer.esm.rochester.edu/course/alexander-technique-for-musicians/ for more information.

Katie Fittipaldi teaches cello and Alexander Technique in Rochester, NY. In addition to offering private lessons and workshops, Katie teaches an Alexander Technique class at the Eastman School of Music and teaches the Alexander Technique portion of the class “Embodied Resourcing for Somatic Practices” offered by the University of Rochester Dance Department. Katie is a member of the American Society for the Alexander Technique (AmSAT). For more information about Katie, please visit her website: www.alexandertechniquerochester.com