shutterstock_54555799The Alexander Technique and your vocal tract: What lies beneath. In the 1980’s, a renovation was done of famed Carnegie Hall. The remodeling left the hall looking much as it does today. It looked beautiful but its world famous acoustics had been ruined. It was clear to all when the first notes were played. Prior to the renovation, the stage was sprung over an empty space. During the renovation that empty space was filled with concrete. The vibrating stage was stilled and the space beneath it made rigid. There was public outcry. In come the retrofitters with their jackhammers to remove the concrete. The job was done and in due time the hall was reopened. All was as before. An acoustical marvel had been reclaimed and the world’s preeminent symphony conductors cheered.

How do you, my friend, singer, speaker, voice professional, manage the space beneath your acoustical stage, beneath your vocal tract (lips of the glottis to lips of the mouth)? Are you stiffening your torso in service to your concept of support? Are you believing your self to be a projector, a placer, a producer of tone rather than an ever more vital resonator? Are you holding on to your limbs for dear life, pulling them in toward the torso? You may be doing to your voice what the remodelers did to Carnegie Hall. Your hips in particular are a accretor, a concretor, of your tension. We instinctively protect there. But to allow our selves to be fully touched, touched throughout, is the prerequisite of touching others. What’s to be done?

Well, you can relax the hips, but as soon as the stimulus to sing arises so does your systemic response, the torso’s ingrained propensity for colonizing the limbs. There is a way to cultivate a better response to the stimulus of singing or playing. Every movement you make in an Alexander lesson, every sound you utter, every sound you play, will honor means more than outcome. You’ll learn in your study of the technique that one important way of facilitating movement, engendering support, is gaining freedom at the hips. You really can’t bend your knees, sit or rise from a chair, assume a mechanically advantageous position for lifting, without freeing the hips. You’ll learn through these and other procedures, that in freeing your hips, undoing the torso’s ownership of the legs, you can change your response to the stimulus of singing and playing. Little by little, you’re going to hear your voice or your instrument, even the piano, that instrument at arm’s length, take on the resonance of your whole vibrating body. And wherever there is on your own stage, somewhere in your good self a concretion, the Alexander Technique is going to help you root it out. No jackhammers needed.