Exploring the perceived impact of extensive training in the Alexander technique on the day-to-day lives of professional musicians

Casey, E. (2020) Exploring the perceived impact of extensive training in the Alexander technique on the day-to-day lives of professional musicians. Masters thesis, Royal College of Music.

Abstract

This thesis seeks to better understand the potential of the Alexander Technique (AT) for musicians through exploration of the ways in which professional musicians perceive the impact of extensive AT training, represented by completion of an AT teacher training course, on their daily lives. A qualitative methodological approach was employed. Data was obtained through semi-structured interviews with five AT trained professional musicians from a range of profiles within the western classical tradition, and analysed inductively using interpretive phenomenological analysis (IPA). Findings reveal a predominantly positive impact of extensive AT training on three key areas: (1) the act of making music, (2) the sense of self as musician, and (3) health and wellbeing. These are comprised of a number of themes (with their constituent sub-themes) which represent in more detail the impact of AT training: (1) 1.1 Making life as a professional possible, 1.2 The physicality of making music, 1.3 Sound and musicality, 1.4 Musical practice, and 1.5 The performance experience, (2) 2.1 Self-efficacy, 2.2 Identity and self-worth, 2.3 Motivation, and (3) 3.1 Relationships, 3.2 Coping, 3.3 Physical and mental health, and 3.4 Wellbeing. Physical changes achieved through extensive AT training contributes to the perceived impact upon the physicality of making music, physical and mental health, and wellbeing. The core AT strategy for the improvement of physical functioning, Inhibition and Direction, is compared to models of self-regulated learning, and linked to the perceived impact on musical practice, self-efficacy and peak performance experience. These findings have significant pedagogical and injury prevention implications for musicians.

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