“For the Alexander Technique doesn’t teach you something new to do. It teaches you how to bring more practiced intelligence into what you are already doing; how to eliminate the stereotyped responses; how to deal with change. It leaves you free to choose your own goal but gives you a better use of yourself while you work towards it.” —Frank Pierce Jones.
I wanted to start this month with this quote by Frank Pierce Jones because even though I want to focus on voice this time, this quote so accurately reminds us that the Alexander Technique is useful with any activity.
Alexander came to his technique via the voice. He became very frustrated with losing his voice while performing on stage. Many doctors tried to help but no one was able to alleviate the problem. At a certain point he realized no one could help him and he took matters into his own hands. Being a scientific minded person her decided that since he only lost his voice while he was performing he knew it must be something he himself was doing. His own actions were causing his difficulty with his voice.
He spent many years using mirrors and studying himself to uncover the problem he was causing himself. He realized that when he went to speak, especially when he was trying to project this voice out into an audience, he would take a large breath, sucking it in through his mouth, and pulling his head back down. This was causing pressure on his larynx. When he allowed his head to be balanced on the end of his spine he was able to continue speaking with our loosing his voice. He realized how clear and calm his body could remanin as he maintained that openness and support with the balanced relationship of his head to spine. He became a master in the understanding and maintaining alignment, in the use of good posture.
It made such a profound difference in his presence and stance on and off stage that others sought him out to learn how he made this change. He soon had a following from many walks of life. Doctors would send their most difficult cases, and consistently he was able to offer them help when nothing else would. He became very popular with the great thinkers of that time. John Dewey, Aldous Huxley, George Ellett Coghill, the Earl of Lyton to mention a few, as well as many doctors and philosophers.
When one understands his/her psycho/physical structure there is a deeper sense of integration of the organism as a whole functioning unit. One’s proprioceptive sensitivity is heightened thus improving posture and alignment.
Unfortunately most doctors are not trained in the knowledge of how to direct the use of the human musculature and skeleton and do not recognize the relationship between mis-direction (poor posture) and general function of the body. Changing your posture and the way you move can have huge impact on ones health. Many people, especially with increased use of computers, cell phones, TV’s, technology equipment in general, are not even aware of their posture, or their body until something starts to hurt. The pain is really trying to tell you there is something you are doing wrong, something needs exploring. But usually this gets “fixed’ with surgery, pain killers, not with common sense or understanding the body.
Now back to voice and suggestions. The following is an exercise from Glynn McDonald’s book, Alexander Technique: A practical Program for Health Poise, and Fitness. It will give you a better sense of your posture and how to support your body for more awareness as you speak. The exercise will give you more information about what you do when you are speaking and how to have more support in your body in general.
Enjoy finding the support and ease within.
I appreciate any questions or responses.