Beyond Posture: The Alexander Technique for Singers (Part 4 of 4)

(If you haven't read my intro to this article in my March 21 post, please check it out before reading this.)



Comfort with feeling wrong

Another unfamiliar experience that goes largely unacknowledged outside the practice of AT is the feeling of wrongness that often accompanies change, even when it's change for the better.  This powerful, disconcerting effect makes altering our habits difficult because of our strong, very human aversion to being wrong.  Unless you’ve had Alexander lessons to increase your comfort level with what Alexander himself called “unreliable sensory appreciation,” you will more likely choose the familiar, which feels right to you, over the new, which usually feels wrong at first.  This goes for singing perhaps even more than for any other activity.  Before I became aware that what feels wrong may in fact be exactly what I have been striving for, I would often (to the chagrin of my voice teacher) suddenly abandon singing right in the middle of a well-executed exercise because my brain had interpreted a strange new muscular coordination as incorrect.

My unreliable sensory appreciation remains intact after more than 15 years of AT study — new experiences still feel wrong to me — but I have learned to recognize this phenomenon and not let it rule my behavioral choices.  I have actually grown more than just comfortable with the feeling of being wrong; now I even welcome it as a sign that things are changing.  Also, it feels thrillingly rebellious to choose “wrong”!  Even more important than this amusement, I am no longer enslaved to my vocal habits through the need to feel right.

Conclusion

We’ve expanded our view of the AT beyond posture, even beyond breathing, to include some mind-body skills perhaps previously unfamiliar to you.  Now you can more fully appreciate the wide range of benefits the AT affords singers.  I know of no other practice which hones the particular mind-body skills I’ve discussed, which is why I include AT in my 3-in-1 voice instruction program (along with voice lessons and Voice-Enhancing Bodywork).

I realize that the benefits I’ve called “the rewiring of your brain” don’t come across as vividly in words as they would if you were to experience them first-hand, but I hope that I have piqued your curiosity sufficiently to encourage you to seek out an Alexander teacher and begin a course of lessons.  Perhaps, like me, you will feel as though you have discovered a previously hidden dimension to reality.

By the way, the Alexander Technique will definitely improve your posture and breathing.  If those were its only benefits, that in itself would be enough reason for you to practice it.  But if you’re interested in unleashing your full potential as a singer, stick with your Alexander lessons long enough to discover for yourself the transformative power of a rewired brain.