Welcome and General Introduction to the Courses and Workshops
Next workshop: October 2016
Debussy Sonata in G min: Alun Thomas / Francis Rayner
Many violinists struggle with habits that make playing less enjoyable than it might be.
The Alexander Technique and the profound, simple understandings that it embraces can help transform potential and help release musicality - at any level of accomplishment.
The rhythmic, aesthetic, and other expressive judgements we make, whilst practising and performing have their basis in our habitual co-ordination, or, as F.M Alexander called it, the 'Use of the Self''. This 'use' is the personal signature that we manifest in all our action - mental and physical; 'use' is really a subtle interplay between these two aspects of ourselves. Accordingly, the ease with which we transform energy into sound (our musical intention) by way of the violin, is a measure of the clarity of our conceptions and informs the relationship we have with our instrument.
'Use' can be changed, improved and made more flexible, sometimes dramatically so; our action in playing (as well as in many aspects of living...) can then become more natural, rather than contrived. Understandings gleaned from the study of brain plasticity show us clearly that changes in the quality of our action by a change in the conscious direction of our energy ('neurons that fire together, wire together') is absolutely possible, leading to increasing refinements in skill. In this way the violin (or any instrument) becomes our true voice and a vital means of self-expression.
By knowing how we restrict ourselves we can start re-directing our habitual energy and encourage new flexible pathways for action. This needs careful and thorough work, though, and for most people a good deal of help....It is, however, a means to a long and nourishing journey with the violin-a process of self-discovery rather than attainment at any cost.
Many violinists do, of course, carve successful careers, play beautifully and with ease without seeming to have many problems or difficulties. However, I would argue that these players are in a very tiny minority and are by no means always the players with the most to offer, musically.
Indeed, there are many players who can dazzle with speed and agility and reel off all the concertos with apparent ease, yet lack a certain balance of 'doing' and 'being' essential to true artistry. Of course there are some players who exhibit all these characteristics - they are indeed the lucky ones..... This group is, however, useful to us in that they provide models for what might be possible when the conditions and manner of our 'use' improves.
It's my firm belief that many players could realize much more of their talent by gaining insight into their restrictive habits at a deeper level. The course might provide inspiration and the beginnings for such a transformation.