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Part 3 An Alexander Technique Approach to Musicians' Injuries

20 Jun 2014 11:40 AM | Anonymous

Part 3

An Alexander Technique Approach to Musicians’ Injuries

Ethan Kind, M.M., certified A.C.A.T., Am.S.A.T.

Guided Whole Body Release before Practicing or Performing                                       

To prevent injury and strain in playing, lead yourself through this guided release of your body before you practice or perform. First, find a comfortable, firm surface to lie on, which might be a yoga pad or carpeted floor. If you have to do these releases on a hard surface, you may still be able to let go of enough tension to feel comfortable. Lie down on your back with your knees up. Your feet should be placed close enough to your hips, and far enough away from each other, to allow your legs to balance themselves, with knees pointing straight up. Place a book under your head so that the forehead and a free jaw are level with each other. Rest your hands on your lower ribs or abdomen -whichever feels more comfortable to you. Let your elbows be fully away from your sides and resting on the floor, your hands not resting on top of each other. This is the 'constructive rest position. It is the most neutral body position for the bones and muscles; it is essentially perfect sitting, lying on your back. In the Alexander Technique, this awareness exercise is usually done with the eyes open, but I also find it helpful to do it with the eyes closed, so that you can be in the world but not of it, as you release deep tensions that you do not want to take to the instrument.


Let your neck release and your head be fully supported by the book. Let your shoulder blades fall to the floor; do not immobilize them against the back. Let your hips be fully supported by the floor. Let your feet be supported by the floor, with your ankles totally released. Let your feet be totally released; be aware that they're not supporting any significant weight. Think of your knees releasing to the ceiling, as if strings were gently supporting each leg. Let your calves release to your heels. Let your thigh muscles flow to your knees. Let your hamstrings release to the back of your knees. Let your whole back be supported by the floor but do not try to flatten your back just let the curves soften as it releases deeper and deeper into the floor. Let the floor support your elbows; this allows the floor to support your arms. Let your hands be soft and rest on your torso and let your wrists be unlocked. Let the chest muscles release and the shoulders fall fully open into the floor. Let the muscles around your eyes and mouth release, allowing your face to soften. Let your jaw release, your teeth not touching, your lips touching gently. Let your upper arms flow to your elbows. Let your lower arms flow into your hands.


Let your neck release and your head move away from your sit bones. Let your shoulders flow away from each other. Now let your upper arms flow towards your shoulders. Let your forearms flow through open wrists into soft hands, with the fingers leading the arms into lengthening. Let your upper legs release out of the pelvis. Let your lower legs release away from the knees. Feel how far the head is from the shoulders. Feel how far the head is from the hips. Feel how far the head is from the knees. Feel how far the head is from the feet. Feel how effortless it is to sense your body, as you let your head be far away from all of these places.


Notice the rise and fall of the chest on the breath. Do not control your breathing; let the body breathe itself. Let the exhale be a letting go, not a pushing out of the breath. Let the body decide when it needs to inhale, and when it needs to exhale. Feel the rise and fall of the chest on the inhale and exhale. Feel the rise and fall of the abdomen on the breath. Feel the expansion and release of the sides of the chest on the breath. Feel the expansion and release of the lower ribs on the breath. Feel the expansion and release of the sides of the abdomen on the breath. Feel the upper back go backwards into the floor on the breath. Feel the mid-back go backwards into the floor on the breath. Feel the lower back go backwards into the floor on the breath. Feel the rise and fall of the shoulders on the breath. Be aware that the pelvic floor goes downward on the breath. Feel the hands and forearms rise on the inhale and lower on the exhale as the upper arms rotate gently in the shoulder sockets. Feel the whole torso expanding in all directions on the inhale, like a balloon being blown up. As you observe your breath, notice that it settles into a peaceful, rhythmic breathing pattern.

Open your eyes if they are closed, and let yourself come into the room. Feel yourself fully present in the room without interfering with the ease in your body or the ease in your breathing. When you are ready, gently role over onto your side and slowly push yourself up with an easy arm. You can now take all of this ease into warming up on your instrument. As you warm up, stay with what is happening in your body what you are asking it to do or not to do and as you play your instrument, remain totally in the present. Gradually allow your energy to rise. Experience the joy of coming to your instrument without habits, tensions or fears that would turn doing what you love into a chore.


Anonymous. A Course in Miracles.

Bonpensiere, Luigi. New Pathways to Piano Technique.

Diamond, Dr. John. The Life Energy in Music, Volumes 1-3.


Ethan Kind, formerly Charles Stein, trained as an Alexander Technique teacher at the American Center for the Alexander Technique in New York and has been teaching since 1992. He also has a M.M. degree in classical guitar and was a concert guitarist for ten years. He has also been an athlete all of his life. Mr. Kinds writing (as Charles Stein and Ethan Kind) has been published in the United States, Great Britain and Australia. Mr. Kind lives in Albuquerque, NM, and can be reached at

Mr. Kind has 64 ebooks for musicians and other topics, from running to yoga, offered in a  Kindle version on Amazon. To find out more click here. For a pdf version, visit his website at

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