Actively engaged in a continuous learning session at Alexander Technique Congress


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course code: WS626

the physicality of string playing: mechanical advantage & musical freedom: platforms for expression

alun thomas, presenting at the Alexander Technique Congress 2015

with alun thomas
tuesday aug 11, 14:00 - 16:00
venue: C1-062, Main Building (level 1)

G music

Platforms, as they might be 'seen' through a fish-eye lens: given (our environment) and selfgenerated (our psycho-physical response), are the vital means of support for musical freedom. Whether they inform true creativity or not, remains to be seen, but learning to manage the foundations for proper 'physicality' is a vital step in any serious musical endeavour and for string players in particular.

String players are nearly unique amongst musicians in having to support an instrument whilst involving both arms in different activities - in the process of the transfer and reception of energy.

This energetic, male and female, give and take depends on a solid but flexible, energised bodily platform, to breathe life and not just 'correctness' into our music making.

Platforms are ubiquitous; especially so in performing, preparation and practice for musicians of all kinds. They are not just a place to 'park' your musicality. More loosely defined, they provide the essential psycho-physical context - a sea of support that can provide a springboard to enliven, or (if they are lacking strength and coherence), hinder our search for freedom and happy connection with our instrument and our audience alike.

We stand on a platform to perform, whether in the kitchen or in large auditoriums, to thousands but there are many other types of 'platforms': support from the air: resonance, or, even less tangible support from the landscape of our memory, experience and reflection: distilling into the wishing and willing of performer and audience alike. This particular platform might be called 'hope and expectation'.

In the workshop, we'll work with platforms to enable us – less common examples of mechanical advantage and other types of antagonistic action and also some 'platforms' that are created within the proximate, intimate environment (of the violin, viola, cello and bass) and how these relate and are regulated by the more general support of the self.

Mechanical advantage is a well-known concept to all Alexander teachers. We know that a 'good back' may lead to free arms and so forth. That balanced support from the ground can lead to good rhythm, easy breathing and effective energy transfer from bow to string. In just the same way that a violin or cello supports the bow to transform energy we have a spine that supports us - a vertical, elastic platform, that we can energize with our thinking.

(Players are required at this workshop and requested to get in touch before the workshop)

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