Why Alexander Technique lessons are vital for musicians

By lmt-editorJanuary 15, 2024
Est. Reading: 7 minutes

In the beautiful world of music, where being precise, having control, and expressing art all come together, the Alexander Technique becomes a big helper for musicians.

It's not just about getting better at being precise or in control; it's about discovering a way to express yourself in a beautiful and deep manner.

Imagine it like a guide that helps musicians on a journey of self-discovery, making every note they play a step toward creating harmony in their music and in how they feel.

Image of Frederick Matthias Alexander

©️ 2017 The Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique, London

Who developed the Alexander Technique?

Frederick Matthias Alexander, born in 1869, was an Australian actor who developed the Alexander Technique in response to personal challenges with voice and breathing during his career as a Shakespearean actor.

Faced with persistent vocal and respiratory issues that threatened his artistic pursuits, Alexander embarked on a profound journey of self-discovery, fueled by a keen curiosity about the intricate connection between the mind and body.

Through meticulous self-observation, Alexander identified the roots of his physical challenges, recognising that ingrained habits of movement and posture were at the core of his troubles.

In response, he developed a unique approach to re-educating individuals, focusing on releasing unnecessary tension and cultivating a more harmonious relationship between the mind and body.

This technique, evolving from Alexander's personal struggles, has become a valuable resource for individuals seeking to enhance performance and well-being.

The approach involves raising awareness and preventing unnecessary tension in the body, promoting more efficient and coordinated movement.

Alexander began teaching his method in the early 20th century, gaining popularity for its effectiveness in improving posture, movement, and overall well-being.

Now taught worldwide, the Alexander Technique has found application in various fields, including performing arts, education, healthcare, and everyday activities.

Image of Alexander Technique text description

What is the Alexander Technique?

The Alexander Technique, as it came to be known, is a holistic method that addresses the interplay between mind and body, aiming to improve overall physical coordination and well-being. 

Central to its philosophy is the recognition that habitual patterns of movement and posture can lead to physical strain and limitations. 

At its core, the Alexander Technique is about unlearning these ingrained habits and fostering a conscious and intentional approach to movement and posture.

Image of drama students practising at performing arts school

Alexander Technique exercises

Constructive rest:

Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. This exercise helps release tension in the spine and promotes overall body awareness. (This is called doing the semi-supine!)

It's particularly beneficial for musicians who spend extended periods sitting or standing.

It is also incredibly effective as a calming tool before a live performance or workshop!

Neck release:

Gently tilt your head forward and backwards, allowing the neck to release tension. This exercise is essential for musicians who may experience neck and shoulder strain during prolonged playing.

Whispered “ahhhh”:

Practice saying "ah" in a whispered voice, focusing on maintaining a free and open throat. This exercise enhances vocal and breathing coordination, benefiting singers and wind instrumentalists.


Imitate the movement of a monkey, allowing your body to sway freely. This exercise promotes a sense of ease and flexibility in movement, addressing stiffness and tension.

Hands-on the back of the chair:

Sit on a chair with your hands placed on the backrest. This exercise encourages proper sitting and helps release arms, shoulders, and back tension.

Standing up / sitting down:

The Alexander Technique places emphasis on mindful control of movements in everyday tasks, including standing up and sitting down. 

To stand up:

1. Begin by sitting comfortably in a chair, ensuring your neck and shoulders are relaxed. Pay attention to the sensation of your weight in the chair.

2. Gradually slide your feet towards the chair while gently leaning forward at the hip joints.

3. Transfer your weight to your feet and smoothly push off the chair.

4. Rise to a standing position, being mindful to maintain a lack of tension in your neck and shoulders.

To sit down:

1. Soften your knees completely while standing.

2. With a gentle motion, sit back into the chair, ensuring there is no tension in your neck, shoulders, or knees.

3. Lower your arms gracefully.

4. Repeat the process, paying close attention to any stiffness in your movements and making adjustments as needed.

The name game:

Take a moment to quietly name or list everything you see in the room, especially if you're in an audition space.

This quick exercise enhances awareness, helping you familiarise yourself with the surroundings and stay focused during auditions or other situations.


Take a deliberate moment to exhale slowly, allowing tension to dissipate effortlessly from your body. As you exhale, create a subtle resistance, releasing a gentle "shhhhh" sound.

This mindful exhalation promotes relaxation and encourages a deeper connection between your breath and the release of tension, fostering a sense of tranquillity and calmness.

Agree to play:

Simplify the process by asking yourself if you're open to embracing this experience, regardless of the eventual outcome.

This straightforward step involves a commitment to the present moment, fostering a mindset of openness and receptivity without fixating on the final result.

Image of band of young musicians performing in recording studio

How musicians can benefit from the Alexander Technique

1. Posture and alignment:

With their prolonged engagement with instruments and lengthy standing sessions, musicians often grapple with issues like tension and poor posture. 

By incorporating this technique into their practice, musicians can achieve a more natural and balanced posture. 

This minimises physical strain and contributes to increased endurance, allowing them to navigate lengthy performances with greater comfort and ease. 

Through simple yet effective adjustments, the Alexander Technique becomes a valuable ally for musicians striving for optimal physical well-being in their craft.

This is super important as an injury can actually stop your passion for learning to play an instrument or sing. Alexander Technique is also a prevention method, preventing you from injuring yourself and going through the depression of not being able to play the guitar, sing or play the piano, for example! (A bit more on this in point 5!)

2. Breathing and respiration

When it comes to making music, the Alexander Technique emphasises the importance of breathing for both singers and instrument players. 

With this technique, musicians discover how to let go of tension around their ribs and chest, making their breathing more efficient. 

This leads to better control over breathing and the ability to play or sing longer musical phrases without getting tired. 

By paying attention to how they breathe, musicians can add more emotion and expression to their music, making the Alexander Technique a helpful tool for those aiming to enhance their skills and the feeling in their music.

3. Instrumental technique:

The Alexander Technique is super helpful for musicians like those who play strings, wind instruments, or the piano. 

It does a great job refining how they play their instruments. Musicians often deal with problems like too much tension or not moving well; the Alexander Technique helps fix these issues. 

When they use this technique, they can spot and ease tension, making their playing more precise, controlled, and expressive. 

Whether pulling sounds from strings or mastering a piano piece, musicians find the Alexander Technique a friendly guide to better playing and a deeper connection to the feelings they want to share through their music.

4. Stage presence and confidence

Beyond its physical applications, the Alexander Technique encompasses musical performance's psychological and emotional dimensions. 

Musicians undergo training to effectively manage performance anxiety, enhance their stage presence, and cultivate a mindset that fosters confidence and artistic freedom. 

This approach acknowledges that the technique extends beyond mere physicality, emphasising the importance of mental and emotional well-being during musical presentations.

5. Preventing and managing injuries

Musicians, who often face the risk of repetitive strain injuries due to the nature of their work, discover valuable support in the Alexander Technique. This method not only helps them identify potential injuries but also provides practical tools for prevention. 

The technique tackles the root causes of tension and strain by emphasising thoughtful movement. Through the Alexander Technique, musicians gain insights into their body mechanics, enabling them to approach their practice and performances with heightened awareness. 

This approach becomes a proactive strategy, promoting overall well-being by prioritising physical health and longevity in the pursuit of musical excellence.

Versatile applications of the Alexander Technique

The benefits of the Alexander Technique extend beyond the music world, reaching into diverse areas. 

It resonates with actors aiming for better stage presence, dancers aspiring to move gracefully, public speakers refining their delivery, and individuals managing pain or recovering from injuries. 

Additionally, teachers and professionals with desk-bound roles embrace the technique to improve posture, prevent back pain, and enhance overall comfort in their daily routines. 

The broad adaptability of the Alexander Technique emphasises its universal appeal and practical use, contributing to the well-being and optimal functioning of individuals across various professions and lifestyles.


The Alexander Technique started with one person's challenges but has become a big help for musicians and people in different areas. 

When musicians use this method, they get better at moving and discover a way to feel better and make even better music. 

It's like finding a secret path to feeling good and making great tunes. 

In the grand picture of life, the Alexander Technique shows how turning tough times into something positive can create a beautiful harmony in our lives.

Looking for outstanding Alexander Technique lessons in London? Get in touch with Jackie Coote based in Fulham London, or find a teacher on The Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique (STAT)

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