Musicians Seeking Higher Performance, Less Tension

John Macy, an Alexander Technique teacher, Physical Therapist and Pilates instructor in Omaha, Nebraska talks with Robert Rickover about working with performers, particularly musicians.

John: “The head is a big piece of weight that we have on top of this long stick of our neck and it can take a lot of strain or be easy to balance. Consider holding a bowling ball up with your hand. If you are not quite underneath that ball, how much work will that wrist and arm have to do as opposed to being right under the ball so you don’t have to do as much work.”

“Frequently, when musicians make a significant improvement in tone and quality as measured by audience response, the performer frequently feels like they did nothing or they were lousy. Their concept of what they need to do to generate their best performance is inconsistent with what they’re doing when the audience perceives their best performance. We fool ourselves about what we need to do.”

Robert: “There’s an idea about a certain amount of work that needs to be produced to sing the way they want to sing. If you show them they can sing with less work and even though it is better and fuller, it will take feedback from other musicians that that was an improvement. Almost any Alexander Technique teacher has run into that with students.”

John: “One of the most fascinating parts of the Alexander Technique is that it makes a person ask — what do I really want? Do I want the audience to have a certain experience or do I want to feel this particular tension? Because you can’t have both. They are not the same.”

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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