The use of the Alexander Technique in teaching, performing and practicing the flute is investigated, in order to determine how to apply the Technique to the art of producing a good flute tone. The author's application of the Alexander Technique to teaching and playing the flute is described. Knowledge was acquired both through doing case studies on two flute pupils, and through the integration of personal experience, gained through taking Alexander Technique lessons, into flute lessons. This is set out in detail. The decision to work intensively on the technique of sound production on the flute, made the author aware of the fact that we. as teachers and performers, encounter a large number of different problems in teaching and playing. Matters are complicated by a pupil's eagerness and "wanting to do things right". This can cause a certain amount of apprehension and even anxiety. Often the habits which inhibit progress prove very difficult for the teacher to correct. This study is aimed at detecting and solving these problems by using the Alexander Technique; hopefully leading to a better understanding of how the Technique can be applied to flute teaching and playing. Posture, breathing and embouchure control are specifically addressed. For the teacher or performer who has little understanding of his/her own problems in playing the flute - e.g. in coping with the loss of a good tone caused by stage fright and other anxieties - the use of the Alexander Technique can mean the creation a new sense of physical freedom and mental flexibility. A knowledge of how to work on changing faulty habits and the creating of new and better means of body use, can be gained through the taking of Alexander IV Technique lessons. The general principles and various applications of the Technique are described. The problems musicians face - e.g. postural problems from sitting or standing for hours while practicing the instrument, instrument-specific problems such as pain in the arms or shoulders, or physical tension caused by anxiety - are all habitual difficulties which can be detected, weakened and, hopefully, even erased through the use of the Alexander Technique. This study aims to show that mind-body awareness work is fundamental for the teacher, the pupil and the performer. Very often, what appear to be simple problems in musical performance are bound to deeply-felt and long-standing emotions and experiences. Therefore, the seemingly simple problems associated with producing a good flute tone cannot be addressed without dealing with the person as a whole. It is thus crucial for us as musicians to attend to the whole person - as we practice, perform and teach. This study attempts to lead musicians to a better understanding of all facets of themselves and others, through the application of the Alexander Technique.
Dissertation (MMus (Performing Arts))--University of Pretoria, 2006.