4. What worked for me
During the research project, I got a lot of new ideas. Before, I thought that to relax meant being like a dead person and you cannot play the violin like that! Everything has to be alive. So I wasn’t active enough to find things. I was like a vegetable. “Staying firmly on the ground” also changed meaning. I found out that I could become taller not by looking at the sky but by dropping my chin. Playing while standing on the balance board helped me to learn to share my body weight between both feet. Then I could think about this when I wasn’t on the balance board.
I also learned to take care of my body, not tense muscles when it is not necessary and also to use them in a different way. Then, if you know what you want to do musically, you know what to do with your muscles to get it.
A link between the body and the sound
During the Alexander Technique lessons I could experience more clearly the link between what I was doing with my body and the resulting sound from the instrument. This really made me think. You have to look for this link yourself; nobody can do it for you. I think that when you feel a connection between how you sound and your movements, you can then really develop your sound and even your phrasing. When you know your body and movements better, you can create whatever you want.
If you are tense, you cannot feel anything! The sound and intonation are then affected. If you don’t have the left hand in the correct position because your muscles are shortened then you cannot use it properly. If you want to play fast you cannot. This then makes you hold your breath which can make you dizzy! You need to keep breathing to live! Now, whenever I have a technical problem I discover that behind the problem is tension, and I can solve it.
The improvements in my playing technique came from both the changes in the equipment and the lessons in the Alexander Technique. If you have a strange feeling in your body that makes you tense, of course it is important to find out if the equipment may be causing it, but it is also very important to know how to work with your body. You can have the ideal equipment but still be pushing your shoulder forward and shortening your neck. I think that the Alexander Technique may be more important than the equipment. Every good violinist can play their instrument because they know how to use their body.