Interlochen Fine Arts Camp, Interlochen, MI

The students at Interlochen Fine Arts Camp in Interlochen, Michigan, are dedicated and passionate. While at Interlochen I work with teens in the music program, teaching them the Alexander Technique. We spend time moving together and they spend time resting. Students discover how incorporating awareness of their thinking and their movement effects how they play their instrument. Both are important to these driven and extremely talented teens.

The last summer I was there, some of my favorite conversations began with questions about life and college. We talked about how to have fun and how to be serious. We were all able to share our experiences and fears.

The Alexander Technique is about how we move and it is also about how we think. This type of movement and mind education for young music students is important as they look forward to a long career in playing music. It is a pleasure introducing high school students to approach their instrument and their practice in this new way.

A Basic Introduction:

The Alexander Technique

What are the basics of the Alexander Technique?

The way humans are designed to move is based on gravity, balance, structure and our nervous system, to put human existence simply. From the moment we were created in utero the conditions were percolating for us to become upright humans. We developed and grew. Learning movement patterns that would help us strengthen for the next growing phase in life. Eventually, we got ourselves to this moment, of reading this article.  Attention to this moment in your life.

How are you in contact with the ground? This is your support, how are you using it? Are you leaning against a counter with one foot on top of the other? Are you resting on the couch with your head propped up high on a pillow? How did you physically transition from laying down to siting…….how did you move… you remember?

Bring a bit of attention to your physical self- can you feel the top of your head with out reaching for it with your hand?

What else are you doing: multitasking, distracting yourself online from your computer work, helping your child with homework?

How is your thinking affecting your movement choices?

I always teach a bit of anatomy, it depends on the day and the students what parts I teach. The shape of all 27 bones in your hand affects how your hand moves, types, grips, scratches an itch and holds a steering wheel. Do you know what these bones look like?

Movement understanding can come from learning anatomy and noticing how we move and think. Another important part of the Alexander Technique is feeling movement in a different way. As you work with a teacher, in what is referred to as hands on, they are able to transfer a new type of movement understanding. This is best experienced, as each teacher has a different feeling, a distinctive way of using his or her hands to transfer motion.

Here are a few commonly used words and how I define them within the Alexander Technique:

Gravity…… a part of our environment.

Balance… the weight and counter weight within our body.

Nervous system……is the communication between our mind and body.

Structure………….the parts that comprise our body- the bones, muscles, organs, fascia, tendons, the list goes on and on.

Every Alexander Technique introduction is different, just as we change with each new breath. Above are a few important topics I tend to include with new students. How do you live in this world? In my classes, I teach for you and your activities; the way you walk and talk. To experience how I would work with you, you must come to class.

Morning Wake Up

Lay on a somewhat hard and flat surface. A comfortable surface. Stretch out so your arms and legs are all in opposite directions. Now that your limbs are apart from your body, don’t work to stretch, and let yourself rest on the ground.

Listen to your breath without trying to change your breath. (lifelong study)

Notice what you keep thinking about. Acknowledge when you are thinking about what you have to do later today or something that happened earlier. Bring your attention back to what you are feeling physically, right now.

Beginning with the edges- fingers or toes on one side- move your one chosen body part in gentle circles, just a few – then in the other direction. Let this circular motion travel across your body. For example: if you chose your right fingers, next make circles with the palm of your right hand- one direction then the other. Keep on the same side- continue these circles with your lower arm, elbow, upper arm, shoulder, upper ribs of the right side, spine, now cross to the other side- left pelvis, hip socket, femur, knee, lower leg, ankle, heal, middle of the foot and finally toes. Now begin with the other hand or foot, circling the other parts.

You might notice that I named some bones and some joints- feel the difference between how you circle a bone and how you circle a joint. This is an experimental investigation- so feel movement and identify different sensations, rather then trying to fulfill a routine.

Feel your body moving in relation to itself and enjoy the movement.

Next, move in any way that feels good.

Rest. You decide how long.

Slowly come to standing.

Notice your breath without trying to change the current rhythm.

Walk and take these new sensations with you as go about your day.