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Giving directions, but not to old ladys.

December 12, 2006 at 2:47 AM

Greetings,
To continue a little with Alexander Technique talk. The way we think and talk about ourselves and our lives shapes our experiences to the nth degree. IE a positive thinking and acting person will have a positive and enjoyable life and negative the opposite. About the only memory I have of one of the few days I ever went to school in my youth was reading a book called `Walkabout,` in which a brother and sister end up in the Australian Outback and are helped to survive by an Aborigine boy. The Aborigine accidentally sees the girl naked and in response to her scream believes he has to die, which he does. Perhaps we like to think of this as typical of primitive cultures but it isn’t so far removed from a great deal of today’s behavior and it starkly demonstrates the power of thinking.
For example, when my mother was dealing with cancer a well meaning doctor told her quite precisely when she was going to die.
Alexander technique invites us to give the body `directions` in order to regain our natural use of self and enjoy a happier, healthier more effective life. There are two kinds of directions, `primary` and `secondary.` The primary I have mentioned din some detail on many occasions. This is the `primary control.` In order to use it well we begin with the help of an Alexander teacher’s hands to follow these directions:
1) Feel ease in the neck.
2) The head goes forward and up.
3) The back lengthens and widens.

These directions must be followed din sequence or they will not work. The other vital points are 1) that they are not a physical movement. Any attempt to physically move the neck or more typically the head is useless. It correlates more to a wish. 2) The wish for forward and up movement must be located in the correct place at the top of the spine which is located by imagining a rod passing through the brain from the soft points below and behind the ears. This is the center of the body. In general , people think this spot is at the back of the neck which is why they are er, wrecked.

Of course Alexander discovered this by trial and error over many years but most of us don’t have this time or skill so there is little choice other than go to an Alexander Teacher if we really want to work on this. But I also think that considering the secondary directions can be of a certain amount of benefit even though they cannot really operate well without primary control.
The secondary directions are to do with letting go or letting stretch two areas of the body. They may well not be adjacent. Some people might find it useful to experiment with this by playing the violin as one would normally for a while without changing anything, Then put everything down and work through the following directions. Tell your body to do this.
1)I allow my shoulders to release away from one another.
2) I allow my left shoulder to release away from my right hip, and my right shoulder to release away from my left hip.
3) I am allowing my hands to lengthen away from my shoulders.
4) I am allowing my hands to widen as my fingers lengthen.
5) I’m letting my pelvis move freely, tilting back more.
6) I am allowing my knees to soften and bend slightly.
7) I am allowing my feet to spread on the ground as my toes lengthen.
8) I am allowing my lower jaw to release from my ears.

Now try playing again and see if you find anything different.
Finally, if you like freebies you check out the Strad Magazine Site. You can down load the Ehnes cadenzas to the Mozart violin concertos and an interesting solo violin piece by Mostras which I think I am going to learn.
Cheers,
Buri

From Scott 68
Posted on December 12, 2006 at 4:35 AM
id love to ehnes play the mozart concertos, anyone hear the new mintz recordings?
From Anne Horvath
Posted on December 12, 2006 at 6:17 AM
Very good directions. I didn't get lost once. Thank you.
From Allen Diaz
Posted on December 12, 2006 at 9:31 PM
yes those recordings are very good!!
From Allen Diaz
Posted on December 12, 2006 at 9:32 PM
why is no one "talking"
From Allen Diaz
Posted on December 12, 2006 at 9:36 PM
oh well... bye everyone.
From Stephen Brivati
Posted on December 12, 2006 at 11:18 PM
Greetings,
Allen has, I think , got right to the heart of the matter,
Cheers,
Buri
From jennifer steinfeldt warren
Posted on December 13, 2006 at 8:45 AM
I suppose that if any of those directives are inhibited by the position of the violin (viola), then there is some fundamental problem with set up and body posture? Not specifically while playing, but just holding the instrument? Can the shoulders be lengthened while holding the instrument hands-free (in order to unfold the finger joints)?

Sals,
JW

From jennifer steinfeldt warren
Posted on December 13, 2006 at 2:58 PM
The video store where my husband works has the movie "Walkabout". I'm going to watch it. Apparantly the "walkabout" is a custom where a 12 year old boy has to go out and live off of the land for 6 months?

Do we have an equivalant of that in our society? Hmmm.

JW

From Stephen Brivati
Posted on December 13, 2006 at 8:45 PM
Greetings,
Jennifer, yes to the first question. Its purely mental.
secons question. Walkabout in modern culture is called 'taking a year off to find yourself before going to college,"
Cheers,
Buri
From Stephen Brivati
Posted on December 13, 2006 at 10:59 PM
Greetings,

>suppose that if any of those directives are inhibited by the position of the violin (viola), then there is some fundamental problem with set up and body posture? Not specifically while playing, but just holding the instrument?

Not exactly. The directives are mental. Any attempt to actually -physically - do the directive you are giving will lead to more tension. As you give the directives the viola or violin may move naturally into a more ergonmic position.


>Can the shoulders be lengthened while holding the instrument hands-free (in order to unfold the finger joints)?

For me, the most useful directive during playing is the primary control, but there is absolutely nothing stopping you from telling yourself to do certain things while you are playing. It might surprise you that it doesn`t detract from your playing any more than suddenly thinking about last nights dinner may spontaneously occur during a perfromance.
The only differnece is the former is beneficial while the latte rmay prodice flatulence,
Cheers,
Buri

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