Conducting (Conductors) – New Technique in a Different Language (Musicians, Psychology, Pain, Strain, Injuries, Posture, Alexander Technique)(Albuquerque)

by ethankind on May 15, 2014

This ebook, An Alexander Technique Approach to Conducting (Conductors’) 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 conducting 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)

The idea for this essay grew out of a conversation with a writer. The writer talked about an idea for a book where someone who spoke a different language as a child was losing emotional contact with a frightening past, because he was not thinking or speaking the language of his childhood as an adult.

This got me to thinking, “What would happen to a conductor who had been taught to conduct in one language and was now revamping his or her technique in a different language?”

So, let’s say you learned to conduct in German but you were now taking care of the weaknesses to your technique with an Alexander Technique teacher in English. Would this be an even more profound transformation of your conducting technique, than if you were making the changes in the same language?

Yes! It could be pretty dramatic, the change from the old to new conducting technique. Why? BECAUSE IT COULD FEEL LIKE YOU WERE TRULY A BRAND NEW BEGINNER AS YOU CONDUCT. Why?

As a conductor gains mastery over conducting, the directions followed are in the language spoken, and two things happen. The first is that certain elements of the conductor’s technique are so integrated into conducting, that the conductor stops verbalizing what is going on as he or she conducts. So, even though the conductor is conducting from conditioned habits, the underlying framework is still the original language spoken.

The second thing that usually happens is the conductor may still be correcting his or her technique in the language that the conductor learned to conduct in, even years later, as a way to strive for improvement (perfection).

Given these two verbal and nonverbal possibilities occurring as the conductor conducts, and the conductor having problems in his or her conducting, would it make technique and postural changes easier and quicker in a different language?

Here is a reason it might not. As an Alexander Technique teacher, when I’ve taught musicians whose first language isn’t English, and they’re not in command of the subtleties of the English language, I’ve had communication problems. This means I’ve had to find a way to verbalize a new concept to make a change to a performer’s technique in more than one way, to clearly communicate the depth of the technique change. I’ve been able to, but I’ve had to be very patient and ask the right questions to make sure the performer understands exactly what I want.

Now, let’s assume the conductor has a very subtle command of English as his or her second language, and I begin to teach the conductor how to conduct with beautiful posture and effortless technique, this can be an amazing experience for the conductor. Why? BECAUSE I’M GOING TO NOT ONLY SHOW THE CONDUCTOR HOW TO CONDUCT WITH GREAT POSTURE AND GREAT TECHNIQUE, I’M GOING TO ALSO TEACH THE CONDUCTOR HOW TO MAKE TECHNIQUE AND POSTURAL CHANGES NON-CRITICALLY.

My experience as an Alexander Technique teacher has been that many fine conductors who come to me have gotten good at conducting by being tough on themselves, really pushing themselves with criticism to excel.

So, now the conductor who learned to conduct in German is now going to use English to make changes to his or her conducting.


There is a huge potential in this unique circumstance to truly shift away from having used negative reinforcement to become a fine conductor, to FULLY using positive kind discernment to become an amazing conductor.

When a conductor works with me who had used negative reinforcement, it is a radical change to work with an Alexander Technique teacher. Why? I’m able to teach the conductor how to conduct with the whole body and never pay a physical price again. To do so in a different language, can make it easier for the conductor to not talk to him or herself harshly, as the conductor learns to do something new as he or she conducts.

I’m not advocating going out and finding an Alexander Technique teacher to teach you in a different language, but I thought it would be really interesting to look at a huge element of what had shaped your conducting – how you talked to yourself as you learned to conduct and the language you spoke as a beginner, and what it could mean to your relationship to conducting to change both.

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