It’s easy to slump. I can even do it stood up.
This is the fourth interview, in a series of interviews with students of the Alexander Technique (AT) about their experiences of learning the technique:
“It’s easy to slump. I can even do it stood up.”
“I notice slumping, I notice my neck position, I notice my feet. I am aware of the automatic patterns in everything I do: how to recognise them, get out of them and avoid them.”
Nick started playing the saxophone at the age of eight and plays in a band. Nick is also self employed in I.T. He started having Alexander Technique (AT) lessons because of:
- Shoulder pain, neck pain and pins and needles in his hand
- Tension headaches
- Chronic Fatigue syndrome (CFS) and brain fog
The main benefits he has noticed, if he pays attention and applies AT are:
- No pins and needles in his hand
- No depression
- Less tiredness and brain fog
- Rarely gets neck or back pain
- Rarely gets headaches which used to be every week & last for days, and now they might happen every 3-4 months
Before starting AT and other treatments, Nick had Xrays done on his neck and back which showed some wear and tear. The GP couldn’t offer anything to improve that, so he tried osteopathy. Nick also tried physiotherapy via a Chronic fatigue service. Both were not helpful in the long run.
The neck, arm and back symptoms were quite an issue for both Nick’s music and IT work. As Nick knew a saxophone player who had trained as an Alexander teacher and his partner also knew someone who had benefited from AT he decided to have lessons.
Nick had 1:1 lessons for a couple of years & then a break. Some while later he returned to AT for another course of 1:1 lessons. That time he felt he was at an impasse with his Chronic Fatigue. He did not think he had embedded AT into his life and wanted a push to remind him to use AT again.
Nick said the benefits of having AT lessons are difficult to quantify. He said the intense physical (negative) symptoms are not there now.
Through AT, Nick has become aware of his habits and tension that builds up if he is busy. He has learned to say “No” and create space for himself so things are ok.
Nick has also learned to be aware of his habits when he is playing and how tensions build up because of multitasking and concentrating on many things at once, such as:
reading music and
holding the instrument and
forming the shape of the mouth to play and
listening to the singers and the rest of the band
and playing notes
and needing to look happy
and making it sound nice!
When he is playing he notices what is happening to his body, when things change and when he becomes uncomfortable. He has these moments of awareness whilst carrying on playing. He then uses core AT: directions, stopping, not forcing, and thinking about tension releasing and the discomfort goes.
Nick has chosen to use a tenor sax made before 1954 as the design changed fractionally after this. The older instruments have a better wrist position for him.
Nick regularly practices active rest (an AT technique). He does this in the changing room at gigs in between sets, prior to going on stage. If he doesn’t pay attention to his “use” he can get pins and needles in his hand. That acts as a little reminder to pay attention and do semi-supine, which stops the problem.
Talking about the impact AT has had on his breathing and playing, Nick said breathing has been in his awareness for many years, but it is the more subtle aspects of breathing that he has addressed with AT :
I pay attention to what I do before I take a breath to play.
He also said he knows his habits can come back:
I know I need to pay attention.
Interested in having lessons and learning the Alexander Technique? Contact me or phone me on 01759 307282
Jane Clappison MSTAT