Workshop Descriptions

Opening session

Friday 23rd

6:30 - 7:30pm

Why Can’t I Hear?:  Hearing Loss and Alexander Technique

Dr. Christine Isley-Farmer 

Hearing loss is an all-too common, rarely addressed problem amongst musicians. Total or partial deafness for a musician can mean the end of a performing/teaching career and requires that adjustments be made in strategies and techniques. As a teacher/singer, Dr. Christine Isley-Farmer's diagnosis of Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss (SSNHL) posed the possibility of such life and career-altering ramifications.This presentation shares how Dr. Isley-Farmer utilized daily Alexander Technique Constructive Rest (CR) and walking meditation to partner with her treatment and help her regain her hearing. She will identify the anatomy of hearing, the different types of hearing loss, prevention, and treatment options and present coping strategies to be used in work and performance environments. She will demonstrate how the relationship between hearing and the brain is impacted by our Primary Control and share how she incorporates breathing movements based on yoga, Whispered “Ah,” and Gay Hendricks’ book, Conscious Breathing into her daily Constructive Rest practice.


SESSION 1

Saturday 24th

9:15 - 10:45 am

AFlow and Power : Arms, Hands and Fingers for String Players strings

Jano Cohen 

This workshop will include demonstrations and etudes that will enable participants to experience how the inherent structure of the arms supported by the free use of the primary control and the whole self provides the opportunity to spiral, flex and extend the joints in a flowing manner without force. This in turn can lead to more effortless but powerful playing while avoiding the problems that can lead to injury. We will look at what movements are needed to lift, hold and play different string instruments, how certain patterns of whole body misuse can effect these movements, and what issues commonly prevent freedom and control in playing. Participants will experience a series of movement etudes performed with partners that break down the movements in sequences that facilitate more skill and ease while maintaining balance and grounding. Props will be used to help us envision how these movements would work with the instruments and make it more fun. We will finish with a few follow-up hands-on demonstrations to show how the etudes and hands-on help improve the players' abilities to perform the movements as well as see how this effects their playing.

BAdvantageous Body Support for Performance all tracks

Paul Aoki 

The Alexander Technique is about an advantageous way of supporting our body, and my unique interpretation of the Technique will promote your ability and confidence in applying the AT to your performance. This will instantly change and improve the sound you make, and you will feel easy and play/sing with lighter force. Through this workshop you will learn what advantageous body supporting is and learn how you reproduce it by yourself. The theoretical ideas used are described in my blog (https://advantageousintention.com), and this workshop will provide real-time live experience to ensure your success. This workshop will be the first time for this approach to be introduced on the American continent, and will cover these topics:

  • Intend original objective: The basic rule of our intention for efficient use.
  • Sense of weight: One of reliable sensory appreciations. Yes, there is reliable one!
  • Front axis: Be surprised at the hidden axis.
  • Placing: Key intention to have for all states of being.
  • Free abs: Realize how the tension in the abs affects our use same as the neck tension.
  • Active control of breathing: There is advantageous breathing range. Helpful for better performance and anxiety problem.
  • Sound at lip: Effective vocal technique. Get better voice and singing.
  • Force transmitting path: For effortful activities like fast playing/making powerful sound.

SESSION 2

Saturday 24th

11 am - 12:30 pm

AYou Are the Music: Embodied Presence in Practice and Performance all tracks

Anne Johnson 

This experiential workshop is about how to develop self-care while making music. It begins with honoring the home that is closest to us-- our body and mind -- then moves through a series of playful explorations to tune up our understanding of our inner design and breathing and establish how thoughts influence movement and sound. As we build our awareness through experience, we move towards wholeness and harmony: within ourselves, the ensemble, and the larger world with which we share our music.

BVoice and Movement: Flowing Integration voice

Clara Sandler 

In this workshop students will explore singing through guided and improvisatory movements. The objective will be to find freedom of the voice through movement, being it big or small. We will start with verbal AT directions, points of balance and hands-on work. We will do some warmups in stillness and with specific movements. Students will sing part of a song or aria. We will add flowing movements to explore the connection of sound production to the whole body and our surroundings. Movements will start big. As we progress, movements will be smaller. We will then explore stillness in movement and movement in stillness, and its effect on the singing voice.


SESSION 3

Saturday 24th

1:45 - 3:15 pm

ATeaching Musicians Ease all tracks

Ariel Weiss

Musicians commonly train tirelessly at the expense of ease. The resulting tension patterns can at worst lead to injury, but always hinder a musician’s technical prowess and expressivity. What are the most common roadblocks to a musician cooperating with their best coordination? How can we address those hindering patterns directly and concisely and promote learning ease in a user-friendly manner? How can we best deliver the usefulness of Alexander’s discoveries through ideas and demonstration if we are, or even if we aren’t a trained Alexander teacher? This workshop will prioritize strategies that can be used to address prep, practice and performance for the ever-dynamic process of music making that can be taught and used by musicians, music teachers and Alexander teachers alike.

BIntegration Piano Method piano

Yoshimo Ito 

How can you use the body efficiently for playing the piano with musical expression? Together we will explore the structure of the body, how to use it well in relationship to the structure of the piano, and the process of musical expression in a masterclass format. We will cover injury prevention, working with detrimental practice and performance habits.


Session 4

Saturday 24th

3:30 - 5:30 pm

AMyths and Realities of Breathing wind voice

James Brody 

Few topics have intrigued me as much over my career as a musician and AT practitioner than how we use our breath in the service of music making. Thousands of words have been put to paper, intriguing philosophies and voodoo anatomy espoused, dozens of videos filmed, numerous breathing support devices employed, and a whole bunch of modalities created – all in the service of attempting to help the singer or instrumentalist develop “breath control.” In this workshop, we will start by crafting an accurate scenario around the anatomy of breathing, or “getting the facts friendly.” Next, we will engage in practical demonstration of how to appropriately engage the breathing mechanism. Teachers: how can I assist my students to achieve optimum results? Students: how can I embark on a path that will lead to success?

BMaking the Most of Your Warm-up Time strings

Pamela Bartlett 

Whether you play regularly, or are starting to play again after a break, you can choose to use some of your your warm-up time specifically to bring about more comfort and ease with your instrument. In doing so, you’ll gain insights that help you improve your playing overall. Paying specific and conscious attention to your mindset and the way you approach your instrument each day can have positive effects in your overall practice, rehearsal and performance. As a group, we’ll explore some core principles of the Alexander Technique as they apply to playing stringed instruments, try out some specific ideas for warm-ups (with and without the instrument), explore using a timer to help organize your sessions, and practice taking constructive breaks (a nod to the Pomodoro Technique).


SESSION 5   

Sunday 25th

9:30 - 11:15 am

AThe Tyranny of Intonation strings

Alexander Farkas 

Playing in tune is a primary focus of all string teaching. However when it becomes the only focus the player may develop excess in an end-gaining attempt for perfect intonation. From an Alexander view, a balanced use of the entire body alleviates undue stress and achieves a better resonance, clearer line and even better intonation, one after the other, all at the same time. Participants will be invited to present a piece to be worked on at the session.

BBring Your Instrument all tracks

Ann Rodiger 

Bring yourself and your instrument: voice, violin, piano etc. to this Master Class. Ten participants will have time to perform and receive hands-on work while playing. We can all learn through observing people transform and change while making music.


SESSION 6   

Sunday 25th

11:00 - 12:30 pm

AChairwork: A Highly Effective Indirect Approach for Musicians to Learn and Apply Alexander's Principles all tracks

Chris Mincer 

Underlying any and all specific acts are certain deeply rooted habits which need to be directly addressed if we are to become free from their influence. When we begin to address these deeply rooted, general underlying habits, it has a positive effect on all the specific activities we do.

These habits include things like:

  • The tendency to interfere with the relationship of the head neck back (which includes breathing)
  • End gaining
  • Relying on a faulty sensory appreciation to for guidance in putting ourselves right
  • The tendency to employ doing instead of non-doing at all times even when non-doing and/or undoing is required. (i.e. lack of the cultivation of inhibition)
  • The tendency to narrow and focus the attention on one point.

By directly addressing these deep, general habits which underly all our activity, when can formulate indirect methods of improving our instrumental (or vocal) technique or any other specific activity for that matter.

Chairwork affords the student the opportunity to begin by giving fewer directions simultaneously at first (i.e. just head, neck, back when working with simply inclining forwards or backwards in the chair-and later adding legs i.e. ankles knees and hips) than are normally necessary when playing their instrument (i.e. adding shoulders, elbows, wrists and fingers). As a result they are much less likely to become overwhelmed.

Another advantage of working in the chair is that it can afford the student the opportunity to be moved instead of moving themselves. Giving the student the opportunity to inhibit their old habits while someone else takes them through a movement is an important stepping stone on the way to having them inhibit their old habits and keep to that inhibition as they take themselves into movement thereby enabling themselves to move in a new way, free from their old habits.

This kind of work continually informs their experiential understanding of the primary control and their limbs and the relationship between them which they can then apply to their work on the instrument as they progress.

BYour Beautiful Singing Voice: In Theory, Experience, and Practice voice

Diane Gaary 

Bring yourself and your instrument: voice, violin, piano etc. to this Master Class. Ten participants will have time to perform and receive hands-on work while playing. We can all learn through observing people transform and change while making music.


SESSION 7   

Sunday 25th

1:00 - 3:30 pm

AThe Art of Making Music: Building Awareness While Performing in an Ensemble all tracks

Jay Foote and Heather Gardner 

Musicians rarely make music alone. Whether in a choir, symphony orchestra, rock band or chamber music group musicians are often in situations where they must play their instrument or sing in the context of a larger group. This workshop will explore the senses involved in performing music in an ensemble while remaining open to musical changes within a group (ie. tempo, dynamics, intensity, form, flow, etc.) Participants will be guided through a series of listening/sensing exercises, exploring the feeling of vibrations from their voices and bodies and examining how their experiences exist within an expanding awareness of the soundscape of the group and space. Participants will play their instruments or sing as an ensemble exploring awareness while performing a simple melody, a simple melody with a harmony part and an improvisation on the melody.

BConnecting the Part to the Whole: Enhancing Freedom and Support for the Arms at the Piano piano

Anita King 

Focusing on the relationship of the arms to the torso and legs, this session explores the means for optimal coordination of the arms in practice and performance. Making a comparison to musical structure, where notes and rhythms are organized in relation to the music’s slower elements (the harmony and phrase structure), the movements of the arm are organized and supported in relation to the body’s core. Topics include:

  • securing whole-body participation in every moment with various parts of the body moving simultaneously at different speeds
  • exploring the benefits of thinking like a quadruped and exploring the role of sequential movement in coordinating arms, legs and torso utilizing the complementary method of Body Mapping so that movement choices have a sound anatomical foundation
  • keeping the arm structure in continuous relation to the whole body by mapping the distance from the fingertip to the rest of the body
  • developing the tactile sense to clarify one’s boundary with the piano

This session is essentially a workshop combined with presentation and short performance demonstrations at the piano. Participants will actively explore a range of arm structure, torso and whole-body movements and engage in awareness-building exercises related to the tactile and kinesthetic senses.