Alto Saxophone – A Diagnosis Is Not a Cure (Musicians)(Psychology)(Pain)(Strain)(Injuries)(Posture)(Alexander Technique)(Albuquerque)

by ethankind on February 17, 2014

This ebook, An Alexander Technique Approach to Alto Saxophone Technique, is published on this website in a PDF format. It is very detailed and practical, and it will give you the physical tools you need to take the limits off of your ability to create the accurate saxophone technique you want without sacrificing your body.
This ebook is also for sale on all AMAZON websites in a KINDLE format.
Located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, U.S.A. (MOVEMENT THERAPY)

I’m the alto saxophone player’s last resort for so many saxophone players who have come to me as Alexander Technique clients. If I can’t help the saxophone player, he or she feels they must either play with pain and struggle for the rest their performing lives or quit playing.

I can’t count the number of alto saxophone players who have come to me after seeing doctors, physical therapists, and/or other bodyworkers. The saxophone player in the first Alexander Technique session may spend fifteen to thirty minutes giving me the complete list of all of the diagnoses of his or her physical problems on the saxophone.

What is usually said and implied is, “This is what has happened to my body, and this is why I’ll never be able to do what I want to do on the alto saxophone, but I hope you can do something magical that will heal me.”

So, by the time the injured alto saxophone player has made it to me, usually he or she has tried medication for swelling or inflammation, has been told to stop playing to heal, has been given exercises to strengthen “weak” muscles, has had surgery suggested, or has been told to look for some other career.

Obviously, if the saxophone player has found his or her way to me, then the saxophone player has a least a glimmer of hope that there is a healing solution out there that works.

SO, THE DIAGNOSES ARE PRESENTED TO ME AS THE PIECES OF A PUZZLE, AND THE ALTO SAXOPHONE PLAYER HOPES THAT I AM “THE ONE” WITH THE SOLUTION TO THE PROBLEM. THAT I AM “THE ONE” WHO CAN LOOK AT ALL OF THE DISPARATE PIECES OF THE PUZZLE, AND HELP THE SAXOPHONE PLAYER REASSEMBLE HIM OR HERSELF IN WAY THAT MAKES SAXOPHONE PLAYING WORK.

In a way I can, but only once the alto saxophone player lets go of the belief that the DIAGNOSES ARE THE SOLUTION. What do I mean?

The diagnoses of physical problems on the alto saxophone can cut two very different ways for the saxophone player. By the time many saxophone players come to me and give me his or her list of physical problems, they are saying to me please confirm that I am unhealable, so that I can get on with doing something else.

On the other hand many alto saxophone players who come to me, give me a list of physical problems and want me to do something magical to make things right. This is understandable, because almost all of the things offered out there for healing a saxophone player’s physical problems are passive/magical. What do I mean?

Surgery is the most obvious. Someone cuts you and repairs your body, and when you recover, you should be able to do what you want on the saxophone. But what if you never could do what you wanted on the saxophone?

This reminds me of the old joke where the patient asks the doctor at the end of the appointment if he’ll ever be able to play the alto saxophone again. The doctor says yes, and the patient replies, “But I never played the saxophone before.”

The closest thing out there in allopathic medicine to the Alexander Technique that has the alto saxophone player actually do something is physical therapy. Here’s why physical therapy rarely gets the performing saxophone player out of physical trouble.

The physical therapist has the alto saxophone player do general strengthening exercises to help the saxophone player. But these strengthening exercises don’t work, because they only increase strength and stamina in the most general sense, and don’t address the poor posture and elements of the saxophone player’s technique that cause the wear and tear and pain.

I want to return back to the title of this article. In its purest form the title restated says, “THE TRUTH SHALL MAKE YOU FREE.” The problem is, “Are you stating the truth when you diagnose physical problems on the alto saxophone?”

A better question is, “Does a diagnosis, in and of itself, lead you to take the steps necessary to solve your postural and technique problems on the saxophone that are damaging your body?” NO!

Here’s why. In many ways the diagnoses of your physical problems on the alto saxophone are only labeling, they may not be a call to action. It’s like being diagnosed with agoraphobia, fear of going outdoors, but never taking the steps literally to GO OUTDOORS.

If an alto saxophone player’s jaw is diagnosed as hurting because of TMJ Disorder, how is this diagnosis going to make a difference, if the saxophone player doesn’t change a technique that causes his or her jaw to hurt?

Let me state this much more clearly at the end of this article.

WE HAVE BEEN CONDITIONED IN TODAY’S WORLD TO FEEL AND BELIEVE THAT IF WE DIAGNOSE A PROBLEM, THEN THERE IS A SOLUTION THAT CAN BE DONE TO US TO HEAL US. THIS MEANS THAT WHEN AN ALTO SAXOPHONE PLAYER COMES TO ME TO STOP HURTING, HE OR SHE WANTS ME TO MAKE THEM MAGICALLY WELL OR TELL THEM IT IS TOO LATE.

In either case the diagnoses has been changed from a stating of the problem to being the actual solution itself. The diagnoses are ONLY a list of physical problems that is usually presented to the saxophone player as permanently debilitating or as a list of temporary physical problems.

IF YOU DON’T PURSUE A COURSE OF ACTION, and take a chance on a series of healing steps, then the diagnoses offer you nothing that tell you whether you can continue to play the alto saxophone or should move on!

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