Learning to use one’s body more naturally and efficiently, with less tension, is the aim of the Alexander Technique, a simple and effective method for improving body use used worldwide. A free weekend workshop on the technique will be sponsored by the College of Musical Arts (CMA) Aug. 29 and 30. Aimed primarily at singers, instrumentalists and actors, the workshop is open to the entire University.
“We are inviting all BGSU community members as well as people from nearby colleges and the Toledo School for the Arts,” said Dr. Jacqueline Leclair, oboe faculty and one of the event’s organizers. “Anyone who does public speaking, playing in bands, singing, dancing, sports—all would take away great information from these sessions.”
Dr. James Brody, of the University of Colorado at Boulder, will be the visiting guest lecturer for the weekend. At Colorado, he teaches courses on oboe and rock music and directs the Alexander Technique Center. He also created the Wellness Program for Musicians there, devoted to music students.
On Aug. 29, Brody will open the workshop with an introductory lecture and master class from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in 202B Bowen-Thompson Student Union. During the master class, he will coach a singer, an actor and a musician, one at a time, helping them to develop physical habits that optimize their performance of their craft.
Following lunch, he will present a two-and-a-half-hour master class at Bryan Recital Hall in Moore Musical Arts Center, again coaching participants individually in front of the audience.
Saturday participants may sign up for small group lessons with Brody from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 30, at the college. A maximum of seven people per group will be allowed, first come, first served.
All events, including the lessons, are free of charge, funded by the CMA Dean's Fund and Theta Alpha Phi.
“Alexander Technique is extremely well-regarded. It is widely employed by singers, actors and musicians. But anyone can benefit from learning it,” Leclair said.
“As an educator, I understand how valuable it is for young musicians to learn good body use habits early. By so doing, they can avoid all kinds of problems in the long term such as repetitive stress injury, tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, back pain and fatigue. Providing Alexander Technique instruction in college is tremendously valuable.”
The technique is based on three elements: body awareness, the ability to undo excess tension, and the use of thought rather than muscular resolve to engender more efficient movement.
Developed as a method of vocal training in the 1890s by Matthias Alexander, an Australian actor and teacher, the technique was expanded to all disciplines and is now taught at the Juilliard School, the Eastman School of Music and the Royal College of Music in London, among other music schools, and to numerous professional orchestras.