Alto Saxophone – A Free Neck as Part of Technique (Musicians)(Psychology)(Pain)(Strain)(Injuries)(Posture)(Alexander Technique)(Albuquerque)

by ethankind on June 10, 2013

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)

What if you bring as much awareness to your neck being free as you play the alto saxophone, as you do to how you use your embouchure and fingers? What I’m talking about here is central, absolutely core to how the Alexander Technique approaches playing the saxophone.

The Alexander Technique believes that an unlocked neck in playing the alto saxophone is central to playing the saxophone with the ultimate coordination and PREVENTS INJURY.

How does a free neck prevent injuries on the alto saxophone? It allows you to play the saxophone with a released lengthening spine, and this released lengthening spine allows the body to play with its finest coordination. When you play the alto saxophone with your finest released coordination, then you are much less likely to FORCE the body to play well, because you are already allowing your body to play well.

What is a free neck? Think about what this means. It is such an obvious statement to say play the alto saxophone with a free neck, but I can’t count the times that I’ve asked a new Alexander Technique saxophone student to play with a free neck, and he or she looks at me not knowing what I’m talking about.

HERE IS A DESCRIPTION OF PLAYING THE ALTO SAXOPHONE WITH A FREE NECK. It means that as you play the saxophone, and I place my hands gently on both sides of your head, that I could easily turn your head and/or move it from side to side, if you didn’t have the saxophone against your lips.

If I place my hands on sides of the head of an alto saxophone player preparing to play, and say let me move your head, usually one of two things usually happens. I can’t move the head, or the saxophone player moves his or her head for me.

In the Alexander Technique we talk about allowing the head to be available for movement as you play the alto saxophone. What does this mean? IT MEANS YOU ARE USING THE MINIMAL AMOUNT OF NECK MUSCULATURE TO SUPPORT THE HEAD WITH HIGH DYNAMIC. HIGH DYNAMIC MEANS THE HEAD IS SUPPORTED WITH THE MINIMUM OF MUSCULATURE SUPPORT, BUT NOT FLOPPY AND THE HEAD IS FLOWING UPWARD.

YOUR HEAD AVAILABLE TO BE MOVED WITH AN UPWARD FLOW, IS WHAT INVITES THE SPINE TO LENGTHEN AND CREATES A FREE CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM THAT ORGANIZES THE WHOLE BODY ON THE ALTO SAXOPHONE. WE CALL THIS ORGANIZED UPWARD FLOW “DIRECTION”.

How do you invite your neck to be free as you play the alto saxophone? You gently order it to be free! Just before you play a simple note pattern, you say to yourself, “My neck is free leading my spine into lengthening”, and then you play.

What if this doesn’t work? Let me restate the question. What if you can’t tell if this is working? Sit or stand without the alto saxophone, so that you let go of any intention to play the saxophone. Now, let your head drop forward resting on your chest with no support. Experiment with how little neck muscle it takes to bring your head to fully upright and balancing on your unlocked free neck.

There is also another way to connect to how much tension you have in your neck. Tense your neck as much as you can and then release it. This is an excellent way to bring to your consciousness how much tension you live with in your neck. Simply, there is almost never any reason to do anything with a rigid immobile neck, from alto saxophone playing to lifting weights.

One last point, as you play the alto saxophone and you become aware of how part of your saxophone technique a held neck has been, realize that an immobilized neck and head ISN’T necessary to play the saxophone. MAKE PLAYING WITH AN UNLOCKED NECK PART OF YOUR ALTO SAXOPHONE TECHNIQUE.

THE ALEXANDER TECHNIQUE PRINCIPLE OF NOT DOING SOMETHING AS PART OF YOUR ALTO SAXOPHONE TECHNIQUE IS THE GENIUS OF THE ALEXANDER TECHNIQUE.

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